Projected 2025 Lineup
I don’t believe there’s value anymore in projecting more than two years ahead, nor is there value to including a free-agent prediction or trade, though we know there will be many between now and then. The point is to show an organization’s strengths and weaknesses pushed out a few years.
Below are all in-house for two seasons from now:
HIT: Cole Young – 60
Young’s swing is short to the ball with no hitches or drag, he covers the zone well and works counts to the walk, suggesting a chance to hit .280-.300 with .350 or better OBPs.
POWER: Lazaro Montes – 70
It’s 70-grade raw power, and if Montes can hit enough to get to it the Mariners have a 35-homer corner bat from the left side.
FIELD: Axel Sanchez – 60
Sanchez is smooth and easy in the field, with very good hands and feet, a plus arm, and shortstop instincts.
THROW: Milkar Perez – 65
It’s a pretty huge arm, and we never talk about it because he’s not sticking at the hot corner. But rather than automatically assuming first base, why not right field?
BASERUNNER: Jonatan Clase – 70
Clase has spent two years getting a lot stronger, as its paid off for him in the batter’s box. But he hasn’t lost much in the speed department in the process, and as he gains experience could be a dynamic baserunner with 40-plus swipe potential if he hits enough to stay in the lineup.
SP: Miller – 55
RP: Berroa – 55
Dollard deserves mention here, too, but I don’t buy it’s a better breaker than Miller and Berroa based on a combo of results and projection.
CURVEBALL: Juan Pinto – 60
It’s a big breaker with depth and bite and if he can tighten it up and throw more strikes, we may see it in the rotation down the road.
CHANGEUP: Emerson Hancock – 55
Both Bryan Woo and Berroa have projectable changeups that may end up plus offerings, butHancock’s is presently the best pitch and all three right-handers are within a year or so of the big leagues, and has a shot to be plus.
CONTROL: Taylor Dollard – 60
Dollard’s ability to throw strikes is joined by above-average fastball command, which is his entire foundation since he wants to get to the slider and his changeup is occasionally out of service.
Despite not being as loaded as they were a year or two ago, the Mariners suddenly have tremendous balance in their system. A blend of starters, relievers, middle infielders, and corner outfielders, and their No. 1 prospect is a potential long-term catcher.
It’s not exactly the best strength to have, but the Mariners and loaded with power arms who profile in the bullpen and enter 2023 with close proximity to the majors, including Prelander Berroa, Isaiah Campbell, Juan Then, Travis Kuhn, and Stephen Kolek.
Upside in the Lower Minors
Among the reasons the club’s system is a bit down is the dearth of upper-minors talent projecting as rotation candidates or everyday players. But there’s a lot of upside below Double-A, including top prospect Harry Ford, newly-inked shortstop Felnin Celesten, 2022 first-round pick Cole Young,and a slew of teenage bats with above-average to plus ceilings such as Lazaro Montes and Michael Arroyo.
The club also is building up the high-ceiling young arms, including ’22 draftees Walter Ford and AJ Izzi, international signees Jeter Martinez, Dylan Wilson, and Kendal Meza, left-hander Juan Pinto, and 2021 third-round selection Michael Morales.
The Mariners have graduated four key hitter prospects the past two seasons in Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, Taylor Trammell, and Cal Raleigh. Two of them are fixtures in the middle of the lineup while the other two appear primed for one more look in 2023.
The club’s top offensive prospects are at least two years away, and in some cases four or more. They could change that in this year’s draft, and a wild card like last year’s second-round pick Tyler Locklear has a shot to change the narrative.
While this is indeed a weakness for the Mariners right now with just one arm above High-A projecting better than a back-end starter entering 2023, the big club is in very good shape for the long haul, which buys the org time to rebuild the pitching warehouse.
It’s not an emoty cupboard by any stretch with Ford, Young, Sanchez, and perhaps Arroyo projecting up the middle, but Ford is no guarantee to stick behind the plate, Arroyo’s most likely landing spot is third base, and Seattle has but one Top 25 prospects projecting in center field — Clase.
The Mariners organization is in terrific shape. Where the system has holes in the upper minors (strting pitching), the big club has covered for the foreseeable future and a truck load of upside plays getting started below Everett.
There is a gap at second base they won’t be able to cover in 2024 and if one of the in-house options doesn’t take left field and run they’ll have no answer there, either, but those are the only two potential glaring holes in the next two years.
Jason A. Churchill
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