Last Updated on July 22, 2019 by Jason A. Churchill
- For many of the rankings, there isn’t much difference between players ranked 5-10 spots apart, sometimes more. So if you see a player at 13 you expected to be at 8, or a player at 23 seems to be underranked, maybe the only difference there is microscopic.
- Like always, I prefer upside to high probability, so if the risk factor is within two points (2-8 scale) I’m taking the upside play every time.
- Positions matter. Catchers and shortstops are inherently more valuable than first basemen and left fielders.
- Handedness matters, albeit a lot less than positions and other factors. If all else is equal, a lefty usually gets the nod.
- Arms with a chance to be a No. 3 or better starter will always rank higher than a pure reliever, based on value and how difficult it is to find them. This goes back to the ‘positions matter’ note.
- I included all signed draft picks from the 2019 class in the consideration phase
- Michael Limoncelli has Top 25 upside but until he’s further along in his recovery or pitches in a game, he’ll be left out of rankings.
- The movement you’ll see below is based on .performance, scouting reports, injuries, and timelines; if a 24-year-old was ranked No. 33 in April but isn’t ranked now it could be for many reasons, including the draft depth pushing the player out or the player simply not performing enough to keep him in. Some players have a shorter shelf-life because they have less time to make enough progress, which is why you see a lot of players 22-24 years of age in West Virginia or Modesto drop off quickly if they get hurt or don’t perform enough.
- Click HERE for the scouting scale in real life, updated for the current MLB environment, flush with what the grades looks like in MLB terms. For example: How many home runs in the majors results from 60-grade power?
- These rankings are not about the players most likely to make it to the majors. They’re also not a ranking of the players with the most upside.
- Since someone will ask, understandably so, I asked six in the industry about where the Mariners’ system ranks right now. The highest: 8-10. The lowest: 15.
- Seriously, click HERE first.
Kelenic has hit a lull in production since a wrist injury kept him out for two weeks but the previous reports stand.
He’s above average or better across the board, including plus power, defense and arm and a projected 60-grade hit tool.
He can play center, but if Jake Fraley or Braden Bishop prove to be big-league regulars, Kelenic likely ends up in right field as a potential elite corner defender.
The ETA hasn’t changed much — we’re still about two years out — but it’s a perennial all-star tool set with a chance to explode into stardom.
As one scout told me a few weeks back, Gilbert is a very interesting combination of present control, stuff and pitch mix. There’s also velo projection left, which could change his future profile of No. 2-3 starter closer to No. 1 status.
The club has stuck to their plan with his workload, even spreading out his starts beyond 5-6 days to avoid using him when he’s not well rested. He’s also been short-scripted once and both avenaues are probably in play until his season ends.
The slider’s been the best secondary most of the season, but twhen he commands the curveball it might be a better pitch for him.
If the Mariners were a club in serious contention right now, Dunn could be part of a stretch-run bullpen where his fastball could sit 95-99 mph.
But he’s living 92-95 as a starter, throws a lot of strikes and the slider has looked very good the past six weeks or so. He’s also showing better feel for a changeup with some sink.
The delivery is simple and with moderate effort.
All of the above suggests a reward will come to the Mariners if they stick with Dunn as a starter. There’s No. 2 upside here with a median landing point as a good No. 3 arm.
Rodriguez, who won’t be 19 until after the season, has more than held his own in the South Atlantic League and even rival scouts see the growth and why the Mariners adore the kid.
The power is still a bit raw but it’s plus from right-center to his pull side. He covers the plate better than most teenage bats and while he’s not going to stick in center long-term, Rodriguez shows insticts defensively that should allow him to be above-average once he settles in either corner.
Remember last month when I said this is not a panic situation with Sheffield?
He’s allowed seven runs in his six starts in Arkansas and most importantly has issued just eight walks in 39 innings. He’s fanned 40 in that span.
I’ve mentioned in previous notes, tweets and podcasts that Sheffield may be a candidate for the Johan Santana treatment. For those that missed the explanation:
Santana began his career as a reliever. He made just nine starts his first two years and came out of the bullpen 36 times.
He made 14 starts in Year 3 and 18 in Year 4 before going full-on starter.
I don’t believe Sheffield needs to be babied in that fashion, but the basic idea makes a lot of sense for workload and development purposes.
I suspect, however, Seattle will simply give him starts and go from there, and those starts should come in August and September.
Kirby brings tons of probability thanks to command and control that ranks at or near the top of the 2019 MLB Draft class and now the Mariners organization. But Kirby brings four big-league pitches, too, including a fastball that consistently brushes 95 mph and has touched 98. He’s 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, offering some projection, too, suggesting more velocity could be on the way.
Kirby’s not a future ace, but he offers a high floor of a No. 4 starter with a great chance to be a No. 3. Ruling out more than that wouldn’t be wise, either.
Fraley gets the nod here over Nos. 8, 9 and 10 because he’s 1) a complete player who provides impact value at the plate, on the bases and in the field — at a premium position, and 2) he’s big-league ready.
But he’s also displaying average to above-average power, at least an average hit tool and has improved in short order versus left-handed pitching.
Marte has shown well in the DSL despite some rough edges defensively. And while there’s a better than 50% chance he ends up at second base, third base, or center field, there’s little reason to entirely shoot down his chances to stick at shortstop or significantly reduce his future value if he has to move — especially since two of the other legit possibilities also ring supremely valuable.
But the bat is playing and he’s also showing terrific baserunning instincts to back up the 70-grade speed.
He’ll be in the states next year, possibly on a similar path as Rodriguez.
Lewis had shown some plate skills all year but was hitting too many ground balls and began to expand his zone in May and June. But he’s hit the ball hard most of the year as he and the org worked on generating backspin.
It’s starting to work.
He’s 14 for his last 36 through July 13 and has seven extra-base hits — four doubles, three homers — in his last seven games with a 5-4 K/BB ratio.
Lewis’ 116 wRC+ is No. 16 in the Texas League and his OBP ranks No. 10.
Raleigh moved up a spot here when an opposing club’s pitching coach said “he’s impressive back there” when I asked about the defense.
Then Raleigh hit 14 homers in 22 games and just missed a 15th Friday night in front of my eyes — and did with the flick of his wrists.
He’s balanced and clearly knows what he wants to do. Pitchers seem to not have a clue. Advantage: Raleigh.
The biggers questions on Raleigh on Draft Day were centered on his defense, and while he’s never going to be Yadier Molina or Pudge Rodriguez due to a lack of elite footwork and quick-twitch actions, he’s sound across the board and has shown big progress in blocking and receiving.
The glove may take a few years to get where it needs to be, but his work with pitchers and ability to throw and manage the running game already grade well.
White’s consistent hit tool has answered some questions this season. Still remaining, however, are the real question about power — questions I wouldn’t be concerned about all that much if White were a middle infielder or at least playing the corner outfield spots.
He’s probably the best defensive first basemen in the minors and among the Top 4-6 in all of baseball, but the value of an elite defensive first baseman does not match that of elite defenders at… any other position.
There are so outs generated in baseball right now that are not ground balls, meaning first basemen isn’t as involved as the position once was, not to mention the impact of shifts.
White currently projects an average to above average hit tool, which suggests reaching a .280/.350 double-slash is a legit possibility. What’s not apparent is a .320/.400 line that would better support what appears to be average to slightly above-average power. Citing a .280/.350/.450 triple-slash, which could very well be the upside here offensively, merely puts White in the average range. And that’s the upside.
The average qualified MLB first baseman in 2019 is posting a .266/.353/.477 line as of July 13.
In the end, White has to hit for power to be more than average first baseman.
But that’s not to say White’s profile is not valuable, nor good enough to warrant being the Mariners’ first baseman of the future, because it is and it does.
And White has proven adept at adjustments that help his swing. Physically, the tools are there for 25-homer power. If he gets there, it’s a different conversation.
Long is on the IL with a shoulder injury but he’s shown me he’s average at second base and good enough at third and in left field to be used in a multi-position role for a good team.
In the near future, a healthy Long should be playing regularly at second base in the big leagues where we’ll eventually see a little more power, as his Triple-A .466 slugging percentage suggests.
Campbell is a horse, profiles as a No. 3 starter with a floor as a high-leverage reliever.
We may not see him this summer after he poured in 118 innings for the Arkansas Razorbacks this spring, but he’s another power arm in the system with some upside on which to dream.
Campbell could move quicker than most picks in his range, perhaps getting a chance next April with West Virginia.
Bishop’s status will take a hit if he is unable to get back on the field this summer, considering he’s already 25 and the club has other options in center. And yes, it will be of no fault of Bishop’s if that happens.
I still believe in the player in general more than any of his offensive skills, but he showed plenty of hard contact in Tacoma and there’s no reason to doubt how effective his work has been over the past year or two.
Williamson is more of an upside play here than Campbell at No. 13 or Kirby at No. 6, but he’s not without present stuff. He’s up to 96 mph with an easy low-90s cruising velocity a chance for two average breaking balls.
I don’t expect Williamson to move as quickly as Campbell and he comes with more risk, but the ceiling may be higher all things considered.
We’ve recently learned Carlson will not face live hitters this summer but all else is well in his recovery.
When he’s healthy, Carlson throws a heavy, sinking fastball up to 96 mph, setting up a quality changeup that projects as plus and a promising breaking ball.
There’s physical projection, left, too, and there have been some loose comps to Tyson Ross, Carlos Carrasco and Rick Porcello.
Carlson has a shot to perform his way back into the Top 10 next summer. Perhaps beyond.
Sanchez lacks frontline upside but comes with probability on a No. 3-4 starter profile.
He reminds some of the Marco Gonzales mold, and that’s fair, but Sanchez has shown more velocity as a starter — up to 94 mph — and in bullpen work has touched 96.
Newsome projects as a back-end starter with a classic mid-profile of a command-and-feel talent. The velocity spiked early in the year but he’s mostly 87-91 mph now and the secondaries haven’t been consistent.
He didn’t command it well in the game, but I saw a better curveball from the right-hander Sunday, and he touched just about every velocity point between 72 and 91.
While there’s no physical projection here of which to speak, if there’s another tick of velocity in there we might be able to bump him from a future No. 5, but until then …
Last year’s 11th-round pick continues to impress with a mature approach to pitching and a bad memory when it comes to bouncing back from sub par performances.
DC-S is 89-91 mph comfortably, and the clubs believes there’s more there down the line. The right-hander touched 95 last spring and pitched multiple innings this spring at 92-93.
I’m not entirely sold on Shenton’s glove at third or the hit tool — but I buy the long-term power. He’s done nothing but hit and show evident plate skills since signing.
He hasn’t broken out the power, but it’s there.
Then is a fastball (91-94 mph), curveball, changeup right-hander with average present control and command. His changeup is ahead of the curveball but the latter pitch has bigger long-term promise thanks to depth and consistent spin.
He’s a full step better now than he was when Seattle traded him. In case you were wondering.
Thompson-Williams has the physical tools of a Michael Brantley but his swing leaves his raw power packed away because it’s about the middle of the field and the other way.
DT-W can handle center field but projects better in left field.
He’s a good athlete with raw tools, but hasn’t played much for what remains officially ‘undisclosed’ reasons. He hasn’t been played on the IL, but he hasn’t been suspended, either, which suggests it’s an injury and the organization is simply keeping that under wraps.
So far, it’s lost development time, however.
It’s easy velo up to 98 mph with a power reliever’s delivery and breaking ball. Most upside among pure relievers in the system.
Defensively Bins projects very well and there’s power and pateince in the bat, but not quite enough consistent contact early in his pro career.
Gerber hides the ball well, is up to 96 mph with life up in the zone from a slightly lower than 3/4 slot. His 82-86 mph slider flashes plus, but he sets it up well by moving the fastball all over the zone to get ahead. Still think he sees Arkansas this season.
Swanson had momentum with fastball command and a playable breaking ball early, then an injury derailed it all and he hasn’t been the same since.
When he’s right, he’s up to 95 with run and life on the fastball. The slider is short and the changeup needs a lot of work still, but as a middle-relief prospect Swanson can max out and focus on one offspeed pitch, and it appears that’s what Seattle wants him to do.
Perez has been as advertised, which is to say he’s been 89-91 mph with command of a breaking ball and signs of a solid-average changeup.
Word is, he’s been up to 93 in side work, suggesting more velo could be in the offing long-term. We’ll wait.
Chang is projectable and pitches with purpose from fastball to changeup to a potentially plus low-70s curveball with depth.
He’s mostly 87-88 mph but it’s very easy, natural velocity and there’s likely more in the tank as he matures.
Delaplane throws a lot of strikes, using the upper zone and a tight curveball to keep hitters guessing — and swinging and missing.
Benitez pitches aggressively and if he can add a tick or two of velo he has the pitchability to fall into a back-end starter role.
Landis has the best present fastball of the club’s handful of prep arms in June’s draft. He’s been up to 94 mph and sits 89-92 with some life up in the zone. The curveball (73-76 mph) and changeup (79-82 mph) are a ways away, but time he has.
The club’s top international signing ($900,000) has an advanced feel for the game and projects as an everyday centerfielder with an above-average hit tool. If the power comes, he’ll be fun.
Mills creates deception with a low arm slot and the stuff plays up as a result. He’s found his release point of late and shown some dominance with the sinker-slider combo. He’s up to 95 mph and sits 91-93.
McKay sits 92-95 mph and has a power breaking ball with depth and tilt, but below average control and command are holding him back from staying in the majors.
Lopes brings a 50 hit tool, 40 power, 50 shortstop glove,, 60 speed.
Driver has a kitchen sink full of pitches, including a solid-average slider and two fastballs. There’s projection and an org belief he possesses the makeup to max out his natural abilities.
Multi-tooled athlete with compact swing, mature approach, some pop and plus speed. He just turned 17 in May.
There’s little power and the shortstop defense is fringe-average, but Walton uses a line-drive swing and 60 contact skills to spray hard contact from gap to gap.
Kerr has touched 99 mph and sits 94-97 with a 55-60 two-plane breaking ball at 78-80 mph and a 84-88 mph change with good arm speed, giving him three big-league offerings.
He prefers to go with the fast-paced delivery, but at times he rushes his arm through and loses his release point, and occasionally the arm is slow to follow, with the same result.
When he’s on, he’s tough to square up and it’s tough to ignore a three-pitch lefty who sits in the mid-90s.
If the club finds a way to keep his arm action clean, putting Kerr back in the rotation may not be out of the question. The pitches are there.
I could list just about every decently-performing or tooled up player here, but that’s not the point, so …
Anthony Tomczak, RHP — Tomczak is up to 91 mph with sink and armside run to set up a mid-70s curveball and a hard changeup.
Art Warren, RHR — Injuries and now age (26) are cutting into Warren’s chances to contribute. Fastball up to 99 mph. He returned June 8 after missing most of the first half and has been 93-97 with more strikes.
Gerson Bautista, RHR — He throws hard and the slider is above average but the command is well below average… which is a problem.
Connor Kopach, UT — Like the player but would like to see production in Double-A — he’s still in Advanced-A Modesto. 65 runner. Manages at SS, plus at 2B, has been playing left, right and occasionally center, too, but it’s a work in progress out there.
Max Roberts, LHS — Has missed the entire 2019 season, but an intriguing project.
Luis Liberato, CF — There are some tools here, and some performance, and if this list went to 50 he’d be in it, but it’s tough to buy the hit tool right now.
Nolan Hoffman, RHR — Status is stagnant, but not a down trend.
Joe Rizzo, 3B — Not enough power for any position he profiles for, not likely to fit at second base, left field.
Matt Festa, RHR — Start him or there’s zero staying power.
Darren McCaughan, RHS — Solid Double-A starter thanks to 55 command and 60 control. Might be a No. 5/swingman or a strong three-inning relief option.
J.T. Salter, RHR — When he throws strikes with 95 and the curveball, he’s nasty. Still working on control.
Deivy Florido, RHS — Long-term prospect with command and feel. Fringey present stuff, but he’s 18 and competing well in Sally League.
Robert Perez, 1B — Another long-term prospect, but he’s without a position and hates breaking balls.
Levi Stoudt, RHS — The club’s third-round pick was a slight overdraft and I see a relief profile from the get-go due to lack of projection and present stuff. He had Tommy John over the winter.
Tim Elliott, RHS — This year’s fourth-round pick has average velocity a fringe slider and potential average changeup.
Michael Limoncelli, LHP — 2019 sixth-round pick had Tommy John but brings some projection and has been up to 94 mph. He’ll rank once he shows the veloc is back next spring.
Blake Townsend, LHP — Projectable at 6-foot-4 and already showing velocity increases.
Arturo Guerrero, RF — Solid athlete with plus raw power and arm strength, but showing improved hit tool.
Yeury Tatiz, LHP — Projectable frame with promising secondaries and command.
Ortwin Pieternella, C — Good athlete, plus arm, power and advanced strikezone judgment.
Nolan Perez, 3B — Plus bat speed and raw power, but an overaggressive approach may hold him back.
Ty Adcock, RHR — 93-96 mph with life and a hard curveball.
Wilton Perez, RHP — Projectable at 6-foot-3, 175 pounds with easy 85-88 mph velo. He turned 17 in March.
Daniel Santos, C — Solid swing and plate skills, has the physical tools to stick behind the plate.
Jake Anchia, C — 60 power, 55 arm strength, 35 but improving hit tool.
Miguel Perez, CF — Very good athlete with some leverage in the swing. It’s a plus glove and speed, but he’s still learning to hit.
Ryne Inman, RHP — 92-95 mph and a plus curveball suggest a relief role fits. Make the move, he’ll skate through Class-A.
Josias De Los Santos, RHP — Right-hander has projection and above-average feel for a changeup to go with solid control and promising fastball command.
It’s been a little while since discussing Mariners farm system strengths was anything but a joke, but here we are.
1. Outfield Bats
From Kelenic and Rodriguez to Fraley, Lewis and Bishop, there’s power, at least three centerfielders — two of which are plus — and lots of upside from Triple-A through the DSL.
2. Starting Pitching
The last two drafts have handed the club a lot of depth here, as has the trade route, where Sheffield and Dunn were acquired. The talent is spread out by handedness and ETA and there are several upside plays in the lower minors.
It’s not among the elite groups in baseball, but it’s significantly better than it’s been in a long time, exceeding the 2012-14 classeswith James Paxton and Taijuan Walker thanks to exponentially more depth and ceiling.
This exists for most of the league, but beyond Raleigh there doesn’t appear to be a potential No. 1 backstop in the org. There are a few backups, however, and with improved player development a profile can change in short order, so there’s hope, even down here in the weaker areas. of the system.
This started off as ‘Middle Infielders’ but the club lacks impact and depth at the corners, too, with White the lone corner infield prospect to rank in the top 15 and only two — White and Shenton — ranking at all.
No matter which side one falls on with regard to Jerry Dipoto and Andy McKay, it’s inarguable the Mariners player development staff is greatly improved and Dipoto and the scouting staff are finding fits for their organization’s strengths.
This isn’t to say they’re setting the pace in Major League Baseball, but players are succeeding up and down the system and most of them were drafted and signed by the club, not acquired from another organization’s developmental system.
I wouldn’t necessarily say the foundation now is set for Dipoto to start putting together a sustainable winner at the big league level, but it’s not far off, that is for certain.
- CHURCHILL: Kelenic, Gilbert, Contending & Service Time - September 14, 2020
- BASEBALL THINGS PODCAST CLIP: What’s Jarred Kelenic’s Floor? - September 3, 2020
- PODCAST: Trade Buzz, Keys for Ljay Newsome - September 3, 2020