Before we discuss the best tools in the Seattle Mariners organization, let me declare something here:

I left a lot of 60-grade tools and pitches on the cutting room floor, and a few 70 fastballs.

There are more 70-grade and 60-grade tools in the Top 40 this year than I’ve ever seen in my now-18 years scouting and ranking Mariners prospects.

At the height of the Jack Zduriencik era in terms of farm systems — 2013 when they ranked top 10 by most outlets, No. 8 by Keith Law — when the likes of Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen, Nick Franklin, and James Paxton were all Top 100 prospects by most accounts.

Looking back at my 2013 spreadsheets for Mariners rankings, Walker had the best OFP at 55, followed by Hulzen at 54, Zunino and Paxton at 52, and Franklin at 50.5. Brad Miller came in at 50, Brandon Maurer at 47.5, Luiz Gohara at 45, Gabriel Guerrero at 45 and Julio Morban at 44.

In order, that entire group of 10 would rank like this.

5. Walker
6. Hultzen
8. Zunino, Paxton
11. Franklin
14. Miller
17. Maurer (tied)
22. Gohara, Guerrero (tied)
26. Morban (tied)

And that was the best year under the previous regime.

Want to compare to the year Dipoto took over in Seattle? Here it is against this year’s group:

4. Kyle Lewis
9. Tyler O’Neill
14. Nick Neidert
16. Drew Jackson
22. D.J. Peterson
24. Chris Torres
26. Max Povse
27. Braden Bishop
28. Daniel Vogelbach
32. Brayan Hernandez

This was the club’s Top 10 entering the 2016 season.

More context: In 2013 — again, Zduriencik’s best farm system by most accounts (maybe all) — My No. 23 prospect was LHP Jordan Shipers, with a 39.5 grade.

Right now I have to go 42 prospects deep to get below 40.0. There are lots of 40.0s in the 30s and 40s, but it doesn’t dip below until No. 49, catcher Matt Scheffler.

This system has changed.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Hit Jarred Kelenic 70

Zach DeLoach and Austin Shenton share runners-up honors, but Kelenic is the best hitter in the system.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Power Julio Rodriguez 70

Kelenic, Noelvi Marte, and Starling Aguilar each have 60-grade power at varying stages of development, but Tyler Keenan grades out somewhere between the aforementioned trip and Rodriguez’s 70.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Athlete Jonatan Clase N/A

Kelenic is in this conversation, as is Marte, but Trammell is the runner-up behind Clase, whose 70 speed and electric, quick-twitch actions give him a chance to stick in center for the long haul.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Outfield Arm Julio Rodriguez 70

Kelenic and Braden Bishop, among others, come in around grade-60, but no one seriously threatens Rodriguez’s crown here.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Defensive Catcher Cal Raleigh 55

Carter Bins isn’t far behind in tools but Raleigh is more advanced at this stage.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Infield Arm Milkar Perez 70

Marte has a 60-grade arm, Aguilar too, but Juan Querecuto rivals Perez’s 70-grade.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Defensive Infielder Juan Querecuto 60

Querecuto is still raw at the plate but is instinctual in the field, has very good hands and feet, and that big arm to finish off plays.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Defense Outfielder Braden Bishop 70

Bishop’s heart rate is undetectable as he plays center field, showing elite routes and tracking skills and very good jumps. He also has a good arm.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Fastest Baserunner Jonatan Clase 70

Despite going from 155 pounds to the 185 range since he last took the field in the DSL in 2019, Clase still is explosive with his first step and accelerates to game-changing speed within a few steps. He might not hold this crown a year from now with the club’s international efforts recently, but no one else is all that close at the moment.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Fastball Andres Munoz 80

Prior to his elbow surgery, Munoz sat 96-100 mph and touched 103 mph in his short time in the big leagues. Of the 185 fastballs he’s thrown in MLB, 128 have registered at 100 mph or higher. Oh, and the pitch has life and run, too. **shrugs**

If we split it up between pitching roles, Logan Gilbert would get the honor for starters thanks to life and run on what projects to average around 94 mph.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Curveball Sam Delaplane 65

Gilbert and Brandon Williamson would win the award for starters, and Williamson’s breaker has room to surpass both. Delaplane’s is a tight-spinning power curveball with late downward break, capable of generating whiffs in the big leagues.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Slider Emerson Hancock 60

Yohan Ramirez has the best slider among relievers, but Hancock’s 60-grade can be dominant when he’s tunnelling with his fastball and changeup.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Changeup Levi Stoudt 60

Hancock’s changeup belongs in the conversation for runner-up, but Stoudt has a chance at an eventual 70-grade dead fish.


TOOL PLAYER GRADE
Control George Kirby 70

Kirby has plus-plus control and plus command of his fastball and uses the skills to attack the entire zone and beyond with purpose.

Got a take on what you just read? Talk about it here!

Last Updated on March 4, 2021 by Jason A. Churchill

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 and spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio. He now serves as the Executive Copy Editor at Data Skrive, a tech company that manipulates data to provide automated content to clients including the AP, BetMGM, USA Today, and ESPN. Find Jason's baseball podcast, Baseball Things, right here.