The Seattle Mariners 2021 Draft class is developing into a very nice haul. It’s expected their top three picks all will sign, and through Monday had officially signed 14 of their top 20 selections for under $1.6 million, or 18.6% of their bonus pool of $8.526 million.
No. 12 overall pick Harry Ford is expected to sign for exactly slot at $4.3664 million, which takes the total remaining to $2.78 million and four players left unsigned.
The slot value for second-round pick Edwin Arroyo (No, 48 overall) is $1.5436 million, which would leave about $1.23 million to sign third-round pick Michael Morales, 11th-round pick Will Fleming, 19th-round pick Charlie Welch, and 20th rounder Troy Taylor.
I was told over the weekend Welch, a catcher from Arkansas, had come to terms with the Mariners, but the bonus remains unknown at this stage.
Arroyo could be an under-slot signing, though it may not be a significantly lower number. If it’s exactly slot for the shortstop, Morales can get done, but there’s a chance Fleming and Taylor will not.
The Mariners can go over their bonus pool by up to 4.99% without risking the forfeiture of future picks (they’d pay a 75% tax on the overage) if they choose.
Arroyo’s or Morales’ number, once we learn it, will be telling in terms of whether or signing each remaining selection is realistic.
Here are some scouting notes on each of the signed players, including Welch, even though he’s not official just yet.
Charlie Welch, C — Arkansas (19)
Welch is best known for his late-game, late-season heroics at the plate, but his future largely depends on his ability behind the dish. He didn’t start much and is known as “Dr. Pinch Hitter”, but “the bat speed plays,” and there’s athleticism on which to build a defensive foundation.
He struggled overall two years ago on the Cape after his freshman season, but flashed power and showed patience at the plate.
Riley Davis, RHP — Alabama-Birmingham (18)
Davis projects as a middle reliever with average stuff and command, up to 93 mph with a sweeping slider from a deceptive low arm slot. There are some delivery questions, which if answered, could suggest upside.
Jimmy Kingsbury, RHP — Villanova (17)
Good athlete with a fastball that’s creeped into the mid-90s at times and a slider that in short stints flashes above average.
Jimmy Joyce, RHP — Hofstra (16)
Up to 94 mph and comfortable sitting 89-91, Joyce employs a long arm path and some less-than-ideal overall mechanics, but the data on his fastball (vertical approach angle) suggest fastball potential.
Joyce doesn’t bring any physical projection to pro ball, but everything else suggests a chance at a big-league package, likely out of the bullpen.
Cole Barr, 3B — Indiana (15)
Barr has a plus arm that fits anywhere on the diamond, but he’s limited to third base and potentially a corner outfield spot if the bat plays. He has some pop, but has work to do in order to generate better contact rates.
Andrew Moore, RHP — Chipola (14)
Moore looks the part of a big-league arm, and he’s flashed a plus to plus-plus fastball up to 99 mph with data to back it up, namely big-time vertical life. His slider has flashed as a swing-and-miss pitch and projects well in a relief role where it can play off the huge velocity and fastball value.
Ben Ramirez, 3B — USC (13)
Ramirez’s best tool is above average raw power generated with good leverage. It’s almost exclusively pull power, however, and there are legitimate and long-term concerns about his ability to make consistent contact and hit for average.
“Maybe he’s kind of like Brad Miller after he fights through early-career struggles and finds a role,” said one area scout.
Corey Rosier, OF — UNC Greensboro (12)
Rosier is a good athlete with one of the better eyes at the plate among mid-major bats in the entire class. He projects to below-average power but has produced extra-base pop in games. His defensive skills and footspeed suggest a solid chance to stay in center.
“Nothing blows you away but he does a lot of things well enough to notice. He has good instincts everywhere. I could see him as a fourth outfielder, like a Marvin Benard.”
Jordan Jackson, RHP — Georgia Southern (10)
He’s only 88-91 now, but at 6-foot-6 and 210 pounds carries projection into a Mariners system that has found ways to add significant velocity to arms with far less projectable frames. There’s a 40-grade slider and 30-grade changeup in the repertoire, but this is a piece of clay, and the Mariners may start from scratch.
Spencer Packard, OF — Campbell (9)
Packard is a corner outfielder with a seasoned hit tool driven by a natural line-drive swing and good plate coverage. The bat speed here is fringe-average, however, and he’s an average runner, so a ton is riding on his ability to identify pitches, make great swing decisions and post high contact rates.
James Parker, SS — Clemson (8)
Parker is one of the interesting players from the club’s 10 Day-2 selections. He can handle shortstop right now and has the arm to stick, but the intrigue is in the quick, whippy swing that generated average power this past spring. “It’s a little tougher to see the bat playing regularly,” said an area scout, “but the spikes in performance make an impact so there’s a place to start. I like him at second, and his arm could play in a utility role, which may be a safer place to project him offensively, anyway.”
Colin Davis, OF — Wofford (7)
“He’s gamer with instincts and a high-energy approach,” said one crosschecker. “There’s strength there and some athleticism, but the swing needs a lot of work, which could take time… Defensively I don’t mind him in center, maybe I’m a little high on him in the field.”
Bryan Woo, RHP — Cal Poly (6)
Woo is a physical right-hander with easy velocity into the mid-90s, and scouts believe there may very well be more there. He’s learned to use his lower half better, but there’s room for a more athletic kick and drive. The breaking ball is a projectable tight slider that works well with his four-seamer that rides in on right-handed batters when he finishes well out front.
He’s almost certainly a bullpen arm, and Woo won’t pitch until next summer after April Tommy John, but the velocity potential offers a chance to move quickly once the slider settles.
Andy Thomas, C — Baylor (5)
“I don’t love his chances back there,” a checker said of Thomas’ ability behind the plate. “But the bat? There might be something there.”
Thomas’ power exploded in 2021 versus good competition, showing good bat speed. Mechanically, there are some issues with how he uses his hands and how that might impact his ability to make enough contact in pro ball.
Bryce Miller, RHP — Texas A&M (4)
Miller is my favorite Day-2 pick. He’s flashed velocity into the 95-97 mph range, and up to 98 as a reliever, but in a starting tole impressed this spring holding his 92-94 mph velocity deep into games, and still showing he can get to 97 on occasion. There are two breaking balls here, led by a projectable curveball, and his changeup has a chance thanks to good arm speed.
“Quality arm with a solid floor as a bulk reliever, but he’s new to full-time rotation work. It’s too bad he didn’t have another year there (A&M), he might have ended up a lot higher (in next year’s draft).”
I like Miller’s athleticism and loose arm, and even average control gives him a shot to be a No. 4 starter.
Michael Morales, RHP — East Pennsboro HS (Pa.)
“The kid can pitch,” said a former GM and special assistant. “He may just be scratching the surface. I had him up to 92 and mostly 88-89… easy… movement… and he gets more from it with arm action. I was comfortable writing him up as a future 3-4 based . I put a late-2nd (round grade) on him.”
If you watch video on Morales you may get some Logan Gilbert vibes (not a comp) with his arm action and deception, and despite lacking prototypical size (he’s 6-foot-2, 200 pounds), the fastball projects well long-term. Add to that the Mariners’ penchant for adding velocity and it also feels like a prep edition of the George Kirby selection in 2019.
He settled in at 88-90 most starts, but scouts have seen him 92-93 for stretches, and there’s a clear path to more, suggesting a mid-rotation ceiling.
Edwin Arroyo, SS — Central Pointe Christian Academy (Fla.)
Arroyo is a switch hitter with more upside as a lefty, including a chance for average power down the road, but he enters the system an athlete with a plus arm and defensive chops at shortstop who needs experience and work at the plate.
The swing path needs some help staying true, and while he’s not a burner he’s an above-average runner with some bat control and great hands.
You have to dream a bit, and Arroyo is a long-term prospect, but the reward could be an above-average shortstop with a 50-grade bat, not far off that of current Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford, with Asdrubal Cabrera upside.
Harry Ford, C — North Cobb HS (Ga.)
Ford boasts above-average tools across the board, including 60-grade speed, throw and defense, power that stretches to at least plus, and a present hit tool with a clean route to hitting for plenty of average.
Once you push aside the inherent risk that comes with prep catchers and evaluate Ford as a bat and athlete, the picture starts to look clearer. In other words, Ford is a unicorn.
His physical tools suggest several potential defensive options, including center field and second base, but if I had to bet right now I’d wager third base or catcher.
Ford ranks No. 5 in my prospect rankings and has as much chance to shoot to No. 1in the next year-plus as anyone in the system.
I just thought this would be a fun exercise, but there must be rules, so here they are:
1. No free agents. We know there will be some, but predicting them is a loser’s game, so we’ll stay away for the purpose of painting a potential future picture or three.
2. No trades. Same reason.
3. My prospect rankings and all that goes into them — upside and floor, risk and probability — the current big-league roster, and each player’s contract situation produces the portraits below. I will take only reasonable liberties, such as tendering arbitration contracts and exercising team options.
|POS||PLAYER||B/t||AGE in '23|
Emerson Hancock should be knocking on the door at this point, too, and if he breaks through it the Mariners have a nice problem of ‘too many starters.’
If Kikuchi doesn’t look the part over the final two months, his four-year option becomes highly questionable again, which puts his team control in some doubt.
Brandon Williamson and Matt Brash are currently pacing ahead of Kirby and Hancock in terms of ETA , and may beat the higher-ranked pair to the majors, but one or both could land in the bullpen ultimately, or simply be displaced late in ’22 or early in ’23 by their more talented org mates.
Jason A. Churchill
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