The Seattle Mariners claimed right-handed pitcher J.B. Bukauskas off of waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this week. To clear room for him on the 40 man roster, Seattle DFA’d minor league outfielder Alberto Rodriguez. Bukauskas was drafted with the 15th overall pick in the 2017 draft by the Houston Astros. He was acquired by the D-Backs in the deal that sent Zack Greinke to the Astros.
The top prospect shine has worn off of the right hander, but there is a non-zero chance that the potential that scouts saw in him in college is still in there. He was at one time considered one of the Astros top prospects, and MLB Pipeline even had him ahead of Yordan Alvarez in 2018. While things have changed significantly for both players since that ranking, the Mariners will take a low risk, high reward wager on a pitcher who could have the tools to improve, and the Mariners player development could help him get there.
Jason A. Churchill had some comments about Bukauskas on Twitter.
“It’s a good arm, up to 97 in short stints, heavy average slider usage, and a changeup that projected as plus, particularly when he was viewed as a potential starter and getting bulk innings.
“The general consensus is he fits best as a middle reliever where his fastball could sit 95-98 and his slider and change could play up — mainly the slider that produces high % of whiffs.”
“Like several of the club’s reliever pickups in recent years, Bukauskas reminds a bit of Austin Adams…”
“It would be no surprise if the Mariners see him as a reliever only, but the fact he once possessed a potentially plus-plus changeup intrigues me beyond a 1-2 inning stint.”
It is not impossible for him to be someone who pitches out of the Mariners bullpen and eats some of the middle innings in 2023. He is most likely going to compete in Spring Training for a roster spot with some of the other middle relievers on the 40 man roster like Trevor Gott, Easton McGee, Gabe Speier, Justin Topa, and others. Based on the Mariners past successes with waiver claims, he could be a surprise to many Mariners fans in 2023.
Mariners International Free Agency Signings
The Mariners made several International Free Agent signings official this week; most notably, adding 17-year-old shortstop Felnin Celesten to their farm system. He was considered by many to be one of the top prospects in this year’s IFA class, and the switch-hitting 17-year-old is one of the most hyped Dominican prospects of the last decade. Jason A. Churchill wrote about how big of a step forward the system took with the addition of Celesten and others. Click here to read more about two of the more exciting arms the club signed as well.
The sky’s the limit for Felnin Celesten. #SeaUsRise
That and more from Tuesday’s @SeattleSports Hot Stove Show 👉 https://t.co/LHRW7p95xI pic.twitter.com/rCiFKgNsXJ
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) January 20, 2023
Mariners Draft Spotlight
For this weeks Mariners Draft Spotlight, the string of college hitters continues with Virginia Tech outfielder Jack Hurley. Hurley is a 6-foot left-handed hitter who slashed .375/.452/.664 in 58 games for the Hokies in 2022. He also hit 14 homers and swiped 10 bags. Jonathan Mayo spoke about Hurley’s potential to be a five tool player in a video showcasing his swing.
Prospects Live has him ranked as the 19th best prospect in the upcoming 2023 draft, and he would be a type of players the Mariners haven’t drafted in the first round for a while, a college hitter. The last time they took a college hitter was when they took Kyle Lewis and Evan White in 2016 and 2017. Since then, they have not gone back to the college hitter profile.
Prospects Live had high praise for the soon to be 21-year-old, “Hurley is a bit of a five-tool player who can impact the game. He’s got the hit tool and the raw power, and he’s got the speed to steal double-digit bags as a pro.”
“Hurley comes packed in an athletic frame with well-proportioned strength and organic loft built into his swing. He doesn’t have to sellout for power or force things to his pull-side. He stays up the middle of the field, letting his bat speed handle the rest.”
The only concern they have for him is that he may have to work on his plate discipline a bit, and he was a bit streaky at times in 2022. However, on the whole he only struck out 51 times compared to 32 walks. Hurley was the left fielder for the Hokies last season, but with the departure of 2022 first round pick Gavin Cross, Hurley projects to be in line to play at least some center field in 2023.
It may be too early to tell for certain who the Mariners Amateur Scouting Director Scott Hunter will want to select in July, but getting to know some of the names of the players who may be available is certainly exciting.
Mariners Prospects In the News
Baseball America released their top 10 Mariners prospects, including a projected 2026 lineup as well as the best tools in the organization. There were also three M’s prospects in the Baseball America Top 100 prospect ranking.
Jesse Sanchez and Daniel Kramer checked in with their thoughts on the Mariners IFA class.
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