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It wasn’t too long ago that the Seattle Mariners had a young pitcher in Double-A who was converted from a starter to a reliever and then was promoted to the big leagues and became one of the best closers in the game. That was Edwin Diaz in 2016, and now Prelander Berroa could be on the same timeline as Diaz.

The Mariners 12th ranked prospect according to Jason A. Churchill made his first relief appearance out of the bullpen on May 10. He went one inning and walked and struck out one batter. He has made three relief appearances now, his last two being 2 inning appearances. He has struck out nine of the 17 batters he has faced and has walked only two of them, and he has yet to allow a hit in his five innings out of the bullpen.

Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto spoke about the similar timeline for Berroa and Diaz.

It is unrealistic to expect that Berroa will be as good as Diaz was as a rookie. Diaz had a 1.9 fWAR season in 2016 that ranked him 12th among relievers that year. However, Berroa has a nearly 100mph fastball and a slider that Churchill says is “consistently plus and has a chance to be a 70-grade pitch”. So keep an eye on him down in Double-A because he might be in a Seattle uniform soon.

Modesto Nuts (A) – California League

5 Cole Young SS .265/.417/.409, 16.1% BB, 16.1% K
9 Gabriel Gonzalez OF .319/.377/.474, 2 HR 6.9% BB, 13.8% K
18 Michael Morales RHP 6 GS, 30.1 IP, 2.67 ERA, 24.8% K, 10% BB
28 Tyler Gough RHP 6 G, 5 GS, 13 IP, 7.62 ERA, 21.1% K, 12.3% BB
35 Milkar Perez 3B .290/.405/.390, 14.9% BB, 24.8% K
36 Josh Hood SS/3B .275/.336/.435, 3 HR, 8.6% BB, 23% K
48 Tatem Levins C .207/.304/.379, 2 HR 13% BB, 21.7% K

Everett AquaSox (A+) — Northwest League

1 Harry Ford C .264/.426/.424, 3 HR, 19.8% BB, 17.9% K
8 Axel Sanchez SS .160/.284/.200, 11.4% BB, 34.1% K
13 Tyler Locklear 3B .301/.403/.564, 8 HR, 12.6% BB, 22.6% K
25 Hogan Windish 2B .218/.340/.513, 6 HR, 14.9% BB, 28.7% K
29 Alberto Rodriguez OF .311/.413/.505, HR, 12.3% BB, 21.3% K
38 Walking Cabrera OF .264/.330/.462, 4 HR, 9.7% BB, 29.1% K

Arkansas Travelers (AA) – Texas League

6 Bryan Woo RHP 7 GS, 34 IP, 1.85 ERA, 37.7% K, 5.4% BB
7 Emerson Hancock RHP 7 GS, 28.1 IP, 4.45 ERA, 33.1% K, 12.1% BB
12 Prelander Berroa RHP 8 G, 5 GS, 27.2 IP, 4.23 ERA, 35.8% K, 17.5% BB
14 Jonatan Clase OF .292/.396/.591, 9 HR, 146% BB, 28.7% K
19 Juan Then RHP 7 G, 7 IP, 5.00 ERA, 27.5% K, 7.5% BB
21 Robert Perez Jr. 1B .285/.338/.462, 6 HR, 7% BB, 30.3% K
22 Isaiah Campbell RHP 8 G, 8 IP, 3.38 ERA, 21.9% K, 3.1% BB
26 Juan Mercedes RHP 7 G, 6 GS, 36 IP, 3.75 ERA, 26% K, 5.8% BB
33 Travis Kuhn RHP 13 G, 12.1 IP, 2.19 ERA, 16.7% K, 16.7% BB
45 Spencer Packard OF .308/.398/.451, 3 HR, 13% BB, 18.5% K

Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) – Pacific Coast League

15 Taylor Dollard RHP 3 GS, 8.1 IP, 7.56 ERA, 22.2 K%, 8.3% BB
20 Cade Marlowe OF .259/.320/.446, 3 HR, 8% BB, 28% K
24 Zach DeLoach OF .273/.384/.399, 3 HR, 14% BB, 30.2%K
40 Stephen Kolek RHP 11 G, 16.2 IP, 4.86 ERA, 24.7% K, 8.2% BB
UR Brian O’Keefe C .242/.348/.517, 9 HR, 15.8% BB, 27.5% K

Mariners Draft Spotlight

One name that has not been mentioned here this year is Florida right-handed pitcher Hurston Waldrep. He has been ranked in the 10-15 range most of the year so far, but in Joe Doyle’s latest mock draft at Future Stars Series, Waldrep went 19th to the Tampa Bay Rays. That would be just three spots ahead of the Mariners first pick at 22 overall. The 6-foot-2 righty would make sense as a target for Seattle if he falls because of their history drafting college pitchers in the first round.

Waldrep is in his first season pitching for the Gators after transferring in from Southern Mississippi. He was a reliever as a freshman but then had 90 innings in 17 starts as a sophomore, striking out 140 hitters and only walking 33, earning him a 3.20 ERA. He had 3.3 walks per nine and 14 strikeouts per nine, good for a 4.24 strikeout to walk ratio. So far this season he has just under 70 innings and 13 starts he has a 5.00 ERA and 104 strikeouts. He still has a 14 K/9 ratio, but has walked more guys this year, 5.4 per nine, good for a 2.60 strikeout to walk ratio.

The real draw with Waldrep is his four pitch mix. Doyle praised his 15th ranked draft prospect, saying, “The fastball gets up to 99 with immense hop at the top of the zone and true bat-missing qualities. The slider is thrown firm and short with late two-plane tilt that Waldrep gets hitters to chase regularly. The curveball may have the most potential of all his secondaries, but landing it for strikes consistently has come and gone. The splitter, however, is double-plus. It might be the best pitch in the entire class. The tunnel, the parachute, the separation, it’s all elite. Waldrep has a super-athletic frame with well-proportioned strength and a wicked quick arm. He’s a true power pitcher with a bulldog mentality on the bump.”

Here are a few of those “double-plus” splitters Doyle talked about.

There are many positives with Waldrep, and if the Mariners get the chance to draft him, he would join the group of current Mariners pitching prospects that includes Bryan Woo, Emerson Hancock, Michael Morales, and several other younger pitchers. Based on where he has been ranked by Doyle(15th), MLB Pipeline(11th), and Keith Law(10th), Seattle would be lucky to get the chance to draft him.

Mariners Prospects in the News

Here are Dipoto’s comments on a variety of topics, including Berroa, from his conversation with Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports.

Corey Brock of The Athletic wrote about one of the Mariners top prospects developing down in Modesto.

MLB Pipeline highlighted the best prospect finds by each MLB organization. Who did the Mariners find? Someone they signed for only $35,000.

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Curtis Christianson

Curtis Christianson is the Athletic Director at Concordia Christian Academy. He also works in the Tacoma Rainiers clubhouse during the baseball season.