In the 20 years I’ve now ranked Mariners prospects (yep, 20) I’ve never had more fun than I did with this group. A year ago, there were over 70 prospects in the system with big-league traits. This winter, there are still nearly 60, and probably 25 projectable major leaguers, albeit a lot of role players and relievers.
There are lots of lists out there ranking the prospects in every system in baseball. Not everyone does it the same. How one ranks players depends on a lot of factors, including how they value roles, risk, and upside.
One big difference for me is the value of a relief prospect. I value them, but a pure reliever, unless potentially a legit high-leverage arm, isn’t that difficult or particularly pricey to acquire, so I generally would value certain upside plays more, and you will see that reflected below.
The following rankings and notes are compiled through video study, live looks, and literally hundreds of conversations since the start of spring training a year ago. For players I haven’t seen live, or at all in the case of some of the short-season prospects, I will lean heavier on those conversations to find the proper evals for tools and the overall player in question.
Find Best Tools, System Strengths & Weaknesses and my Projected 2025 Lineup & Rotation RIGHT HERE.
Here are my 20th annual Mariners Prospect Rankings.
Considering projected abitlities and the timeline of his bat, there’s probably just a 30-40% chance Ford catches, but has all the tools to stick if the club wants to ride it out a while. If they don’t Ford’s bat is most of the story here.
He makes a lot of quality contact off above-average contact rates for a 19-year-old in full-season ball, the first of Ford’s professional career. He throws well and has athleticism which suggests he could match with another high-value position on the field. I’m not buying second base at this stage, but third or one of the three outfield spots sounds reasonable.
Ford’s hard-hit rates aren’t off the charts, nor are his exit velocities, but his strikeout rates are more than acceptable thus far, he rarely produces weak balls in play, and uses a good portion of the field with some punch.
It’s a potential 55 hit tool with 55 or better power in the mold of a Russell Martin, Craig Biggio, or Edgardo Alfonzo, and there’s a chance for a multi-time All-Star here — and at least an outside shot it comes at catcher — so Ford gets the nod at No. 1 to start the season.
Ford is line to start 2023 at High-A Everett, where a similar level of offensive production as 2022 in Modesto answers some questions.
Side-By-Side Rankings Comparison: Doyle vs. Churchill
Miller has used his athleticism to clean up some delivery questions he had on Draft Day, and along the way has added effective velocity he generally holds beyond 80 pitches, changing his entire profile in the right direction.
Though he still deploys a long arm path, Miller is more in-sync and in-line to the plate and possesses average control of his four-seamer, regularly touching the mid-90s and notably will hit 99-100 mph on occasion. His best secondary is a mid-80s slider flashing average or better but needing consistency and more tilt to generate more swings and misses.
The right-hander also shows a fringe-average changeup with some deception and sink when he keeps in down. The package projects as a good No. 4 starter, but there’s room for quite a bit more thanks to the fastball value Miller brings to the table. It’s a 70-grade pitch or better entering 2023, and even a half-tick progress with command and the slider suggest a No. 2 profile is within reach, especially if his cutter proves useful enough to take some pressure off the other two secondaries.
As long as he’s healthy, Miller will help the big club in 2023, and it’s difficult to believe it won’t be, at least in part, in the rotation. Miller carries a high floor since his present stuff and command already suggest a high-leverage option out of the Mariners’ bullpen, which is where he could start the season.
While one can argue Ford or Miller at No. 1, the club’s latest big international signing was in the discussion, too, until about halfway through the process.
He’s yet to play a professional game, but his profile is marred only by the inherent raw hit tool teeangers bring to pro ball. The 17-year-old brings above-average physical tools and a chance to make an impact at the plate, on the bases, and in the field.
On the upside, we may be talking about a multi-time All-Star shortstop with an above-average glove and a chance at .270 or better and 15-20 homers. That’s a 5-win player in a healthy season. Celesten, however, has work to do, not only in terms of making consistent contact, but maintaining both swings, and his conditioning if he’s going to keep his 6-foot-2 frame agile enough to stay at short as he matures physically.
The Mariners, however, rave about his engery and desire to get better, and there are no signs of anything but a future major leaguer. How far up the spectrum he climbs is the only question.
Celesten will start the year in the summer league. Which one remains to be seen, but the club has a history of leaning heavily toward the Dominican Summer League, regardless of the player’s credentials and upside.
You heard it first on Baseball Things when friend of the show Jeremy Booth told us Arroyo had a chance to be a special bat and said there was some Edgar Martinez in the frame and hit tool.
Arroyo, who just turned 18 in Nocember, did not disappoint in the DSL last summer, torching the league to the tune of a .314/.457/.484 slash, while playing mostly at his natural shortstop.
There’s some swing and miss that needs to be cleaned up and he tends to get out on his front foot a bit too often, but he squares up pitches loudly and often with a quick, compact swing, and has an advanced ability to stay off breaking balls out of the zone, suggesting a real chance at a high-average hitter with well above-average OBPs and at least doubles power.
He’s a good athlete with present strength and is starting to fill out a 5-foot-11 frame (more Edgar comparisons), and handled short fine in 2022, but projects to move to the hot corner down the line. I wonder if the club doesn’t start the transition at second to see if that could work early in his big-league career; there are worse athletes playing second base these days. But Arroyo’s ability to put the barrel on the ball is unique for his age and it’s an easy profile to lean on with probability an enough upside to ignore some of the risk and elicit excitement.
I’d be surprised if Arroyo isn’t considered for Modesto to start the season, and at least sees the Cal League sometime over the course of the summer schedule, much like Gabriel Gonzalez last summer.
Young got busy right after being the Mariners’ first-round pick last summer by hitting his way into a couple of weeks of action Class-A Modesto where, guess what, he kept on hitting. It was a small sample, but impressive nonetheless.
His left-handed swing is simple and short to the ball, and his natural ability to identify strikes bodes well for the future. How much power he taps into depends largely on how much strength he can add to a modest 6-foot frame, but he uses the whole field and has handled velocity above his levels thus far.
But let’s talk a little more about the swing. It’s friggin’ gorgeous.
Young isn’t a great athlete, but he moves easily in the field and has the chops to stick at shortstop thanks to footwork and instincts. He also looks like a 55/60-grade second baseman to me. It’s an average arm or I’d be a bit more bullish about short.
Young will likely start the season in Modesto with a chance at Everett around the time he turns 20 years of age. That’s what polish can do for you.
If you argued Young belongs ahead of Arroyo, I wouldn’t fight you, but I see more offensive upside in Arroyo… for now.
Removing all prior context, in 2022 Hancock looked like a future back-end starter in the mold of Phil Hughes or Tanner Roark. That’s not what the Mariners thought they were getting when they took the Georgia righty No. 6 overall in 2020.
Hancock sits 92-95 and touches 97 with his fastball, throwing strikes at an above-average rate and pitching with average command. The slider is a 40-45 pitch but flashes, and his changeup looks like the best chance at a plus secondary.
He has a curveball he’s essentially ditched at this point.
Despite the velocity, Hancock doesn’t miss many bats with his two-seamer, though there is some ground ball ability here. The club helped him introduce a four-seamer, but it didn’t take early in his first full season last summer, so the jury is out on its future.
Hancock is athletic and repeats his delivery well. In every way but one — stuff — he looks like a frontline arm. Having said that, he’s battled through a lot since winter 2020 with his college season getting cut short, not having a minor league season and then having his 2021 campaign cut sort by injury (shoulder).
He dealt with a lat issue in 2022 and didn’t get going until mid-May. Hancock enters 2023 with just 143 professional innings under hit belt, and just 167 since the end of his sophomore season at Georgia.
We’ve seen better breaking stuff from Hancock than he’s displayed as a pro and the hope is we see it again in 2023. If he can get more value out of the fastball, it will take some pressure off the slider, but otherwise it’s a lot to ask of an in-zone two-seamer and a pair of average secondaries, suppressing his ceiling and role, or perhaps stalling his ETA even further.
The ball explodes out of Woo’s hand; his fastball has good hop and ASR and his slider breaks late to his glove side with a bit of depth when at its best. He’ll need more consistency with the breaking ball to start long-term, but everything else the right-hander does suggests the club should continue to give him a chance to prove he’s a rotation candidate.
It’s underrated athleticism that’s in sync and smooth from break to release, creating arm speed and deception with a 3/4 slot, which all bods well for the development of the slider. Woo’s changeup is his best secondary, set up well by mid-90s heat (up to 99), inducing ground balls, and plenty of swing-and-miss when he finishes well out front.
There’s mid-rotation upside here and he’s barely getting started in pro ball after having UCL surgery in April 2021 and not making his pro debut until last June. He’s thrown just 137 innings since high school, and that includes his time in the Arizona Fall League after last season.
With a floor of a high-leverage arm, perhaps of the multi-inning variety, Woo carries a promising probability-upside combo into the season, despite the delayed start to his career and light workload the past five years.
I expect Woo to enter camp with a chance to start the year in Double-A Arkansas where his stuff will be tested by better bats, prepping him for some big-league time.
I’m likely high-man on Sanchez because I lean toward upide and the rare, more difficult-to-find talent, but if he has three times as many plate appearances with the same results, he’d be starting 2023 in High-A Everett as my No. 4 prospect.
The physical tools stand out from above-average bat speed to a 60-grade arm and above-average speed and range in the field. He’s a legit shortstop and smart, aggressive baserunner, playing with rare energy and some swagger, reminding a bit of Javier Baez.
Unfortunately, the strong performance has come in a small sample thus far, and like Baez there’s been too much swing and miss so far. But Sanchez just turned 20 in December and with the exception of a 34-PA spell in Everett has done damage at every stop.
The eight homers he smacked in Modesto isn’t exactly a harbinger, but his swing does produce leverage and loft, and he carries a career double-digit walk rate into 2023.
There’s a lot to like here, but it comes with questions only time can answer. It happens to be the kind of bet I prefer over soft ceilings and probability.
Gonzalez brings one potential plus tool to the ballpark every day and it happens to be the one that carries players the furthest, and provides the most confidence in a hitter’s development.
There’s not a lot of power to project here, though efficiency, swing maturity and high contact rates could get him into the 12-15 range down the line, though he’s a little bigger and stronger than I anticipated, and he has mid-grade or better bat speed that could produce more fly balls.
Gonzalez is not a great athlete, offering only corner-outfield potential with a 55 arm and fringe-average projected speed, but solid-average range thanks to good instincts and routes, and a Jerry Rice-like ability to avoid wasted movement in the field.
Gonzalez has a shot to be a right-handed version of Andrew Benintendu on the high side, and he could reach the majors in a supporting role by late 2025.
Ford is a high-upside right-hander with arm speed and athleticism, and may have the makings of a plus slider. He’s touched the upper-90s with his four-seamer and pitches comfortably 91-94 in high school.
Ford should see time in the complex league this summer, and once he gets rolling there’s no telling how far the raw stuff could take him in 2023.
Montes is the quintessential boom-or-bust type of prospect at this stage of his career.
It’s 70-grade future power if the 6-foot-3, 215-pound outfield can shorten up his left-handed swing, but the fact he whiffed in a third of his plate appearances in the DSL last summer reinforces the initial scouting report and proves he has a ways to go.
But Montes is an underrated athlete that projects as an average right fielder for now, and should be have no problem handling first base from an agility standpoint should he need to move. If he hits, the power will play anywhere on the field.
The swing is a bit long and he will cheat and chase, but he’s just 18, understands the zone, and hit some offspeed stuff hard in his rookie season, so the profile lives, even though a ton of risk remains.
Fred McGriff upside?
Berroa may have the best raw stuff in the system, starting with a 70-grade or better fastball serving as a bowling ball down in the zone and a … well, a bowling ball up. There’s easy armside run at 94-97 mph mph, and he’s touched 99-100 mph a few times. The pitch induces ground balls and whiffs.
Not bad, though, considering Seattle acquired Berroa this past summer in exchange for infielder Donovan Walton, who has since been DFA’d by the Giants.
The Mariners are curiously bullish on Locklear, selecting him No. 58 overall out of a mid-major, despite legit concerns he could stick at third base and hit big-time pitching.
He’s always performed well, however, and that didn’t change in his first stint in pro ball. He raced to Modesto and looked the part in 29 games, posting .282/.353/.504 slash with a 41.5% hard-hit rate.
Clase, a switch hitter, has speed to spare and finds the gaps enough in the minors — thanks to added strength — to suggest he can do the same as he moves into the upper minors.
Expect Clase to start 2023 in High-A Everett.
Dollard is essentially the opposite of Berroa. He’ll throw strikes with four pitches, led by a low-90s fastball occasionally touching 94 mph, an average slider and 40-grade changeup that flashes average. He also has a curveball he doesn’t throw much.
Dollard doesn’t get a lot of inherent fastball value, but he commands it well enough to attack every inch of the zone and work off it with the breaking ball.
His slider lacks consistency, but at its best it has tilt and enough horizontal break to induce some whiffs and weak contact.
Dollard is going to need his changeup versus left-handed batters in the majors, but hasn’t in the minors thanks to fastball command and his ability to backfoot the slider.
His upside is limited without more from the four-seamer, but he’s probably a major-league No. 5 or a long reliever as early as 2023, and he has the frame to handle more effort in the delivery if it helps gain a tick in velocity.
Izzi, another projectable prep arm with a chance at a plus-plus fastball, already sits 91-94 mph in a starting role and has flashed into the 96-98 mph range in shorter outings. His slider gets soft at times but flashed fringe-average in high school and projects well as he learns to repeat his arm slot.
If he’s to start long-term, his promising changeup enters pro ball in a decent spot, but is at least a few years from average.
Arms like this come with relatively high floors because of the projectable fastball value, but there’s potential for a lot more than that here. It’s just likely to take some time to develop secondaries, tweek the delivery and build up the body.
Izzi likely sees time in the complex league this summer after spending last summer adding strength. If he remains a starter, he’s at least four years away, but that gets cut a year or so if he moves to the bullpen along the way.
The southpaw has built up his body and now it’s a matter of throwing strikes.
He should be stateside this winter and spring, setting him up for some ACL action in 2023, and a chance for the Mariners player development group to work their magic.
Morales was the club’s third-round pick in 2021, a round after Edwin Arroyo, and from Day 1 it looked like a long play.
After his first full season, Morales, now 20, has shown good feel and control, but lacks in stuff, which shouldn’t be all that surprising at this stage.
There’s a future average curveball and slider but neither have been major weapons to date. Despite sitting 89-91 and touching 92 most outings, Morales will get some swing and miss on the four-seamer.
His changeup is a better weapon now than either breaker, but he’s shown touch and command, suggesting it’s a future value for him.
Morales spent all year in Modesto, making 26 starts and covering 120.1 innings, but I’m not sure it’s a slam dunk he moves to Everett to start 2023.
More velocity and general fastball value is key to his future role, and his frame (6-2, 205) doesn’t offer a lot of physical projection, so I’m not sure we’re talking about a future big-league starter yet, and Morales doesn’t strike me as the kind of arm that ticks up in shorter stints. Therefore, I think Seattle will take their time with the right-hander and hope the velocity ticks up and he arrives a four-pitch innings eater in the Mike Leake mold.
Clarke starts with an easy 3/4 delivery, a bit of armside run and average sink on fastball at 91-94 mph, occasionally 95-96. It’s a fringe-average slider he can throw for strikes and projectable changeup with good arm speed.
Clarke is aorund the zone a lot and has above-average command of his best two offerings. His curveball has chance to be the best pitch, ultimately, however. It was inconsistent in 2022, but can be a hammer and a plus offering with more consistency, but it’s mostly been below-average.
Clarke has started almost exclusively in pro ball after serving as a closer at USC prior to being the Cubs’ fourth-round pick in 2019. He ould do a better job throwing downhill if he wants to chase the groundball result with his fastball. If club wants to speed up his delivery and move him to the bullpen, more velocity is likely in the offing, but getting him to stay closed longer may be key to both bigger velo and health.
He’s a Rule 5 pick, so he’s either in the majors or the Mariners will have to offer him back to the Cubs. I don’t him him winning a spot in the rotation, but perhaps the Mariners see him as an early-season long reliever to assist in covering some innings in the colder months before being forced to make the ultimate decision on him.
And yes, there are plenty of similarities between Clarke and Chris Flexen stuff wise, despite the differing deliveries and arm slots.
Then is a big-league arm by now if not for the injuries that have held him back. It’s an easy 96 mph with some life to his arm side, and his slider has flashed plus.
Once a wiry athlete, Then has maintained the athleticism but has put on some good weight, which should serve him well over the long haul.
He battled elbow problems last season, but looked pretty good in a dozen appearances, 10 at Double-A Arkansas where he posted a 14-3 K/BB ratio, and sat 94-98 mph from his typical 3/4 slot, flashing the plus breaker, but battling some release-point inconsistency, probably thanks to some timing issues that are apparent in his delivery.
The fastball will miss bats, partially because of good life, partially due to some deception he creates with his arm path behind his front side.
The slider is a bit short on break, but he commands it pretty well and can use versus righties and lefties alike.
Expect Then, if healthy, to be one of the first handful of pure relievers the club calls upon, likely from a return to Double-A to start the season.
Marlowe is a good athlete with at least 55 raw speed, good baserunning and defensive instincts, and some tools at the plate that could play at the big-league level.
He’s maxed out physically now at 25, however, and he’s had problems with contact — a 25.7% strikeout rate in Arkansas, then 23 whiffs in 60 PAs in Triple-A Tacoma — so there’s a lot of work to do, and time isn’t on his side.
He’s managed OK versus lefties, but has made his mark largely due to his production versus right-handed pitching, which is his best chance to help the Mariners in 2023: Off the bench, versus right-handed arms.
Marlowe’s power is a bit sneaky — he hit 25 homers in 2021 and 21 more a year ago, and he finds the gaps regularly and runs to daylight. Despite the high whiff rates, he’s always hit for average, which is why he’s in the conversation for the majors entering 2023.
I suspect Marlowe heads back to Tacoma for the start of the 2023 season, serving as one of the top reinforcements should injuries or performance issues occur, specifically with Jarred Kelenic and Taylor Trammell.
|22||Robert Perez Jr.||1B||22||2025|
Two years ago I said on multiple platforms Perez needed to get to Everett and hit before I’d buy him as a legit prospect. Since then, he raked at Modesto in 2021, struggled in a small sample in Everett, returned there for 35 games in 2023 and hit there, too, so here we are.
He’s a first base-only guy, so there’s a metric eff-ton of pressure on the bat, and I’m not convinced it’s more than 20-homer power (despite 60-grade raw), but there’s more trending in the right direction with the hit tool here than Perez has been given credit for to date.
He likely starts back in High-A Everett, but has a chance to reach Arkansas at age 23, and if he performs there with power it’s a bit of a gamechanger.
I’ll believe it when I see it, but there’s no doubting the pop and the progress Perez has made the past two seasons.
I like Perez as a Tyler Moore type on the upside.
Campbell’s injuries are probably the only thing that have kept him from the Mariners’ bullpen.
He’s 92-95 mph and up to 98 mph with effective life, including some armside run and sink that can be devastating to right-handed batters who just dont pick up the ball wel out of Campbell’s hands, despite a relatively high release point.
He has two breaking balls, but the slider is the one with future value and it flashes above-average, and he can throw it for strikes away to right-handed batters.
He entered pro ball with a curveball and hard changeup, too, but neither get used much.
Campbell had cleanup surgery on his elbow last year and if he staves off the IL this season is another right-hander on the short list for time in the majors.
Expect him to start the season in Arkansas.
Munoz, a 20-year-old right-hander who has spent the past two years in the DSL, has stuff beyond the level of competition, and it started to show last summer as he threw more strikes.
He’s up to 96 mph and consistently 90-93 with above-average hop and occasional armside run, and he also deploys a short-cutting, complementary slider that will need more depth in the states.
Speaking of the states, Munoz is ready for that challenge this summer.
He’s 6-foot-2 and just under 190 pounds now, and the arm is loose and live. He’s probably just a relief prospect, but there are some legit big-league traits on his fastball-slider combo, suggesting in such a role he could move quickly through the lower minors and into the plans in a hurry.
DeLoach, the club’s second-round pick in 2020, brought polish to pro ball, but it’s yet to explode into projectable big-league skills.
He controls the zone well and uses the whole field, but doesn’t find the barrel much and in general hasn’t found enough quality contact (26.1% hard-hit).
DeLoach is an above-average corner outfielder with an average arm and a chance to hit for average and get on base, but the power hasn’t shown up and the hit tool hasn’t produced as expected.
One scout opined “he’s not aggressive enough” and I’d add his opportunities to get to his pull side are too-often missed because he’s occasionally unnecessarily selective, and has a little trouble getting to good velocity.
He’s 24 now and starting to run out of time, but I can’t see Seattle pushing him to Tacoma after a .258/.369/.409 season in Arkansas, so I expect him back there for a third time looking for a way to get the bat head out front without sacrificing coverage and contact.
Windish a better athlete than anyone will ever give him credit for and he’s serviecable at second base despite a 6-foot-1, 225-pound frame that typically belongs elsewhere.
He has plenty of arm for a corner, and projects to hit for some average, but the swing doesn’t produce backspin yet, hence the lack of power.
I’m curious to see what adjustments Windish can make, because he squares it up often enough to hit 20 homers. He’s likely to start back in Modesto and get to Everett over the summer, unless the Mariners want to challenge Windish due to his age and experience and see how he responds.
Mercedes belongs in relief where his fastball plays up some, allowing him to get to one of his two average secondaries.
His slider projects to average, and in shorter stints may take a jump from the fringe-average levels, which could make him a viable middle reliever, a role in which could get him to the majors inside a year and a half.
One of the club’s top international signings in January, Martinez enters pro ball with a big-league body and advanced feel for pitching.
The knock is the projection on his sinking fastball, but there’s present velocity, athleticism and feel for secondaries, making the right-hander a projectable arm with plenty of time to develop.
Gough, pronounced ‘Guff’, is a right-hander with good arm speed, the chance at four quality pitches — including a fastball that could get into the mid-90s more regularly as a pro and touched 97 in high school — but lacks physical projection and comes with some arm action concerns.
I like his chances to move quickly once he’s in full-season ball, and I think he starts until at least Double-A, but this may be a full-arsenal reliever in the Jeremy Hellickson or Luke Weaver mold.
It’s all bat for Rodriguez, and he didn’t hit much in 2022. At the stem, he offers bat speed, above-average raw power and showed in 2021 an ability to find the barrel.
Against better pitching in two stops in Everett he’s struggled to stay in the zone and getting to his pull side. He’s just 22, but we’re likely to know pretty quickly in 2023 whether or not Rodriguez is a legit piece or not, if we don’t already.
Wilson doesn’t bring the physicality Martinez does, but the athleticism and arm action produce tons of fastball life and deception, and therefore a similarly-valued floor with enough upside to suggest a rotation role.
Jimenez gets lost in the DSL shuffle, but at 19 showed patience and some lefty pop to go with good athleticism and a chance to stay in center.
Lora has made just eight appearances (all in the DSL last summer), but has flashed a fluid delivery and loose arm into the upper-80s easily, touching 91 mph with a developing slider and changeup.
The body is projectable at 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds.
Kuhn is 95-99mph with the four-seamer, setting up a short slider he gets in on lefties and uses as a down-and-away pitch versus right-handed bats.
The heater lacks ride and he struggles with general control, but the arm strength is big and he’s a tweak away from seeing the majors.
Perez, now 21, has yet to produce despite physical tools and tremendously-advanced zone judgment that has led to big walk rates.
The switch hitter is stronger from the left side, but has had problems making enough contact, generating loft, and finding the barrel. He posted a paltry 18.5% hard-hit rate a year ago.
Defensively he’s a question mark at third, but if the bat doesn’t play the glove talk is moot. He survives the rankings thanks to the projectable plate skills and chance for average or better power.
Talavera is all projection, but at 17 and 18 he flashed in the DSL, and it’s difficult not to like the live, loose arm and athleticism. He’s scraping the upper-80s mostly, but he’s touched 92 mph and showed an improved breaker in 2022, along with better command and general control.
Hood is a good athlete with above-average raw power and a chance to stay on the dirt, likely at third base.
He could fit well in a corner outfield spot, too, giving him the kind of positional flexibility which lands him tinhe show, but there’s probably too much swing-and-miss for an everyday player.
Hood likely sees Modesto in 2022 with a chance to get to Everett by season’s end — if he hits.
Aguilar, now 19, showed some bat-to-ball skills in the ACL last summer, but no power (.337 SLG, 7 XBH in 185 PA),and too much swing-and-miss.
He’s a below-average athlete overall, but does move his feet well enough to play third base for now, but may have to move across the diamond at some point soon, which means the bat is his calling card with a long way to go.
One of the more underrated bats in the California League from a year ago, Cabrera posted a 46.8% hard-hit rate in 422 PAs at the age of 21. He also drew some walks (9.5%) and his K rate was reasonable, though there’s work to do there and in terms of turning the quality of contact into more damage.
The 18-year-old debuted in the DSL last summer and struggled to make contact (40% K), but did draw a bunch of walks and remains a solid athlete with a chance to plays second base. His swing is producing a lot of ground balls, probably too many fly balls, and not enoughline drives, but until he lends a better read by putting the ball in play more it’s tough to suggest anything but strength and swing maturity here as the culprits.
Kolek offers everything clubs want in a pitcher from a physical standpoint at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds and well above-average arm strength. He’s up to 98 mph with his fastball and regularly 93-95, and offers a slider and changeup.
The fastball isn’t a big swing-and-miss pitch, but it does carry some to his arm side and may play up in shorter stints. Kolek’s slider lacks consistent sweep, but he can throw both pitches to either side of the plate, and the breaking ball will flash above-average.
The right-hander, 26 in April, is a bit of an under-the-radar arm when talking about minor leaguers that could help the parent club out of the bullpen this season. Seattle could deploy Kolek in the role, despite starting all 27 appearances in 2022.
Tatiz, 22, has the projectable physical presence at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, supporting a 91-93 mph fastball that’s topped out around 96. His best secondary is a fringe-averageslider and teasing better, but his changeup hasn’t developed and he’s bringing fringe control to the mound, suggesting he’s a relief arm moving forward.
Polcovich, 24 to start the 2023 season, has tools beyond his size, including average power, a plus arm and above-average speed. He’s played four positions as a pro, including shortstop and center, and has looked playable in all of them. He profiles best at second, but has the arm and athleticism to play the outfield or fill in at third base.
Polcovich may want to consider giving up switch hitting, however. He batted .196/.287/.301 as a righty last season in Arkansas, after a .206/.322/.288 slash in 2021. He makes enough contact as a lefty (20.6% K) to suggest a utility role in the next few years, thanks to versatility, walks and a chance to hit .250 or better.
Meza is one of this year’s signees, but keep his name in mind. He possesses above-average arm strength and is already hitting 92-93 in pretty much every session, short or long, and has scraped 95 “here and there” at just 16 years of age. It’s a high-effort delivery with a bit of violence, but the arm speed is consitent and breaking ball promising for the long haul.
Packard isn’t going to be an everyday player in the majors, but there’s a role for guys in thire mid-late 20s that make contact, hit for some average, and offer at least gap power. That’s Packard, who would rank several spots spots higher if he also offered defensive value and/or was a few years younger.
This is probably his last year in the Top 50 without a pretty big jump in production in 2024, but he may see Double-A. He’ll need to find the barrel more (21% hard-hit, 25.4% soft-hit) to get there, however.
Curvelo took a step back in 2022, but the stuff was fine. The right-hander struggled throwing strikes, and more specifically, locating his mid-90s four-seam fastball.
He can backdoor the slider or bury it versus lefties, but the pitch lacks consistent sweep/tilt to project it much beyond average.
It’s a reliever-only high-effort delivery, but the 22-year-old offers some deception to add fastball value, so if he can find a way to pound the zone more he has a shot at a middle-relief role.
Cruz is an athletic outfielder with a chance to stay in center and hit for average, and he showed progress in ’22 with some added strength and more barrels, hitting four homers in 36 games after just one long ball in 2021.
He’s 18 and could see the complex league this summer, a sign the club likes the trend, but he’ll need to continue to add strength to carry projection.
Carlson could easily be left off this Top 50, but I saw him twice last summer and he appeared to have figured out some things with his delivery.
He sat 89-93 mph with some run in on right-handers with a two-seamer, and a low-80s breaker sweeping the other direction. He did hit 94-95 twice, suggesting the arm strength may be showing signs of returning, at least to an extent, and the feel on his changeup suggests a legit weapon.
Working against Carlson, he’s now 24 — spent all of 2022 at age 23 — and still doesn’t throw enough strikes, and the stuff remains underwhelming.
His best chance may be as a back-end starter with ground ball abilities, or if he shortens up and finds more fastball value. Where Carlson starts 2023 may be interesting to some, but I’d run him back out for Modesto until it appears he’s equipped to go through a Northwest League lineup twice.
At the end of the day, it’s probably time to go the relief route and let him use his physical tools to max out and narrow the focus in his repertoire after he’s spent the better part of his pro career trying to regain arm strength and velocity after early UCL surgery.
Levins is a very intriguing C/1B combo with a left-handed bat highlighted by sneaky power, high contact and plus zone judgment.
He may only carry backup-catcher upside defensively, but he’s athletic and strong, produced in a good college conference, and could slide through to Everett as early as this summer. If you doubt Levins’ credentials, go find a highlight video. You’ll like what you see.
He’s just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, but Rodriguez packs some punch and offers average second-base defense and a 55 arm.
He swings and misses too much (27%) but spent 2022 in the complex league at 19 after a big year in the DSL the previous summer.
It’s certainly a bench profile but if he can learn to make more contact without giving up the gap power, Rodriguez is a fun player to watch for in the lower minors.
Jason A. Churchill
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