X = Extended spring training.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
1 Justus Sheffield LHS 23  AAA

Has been mostly 91-94, and time with 35-40 command, 45 slider, 40 changeup early. Flashes of 60 slider, up to 95 with FB. Missing to arm side a lot, putting pressure on secondaries v RHB. Haven’t seen the good changeup a lot, but it’s there. Not a good bet to get through six innings in bigs without significant fastball command improvement, but the fix is likely a small tweak. We’ve seen what he can do when his mechanics are synced and it’s borderline dominant.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
2 Jarred Kelenic RF 19  A

Too many pitcher’s counts early, but has been on a tear for three weeks. Plus bat speed, strike zone judgment, plate discipline, chance for 60-plus hit tool, 60-plus power. Opponents gameplanning for him, avoiding zone with runners on base. Runs well, but not a burner. Good CF instincts, plus arm. Makeup off the charts.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
3 Justin Dunn RHS 23  AA

Live arm, repeats delivery up to but not always including release point/out-front finish. Fastball has life, plane, armside run. Slider is inconsistent and short with late vertical break, but at times has been a plus weapon and batters must defend it. Changeup still needs work, some fade and sink. Control and command are a bit spotty, work in progress.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
4 Julio Rodriguez RF 18  A

Injury derailed terrific start. Showed good instincts at plate, in field, on bases, swing keeps bat in zone, bodes well for enough future contact. Showed 60 game power early, 65 or better raw. Athletic enough to be solid-average corner outfielder. Enough arm for RF. Plays with energy, enthusiasm.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
5 Logan Gilbert RHS 22  A

Last year’s 1st-round pick has been 92-97 with life up in zone, good plane at the bottom. Spike CB is above-average, flashing plus. Changeup lack movement but worked well in the SAL off velocity. Cal League will force more consistent command, changeup usage.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
6 Kyle Lewis RF 23  AA

Not enough contact early, but chase rate down since April 17. Has flashed 65 power from RCF to LF line. Running well, no signs of significant leftover from 2016 knee surgery. Plus arm, 50-55 instincts in CF, routes are above average, below average jumps.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
7 Evan White 1B 23  AA

Missed half the month with hop flexor; slow start, but positives from last summer remain. Looking to drive fastballs with aggressive, torque-filled swing that creates backspin but doesn’t lag. Using middle of the field well.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
8 Shed Long 2B/3B 23  AAA

Holding own, average raw power showing occasionally. Being challenged to cover entire zone, adjusting fairly well, but can he do it with pop? Learning 3B, LF, still needs focused innings at each spot. Still working on hands, transfer at 2B. Plus runner.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
9 Cal Raleigh C 22  A+

Been very aggressive looking to take advantage of smaller ballparks and Cal League environment. Better April as LHB, just 20 PA as RHB. Defensively, showing average or better catch-and-throw with 50 arm strength and plus accuracy.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
10 Noelvi Marte SS/3B 17  X

Marte is set to debut next month, likely in the DSL.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
11 Sam Carlson RHS 20  X+

Carlson is rehabbing from last summer’s Tommy John. Best-vase scenario he pitches a bit this season.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
12 Damon Casetta-Stubbs RHS 19  A

Best draft pick from class of 2018; 11th round pick, 3rd-5th round talent. Sits low-90s, creates plane, stays on top well, some armside, run, sink. Power delivery with athleticism. Falls off to 1B side, perhaps a bit too much. Has been up to 96.  Works fast. Shows average CB, short slider. Changeup in development.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
13 Ljay Newsome RHS 22  A+

Velocity is up three or four ticks to 90-93, touching 94 (hit 95 in spring training); cutter, curveball are above average and play up a half grade or more thanks to command and arm speed. From org starter with middle reliever upside to 50% chance to be a back-end starter and a non-zero shot to be more. Huge fan.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
14 Ricardo Sanchez LHS 22  AA

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
15 Dom Thompson-Williams OF 24  AA

Good athlete, 60 run and throw, 45-50 CF glove, finding barrels, lots of gaps, creating loft like 2018. Good baserunning instincts.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
16 Jake Fraley CF 24  AA

Showing playable power; 60 glove, arm, run, showing continued improvement with hit tool. Consistent contact is a slight concern with small-sample power surge.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
17 Juan Querecuto SS 18  X

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
18 Jake Haberer RHR 24  A+

Fastball up to 98, repeats compact, explosive delivery, average to plus power SL with command. More upside than any other pure reliever in the system.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
19 Joey Gerber RHR 22  A+

Pure reliver, 3/4 slot, despite some recoil, the sudden, unorthodox mechanics helps create deceptive release, helps the 93-96 mph fastball play up. Life up in zone, some late ride to arm side. Throws a ton of fastballs all over the zone. 82-86 mph slider flashes above-average. Should see AA by July.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
20 Ryne Inman RHS 23  A

High 3/4, armside run, occasional sink, up to 96, 91-94, low-80s 78-81 CB flashes plus, harder version or SL up to 86, CH at 84-87, athletic delivery, good pace, works fast, uses abbreviated windup, can pitch with plane FB has more movement up and away.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
21 Gerson Bautista RHR 24  IL

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
22 David McKay RHR 24  AAA

Picked up for $1 from the Royals; 93-95 with power curveball. Deception from athletic leg kick and arm action.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
23 Art Warren RHR 26  AA

Big fastball up to 98, 40 command and control, secondaries are fringey, when he throws strikes he’s tough to hit. FB can be heavy, show life up in zone and it gets on the batter in a hurry.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
24 Wyatt Mills RHR 24  AA

Stuff is still good; 91-95 with nasty sink and ride with a 55-60 slider with two-plane break. Control and command problems have been disastrous early.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
25 Luis Liberato CF 23  A+

Above-average athlete, 60 run, 55 arm, has improved his plate skills and jumps in CF, routes still need work. Has shown hints of average power, but hit tool questions remain. Good velocity gives him trouble. Will chase above hands. Needs to be challenged by AA to see if he can take next step.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
26 Max Roberts LHS 21  X

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
27 Darren McCaughan RHP 23  AA

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
28 Jorge Benitez LHS 20  X

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
29 Nolan Hoffman RHR 21  A

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
30 Luis Baez RHS 18  X

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
31 Matt Festa RHR 26  AAA

Pure stuff is relatively ordinary, more fitting of a back-end starter than a reliever asked to get out of jams or cut through big bats late in a game. Command and slider have been down a half grade in 2019.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
32 Joseph Rosa 2B 22  A

55-60 glove, 50 arm, good hands, added some strength the past year or so, helping him reach gaps and continue to use most of the field. 60 runner.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
33 Dean Nevarez C 22  A

Likely a bat-first catcher with 55 power, perhaps more, but a 40 hit tool and below-average defensive tools outside arm strength. The swing is lengthy & with avg bat speed, but clear fix available; eliminating bat wrap might help. Footwork a little loose but the feet are quick enough. Sturdy foundation.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
34 Joe Rizzo 1B/3B 21  A+

Raking and there has been doubles power, but considering defensive profile and lack of ideal pop, there’s a lot of pressure on the hit tool.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
35 Tim Lopes 2B 24  AAA

Instincts and feel for the game showing up in part-time role with Tacoma. Would like to see him play LF, 3B for chance at multi-position role.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
36 Elias Espino RHR 22  A

 

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
37 Freuddy Batista 1B 19  X

Listed as a catcher but scouts aren’t seeing that as a long-term option right now. Bat has a chance. Above-average raw power.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
38 Connor Kopach SS 24  A+

Great hands that help him at plate and in field, 50-55 arm, quick release, terrific feet, 60 speed he knows how to use. 35/40 power at best and a swing developed for line drives, but at 24, likely an org infielder.

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
39 Gunn Omosako RF 18  X

Advanced feel for strike zone, average or better raw tools across the board. Will the power develop?

RANK PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
40 Nick Rumbelow RHR 27  AAA

Command has taken a full step back. Also currently lacking are fastball life, bite on curveball, changeup. Delivery needs some fixing. Perhaps an arm slot adjustment is in order to create more fastball movement. He’s 27 and running out of time.

Off the Board

Braden Bishop, CF
Bishop was No. 16 in the pre-season and was slated to be No. 12 in this update before he was recalled by Seattle. Despite a bout of illness that sidelined him for a short period of time, Bishop continued to show he was capable of stinging the baseball for enough extra-base power to suggest he’s much more offensively than a Peter Bourjos type.The keys for Bishop will be maintaining strike zone judgement and overall contact rate.

There’s an outside chance he can play everyday — we already know he’s a plus to plus-plus glove and a 60-65 runner — and there are signs he’s not a rest-on-thy-laurels kind of athlete, lending confidence he can and will continue to grow as a hitter despite being 25 years of age already.

Bishop has yet to exceed rookie limits, so he could qualify for future rankings updates.

Erik Swanson, RHS
Swanson started once in Tacoma then was needed in the majors. His success has been hit and miss; when he commands his fastball well he takes pressure of his lack of a high-quality secondary pitch. Swanson’s slider flashes average, at times a tick better, but it’s often below average with short break. The changeup’s simply a change of speeds at this point.

The right-hander has yet to exceed rookie limits and could qualify for future rankings updates.

Joey Curletta, 1B
Curletta was DFA’d and claimed by the Red Sox May 3, 2019.

Projecting the Next Prospects Promoted

Jake Haberer, RHR
Haberer is dominating with his 94-98 mph and a slider that flashes plus. Hes commanding both pitches very well and it’s probably time to see what the Texas League can do for his development.
Haberer is probably capabel of filling a middle relief role in the majors right now, at least judging by the way he’s performed the first month of 2019 in Modesto.

Ljay Newsome, RHR
The work Newsome has put in the past few years is paying off. When I saw him in Everett he was teasing 90 mph, maybe 91 if he was lucky, and only occasionally. Mostly he sat 86-88 mph with a solid-average curveball and changeup and above-average command. The command remains, he’s added a 50-55 cutter, the curveball is tighter, the arm speed on the changeup is better and he’s sitting 89-92 and touching 94. That’s a legit rotation prospect.

Mike Leake 2.0, perhaps?

Jake Fraley, CF
Fraley is a plus glove, has the arm to play all three outfield spots, is a plus runner with above-average base-stealing ability and has a swing that should help him produce more than he has in the past, which wasn’t always the case. In the pre-season rankings I wrote that Fraley’s bat speed suggests fringe-average pop or better but his swing wasn’t designed for such a result, but some tinkering has tapped into that pop early in 2019. Only complaint, and it’s a reach, is his 24% strikeout rate.

Darren McCaughan, RHS
McCaughan doesn’t throw hard — he’ll touch 92 most starts — but he gets run on his fastball and some zip up in the zone — but he’s adept at getting to his slider and changeup and avoiding hitter’s counts. He’s a No. 5 starter at best with his current arsenal — he’s winning with life, and command — but in the bullpen there’s a chance he ticks up and turns into a vintage Nick Vincent type bullpen option.

Joseph Rosa, 2B
Rosa has added strength and is showing signs of reaching some gaps while working counts, forcing pitchers to throw strikes and using his speed. He’s a 60 glove at second with a 50 arm. If the bat plays at all there’s a fringe role for talents like Rosa and he may be ready soon to test the Cal League at age 22.

Ryne Inman, RH
Inman may not have the command to start games, ultimately, but the stuff is there and that makes me wonder if a relief role pushes him through the minors relatively quickly. He’s 23 now and hasn’t yet made it out of Class-A, having pitched at the level three straight years — half of 2017, all of 2018 and through a month this season.

Why not move him to the bullpen, see if 92-95 turns into 94-97 and let him tackle Cal League hitters for a month or two and see what happens?

Top 3 signs the Mariners Scouting & Player Development is Working

1. Assignments seem to be correct. Should-be performing? Are performing. While it’s not 100%, it’s an overwhelming success after a month of the minor league season.

2. Finds like McKay, Haberer, Draft picks like Gilbert, Gerber, value jumps from the likes of Inman, Newsome, offer a diverse set of evidence to suggest there’s more going right than wrong down on the farm.

3. It’s clear the PD group not only understands what plays, but how to give players a better chance to develop the tools that play well moving forward.In addition the infusion of non-traditional methods that have been used in recent years by successful clubs are becoming standard for Seattle over the past few years.As for what to look for beyond the above three:

4. Do promoted prospects, such as Gilbert, show they belong, even if they struggle early?

5. The 2019 Draft: Does the club take advantage of the extra pick and bonus money with creativity and an eye on impact more than depth, like 2017?

The Next Group of Prospects

One can argue any one or more of the following players belong in the Top 40 somewhere, depending the manner in which skills, probability and upside are weighted.

PLAYER POS AGE TREND LEVEL
Jansiel Rivera RF 20  X
Osiris Castillo 2B 18  X
Daniel Santos C 20  X
Onil Pena 1B 22  A
Anthony Jimenez CF 23  A+
R.J. Alaniz RHR 28  AAA
Collin Kober RHR 24  A
Robinson Leyer RHR 26  AAA
Anthony Misiewicz LHS 24  AA
Donnie Walton 2B 25  AA
Jack Anderson RHR 25  AA
Austin Hutchison RHS 24  A+
Sam Delaplane RHR 24  A+
Cesar Izturis Jr. 2B 19  A
Devin Sweet RHR 22  A

Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He 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 prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016.

Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.