MLB 2020 Farm System Overview: Seattle Mariners

While we wait for the 2020 MLB season to get underway, it’s time to take a closer look at players who could one day be on opening day rosters. For the next month or two, we’ll be examining each team’s farm system, which will contain several prospects that will either one day be contributors for them, or could be used to acquire impact major leaguers. 

Since we’ll be going in alphabetical order by city, our 25th farm system overview will be of the Seattle Mariners. We’ll rank their top ten prospects, discuss some of their other notable minor leaguers, and then analyze the overall state of the farm system.

For a full breakdown on my new positional-adjusted way of scouting, read here: Altering The Process Of Evaluating MLB Prospects

#1: CF Jarred Kelenic

kelenic
Photo Cred: New York Post

Age: 20

Height: 6’0″ Weight: 196 lbs

Drafted: 6th Overall- NYM 2018

Hit: 60 Power: 57.2 Field: 50.775 Arm: 60 Speed: 55

Overall Grade: 57.59175

Heading into the 2018 MLB draft, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto coveted high school outfielder Jarred Kelenic, but had to watch as the Mets selected him with the 6th overall pick. However, if there’s anything we know about Dipoto, it’s that he’s not afraid to be bold, which allowed him to acquire his “white whale”. When the Mets changed regimes in the following offseason, Dipoto struck a deal with new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, sending young phenom reliever Edwin Diaz and second baseman Robinson Cano to New York. In the trade, Dipoto landed a few prospects, but undoubtedly, the trade was made with the intent of acquiring Kelenic, which is very logical. The 20-year-old may not have a super high ceiling, yet comes with a very high floor. His advanced approach and feel for hitting means that he should have no trouble posting high on-base percentages, while his power is certainly above-average. Meanwhile, he probably can play all three outfield spots, so he isn’t strictly a corner outfielder. I’m not sure if Kelenic is going to be a superstar. Yet, it’s very likely that he becomes an All-Star level player for Seattle- he’s the face of their rebuild. It always felt likely to be the case, but it’d be hard to imagine that we don’t look back at the acquisition of Kelenic as a major heist by Dipoto.

#2: RHP Logan Gilbert

Dean J. Koepfler /staff photographer
Photo Cred Tacoma News Tribune

Age: 22

Height: 6’6″ Weight: 225 lbs

Drafted: 14th Overall- 2018

Fastball: 60 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 52.5 Command: 55

Overall Grade: 56

Stetson University isn’t seen as a factory of pitching prospects, but should it be? Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom are notable alums of the university, and in 2018, Logan Gilbert became the highest drafted player ever from the program. As he dealt with mononucleosis, his stock dipped due to a decrease in velocity, but the Mariners took a chance on him with the 14th overall pick, and he’s rewarded them. His fastball now reaches the upper 90s, and with two decent breaking balls and a solid changeup, he has a complete pitching arsenal. Even better, when you factor in his great command, there’s no doubt he’ll post excellent K-BB numbers, which is very enticing. Most see Gilbert as a #2/#3 starter, but in my opinion, I believe he could be an ace. He’s a low risk/high reward type of prospect, and soon enough, he’ll be the leader of Seattle’s pitching staff.

#3: OF Julio Rodriguez

juliorodriguez
Photo Cred: Prospect Insider

Age: 19

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 225 lbs

Signed: July 2, 2017

Hit: 53.9 Power: 60 Field: 47.4 Arm: 57.5 Speed: 45

Overall Grade: 54.625

The top players in the Mariners’ farm system are sure bets to contribute, but may not have superstar upside. Then, there’s Julio Rodriguez, who has true superstar upside. Signed during the 2017-2018 international signing period for $1.75 million, he’s wasted no time dominating in professional baseball, positing a weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+) in 145 in 67 games at Single-A, before destroying High-A pitching in 72 plate appearances as well. He has all the tools to be an all-around offensive producer, but he’s also just 19-years-old, and one can only imagine how much more he can grow as a player. Defensively, I’m interested to see if Rodriguez is capable of sticking in center field, or at least maintaining enough athleticism to be a standout corner outfielder. If so, he can be a very valuable player, and I’m very excited to see what an outfield of him and Kelenic could do for the Mariners organization.

#4: RHP George Kirby

kirby
Photo Cred: Minor League Baseball

Age: 22

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 201 lbs

Drafted: 20th Overall- 2019

Fastball: 55 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 50 Command: 55

Overall Grade: 54.5

The Mariners stuck with their draft strategy in 2019, selecting a second straight small-school pitcher in the first round- they selected Elon product George Kirby with the 20th overall pick. The 22-year-old’s calling card is his command, which is utterly exceptional. Not only did he post a BB/9 under 1 in college, but he didn’t walk a single batter in 23 innings at Low-A, and gives him an elite floor. Plus, although he won’t blow you away, his sinking fastball, two breaking balls, and changeup put together a very reliable four-pitch mix, so he’ll strike out enough batters. He’s not going to be an ace, but if he isn’t a high-end #3 starter, I’d be shocked. I truly believe he can be on Seattle’s major-league roster by the start of the 2021 season.

#5: SS Noelvi Marte

noelvimarte
Photo Cred: The Athletic

Age: 18

Height: 6’1″ Weight: 181 lbs

Signed: July 2, 2018

Hit: 51.5 Power: 60.5 Field: 52.615 Arm: 52.5 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 53.38955

The Mariners have had some recent success signing players from the Dominican Republic; just one year after landing Rodriguez, they brought in shortstop Noelvi Marte. Heck, similarly to Rodriguez, the 18-year-old wasted no time adjusting to professional baseball, posting a 138 wrc+ in Rookie-Ball, while also flourishing in the Dominican Summer League, per MLB Pipeline. Overall, Marte has a pretty clean swing with lots of raw power, but he does have some tweaks to make with his command. He’s a solid athlete with a lot of potential, but he’s much more of a boom-or-bust prospect, which is fine; he complements Seattle’s collection of safer players really well.

#6: RHP Sam Carlson

samcarlson
Photo Cred: Lookout Landing

Age: 21

Height: 6’4″ Weight: 195 lbs

Drafted: 2nd Round- 2017

Fastball: 60 Breaking Ball: 52.5 Third Pitch: 60 Command: 50

Overall Grade: 53.875

When the Mariners selected high school pitcher Sam Carlson in the second round of the 2017 draft, they did so expecting to develop him over time into a more refined pitcher. Yet, that obviously hasn’t happened yet; he’s pitched just three innings in professional ball, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, and didn’t pitch a single inning in 2019. Still, I’m optimistic about Carlson’s abilities. His fastball-changeup combination is excellent, and although there’s no way to know right now, it does appear that he should have above-average command. That’s a tantalizing skill set, and whenever he is able to get back on the mound, I’m very excited to see how he fares- he’s still just 21-years-old, after all.

#7: RHP Justin Dunn

dunn
Photo Cred: The Seattle Times

Age: 24

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 185 lbs

Drafted: 19th Overall- NYM 2019

Fastball: 57.5 Breaking Ball: 55 Third Pitch: 50 Command: 50

Overall Grade: 52.625

Not only did the Mariners acquire Kelenic in the Cano/Diaz trade, but they also added another well-regarded prospect. Also a former first-round pick by the Mets, Justin Dunn has succeeded at every level in the minors, which is why he was able to make his big-league debut last season. There’s not much to nitpick about him, as he commands his breaking pitches and fastball well, which are all plus pitches. The 24-year-old really did a nice job refining his abilities last season, including a 4.05 K-BB ratio in Double-A last season, and now, he probably can be a future middle of the rotation starter. If the season kicks off, it’ll be fascinating to see if he gets a shot in Seattle’s rotation.

#8: C Cal Raleigh

raleigh
Photo Cred: Tacoma News Tribune

Age: 23

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 215 lbs

Drafted: 3rd Round- 2018

Hit: 46.8 Power: 60.5 Field: 54.15 Arm: 52.5 Speed: 40

Overall Grade: 52.1595

Young catchers are very difficult to predict, as it’s a very tough position. For that reason, it’s always logical to take a mid-round flyer on a catcher, especially one with some intriguing tools. For Cal Raleigh, there was a lot to like about him coming out of Florida State, as he has a lot of power and a pretty sound approach at the plate. Plus, we’ve discussed already the value of being just average defensively as a catcher, so overall, there’s enough to think he’ll be a low-end starting catcher. He needs to produce more offensively and continue to improve defensively to make good on his potential, but either way, he’s well on his way to justifying Seattle’s selection. He definitely fits the Mariners’ timeline well, as he should be a major leaguer soon.

#9: CF Jake Fraley

fraley
Photo Cred: sports.mynorthwest.com

Age: 24

Height: 6’0″ Weight: 195 lbs

Drafted: Round CBB- 2016

Hit: 50 Power: 52 Field: 58.39125 Arm: 40 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 52.0265125

As mentioned, Jerry Dipoto is not afraid to make trades, and loves to do so specifically with the Rays. He traded catcher Mike Zunino to Tampa Bay in a swap for Mallex Smith, but in an under the radar development, he also also acquired outfield prospect Jake Fraley. The 24-year-old Fraley had struggled to stay healthy with the Rays, but Seattle still took a chance on him, and he rewarded them with a .910 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A. With serviceable on-base skills and more power than expected, he’s at least an average offensive producer, which is fine as long as he can stick in center field. At the moment, he looks more than capable playing all three outfield spots at a high level, as he’s simply a tremendous athlete. He’ll likely start for the Mariners whenever the season kicks off, and in the future, will at least be defensive-minded outfielder; he does have some potential offensively, however.

#10: 1B Evan White

evanwhite
Photo Cred: Tacoma News Tribune

Age: 23

Height: 6’3″ Weight: 205 lbs

Drafted: 17th Overall- 2017

Hit: 49.875 Power: 48 Field: 63.679 Arm: 55 Speed: 60

Overall Grade: 51.65918

Not only is offense much more valuable than defense, but that is particularly true at first base, which is an offensive-minded position. Therefore, it’s hard to find a more polarizing prospect than Evan White, who has the complete opposite profile of a typical first baseman. He doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, as he’s a solid pure hitter, but doesn’t produce enough in the power department or with his plate discipline. Yet, he’s the best defensive first baseman in the entire minor leagues, and that likely inspired the Mariners to sign him to a six-year, $24 million extension. I’m not sure how that’ll pan out, as he’ll need to improve offensively to be a starting-caliber first baseman. Nevertheless, he definitely has a relatively high ceiling if he does breakout offensively, and he’ll be a fascinating case study when evaluating the first base position as a whole.

Best of the Rest

  • Justus Sheffield was the prize of the trade that sent James Paxton to the Yankees, but his raw tools haven’t translated to production, especially with his subpar K-BB numbers.
  • He got off to a hot start in the majors, but Kyle Lewis hasn’t shown the pure hitting ability and consistent power necessary to succeed, especially since his torn ACL took away a lot of his athleticism. He’s a fourth outfielder most likely.

Farm System Overview

Through a series of trades and over the past few drafts/international signing periods, Jerry Dipoto has done a nice job to quickly revamp the Mariners’ farm system. It’s still a farm system that could use more depth, especially in the way of high-end position players, but they have a nice collection of players who will be big-league ready soon. By 2022, they should be through their rebuild, though more work needs to be done for that to happen.

 

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