OPEN WIDE FOR SOME PROSPECTS*!
*prospect a subjective term what may constitute a prospect to this The Blog Of Record may not fit your definition.
SUPPORT TALENT GRADE: B- (See part 2).
UPPER MINORS GRADE: C
A revelation, a scouting favorite, and a whole lotta cope.
LOWER MINORS GRADE: B
Rowdy teens aplenty. Arms still figuring out strikezone permanence.
SYSTEM OVERVIEW: Did anyone order a burger because this system is built on five guys? Horrible jokes aside, it’s a big 5, some folks of varying degrees of intrigue, and a big ol’ slice of “you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance.” After the anticipated graduations of Julio/Brash/Kirby along with the trade of Brandon Williamson, it’s no longer the alleged #1 system in baseball and likely slips to somewhere in the teens. Still, it’s not all doom and gloom as your minor league system exists to supplement the big club and it’s functioning as it should. System is much, much stronger at lower levels as barring a big step forward from the upper minors group (outside of mayyyybee Hancock but that also feels like a stretch) the cavalry isn’t coming until 2023 at the earliest.
TOP PROSPECT: Noelvi Marte
A phenomenon that I’ve noticed within Prospecteering and its ilk is a hardwired desire to be the one to say “first.” Assumptions based on vibes and hopium pin success onto folks at best four years away from being two years away and will likely be folks who have to pay for tickets to big-league baseball. The Mariners currently have plenty of folks like that, but they have a Certifiable SuperDuperProspect in Noelvi Marte. Putting into the universe something that has a chance to age like spinach here but reading the tea leaves of anticipated graduations of prospects ahead of him on Top100 click drive lists and foolishly assuming linear development and health, Marte could very well be Prospect01 going into 2023.
Marte, one of the best hitters in the DSL as a 17-year-old and A ball at 19, has displayed a sense of what’s a strike and what isn’t and the ability to hit for power while manning shortstop. Though there’s doubt (30 errors last year, uff da) about his ability to ultimately stick at short if he hits and runs as he did in 2021, heck he could play first and get to the bigs. The sword will ultimately be the driver of his prospect mercury, but this is a well-rounded ballplayer who has checked the “dork ass spreadsheet” and “does he look like a ballplayer” boxes by setting the sheet of checkboxes on fire thus far.
CERTIFIED CAPS LOCK PROSPECT
EMERSON HANCOCK: Scouting favorite, worried about innings ramp and good but not great K/9 numbers. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s pushing the issue on a call up In August/September if he’s healthy (which he’s not at the time of this writing).
ALBERTO RODRIGUEZ: Unfairly tied to Noelvi Marte, the do-a-little-of-everything Rodriguez is a legit prospect in his own right. Worried he’s in a corner already despite interesting SB numbers showing he could earn the “wheels” nickname in time.
KADEN POLCOVICH: Power completely dried up in Arkansas after encouraging Everett start. Still just 23, an alleged middle infielder, and in the upper minors, which is neat.
TAYLOR TRAMMELL: Strange year as power numbers were career highs but took a step backward on the bases and in the field. Not done as a prospect by any means but will have to force his way up from Tacoma now (update: rooting for you, Taylor).
LEVI STOUDT: Forced his way to the upper minors after TJ&Pandy robbed him of 2 years. Concerns about walks/hard contact and 40 timeline (Stoudt needs to be added this year) make this a pivotal year for his chances to be a starting pitcher. Somehow wasn’t able to weave in “I’m a little tea pot, Le-vi Stoudt” in here naturally but give the people what they want.
KEVIN PADLO: Smart waiver pickup, Padlo found his mojo in Tacoma after a brutal start to the year with the Rays. Early minors track record of success and know how to take a walk. Corner only defender who needs to stick at 3B. Now you know, welcome to the wall, nerd.
DEVIN SWEET: Changeup a legit pitch, knows where the zone is, and there’s still a prayer of starting, but why was he getting tagged by future car salesmen at AA as frequently as he did?
TAYLOR DOLLARD: Encouraging 2021 start in Modesto but got rocked in Everett. Org seems to have faith in the former, aggressively starting Dollard in AA this year.
JOE RIZZO: Power starting to develop, but overall, Roe Jizzo’s offense took a slight dip from pre-pandemic levels. Playing more at 2B and his ability to stick there will determine if he’s an org guy or a prospect. Still somehow just 24.
JOSH MORGAN: Not saying he’s Austin Nola, but he’s an Austin Nola type (middle infielder converted to catcher) who had a mini breakout in 2021.
MARCUS WILSON: Legit CF with some power and speed. However, has shown little to no feel to hit and fell apart at the dish in the PCL. Still just 25.
PATRICK FRICK: Breakthrough in Everett, breakdown in Arkansas. 2022 will determine if he’s an org guy or if he can force his way into the big club’s utility plans.
EVAN WHITE: Rooting for resurgence as the game’s more fun with an 80-grade first base defender in it. That being said, “just has to hit” are famous last words.
ROBERT PEREZ: Perez carries the dubious “trending towards 1B only” tag with him but has hit at everywhere he’s been and just 22. Wackadoo 2019 AAA extended action as a 19-year-old likely gooses projections, and good shot he’s an org guy as the team conservatively started him in the low-minors to start the year.
JACK LARSEN: Need to find out if his 2021 was a true breakout or just a product of being old for levels. Would much rather see the org find out what they have here versus running out minor league vets at AAA. Non-prospect if he can’t stick in CF.
FORREST WALL: Speed and contact guy who’s at the edge of the minor league vet/prospect divide.
JAKE SCHEINER: Likely QuadA/KBO guy who needs to be able to at least fake it at third if there’s any hope for more. Like the aforementioned Larsen, what exactly is the team hoping to learn by having him repeat AA at 26?
IAN MCKINNEY: Likely org guy with a smidgen of shine left. Can he tame the PCL?
Relievers in order of interest level
The Mariners have a good group of kids who are two years away from being two years away, led by Harry Ford, Edwin Arroyo, and Gabriel Gonzalez. Ford, the Mariner’s top pick in the 2021 draft, is a rare C/ATH positional designation. The sell on Ford is there’s a near certainty he’ll at worst land at second base or center field and can be referred to as “toolsy.” Small sample results of his ability to make contact have been encouraging, and he’s started to pop up on the lower half of top100 lists.
The team’s 2021 2nd rounder, Arroyo, a switch hitter, comes from the Cleveland school of amateur scouting, where it’s collecting as many extremely young middle infielders with an inkling of feel to hit and hope they develop power. Just 17 last year, Arroyo is drawing a challenging full-season A-ball assignment this year as an 18-year-old.
Gonzalez, whose IFA signing bonus would’ve put him in line with most 2nd round domestic draftees, showed uncommon power and patience in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old and will start the year at the team’s complex. Short and stout, yet speedy, folks who watch FAR more baseball than I say there’s a chance he can stick in center field.
ADAM MACKO: Fruit-forward velocity and breaker combo tantalizing, which it must be if you’re stomaching nearly 6 walks per 9.
JUAN THEN: Want him to succeed so daggum bad. Obvious trade candidate due to spot on 40 man and the possible long lead time but Then has the build and pitch mix needed to stick as a starter theoretically. Stats have not been there yet.
BRAYAN PEREZ: Little lefty out-getter who could. Doesn’t have the typical dreamboat pitcher frame and isn’t a traditional starter but an exciting stat sheet curio who’s a potential opener if you squint.
SAM CARLSON: To even be a fringe prospect after losing 3 seasons is an accomplishment, and I’m rooting for Sam. Frame and pitch diversity are still there.
VICTOR LABRADA: Fun little slash and dash outfielder starter kit.
JAMES PARKER: Likely just a stat goof, but he is a college middle infielder who came out of the gates blazing at A ball and hey ya gotta start somewhere.
TYLER KEENAN: Thud of a debut. Power and patience displayed, but everything else a big ol’ yuck.
CESAR IZTURIS JR: Somehow just 22 and can play the middle infield. Stranger things have happened.
NEED MORE INFO BUT HAVE SOME EXTERNAL HELIUM
Relievers in order of interest level
Check back soon where we’ll turn the spotlight onto aged adults with fully developed frontal lobes…