2018-19 International Reviews: Seattle Mariners
This is part of Ben Badler's 2018-19 International Reviews series chronicling all the moves made by teams on the international market over the prior year. To see all 30 teams, click here.
Total 2018 (Jan. 1 - Dec. 31, 2018) signings: 30
The Mariners went through their final July 2 last year under international scouting director Tim Kissner, who had been in that role since October 2012. In September, the Mariners hired Frankie Thon Jr., who had been with the Angels as an assistant international director and international crosschecker, to become the team's new international scouting director.
The prize signing of Seattle's 2018-19 class was Noelvi Marte, a 17-year-old Dominican shortstop who got $1.55 million. Marte was one of the premium prospects available in 2018, with a promising bend of athleticism, tools and game performance. He's 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with a rhythmic, well-sequenced swing from the right side. He loads up with a pronounced leg kick, unleashing a fluid, compact swing geared to hit the ball in the air. Marte at his best has shown explosive bat speed and above-average raw power, although later in the scouting process last year he didn't look quite as electric. Marte gets pull-happy at times, but he has usually hit well in games, driving the ball with impact and showing a good eye for the strike zone. He's a good athlete and a plus runner underway, although given his body type, he's likely to slow down. Marte has a strong arm for the left side of the infield, but his hands, footwork and projected physical growth led a lot of scouts to view him as a future third baseman. As an amateur, Marte's hands and feet would get disconnected fielding ground balls, but he has made progress learning to slow the game down, showing better rhythm in the field with his hands and feet more synced up. Marte is advanced enough that he would probably start in the United States for most organizations, but the Mariners start all their Latin American signings in the Dominican Summer League, which is where Marte will debut this year.
Right at the end of the 2017-18 signing period last year in June, the Mariners used the extra bonus pool space they had after missing on Shohei Ohtani to sign Taiwanese lefthander Jing-Yu Chang for $728,000. It's the biggest bonus for a Taiwanese amateur player since the Red Sox signed shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin in 2012 and the biggest bonus for an amateur pitcher from Taiwan since the Rockies signed Ching-Lung Lo in 2002. Chang, 19, was one of the top high school pitchers in Taiwan last year and performed well in different tournaments. He's 6-foot-3, 175 pounds with a loose delivery and good body control, throwing strikes with a fastball that sits 86-89 mph and can touch the low 90s. It's not a big fastball, but he's able to get surprising swing-and-miss with that pitch. Chang mixes his pitches well, including a curveball that he goes to as his out-pitch and flashes average, along with a splitter and a changeup. He's expected to make his U.S. debut this year.
The Mariners paid $345,000 to sign 16-year-old Dominican righthander Lisander Brito in July. Brito, who trained with Chapita, has a big, 6-foot-3 frame with a fastball that sits at 84-87 mph and has reached 89 mph along with a slow curveball at 68-71 mph he will need to sharpen. There are times when Brito's control is erratic, but the Mariners liked Brito for his touch and feel on the mound.
Asdrubal Bueno is a 17-year-old Venezuelan shortstop who trained with Henderson Martinez and signed with the Mariners on July 2. Bueno is 5-foot-11, 170 pounds and impressed the Mariners with his offensive approach, righthanded swing and ability to hit in games. He's an average runner who should get a chance to stay at shortstop, where he shows good body coordination, though some scouts think he will end up at second base.
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The Mariners in July signed Venezuelan catcher Jose Caguana, who trained with Steve Torrealba and Tony Armas. Caguana, who turned 17 last week, is 5-foot-10, 175 pounds with good catch-and-throw skills for his age. He's a righthanded hitter who has hit well in games at times, with a line-drive approach and doubles power, though with up-and-down performance.
Dominican shortstop Luis Chevalier, 17, signed with the Mariners for $180,000 on July 2. He's 5-foot-11, 160 pounds with a high-energy style, good athleticism and plus speed to play in the middle of the diamond. He's a switch-hitter whose speed and athleticism stood out more than his bat.
Teams don't invest many resources scouting in Nicaragua, but the Mariners signed 17-year-old third baseman Milkar Perez in July for $175,000, the top bonus last year for a Nicaraguan position player. After signing, Perez played for Nicaragua at the COPABE 18U Pan American Championships in Panama, where he made the all-tournament team. Perez (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) has an intriguing combination of hitting ability and power from the right side of the plate. Perez doesn't run well, but he has a 70 arm at third base.
Gabriel Moncada is a 17-year-old outfielder the Mariners signed on July 2. Moncada (6-foot-2, 175 pounds) is a lefty who stood out for his swing. It's a sound, compact stroke with a line-drive approach and gap power that should grow as he gets stronger. His speed and arm strength probably will fit best in left field or at first base. Moncada trained with Jose Genoves.
During the end of the 2017-18 signing period, the Mariners gave $150,000 to Australian lefthander Blake Townsend in May. Townsend, 18, stayed in Australia after signing, so he will make his debut this year. He's a strong-framed, 6-foot-4, 220 pounds with more pitchability than raw stuff, throwing 87-90 mph with a solid changeup for his age that's ahead of his slurvy slider.
Among Seattle's lower-dollar signings, one intriguing player is Carlos Fernandez, a 17-year-old Panamanian shortstop who got $75,000 on July 2. At 6 feet, 160 pounds, Fernandez is an excellent athlete with plus speed. He has a slasher swing from the right side and is still learning to slow the game down at the plate and in the field, but his bouncy, quick-burst athleticism jumps out. He and 5-foot-8 Dominican center fielder Jonatan Clase, a $35,000 signing, are both promising athletes. Clase is a 70 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale.