2019 Seattle Mariners Top 10 MLB Prospects Chat

Image credit: Justus Sheffield (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

To see the Mariners Top 10 prospects, click here. 

Bill Mitchell: Good afternoon, baseball fans. It’s time for the annual Seattle Mariners prospect chat. The system was a little more interesting this year, especially after the recent trade with the Yankees, so let’s get to chatting.

Zac (NYC): 

    Is Braden Bishop the best contact/OBP bat in this system? Who are some other guys who fit this mold?

Bill Mitchell: We’ll start with this good question from Zac from NYC. Bishop is up there as is recent acquisition Jake Fraley, who came over from Tampa Bay in the trade involving big league catcher Mike Zunino. Let’s not forget Eric Filia, who ranks as having the best strike zone discipline in the organization. With that said, I’ll add that I’m having a hard time determining where Filia fits on the M’s prospect list. The little dude can hit and take a walk, but still has very little power and is a below-average fielder and runner. Keep in mind that he’ll turn 27 next summer and has had a couple of suspensions during his three-year career. But as I said, the little dude can hit. He’s a low-ceiling bench bat.

Frank (Indianapolis, IN): 

    How many of these guys are worthy of making BA’s top 100 list?

Bill Mitchell: Frank, you can count on Justus Sheffield being there. Evan White is probably right on the bubble. We’ll see how it all shakes out when the BA experts start ranking the top 100 later this winter.

J.P. (Springfield, IL): 

    Thanks for chatting, Bill. How high are you (and scouts) on Juan Querecuto, and his chances to stick at short?

Bill Mitchell: J.P., keep in mind that Querecuto has yet to play a game in the states, so the scouting looks at him have mostly been limited to those covering the DSL. While the prospect depth at the top has pushed Querecuto out of the top ten, he won’t be far behind when the Top 30 comes out in the Prospect Handbook (Yes, you should order the Prospect Handbook!). Right now he’s got the instincts and the plus-plus arm to handle shortstop. He’s a below-average runner so we’ll have to wait to see how the body develops as he matures.

Zac (NYC): 

    Is Juan Soto are reasonable comp for Julio Martinez? Any chance he could move anywhere near as fast through the system?

Bill Mitchell: Assuming you are asking about Julio Rodriguez and not Martinez. J-Rod has a very high ceiling, but I wouldn’t want to compare anyone to Soto considering what he did this year in his travels from Class A ball to the big leagues.

Brett (San Antonio): 

    Given Stetson’s recent pedigree and how successful Logan Gilbert was at school, it’s easy to dream about him becoming a frontline start. What would he have to do to realistically have a chance at that ceiling?

Bill Mitchell: Brett, I don’t like to put a frontline starter projection on anyone because that type of pitcher is a rare commodity. But if Gilbert gets his earlier fastball velo back and his breaking balls both get to that plus projection, then you’re going to have a very good big league starter in the making.

Warren (New London): 

    Except for Beau Branton, it looks like a pretty uninspiring group of Mariners in the Arizona League. Did you see anyone there that you liked?

Bill Mitchell: Warren, there wasn’t a lot of interesting talent on the AZL Mariners team this summer, so I spent more time watching the other 17 teams in the league. Cesar Izturis Jr. should be on our Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook, but I missed seeing Nolan Hoffman and Joey O’Brien (5th & 6th round picks) in their limited times on the mound. As for Branton (Stanford 2B, drafted 28th round), I did see him both in college and in the AZL. He’s an extremely undersized overachiever who profiles better as a nice org piece. But we always root for the little guys so I’ll be watching for Branton in the spring.

Warren (New London): 

    How close was the decision to put Justus Sheffield ahead of Evan White? I think I’d have gone for White.

Bill Mitchell: It was an easy decision to put Sheffield #1 after the trade because of his repertoire from the left side and the fact that he’s already made it to the big leagues. I’m higher on White than some observers and believe he’s going to be a big league regular with more power than he’s shown to date to go with plus-plus defense. But Sheffield was the clear choice at this point.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    Of the pitchers moving to new affiliate West Virginia from the short season teams, who are your favorites?

Bill Mitchell: Karl, you will likely see Logan Gilbert in West Virginia to start his pro career, so obviously he’s the marquee name among pitchers likely to be assigned to that new affiliate. Nolan Hoffman and his submarine delivery may start the year there. Keep an eye out for reliever Jamal Wade, a 2017 17th round pick from Maryland; he’s got a big fastball and could be a force out of the bullpen. One other guy to watch for is J.T. Salter, 20th round pick from West Alabama, interesting because he’s a massive human being.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    Down to your last out in a tie game with a man on first – who does manager Bill Mitchell want to be coming up to the plate to bat: Cal Raleigh, Josh Stowers, or Julio Rodiquez?

Bill Mitchell: For now I’d go with Josh Stowers, but ask me in another year and I’d probably say Julio Rodriguez.

Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware): 

    Where do you figure Bobby Honeyman starts the season? What else can you tell us about him?

Bill Mitchell: Honeyman, the Mariners 29th round pick from Stony Brook, had a nice pro debut at Short-season Everett, batting .346/.383/.474. He has some tools, controls the zone well and plays a nice third base. After getting some time at Modesto late in the season, I’d say that he likely skips over Low-A and puts that Nut uniform on again. Joe Rizzo is expected to repeat the Cal League, but Honeyman played all four infield positions in his pro debut. Rizzo’s presence at the hot corner in Modesto shouldn’t stop Honeyman from still getting playing time there.

Danny (Portland): 

    How close was Chase De Jong to making the top 10?

Bill Mitchell: Danny, Chase De Jong was traded to Minnesota last summer in the deal for lefty reliever Zach Duke.

Johnny (Seattle): 

    What did Joey Curletta’s big year do for his stock? Is he a 20-30 range guy?

Bill Mitchell: Johnny, you nailed it. Curletta raised his stock considerably as he turned into a better all-around hitter instead of just a guy with plus-plus raw power feasting on mistake pitches. He also got in better shape and improved his first base defense although he’s still a below-average defender. The fact that he was added to the 40-man roster shows that the Mariners think more highly of him. He’ll be in the Top 30 in the Prospect Handbook, closer to #20 than to #30.

Harrison (RR, TX): 

    Any consideration for Art Warren, Wyatt Mills or Matt Festa for the 9 or 10 spots, after the Paxton trade?

Bill Mitchell: Harrison, Festa was in some earlier versions of the Top 10 and will be just outside that range with Mills not too far behind him. Warren was a top 10 guy last year but struggled with shoulder issues all year and wasn’t added to the 40-man roster. But he still has a power reliever’s arsenal and could bounce back in 2019. I’m on record as projecting that Warren gets nabbed in the Rule 5 draft next month.

Johnny (Seattle): 

    Is Joe DeCarlo seen as a big leaguer or a prospect after two years catching?

Bill Mitchell: DeCarlo is more organizational depth. He’s needed because there isn’t a lot of good catching in the system.

Travis (Omak Wa): 

    Is julio Rodriguez the prospect with the best chance to turn into a superstar?

Bill Mitchell: I have the highest future grade on Rodriguez, but of course he still comes with plenty of risk because of his age. He helped his case with a very strong DSL season and a bump in some of his tools. I am counting the days until early spring training workouts when I FINALLY will get to see the kid on the field other than when he posed for some photos for me. I really wanted him to get to the AZL at least partway through last summer, but alas it didn’t happen.

Johnny (Seattle): 

    You mention Filia and I know he has been pretty divisive amongst evaluators in the past. Is that still the case or is there more of a consensus now?

Bill Mitchell: I’ve done some digging around on Filia recently, and I still don’t think evaluators know what to make of him. He’s reportedly making some swing adjustments to try to get to a little more power, but how much more can be expected considering his age and size? I think he is what he is, which means he’ll hit and get on base. If that’s what you’re looking for from a bench bat, then he’s your guy. And that’s not a bad gig for a few years.

Travis (Omak Wa): 

    What the consensus on Kyle Lewis? A kid with a ton of potential now that he’s finally healthy or has his ceiling really dropped? I am excited to see him play an entire season healthy.

Bill Mitchell: I am also eager to see how Lewis does if he indeed stays healthy all season. Scouts just aren’t seeing the same explosiveness at the plate, but let’s see how he does in 2019. The character and makeup are just as good as before, and I recently watched him working out and he looks to be in great shape. I’m rooting for him.

Travis (Omak Wa): 

    I see that Sam Carlson is starting to throw again. Will he pinch in any games in 2019?

Bill Mitchell: The Mariners are targeting the 2020 season for Carlson to be pitching in games again with the plan to have him throwing bullpens by July. That sounds about right since he just had the TJ surgery this past July.

David (Washington): 

    How close was Dom Thompson-Williams to making the Mariners top 10?

Bill Mitchell: David, Dom Thompson-Williams, the third prospect acquired in the Paxton deal, will be in the top 20 when the Prospect Handbook gets dropped into your mailbox this winter. He’s an intriguing, fast-twitch athlete who could be a late-blooming breakout guy in 2019. He has the tools to play all three outfield positions giving him a reasonable floor of a fourth outfielder. Look for him to head to Double-A.

Martha (Maine): 

    Do you see any chance of Evan White playing for the Mariners at some point this year? Where do you see him stats wise in the MLB?

Bill Mitchell: Martha, thanks for checking in from Maine. I would be surprised to see White get any big league time this year, assuming that the rebuilding Mariners won’t be in the race and will have no reason to rush him. White should hit for a high average, let’s say .280 – .300 with 15-20 home runs per year. But if the increase in power that he showed late in the season continues, then he could bump those power numbers up higher.

Johnny (Seattle): 

    Do Matt Festa and Art Warren (assuming health) figure into the Mariners’ early season plans next year?

Bill Mitchell: I talked about both Festa and Warren for an earlier question, but I’ll add that there’s a decent chance Festa is with the big league team at some point early in the season. As for Warren, see my previous comment about his odds for the Rule 5 draft.

Johnny (Seattle): 

    I know it’s a loaded question but do you see the Dr. Lorena Martin accusations having an impact on the way the farm system is run with Andy McKay among the accused?

Bill Mitchell: Sorry, Johnny, there’s no way I will touch this one. I’m not close enough to the situation to even speculate any results or impact.

Norm Chouinard (Connecticut): 

    Joey Gerber seemed to perform as advertised in the low minors. Chance to be a quick mover?

Bill Mitchell: Gerber already started moving quickly by getting to Low-A in his first season and pitching well there. Check out those strikeout totals at Clinton, albeit in a small sample! (So that you don’t need to look it up, Gerber fanned 22 batters in 11.2 innings in Low-A). The Illinois product is credited with having “violent velo” delivered from a herky jerky reliever’s delivery. The heater has good life and sink and he throws it for strikes. He’ll need to improve his slider but it has potential. He’s likely to get to Modesto at some point in 2019. Gerber is another guy that I’m eager to see in spring training — that list keeps getting longer.

Johnny (Seattle): 

    Does Chris Mariscal have a shot at the top 30?

Bill Mitchell: I’ll take one more question and then need to wrap it up for the day. Mariscal is more of an organizational depth guy who can play a lot of infield positions. He’s undersized and will turn 26 early next season, but he performed well in the Arizona Fall League in limited playing time. He’ll factor into the mix for playing time at Triple-A Tacoma in 2019. Maybe he gets a shot at a big league roster as a backup utility infielder …. maybe.

Bill Mitchell: That’s it for today. Thanks to the Mariners faithful for giving me plenty of questions to answer. I know it’s not a strong system, but I’m at least encouraged by some of the 2018 draft picks and even more so by the international talent that will head to the Arizona League next summer. Please remember to order your Prospect Handbook from Baseball America so that you can read about some other intriguing prospects that we didn’t get to talk about today. Mike DiGiovanna will be here to chat with you about the Angels system on Friday. Thanks again.


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