Core Mariners Prospects Travel In A Pack
The Mariners declared 2019 to be a step-back season. They banked on development, a youth movement and that a rocky record might result in a World Series season in the not-too-distant future.
But was it another wasted year for what is now the only franchise to never reach the World Series? Or did the Mariners truly achieve enough in prospect development to make a 94-loss season worth it?
In that regard, Mariners manager Scott Servais said to check the box.
"We saw a number of players show up in our major league camp in spring training and they’re intriguing, they look like they can play,” Servais said. "And you’re excited about that.
"But then you look and you see almost every single one of them had an unbelievable season this year. It was like every one of them achieved way more than I thought they would, and now we’re way farther down the line.”
He tempered that, though, acknowledging that there’s still much work to do to become the 2021 playoff team they have declared they will be.
Seattle made a calculated decision to house many of their top prospects together at Double-A Arkansas this season.
The Travelers’ roster read much like a future Mariners roster with outfielders Kyle Lewis and Jarred Kelenic, first baseman Evan White as well as righthanders Justin Dunn and Logan Gilbert and lefthander Justus Sheffield. All were first-round picks.
Joining them were complementary players such as outfielder Jake Fraley, shortstop Donnie Walton and catcher Cal Raleigh.
Lewis, Dunn, Sheffield, Fraley and Walton ended the season in Seattle. The others could be there by midseason 2020.
But the franchise believes their Arkansas experiment will play bigger dividends down the road.
"We’re really excited that we’re bringing up players from a group,” Servais said. "It’s not one-off here and one-off there, and this guy’s the savior and this guy is going to lead our pitching. It’s a group. And that really takes the pressure off of any one guy.
"They can lean on each other and they’ve played with each other before, and they understand each other’s backgrounds. That really helps.”
— The Mariners shut down outfielder Julio Rodriguez in the Arizona Fall League because of a lower back strain, though the move was described as overcautious. This was after OF Jarred Kelenic had been shut down with his own back strain.
Rodriguez, the youngest player in the AFL, slashed .326/.390/.540 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs in 84 games at a pair of Class A stops. He missed the first two months with a broken hand.
— Righthander Sam Delapane was also shut down after the AFL's Fall Stars Game because of triceps tendinitis.