Image credit: Justin Dunn Excited To Join Mariners' Organization
If any doubts remained as to whether 23-year-old Evan White would make his major league debut as the Mariners’ Opening Day first baseman in 2020, those can be put to rest.
General manager Jerry Dipoto made it clear White would have the starting job when he signed the 2017 first-rounder from Kentucky to a six-year, $24 million deal that includes three club options. The deal makes it clear Dipoto is serious about building around the organization’s top prospects.
“We said going into the offseason that Evan was going to be given every opportunity in the spring to make the big league ball club—I think this contract makes it even more obvious,” Dipoto said.
“And I said to him at the start of this that he’ll have a very long rope.”
Though White spent all of 2019 at Double-A Arkansas and has appeared in just four career games at Triple-A, his contract shows the confidence Dipoto has in him.
The only other players in history to sign extensions without any big league service time were the Astros’ Jon Singleton, the Phillies’ Scott Kingery and Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Dipoto said he’s not averse to locking up some of his other top prospects, too.
White was the ideal candidate for this contract because of his on-field production and projection as well as his leadership. Dipoto said White is the consummate teammate, and he witnessed that last season when White was playing alongside many of the Mariners’ core prospects.
On the field, White may has Gold Glove potential at first base. At the plate, his bat turned a corner with swing changes to help him combine his touted exit velocity with increased launch angle. He slashed .293/.350/.488 with a career-high 18 home runs in 2019, while playing half his games at one of the most extreme pitcher’s parks in the minors.
“I have full trust in the organization and where we’re going,” White said. “It was an easier decision (to sign) when we sat down and weighed it. I truly believe in this organization and I’m really fortunate and blessed to be part of it.”
— Former Florida State catcher Cal Raleigh, 23, appears to have his path to the big leagues set after the Mariners traded catcher Omar Narvaez to the Brewers in exchange for righthander Adam Hill and a 2020 competitive balance pick. Raleigh hit .251/.323/.497 with 29 home runs while splitting time between high Class A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas last season.
— The Mariners used the sixth pick in the Rule 5 draft to select 24-year-old righthander Yohan Ramirez from the Astros, eying him especially for his 13.42 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranked third among all minor league pitchers this past season. He was a Carolina League midseason all-star in 2019.