First baseman Evan White is both part of the problem and a possible solution to the Mariners’ plight in possessing baseball’s worst farm system.
The 21-year-old White was the club’s first-round pick out of Kentucky last June, but an ailing quadriceps muscle truncated his campaign at short-season Everett.
White appears fully recovered and will be a fast-track development plan.
“He will definitely start with a full-season club,” farm director Andy McKay said. “When we signed him, he had a lingering injury with the quad, and we tried to manage it the best we could. It didn’t work.
“We shut him down. He was involved in our high-performance camp for six weeks, and he blew through the program.”
White hit .277/.345/.532 with three home runs in 14 games at Everett while displaying a smooth righthanded swing and a disciplined approach, in addition to plus defensive skills.
“(The injury) was definitely frustrating for a while,” White said, “but when I got down (to Arizona for the offseason camp), it was all about correcting some things with my body and making sure I’m in the best shape possible (to) be able to stay healthy for the entire season.”
The Mariners believe White’s speed and athleticism would allow him to shift easily to a corner outfield post. For now, though, he’s a first baseman who plays, he said, with a shortstop’s mentality.
A rival scout recently likened White to “Mark Grace with better speed.” A four-time Gold Glover, Grace combined a line-drive swing with elite defense in a 16-year career, but White is a long-time Reds fan who points to Joey Votto as a role model.
“I think he is a very good defender,” White said, “and I love how he hits. Not only does he have a beautiful swing, but he makes adjustments. He hits for power, and he hits for average.
“I love watching him with two strikes and seeing the mental adjustments that he’s making when he’s up there.”