Matt Festa Typifies Mariners' Relief Depth
The Mariners knew Evan White's glove at first base and athleticism would play, but his strides at the plate in his second pro season are what have most vaulted him.
The 22-year-old White hit 11 home runs this season for high Class A Modesto while batting .303/.375/.458 in 120 games. He also got a taste of four games with Triple-A Tacoma when the Rainiers needed him for depth at first base.
The 2017 first-round pick out of Kentucky has met offensive and defensive expectations, though the Mariners admire his off-the-field traits, too.
"He’s a wonderful person and a tremendous athlete and a really good hitter,” farm director Andy McKay said. "We couldn’t be happier with what we have.”
White will continue his development in the Arizona Fall League.
Despite the state of the Mariners’ shallow farm system, they do have depth of young relievers, including 25-year-old righthander Matt Festa.
The 2016 seventh-rounder out of East Stroudsburg (Pa.) was twice called up to the Mariners for relief depth. He allowed one run and five hits in 2.2 innings over two appearances in his first taste of the big leagues.
He spent the rest of his season at Double-A Arkansas, recording a 2.76 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 49 innings.
"His ability to throw strikes is a bit of a separator,” McKay said. "He’s always in the zone or right around the zone, and I think he’s been able to command the baseball a little better within the strike zone. So instead of throwing a strike, he was able to make a pitch and execute—and that’s made him better. His slider is a real pitch and he began using that differently in different counts.”
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The 21-year-old outfielder flashed the blend of speed and power that attracted scouting director Scott Hunter in the first place. With short-season Everett, Stowers hit .260/.381/.410 with five home runs, 15 doubles and 20 stolen bases.
Maybe he’s not Dee Gordon-fast, but . . .
"Dee would be off the scale, running-wise. No disrespect to Dee, but Stowers has a little bit more power,” Hunter said. "A lot more, to be honest.”
** The Mariners promoted 2017 first-round outfielder Kyle Lewis from Modesto to Double-A Arkansas on July 21.
** More and more scouts consider 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Julio Rodriguez to be the system's best overall prospect. He ranked in Dominican Summer League in his pro debut this season, hitting .315/.404/.525 with five home runs in 59 games.
** Righthander Sam Carlson, the 2017 second-round pick out of high school, is likely out for most if not all of 2019 while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.