Seattle Mariners 2021 Top MLB Prospects Chat
Bill Mitchell: Good afternoon, Mariners fans and other prospect mavens. Let's talk Mariners prospects. As I said last year at this time, it's a much stronger system than it used to be.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- It was my belief that Taylor Trammell was highly regarded for his defense. With Kyle Lewis’ injury history I expected his projection to be at DH and Trammell in LF with Kelenic in CF.
Bill Mitchell: We'll start with a question from down the road from me as Justin checks in from Tucson. The projected lineups are more of a fun exercise that our readers like, but so much can happen between now and then. I actually had Trammell and Lewis swapped in those roles earlier in the process. But if all three prospects (Kelenic, J-Rod and Trammell) click, I could see an OF/DH rotation to give everyone the occasional day off from playing in the outfield. None of the four need to be confined to the DH role because of defense.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- Are there any concerns about Julio’s ability to stay healthy after his injury last season and the injury in winter league?
Bill Mitchell: Not really. His injuries aren't chronic issues, but instead just occurring when he's playing ball. He'll be fine. I recall having the same concerns about Anthony Rendon when he was coming into the draft after multiple injuries during his college career, and he's been fine since then.
Ken Phelps Jr. (New York):
- In the write-up for Julio Rodriguez, you mentioned scouts' concerns about "giving away at-bats." That seemed to happen frequently in the Dominican Winter league and I am wondering, is that a pitch recognition thing? Or is it just an overly aggressive approach at times? Thanks for the chat.
Bill Mitchell: Ken Jr, that's a good question. I would attribute it more to youth and inexperience. He just turned 20 last week and has played just 143 minor league games to date. Small bumps like what some scouts have seen is just part of the normal development path.
Warren (New London):
- Jarred Kelenic really struggled on defense in the California League in 2019, with 7 errors in 42 games. Did he look any better at the alternate site? Should one worry about a Clint Frazier situation where he can't stay on the field in the big leagues even when his bat is ready?
Bill Mitchell: Warren, one of Kelenic's development goals for the alternate site was to work on his outfield defense by maintaining his focus, athleticism and mobility. I don't see any red flags that would keep him off the grass by the time he hits the big leagues.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Forget Julio Rodriquez for a second. Of the position players from the 2019 West Virginia Power team, now history, who do you think has the most potential going forward? Same question except pitchers...
Bill Mitchell: Karl, thanks for the questions. 2019 seems like ancient history now so I had to pull up their stats for the year to refresh my memory as to who was on that team. Other than the partial seasons of Kelenic, J-Rod, Gilbert and Then, there weren't a lot of standout prospects there. Austin Shenton was with WV for 32 games, and will have a spot on the Mariners top 30 when the Prospect Handbook hits your mailbox next month. Shenton is a natural hitter in search of a position on the field. As for pitchers, one of the more interesting arms on the bubble of the top 30 is Logan Rinehart, a 2019 16th round pick from Cal Baptist. He had a solid instructional league season in the Fall, as he's gotten stronger and picked up a couple more mph on his fastball that has plenty of sink.
- Great list bill! How many Mariners do you expect to be on the BA top 100? I think the top seven all have a good shot to make it. does cal Raleigh have a shot? Would love to hear ur take/ input on this! Thanks as always
Bill Mitchell: The top five (Rodirguez, Kelenic, Gilbert, Hancock, Marte) are slam dunks to make that list. Trammell and Kirby will likely get some consideration, but I don't see Raleigh as a candidate at this point.
Jerry (Bellingham, WA):
- Any sleepers in this organization to keep an eye on?
Bill Mitchell: Thank you, Jerry, I always enjoy getting questions about sleepers in the org. The first name for you is Levi Stoudt, who you may recall was the 3rd round pick in 2019 and then had TJ surgery right after the draft. The Lehigh product got back on the mound in instructional league and was one of the hits of the camp. He's got a nice four-pitch mix, with the fastball 92-97 mph and his swing-and-miss pitch is a split-changeup that he throws with a Vulcan grip. Keep an eye on Stoudt in 2021. Another name from the 2019 draft is western Canada native Adam Macko, a finesse pitcher who commands all four of his pitches. None of his pitches project as plus offerings, but they all play up because of advanced pitchability. He's likely got a ceiling as a 5th starter, but he just turned 20 and has a lot of development ahead.
- Taylor Trammell is now with his 3rd team in the past 18 months. Has he hit prospect fatigue at this point? Once viewed as a guy who could eventually be a big power/speed combination guy has seen his power tool grade fall the older he's gotten. What does he need to do to unlock the above average power he has consistently in games? It felt like the Padres had discovered something mechanically but them traded him in 2020. Is there still hope he puts it all together?
Bill Mitchell: We've got a bunch of Trammell questions in the queue, so I'll bunch them together with this response. He only got a little time at the Mariners alternate site, but then played just about every day during instructional league. Scouts aren't seeing the progress with the hit tool that they anticipated, more related to his approach at the plate and timing issues that lead to holes in the swing. These issues cause concern that he won't be able to get to his plus raw power. But he hits the ball hard and can drive mistakes out of the park. Scouts see 20 home run power. But what impressed the Mariners staff the most was the instincts he showed on defense, with a good shot to handle center field instead of being limited to left field.
Noelvi Marte (Future top 10 prospect?):
- Do I have the same potential that J-Rod had coming stateside? Do you think I can become the next in line of top 10 prospects in all of baseball in 2021?
Bill Mitchell: On one hand I don't know that Marte will have the same explosive tools as J-Rod, but on the other hand the improvements he made on defense give him a better chance to stay at shortstop than originally thought, making him a potential all-star at a premium position. As for top 10 prospect, let's give him some time in the states before putting that projection on him.
- Any reports on how Julio Rodrgiuez has looked in DWL?
Bill Mitchell: Zak, I don't have any first-hand reports on his performance there other than streaming a few of his games with Escogido. The numbers weren't good, but he was a teenager facing pitchers with many, many more years of experience. It was a good learning experience for him.
Jerry Dipoto (Seattle):
- You know how much I love trades. Of our prospect pool, who are some guys you think I could sell high on right now in the right deal?
Bill Mitchell: If this was really Jerry sending in the question, I'd advise him to stand down from trading any of his prospects now that they've built up the farm system. Trust the process, Jerry. Selling high would imply a prospect isn't as good as their reports, and I won't say that about anyone in the top ten.
Bill B (Glen Allen, VA):
- Thanks for taking our questions. Last time I recall a really good control pitcher with very good stuff make the majors after adding extra velocity, he turned into a Cy Young pitcher (Shane bieber)! Figure that upside is a bit much for George kirby, but what does 2 or 3mph increase for a pitcher with really good stuff and great control add up to for George in Seattle over the next 24 months and in a up and coming team of potential star players?
Bill Mitchell: Bill B, the added velocity to go with Kirby's supreme control is a very positive sign. He spent his summer building up the body to support a velo jump. What we haven't seen yet is whether he will hold that extra heat over longer outings. We should get that answer once a minor league season gets underway in 2021.
- I just saw that BA chose Colton Cowser to go to Seattle in the latest Mock Draft released today. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a prospect? Does he have a quick trajectory to the bigs?
Bill Mitchell: Bobo, the important thing to remember is that any mock draft, much less one that's six months out, is merely educated guesswork. We still have a full college and high school season to play before the draft. My only intel on Cowser is what Carlos Collazo wrote about him. The statement that he'll appeal to analytically inclined teams certainly puts him in the running for the Mariners, but it's too soon to project him as being in a Modesto or Everett uniform this summer.
Ken (Lakewood CA):
- Hi Bill and thanks for the chat. Does Torrens have a chance at being the long term catcher for the Mariners? Or is it Raleigh all the way?
Bill Mitchell: Ken, I don't believe that Torrens is the long-term answer behind the plate for the Mariners as much as a solid backup. Raleigh has a better shot at the role. The Mariners see him as a regular catcher, although there are some scouts that see Raleigh getting regular ABs but in a C/DH/1B role.
- Do you have any feedback regarding Zach DeLoach's performance as a Mariner so far? Are you under the impression his success his Junior year is reflective of who he is as a player now or is it just a result of small sample size?
Bill Mitchell: Jonathan, opinions of scouts who followed the M's during instructs were mixed on DeLoach (Seattle's 2nd round pick from Texas A& M in 2020). He's a pure hitter who didn't strike out much in college. The question is whether he'll be able to get to more power with what is now a line drive swing. He's got a solid floor of a fourth outfielder, with the chance of being a regular if the power develops and he improves his routes and range in the outfield. He'll be in the Prospect Handbook, which reminds me to make sure everyone orders their copy from BA if you haven't already done so.
Ken (Lakewood CA):
- Your write up on Kirby makes him sound like a promising prospect. Is he a possible Top 100 Prospect? Quality of the Mariner top prospects appears to be deep and impressive, yes?
Bill Mitchell: I talked earlier about who in the top 10 will be candidates for the BA top 100, but I'll confirm what Ken said here about the Mariners top 10 being deep and impressive. It was just three or four years ago in my first year compiling this Mariners list that I was scraping to find ten players in the system worthy of being on anyone's list.
- Any buzz on Noelvi Marte from the alternate site? He was one I was excited to follow last year before the minor league season was canceled.
Bill Mitchell: Elaborating on my previous answer about Noelvi Marte, he showed good progress this year with good hands and the ability to use all fields. While he won't be a rangy shortstop, he has good actions, intelligence and plenty of arm for the position with the ability to make throws on the move. To wrap in a question from Lakewood Ken about whether Marte has all-star potential, the answer is "yes, absolutely," but lets give him time since he's yet to play an official game in the states.
- Eloy Jimenez a good comp for Julio Rodriguez? Long, athletic, great power and feel for hitting. Too hopeful? Or selling J-Rod short?
Bill Mitchell: The biggest difference between Eloy and J-Rod is that the latter will be a much better outfielder while Eloy has become more of DH/LF type.
- The report on Raleigh is pretty encouraging. What is his timeline to Seattle? Is he the clear catcher of the future over Torrens?
Bill Mitchell: Jake, I talked about Raleigh a few questions ago, but now adding that I could see him getting to Seattle late in the 2021 season if there's a new for his bat. There are still questions as to how he's going to handle more advanced pitching and premium velocity, but the power's real and should play at the MLB level.
- What's keeping Hancock from having front of the rotation upside?
Bill Mitchell: Jake, front of the rotation is a lofty goal as there aren't many true #1 starters in MLB. We'll want to see how he adapts to pro ball and gets a few years under his belt before determining where he might slot in a rotation. The slider has the possibility of being a plus pitch, which would be a good step for Hancock.
- What is George Kirby’s ceiling
Bill Mitchell: Hank, in my report on Kirby I said that he can be a potential mid-rotation starter or better, but we'll want to see if he can hold his velocity in longer outings over a full season.
- Is Patrick Frick gaining any traction in the system? He was very productive during his first year in short season.
Bill Mitchell: Patrick Frick was Seattle's 14th round pick in 2019 out of Wake Forest. He'll turn 24 in February and has not yet played full-season ball, so it's difficult to see him as a big league prospect. He got plenty of time on the field during instructs, with scouts noting his hard-nosed, scrappy play on the field and the ability to control the strike zone. It's nice to have guys like Frick in the system, but he probably is more of an organizational player.
- Can you go over the M's catcher depth?
Bill Mitchell: Not including Torrens, who no longer has prospect eligibility, the top two catchers on the depth chart are Cal Raleigh and Carter Bins. The latter was the 2019 11th round pick from Fresno State, and is a power over hit type of batter with feel for the barrel. He's made strides behind the plate since joining the system. Is he in the Mariners top 30? To find out, check the Prospect Handbook when it comes out next month.
- Brendan McGuigan seemed to have a good instructs. Was there any chatter there?
Bill Mitchell: Very good observation, Mark. McGuigan is a very interesting prospect who was a non-drafted free agent from Richmond. He went to the college summer Northwoods League after being overlooked in the draft, where his velo ticked up to 98 mph with a good breaking ball. That was enough to get him a contract with the Mariners, and he debuted in 2019 with five impressive outings at Low-A West Virginia. He's a reliever all the way. Good scouting by the Mariners to find this one.
- How is Joe Rizzo progressing? Thanks for the chat!
Bill Mitchell: Ah yes, a question on Joe Rizzo. He's outside the top 30 with the usual questions as to what tool would get him to the big leagues. He's got the instincts to hit but can he hit enough and develop enough power. Also, it's tough to determine where he fits in defensively. There are scouts who think he can hit enough to get a little time in MLB but not enough to stay there. He plays hard and has a good attitude, so he'll stick around for a while.
- Outside the Mariners Top 10, which prospects are you particularly excited to see play in 2021? Why?
Bill Mitchell: Mike, after a year of very little minor league spring training, no minor league season and very limited looks during instructs, I'm just ready to see ANY ballplayers on the field. I won't be picky. But I always look forward to seeing the new draft picks and the next crop of Latin standouts. If you want some names, I've only seen Logan Gilbert in one game in spring of 2019 and have never seen George Kirby or Emerson Hancock, so let's put them on the top of the Mariners list. I also do the Royals top 30, so let's hope someday this spring to have Hancock squaring off in a backfield game against Asa Lacy. I can dream, can't I?
Matt (New York):
- If George Kirby can keep up his velocity uptick (and probably higher K/9) throughout the course of a full season, could you make a case to dream on him as a future staff ace over Logan Gilbert?
Bill Mitchell: Matt, Logan Gilbert also made strides this year and has more staff ace stuff than Kirby right now. But I'm sure the Mariners would be able with both pitchers having frontline starter potential.
Tom (Medfield, MA):
- The EVs we saw in the box scores in Noelvi's fall games were impressive - what was the word out of the alternate site on Noelvi Marte? Where would he start 2021?
Bill Mitchell: Tom, the most important part of Marte's alt site experience was getting game experience and keeping up with the speed of the game against more advanced players. He's expected to go to full-season ball in 2021, likely to Low-A Modesto (it's going to take me a long time to get used to the California League being Low-A instead of High-A).
Edwin Weatherly (Florence, South Carolina):
- Baseball America has Julio Rodriguez with a 70 hit tool & 70 power tool. I notice your closest rival (Baseball America) has him with a 55 hit tool & 60 power tool. Am I wrong to say that is a fairly large difference in grades?
Bill Mitchell: Edwin, I don't know who you meant to mention as BA's closest rival, but regardless different sites use varying methods for assigning tool grades. At BA, we project the future grades as opposed to current. Some sites will put both a current and future grade on the tools.
Mikey (Stamford, CT):
- Who do you think the Mariners could target in the draft at the 12th spot this year?
Bill Mitchell: I answered a previous question saying that it's way too soon to make anything more than educated guesses at who a team will pick. So much can change between now and July as colleges and high schools have full seasons ahead of them (at least we all hope they get in complete seasons!). The Mariners have leaned towards college pitchers in recent drafts, but we'll find out which direction they go in July.
- Hi Bill, what do you think of connor phillips , and his potential?
Bill Mitchell: Connor Phillips was selected in the 2nd compensation round from McLennan Junior College in Texas in 2020. Scouts got plenty of looks at him during instructional league. He's still very much a project who will need a lot of development before we know what they have in him. He's athletic and physical, with a fastball into the mid-90s and a slider that has plus potential. Command and control are both below-average and he needs to better repeat his delivery. There's reliever risk in this profile, but give him time.
- Was Julio a clear number 1 over Kelenic? Or are they more of a 1A/1B? Also, Julio has had a couple of injuries to his left hand/wrist - any long-term concerns?
Bill Mitchell: Chamaco, I like your use of the 1A and 1B ranking. I've used that before when it's real close between two players, and that's the case with Rodriguez and Kelenic. Opinions verge in both directions depending on the source, but I believe that J-Rod has a higher ceiling. As for the injuries, I addressed that question earlier and it's not a real concern right now.
Scott D (Connecticut):
- Better long term career- Kelenic or JROD
Bill Mitchell: Scott D, can I pick both?
- Any prospects outside of the top 10 that can make an ML impact in 2021?
Bill Mitchell: Brendan, the easy choice here is sidearm reliever Wyatt Mills. He's been on the horizon for a couple of years and he's now on the 40-man roster. The velo ticked up this past year, touching as high as 97 with the ball coming out of his hip to provide deception. He's also got an above-average slider, but has dropped the use of the changeup to just focus on his strengths. He'll contribute out of the M's bullpen in 2021. Other relievers who still have prospect eligibility but have already been to the big leagues include Yohan Ramirez, Joey Gerber and Anthony Misiewicz. Now that he's gone to the bullpen full-time, look for Misiewicz to be a valuable contributor in 2021.
Trent mercado (Spokane):
- I thought muñoz didn’t have rookie eligibility as he isn’t on other prospect lists. Does he still have rookie eligibility?
Bill Mitchell: It depends on whether or not whomever is compiling the lists factors in MLB service time. At BA, we only look at at-bats, innings pitched or relief appearances. Andres Munoz had just 22 games and 23 innings with San Diego, so he qualifies by BA standards.
- I see you have Kirby third among SPs in the system. Why is he ranked below Hancock and Gilbert if his pitches and control grade out equal and better in comparison? I thought the point of the grades was to help rank. It’s a little confusing. Thanks for your time.
Bill Mitchell: We have two straight questions about the individual tool grades of the Mariners pitchers in the top 10 and how that factors into their ranking, so I flipped a coin and went with the inquiry from J from DC. While the individual tools are important, we also look at how well those tools play in actual games, and what experience the player already has and the results they've gotten at each level. Yeah, it's an inexact science, but it's fun trying to project what each player is going to be when they grow into MLB players.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- I understand that writers don’t like giving player comps, but do you have one for Noelvi Marte? Any player who’s offense production is in line with Marte’s projections?
Bill Mitchell: Justin, you're right in that I don't like to put names on comps. But pick any regular MLB shortstop who consistently hits .270 - .300, hits 20-25 home runs and plays decent defense, and that's your guy.
Rufus (Billings, MT):
- Please tell me more about Marte...his stock seems to keep rising without actual games played. It sounds like the power was impressive at the alternate site and his ability to make adjustments was there, but what is the latest feedback on the hit tool?
Bill Mitchell: I've already answered a lot of questions about Noelvi Marte, but let's do one more since it's coming from Rufus in Billings. I'm assuming that you are a Billings Mustang fan, and it's a shame that you are no longer going to have minor league ball in your very fine stadium. But I digress --- one more factoid to throw out about Marte is that he works counts well, which is impressive for a teenager. Good spin will still give him problems, but we could probably say that about most hitters his age. Going back to the earlier question about who I want to see in spring training, is it too late for me to add Marte's name to that wish list?
- Just want to say thanks for responding to my question. Another great list and I can't wait to see what the future has in store for the M's.
Bill Mitchell: We started this chat session nearly three hours ago, and I'll conclude with this question from Jonathan in NJ. Instead of a question, Jonathan is ending with a compliment, which we are always grateful to receive. Thank you, Jonathan.
Bill Mitchell: That's all for this session of Seattle Mariners prospect chat. Thanks to all for participating. If you have further questions, you can hit me up on Twitter @billazbbphotog. Thanks again, and please remember to buy your very own copy of the Prospect Handbook.