Want a sneak peek at what the 2021 Mariners might look like? Look no further than Double-A Arkansas ever since Seattle promoted two of their top 2018 draft picks to the Texas League.
Righthander Logan Gilbert and catcher Cal Raleigh are both 22 years old and both in their first full pro seasons. But they clearly needed more of a challenge than they were seeing at high Class A Modesto.
But their promotions wre also a chance to get them in the same clubhouse as a plethora of other top Mariners prospects, including righthander Justin Dunn, lefthander Justus Sheffield, first baseman Evan White and outfielders Kyle Lewis and Dom Thompson-Williams. All but White and Lewis were acquired in offseason trades as Seattle pushes for the playoffs by 2021.
The Mariners preached how polished Gilbert was as their first-round pick out of Stetson, the same school that produced Jacob deGrom and Corey Kluber, and how fast he could move through the system. This is his second promotion this year after not playing at all in 2018 after the Mariners drafted him because of a heavy college workload followed by a bout of mononucleosis.
But Raleigh has been the surprise riser. The switch-hitter overcame a slow start at Modesto to hit .333/.408/.787 with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs in the 30 games preceding his promotion to Arkansas.
Seattle coveted Raleigh as a third-round pick out of Florida State for his bat, but they have also been surprised by his leadership.
General manager Jerry Dipoto was impressed with how Raleigh would chart a game from the end of the bench when he was in the lineup at DH, getting a day off from catching. He would then go over the chart with the starting pitcher the next day to develop a game plan.
“That’s pretty extraordinary for a 22-year-old in A ball,” Dipoto said.
Gilbert over 12 starts in the California League struck out 73 batters in 62.1 innings and recorded a 1.73 ERA. That came on the heels of a 1.59 ERA over five starts with low Class A West Virginia.
— Mariners No. 1 prospect Jarred Kelenic headed to the seven-day injured list at high Class A Modesto to nurse an ankle injury. That was after a wrist injury that shut him down before the Cal League all-star break.
— Gilbert and Raleigh weren’t the only notable promotions. Austin Shenton, a fifth-round pick this year out of Florida International, slid from short-season Everett to low Class A West Virginia.
— After struggling over 12 starts (4.69 ERA) with Triple-A Tacoma and being demoted to Double-A Arkansas, lefthander Justus Sheffield appeared to find his footing. He posted a 1.62 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 39 innings over his first six starts with the Travelers.