We're No. 2: The Mariners’ Greatest Near-Misses For Top Farm System
Until this year, the Mariners had never boasted the top minor system in baseball in the nearly 40 years Baseball America has been grading each organization’s farm.
Seattle had ranked No. 2 on four occasions, which is a historically high total of runner-up finishes. Only the Dodgers with seven instances have ranked No. 2 more often.
But in four other seasons, the Mariners boasted the No. 2 farm system in baseball.
Seattle ranked third In the 1984 debut of BA farm system rankings and climbed one spot to No. 2 a year later. Mickey Brantley, the father of current Astros left fielder Michael, headed the Mariners’ 1985 system. While Brantley didn’t pan out, some other Top 10 Prospects paid off handsomely, including Edgar Martinez (No. 7), Harold Reynolds (8), Bill Swift (5), Danny Tartabull (3) and Ivan Calderon (2).
In what turned out to be a historic 116-win season for the Mariners—and also the franchise’s most recent postseason appearance—the farm system was led by towering lefthander Ryan Anderson, who never reached MLB after suffering a series of injuries. Japanese import Ichiro Suzuki ranked No. 2 as he embarked on a Hall of Fame career, but at the time there was skepticism based on a lack of precedent for an NPB hitter in MLB. Other notable prospects from this Top 10 were Rafael Soriano (No. 9), Joel Piñeiro (4) and Willie Bloomquist (7).
With a system headed by a string of top picks, the Mariners entered 2013 ranked No. 2. Top project Mike Zunino was drafted No. 3 overall in 2012, while Taijuan Walker (43rd overall in 2010) and Danny Hultzen (No. 2 in 2011) rounded out the top three. Zunino and Walker have had long careers, and James Paxton (No. 4) and Brad Miller (9) have had their moments, but this group produced no true star players.
This was a prelude to the No. 1 system of 2022. Only the Rays, led by a rookie class including Wander Franco, Randy Arozarena, Shane McClanahan and Luis Patiño, were able to top the Mariners heading into 2021. Seattle prevailed as the top farm system this year, even after losing graduates Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert in 2021. This year’s Mariners farm system is led by Top 100 Prospects Julio Rodriguez, George Kirby, Noelvi Marte and Matt Brash and is supported by 2021 pro debuts Harry Ford and Gabriel Gonzalez.