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Trades of eight players who ranked in the Top 30 Prospects a year ago have depleted the ranks.
There is little truly strong in baseball’s worst farm system, but there are some outfielders who have promise. Kyle Lewis is a frontline prospect if he can stay healthy, while top international signing Julio Rodriguez brings everyday upside. Braden Bishop plays an excellent defensive center field and broke through offensively in 2017. Eric Filia, a natural right fielder, gives the Mariners another intriguing outfield prospect, although his recent 50-game suspension after a second positive test for a drug of abuse puts a damper on his rise.
The Mariners are short on starting pitching at the big league level, a problem because there is virtually none to be found in their system. After trading away Luiz Gohara, Nick Neidert, Freddy Peralta, Ryan Yarbrough, Brandon Miller, Juan Then and Juan De Paula—among others—in recent years, the Mariners’ system has nothing but future relievers and spot starters, at best, outside of 2017 draftee Sam Carlson.
Notable Graduations: OF Mitch Haniger (5), OF Guillermo Heredia (18), RHP Tony Zych (19) and OF Ben Gamel (20).
Track Record: Lewis' first full pro season in 2017 was trying. The 2016 BA College Player of the Year played just 49 games as he came back from a serious knee injury, with multiple stops and starts. Drafted 11th overall and signed for $3,286,700 in 2016, Lewis tore his anterior cruciate ligament and medial and lateral meniscuses in his right knee a month into his career at short-season Everett in a grisly home plate collision. He spent the next 12 months rehabbing and finally returned to game action at high Class A Modesto in June 2017, only to bang his knee into the center field wall in his first game back and go back on the disabled list. He returned to Modesto in July and finished with a flourish, batting .429 in the California League playoffs to help the Nuts capture the league title. Lewis was assigned to the Arizona Fall League after the season but was shut down after two games with discomfort in his surgically-repaired knee. Scouting Report: When healthy, Lewis has everything you want to see in a premier, middle-of-the-order outfielder. He plays the game hard and has the strong work ethic that allows him to make the most of his above-average tools. He has solid bat speed and a feel for the barrel, with plus raw power. It was obvious to scouts who saw him in the Cal League that he was not always in rhythm at the plate, with his upper half not syncing with his lower half, but he should get back in the groove when his knee is 100 percent healthy. His hands work well, and he's got a line-drive stroke with loft and home run power to all fields. Lewis' speed hasn't come all the way back, but he should again be an average runner when healthy, perhaps a tick more underway. While Lewis has primarily been a center fielder, scouts don't see the instincts needed to stay there despite his ability to cover plenty of ground. An above-average arm makes him better suited for right field. He's primarily been a DH since returning from his knee injury out of caution. The Future: Lewis is aggressive by nature, so the Mariners will make sure he's 100 percent healthy before putting him back on the field. He is expected to be completely healthy by spring training and has a chance to see Double-A at the start of 2018. Lewis' above-average offensive potential makes him a future regular corner outfielder, potentially a first-division one if his power plays as plus in the major leagues.
Track Record: White performed to first-round expectations in his junior year at Kentucky, hitting .373 with 10 homers and 41 RBIs. The Mariners rewarded him by making him the 17th overall pick and signing him for $3.125 million. Scouting Report: White started strong after signing, but a quad injury cut his pro debut short after 14 games at short-season Everett. He is well-rounded and projects to be a plus hitter with average power. The Mariners are convinced his power will emerge because of the exit velocities he generates, and he has the athleticism and frame to add strength. White has a smooth, graceful rigthanded swing, and an outstanding eye. Defensively he is the rare example of a first baseman who is a plus runner with a plus arm. While he can handle either corner outfield spot, he's such an elite defender at first base, earning future 70 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, that he'll likely stay in the dirt. He's graceful around the bag, light on his feet and turns a pristine double play. The Future: White projects as a high-average hitter with 15-20 home run power and Gold Glove defense at first base. He'll get his first taste of full-season ball in 2018.
Track Record: Coming out of cold-weather Minnesota, Carlson was a late riser on 2017 draft boards before the Mariners popped him in the second round. It took a $2 million bonus to keep him from his commitment to Florida, and Carlson started his pro career with two short outings in the Rookie-level Arizona League before being shut down for the year with minor soreness. Scouting Report: Carlson was one of the best prospects to come out of Minnesota in years. He sports a solid pitcher's frame with room for added strength. His heavy fastball with late action and natural sink was up to 96 mph in the AZL, consistent with the velocity during his final high school season. His mid-80s slider features late action and tilt and projects as a potentially above-average pitch. His changeup is especially advanced for a young, hard-throwing righthander. He didn't use it nearly as much during his senior season of high school, but it flashed plus consistently on the summer showcase circuit. The Future: Carlson will likely start 2018 in extended spring training in order to manage his innings, but he could get to low Class A Clinton.
Track Record: One of the premier international talents on the 2017 market mainly because of his easy power and feel to hit, Rodriguez signed with the Mariners for $1.75 million. He has yet to play an official game with the Mariners but already ranks as having the best power in the organization. Scouting Report: Rodriguez got his first taste of game action in Dominican instructional league, with positive reports coming from his performance there. While plus-plus raw power is his loudest tool, Rodriguez is a quality hitter with the ability to retain information and make adjustments. He has quick hands and good bat speed, with a rhythmic righthanded swing that produces a solid bat path through the zone. He takes aggressive hacks at the plate and will have to learn to handle offspeed pitches. An average runner now, Rodriguez projects to slow down as he ages but still retain enough speed to take the extra base. He is athletic enough to handle any outfield position, but a plus arm profiles him for right field. The Future: Rodriguez will launch his pro career in the summer of 2018 at age 17, either in the Dominican Summer League or the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Track Record: Bishop was very well scouted in high school because he played on the same team as 2011 supplemental first-round pick and future big leaguer Tyler Goeddel and 2015 first-round pick Alex Blandino. Bishop was a potential Division I football wide receiver as well, but he opted to attend Washington, where he hit .292 over three seasons, albeit it with modest power. Scouting Report: A premier athlete whose ability to hit was previously in question, Bishop hit .306 with a career-best 34 doubles and an .806 OPS across high Class A Modesto and Double-A Arkansas in 2017. He gets the barrel to the ball consistently, but questions remain whether he will develop enough upper-body strength to drive balls at the higher levels. He is a plus runner who upped his aggressiveness and stole 22 bases in 27 tries in 2017, and that speed helps him to be a plus-plus defender in center field with tremendous reads and reflexes. His average arm allows to handle any outfield spot. The Future: Bishop's continued offensive progress will determine whether he meets his starting outfielder ceiling. If not, he can settle in for a career as a fourth outfielder.
Track Record: Acquired in the November 2016 trade that sent 2014 first-round pick Alex Jackson to the Braves, Povse made his major league debut with the Mariners in 2017 on June 22. He got into three big league games and split the rest of the year between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma. Scouting Report: Povse started strong in Arkansas' rotation before a hamstring injury put him out for a month. He struggled regaining his consistency after the injury while also taking on a new role as a reliever. He got stronger and more coordinated in his 6-foot-8 frame in 2017, allowing him to better repeat his delivery. The velocity on his fastball increased from the low 90s to sitting 93-95 mph and touching 97. He also shows more downhill angle than pure life. He gets swings and misses from his high-70s downer curveball but needs to land it more to be effective against big league hitters. A firm upper-80s changeup with armside fade is his third pitch. He throws all his pitches for strikes, and his long levers provide deception in his delivery. The Future: Povse in 2018 could win a rotation spot with a strong spring or settle in as a long reliever.
Track Record: The Mariners drafted Festa in the seventh round in 2016 after he went 11-2, 2.35 for Division II East Stroudsburg (Pa.). Signed for just $5,000, he jumped from short-season Everett in 2016 to high Class A Modesto in 2017 and dominated at the end of games for the California League champions, posting a 99-to-19 strikeout-to-walk mark. Scouting Report: Festa's fastball velocity ticked up during the season, eventually sitting 94-96 mph at the top end with darting action, sink and run. He's very aggressive with the pitch and commands it well. Batters are frequently behind on his heater, and it draws an eye-opening amount of swinging strikes from lefthanded batters. His wipeout slider in the 87-89 mph range earns plus grades, and he is developing an 87-90 mph cutter with armside action some evaluators like even more. He also has an 80-81 mph changeup and upper-70s curveball in his back pocket. Festa repeats his high three-quarters delivery with a loose arm and moderate effort. The Future: Festa has the stuff, control and mentality to be a high-leverage reliever. He'll move up to Double-A to begin 2018.
Track Record: Warren began his college career at Cincinnati before transferring to Division II Ashland (Ohio), where he had Tommy John surgery as a junior but rebounded to show plenty of stuff (52 strikeouts in 60 innings) but also plenty of wildness (47 walks) The Mariners picked him in the 23rd round in 2015. Scouting Report: Warren excelled his first full year as a reliever in 2017, helping high Class A Modesto win the California League championship as the team's closer. The gem of Warren's arsenal is a four-seam fastball that sits 92-97 mph and touches 99, getting ride and extension up in the zone. He has scattered command of his heater, but his velocity and movement produce a high rate of swinging strikes. His best secondary pitch is a plus 12-to-6 overhand curveball with depth and hard finish in the 80-84 mph range. He rounds out his arsenal with an 89-92 mph slider and below-average 85-88 mph changeup. He is physical and strong but not overly athletic, resulting in an inconsistent release point. The Future: Warren's stuff gives him a chance to be a late-inning reliever, but he'll have to fine-tune his release point and command. Double-A Arkansas is next in 2018.
Track Record: Teams considered Rizzo one of the top high school hitters available in the 2016 draft, and the Mariners selected him 50th overall and signed him for $1.75 million. He made his full-season debut with 110 games at low Class A Clinton in 2017 before moving up to high Class A Modesto. Scouting Report: Though he struggled most of the regular season, Rizzo was named MVP of the California League championship series after going 7-for-13 in the final round to help Modesto capture the crown. Rizzo is a polarizing prospect. He shows a feel for hitting and advanced plate discipline, but his supposed above-average raw power doesn't show up in batting practice or games. Rizzo has to work on strength and conditioning to get the most out of his limited athleticism and physical skills. His tick above-average arm is enough for third base, but he needs to work on his thick lower half to stay quick enough. If he has to move off third base, his short stature isn't ideal at first base and his below-average speed doesn't work well in the outfield. The Future: Rizzo's performance in the Cal League playoffs was encouraging, and he'll return to Modesto to start 2018.
Track Record: The Mariners made Querecuto one of their top priorities in the 2017 international signing class and signed the 16-year-old Venezuelan for $1.225 million. Scouting Report: The switch-hitting shortstop comes from a baseball family. His father Juan played five years in the minors in the Blue Jays system, and his older brother Juniel is an infielder in the Giants system who reached the majors with the Rays in 2016. Querecuto doesn't flash any standout tools but has advanced instincts for his age and knows how to play the game. He's a gap-to-gap, situational hitter who does a good job of controlling the strike zone and using the whole field. An average runner with an above-average to plus arm, he projects to be an above-average defender at shortstop with soft hands, a feel for where to position himself and the ability to slow the game down. While not a burner on the bases, Querecuto's baserunning acumen will allow his speed to play up. His makeup and instincts should allow him to play above his tools. The Future: Querecuto will begin his pro career in 2018 either in the Dominican Summer League or the Rookie-level Arizona League.
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