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In the age of never-ending prospect showcases and 14-year-old class rankings, Lewis was somewhat of a late bloomer. He played varsity all four years at Shiloh High in Snellville, Ga., but never won anything more than regional honors and went undrafted out of high school. No Southeastern Conference school offered him a scholarship--including Georgia less than an hour away--and he ended up at Mercer, which had just two NCAA tournament appearances in its 65-year history when Lewis arrived on campus. He split time playing baseball and basketball growing up, but once he began focusing solely on baseball in college, he flourished. With his elite athleticism and intelligence, Lewis adapted quickly and made the Atlantic Sun Conference all-freshman team. He became a middle-of-the-order impact regular as a sophomore, thrived in the Cape Cod League (.300/.344/.500) and emerged as one of the most potent forces in college baseball as a junior, hitting .395/.535/.731 with 20 home runs and winning the Golden Spikes Award and the BA College Player of the Year. The Mariners had him ranked as one of the top three players on their board, and they were shocked and ecstatic when he fell to them at No. 11. He signed for $3,286,700. Lewis got off to a blazing start as a pro before he tore the ACL and medial and lateral meniscus in his right knee in a grisly collision at home plate just 30 games into his pro career at short-season Everett. Lewis is an offense-first center fielder with plus power to all fields and a patient approach that allows him to control the strike zone and punish mistakes. He has some swing-and-miss to his game, like most power hitters, but he has enough feel for the barrel and understanding of what to do at the plate that he still is regarded as an solid-average hitter. He is a below-average runner out of the box but ticks up to average underway. His instincts, reflexes and efficient routes make up for whatever he lacks in terms of raw speed in the outfield and make him an above-average defender. His plus arm, combined with average speed, have some evaluators predicting he ends up in right field. However, the Mariners will leave him in center for now. There is concern about how his knee injury will affect his power base and already suspect speed, but Lewis is a hard worker who plays the game with passion and a big smile. There is little doubt among observers Lewis will put in the work to get back to the diamond as quickly and strongly as possible His makeup, aptitude and work ethic draw raves, with his combination of talent and personality making him a potential face-of-the-franchise type player. Lewis draws comparisons with his childhood hero Adam Jones, another former Mariners top prospect. He had surgery on his knee in August and is not expected to begin baseball activities until April. He will continue his rehab at the team complex in Arizona until then, with an eye on reporting to a full-season affiliate by mid-summer. Low Class A Clinton is his likely destination, but high Class A Modesto is a possibility with its drier climate making for a better playing environment post-surgery. If Lewis returns to full health, an accelerated track up the minors and to the majors by 2018 is very much in the cards.
The Mariners drafted O'Neill 85th overall in 2013 and signed him for $650,000 because of his powerful build and power projection. The son of former Mr. Canada bodybuilder Terry O'Neill was so square and bulky that he played catcher in high school, but his underrated athleticism has allowed him to transition to the outfield. O'Neill has grown even stronger since his prep days, with muscles that bulge out of his arms, thighs and backside so much he is nicknamed "Wreck-It-Ralph" after the cartoonishly muscular animated character. Combining that muscle-driven power with exceptional bat speed, O'Neill creates double-plus power to all fields and draws raves for hitting jaw-dropping home runs. His power plays in all parks, with tales of his longballs retold in awe. O'Neill adapted to the new Mariners' dedication to reducing strikeouts and cut his rate from 31 percent in 2015 to 26 percent in 2016. His adjustment propelled him to triple-crown contention in the Double-A Southern League and the league's MVP award, as well as upgraded him to an average to above-average hitter in scouts' eyes. He is at times succeptible to fastballs inside and changeups out front, but anything in the strike zone he crushes. O'Neill's bulky build doesn't prevent him from tapping into his athleticism and showing average speed, which he uses efficiently on the basepaths to make him double-digit stolen-base threat. His above-average arm and improving reads have evaluators projecting him as an average defensive right fielder. O'Neill has held his own among the game's top prospects as one the better performers in the Arizona Fall League two years in a row now, and will begin 2017 at Triple-A Tacoma with a chance to make his major league debut by the end of the season.
The Mariners signed Gohara for $880,000 as a 16-year international free agent out of Brazil in 2012 based on a fastball that could already reach 94 mph, but in succeeding years he frustrated the organization as his weight ballooned to 250 pounds and he showed little work ethic or dedication to competing on the mound. He finally had a breakthrough and shed 30 pounds in 2016 after being ticketed for extended spring training for the fourth straight year. Gohara's rededication to his fitness led to a jump in his stuff across the board. His fastball now sits 95-98 mph and gets up to 100 after he previously struggled to maintain those velocities. His slurvy slider became a mid-80s swing-and-miss pitch with increased velocity and depth, in large part because of added strength and stability in his lower half after cutting weight from his upper body. His three-quarters arm slot and improved stuff made him difficult to square up even after a midseason promotion to low Class A Clinton. Lefties in particular had a tough time with Gohara, hitting .227/.261/.295 off him. His fastball-slider combo gives him two future plus to double-plus pitches, and his changeup progressed to fringe-average as learned to take velocity off while keeping the same arm speed. His control comes and goes, though it improved with his newfound focus on repeating his delivery and mechanics. His total package was on display in the Arizona Fall League, where Gohara posted a 3.86 ERA with 19 strikeouts and just three walks in 11.2 innings despite being on the youngest pitchers in the league. Gohara is finally moving in the right direction to reach his No. 2 or 3 starter potential. He will begin 2017 at high Class A Modesto.
The Mariners made Neidert their first selection in 2015 and signed the Georgia prep for an above-slot $1.2 million. His slight frame but competitive nature draws comparisons with Tim Hudson. Neidert added velocity after a full offseason in the Mariners system, with a fastball frequently hitting 94 mph now after previously registering 90-92. He locates his fastball in every quadrant and excels at using it to get ahead immediately as a first-pitch strike. His low-80s changeup shows deception and fade, and he is developing feel for his slider, now a low-80s offering increasingly becoming a swing-and-miss pitch. What separates Neidert is exceptional command and an aggressive approach that keeps his pitch counts low and hitters on their heels. Neidert posted the third-lowest WHIP in the league from the time he debuted and throwing 69 percent of his pitches for strikes. He also made major strides holding runners and fielding his position. Neidert's increased velocity and stuff ups his ceiling to a No. 3 or 4 starter. He will begin 2017 at high Class A Modesto.
Originally drafted 38th overall by the Brewers in 2012, Haniger moved to the Diamondbacks in a deal for Gerardo Parra in July 2014 and then to the Mariners after the 2016 season (with two others) for Taijaun Walker and Jean Segura. He led the minors with a .999 OPS in 2016 and received his first major league callup. Haniger overhauled his swing mechanics after he was demoted from Double-A to high Class A in 2015, using D-backs all-star A.J. Pollock as a template. He changed his load and swing path, added a leg kick and continued his revisions throughout 2016. The result was improved pitch recognition and the ability to use all fields by keeping the bat in the zone longer. With plenty of raw power and good bat speed. Haniger makes consistent hard contact. Observers believe more in-game power could come when he gets the timing on his new leg kick down. He's a good athlete who is a tick above-average runner, with good range, and his above-average arm allows him to play all three outfield positions effectively. Haniger is in good shape to crack the Mariners' Opening Day roster and help give them a righthanded power threat in the outfield.
Moore was a two-time All-American at Oregon State who routinely confounded Pacific-12 Conference hitters despite subpar velocity. The Mariners made him supplemental second-round pick in 2015 and signed him for $800,000. Moore possesses an uncanny ability to read swings and put any of his four pitches where he wants them, working quickly and drawing early weak contact to mow through batting orders. His fastball sits 90-91 mph but has one of the highest spin rates in the organization, making it appear faster than it actually is. His breaking pitches are average to fringe-average because his feel for them comes and goes, and his changeup grades as merely solid-average. Despite pedestrian stuff on the surface, Moore dominated hitters and held up deep into games all year at high Class A Bakersfield and Double-A Jackson, highlighted by a nine-inning, one-hit, no walk, eight-strikeout performance in Game One of the Southern League semifinals. "Cerebral" is a word often used to describe Moore, with double-plus command and control at his disposal. Moore projects as a reliable back-of-the-rotation option and will either begin 2017 back at Double-A or Triple-A Tacoma depending on his spring-training performance.
The younger brother of ex-big leaguer Brett Jackson, Drew hit .184 with a 37 percent strikeout rate his first two seasons at Stanford but got contact lenses before his junior year. With his vision fixed he hit .320 as a junior and the Mariners were convinced enough to make him a fifth-round pick in 2015 and sign him for $335,400. Jackson's double-plus arm strength and speed are the foremost attributes that attract clubs to him. His arm alone makes him a potentially above-average defender despite inconsistent footwork and body positioning. His speed is elite out of the batter's box and often turns routine grounders into singles, but he is still learning to improve his jumps and reads on the basepaths. After stealing 47 bases at short-season Everett in 2015, he stole just 16 at high Class A Bakersfield in 2016 as pitchers paid closer attention to him. Jackson's offensive upside is his biggest question mark, with evaluators routinely grading him a fringe-average hitter with below-average power. His timing and feel for the barrel have been questioned since college, and he got out of his approach repeatedly in 2016, swinging for the fences rather than keeping the ball on the ground and letting his speed work. Jackson has all the tools but needs to prove he can hit to reach his everyday potential. He will start 2017 at Double-A Arkansas as he tries to do just that.
Like many tall pitchers, the 6-foot-8 Povse struggled with his mechanics when he was younger and slumped to a 5.38 career ERA in college. Undeterred, the Braves saw promise and drafted Povse 102nd overall in 2014, signing him for $425,000. The Mariners acquired Povse and fellow righthander Rob Whalen from Atlanta after the 2016 season when they parted ways with struggling 2014 first-rounder Alex Jackson. Povse has grown into his long limbs and earned midseason promotions in each of his first two full seasons. He has learned to repeat his delivery and uses his height to generate a good downhill plane on his pitches, which leads to an above-average ground ball rate. His fastball sits 89-92 mph and can get up to 94, while his big overhand curveball and changeup with improving depth both project to average or slightly above. He throws all of his pitches for strikes and uses his long limbs to hide the ball well, helping his stuff play up and limiting hard contact. Povse evokes comparisons with Doug Fister as a 6-foot-8, strike-throwing groundball aficionado. He will begin 2017 at Double-A Arkansas with a chance to rise quickly.
The Mariners drafted Altavilla and signed him for $250,000 after he was named the 2014 Division II pitcher of the year at Mercyhurst (Pa.). After progressing through the low minors as a starter, Altavilla converted to relief in 2016. Altavilla's move to the bullpen went even better than expected. He began pitching from the stretch full-time to simplify his delivery and saw his velocity spike. His fastball improved from 93-95 mph as a starter to 96-98 and touching 100 as a reliever, with a devastating plus-plus 89-92 mph slider as his putaway pitch. Altavilla rode his fastball-slider combo to become a Southern League all-star closer at Double-A Jackson and jumped straight to the majors in August, where he allowed only one run in 15 outings. He occasionally flashed a hard, below-average 89-93 mph changeup, but rarely needed it with his other two pitches consistently generating swings and misses and weak contact. Altavilla also earned plaudits for his composure pitching during the Mariners' playoff push. His control is just average, but his elite velocity and movement induces batters to swing through his stuff. Altavilla has a spot in the Mariners' 2017 bullpen and projects long-term as an elite setup man for closer Edwin Diaz.
The Cubs drafted Vogelbach 68th overall in 2011 after he showed prodigious power as a prep. The Mariners acquired him and righthander Paul Blackburn from Chicago in exchange for lefthander Mike Montgomery and righty Jordan Pries in July 2016. Vogelbach has battled injuries but produced in the minors when healthy, posting a career .871 OPS. He controls the strike zone well enough to project as an average hitter and is increasingly tapping into his above-average power. He hit 20 home runs for the first time in 2016 and Seattle rewarded him with his first major league callup in September. He struggles to make contact against lefthanders but is still able to get on base against them with his advanced, patient approach, making him more than just a platoon option. He is a well below-average defender and runner due to his hefty 6-foot frame, but the Mariners believe he can play a suitable first base with the offense he provides. With the probable free agent departures of Adam Lind and Dae-Ho Lee, Vogelbach will contend for a platoon share of the Mariners' first-base job in 2017.
Rizzo was considered one of the best pure high school hitters in the 2016 draft with exceptional feel for the barrel and a strong swing that played against any velocity. The Mariners drafted him 50th overall and signed him for $1.5 million to forgo a South Carolina commitment. Rizzo combines his natural knack for hitting with a patient approach that helps him work counts and get his pitch to hit, which he rarely misses. He is a plus hitter in the eyes of scouts both inside and outside the organization. He shows above-average to plus raw power in batting practice that plays average in games, although he should develop more power with natural physical maturity over time. Defensively, Rizzo is a question mark at third base with a thick build that made some teams want to try him at catcher. The Mariners have been happy with his early performance at third, including better-than-expected range and an average arm. He has a grinder personality and strong work ethic, so there is belief he will put the work in to become an average third baseman. Regardless of how his defense develops, Rizzo's bat will be what carries him. He will start 2017 in extended spring training before reporting to short-season Everett.
The Mariners selected Yarbrough as a senior sign in 2014 and inked him for a below-slot $40,000, and the polished lefty has proven a good value. He keeps damage to a minimum with an array of ground-ball-oriented pitches. Yarbrough's 90-93 mph fastball has downward angle out of his 6-foot-5 frame and plays like a sinker, and he is continually developing feel for a changeup that flashes plus. His slider upgraded to average and he keeps it down and mixes it well off his other two pitches. His ability to keep pitches down in the zone helped him flourish in the hitter-friendly California League in 2015 and successfully make the jump to Double-A in 2016, where he earned Southern League pitcher-of-the-year honors after leading the circuit in wins (12) and ranking second in both ERA (3.16) and WHIP (1.11). He missed the final two weeks of 2016 while on the disabled list with a strained groin. Yarbrough is especially tough on lefthanders, who struggled to a .183/.250/.275 line against him in 2016. He will begin 2017 at Triple-A Tacoma and could reach the majors quickly as a reliever with his sinker-changeup combination and strong splits against lefties. If he continues to develop his slider, he becomes a back-of-the-rotation option.
Peterson led the nation with a 1.327 OPS his junior season at New Mexico and was drafted 12th overall by the Mariners in 2013. He was derailed after being hit by a pitch that broke his jaw in eight places in his pro debut. Afterward Peterson became noticeably skittish in the box and bailed out against inside fastballs. Despite that, his quick wrists and natural strength helped him produce in the low minors. He hit 31 home runs in 2014, his first full season, but that total shrunk to seven homers at Double-A in 2015 as advanced pitchers began to exploit him. Back at Jackson for a third straight season in 2016, Peterson took heed of an organization-wide emphasis on cutting down strikeouts. With a refined approach focused on selectivity, his natural bat speed and strength flourished, and he visibly appeared more confident, resulting in a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma and 19 homers. He remains a fringe-average hitter, but possesses above-average power and is showing he can once again get to it. That has become especially important after he moved from third base to first base exclusively. Peterson's 2016 season ended after breaking his left pinky finger fielding a ground ball on Aug. 22, and he will start 2017 back at Triple-A Tacoma.
Vieira signed with the Mariners for $65,000 as a raw 17-year-old international free agent in 2010. Early in his career he showed arm strength and not much else, and he was best known for closing for Brazil's 2012-2013 World Baseball Classic teams. He finally made a developmental leap in 2016 under high Class A Bakersfield pitching coach Ethan Katz. Katz streamlined Vieira's delivery to allow his arm to power through free of moving parts, and the result was a consistent 96-100 mph fastball that hit 102 at the end of the season. His command also improved dramatically to average, and his 89-92 mph slider sharpened to become an above-average pitch. The result was the highest strikeout rate (10.8 per nine innings), lowest walk rate (3.7), fewest hit batters (two) and lowest ERA (2.84) of Vieira's career in 2016. He had one midsummer stretch where he didn't allow an earned run for six weeks as Bakersfield's closer, and overall he allowed only one home run all season. The Mariners rewarded him with an assignment to the Arizona Fall League, where he touched 104 mph with his fastball and began flashing a promising curveball as well. Vieira has to prove he can maintain his delivery and command, but his raw stuff is that of a dominant late-inning reliever or closer. He will start 2017 at Double-A Arkansas.
Bishop was a premium athlete recruited in football as a Division I wide receiver out of high school but ultimately took the baseball route at Washington. The premier athleticism, speed and reflexes that made him a successful receiver show up consistently in center field, where he gets to every ball in every direction and is consistently regarded as the top defensive outfielder in the Mariners system. His double-plus speed and plus arm round him into a defender so complete evaluators believe his defense alone can make him a game-changing everyday center fielder in the majors. Bishop's development as a hitter has not progressed as quickly. The Mariners adjusted his load to get him in a better position to strike the ball after drafting him and saw progress in his ability to make contact. He will show himself to be an average hitter at times with little power, but with his plus speed and elite defensive ability projects to possibly be a major leaguer in the mold of Kevin Pillar on the high end. Bishop will start 2017 at high Class A Modesto.
The Mariners signed Hernandez for $1.85 million as a 17-year old in 2014 but received disappointing early returns in 2015. As such, the Mariners ended his switch-hitting and had him bat only from his natural right side starting in 2016 and saw an uptick in performance and confidence. Hernandez ranked among the Dominican Summer League leaders in extra-base hits and steals when the Mariners moved him to the Rookie-level Arizona League. He continued to perform in the AZL, hitting .285 and starting in right field for the Mariners team that won the league title. Hernandez has a pure swing from the right side that allows him to make solid, consistent contact, though he doesn't generate much power. He is a plus runner with a plus arm, allowing him to play either center field or right if necessary. He has a chance to be a plus defender in center. Opposing scouts doubt Hernandez will hit for enough power to stick in a corner, but the Mariners believe he may develop average power over time as he matures physically. He sometimes gets too pull-happy in his approach and has trouble with offspeed pitches but could grow out of those traits with experience. Hernandez will begin 2017 in extended spring training before heading to short-season Everett.
The Mets were intrigued by Whalen's pitchability as a prep and signed him away from a Florida Atlantic commitment for $100,000, and Whalen has shown they were onto something. The Braves acquired him from the Mets at the 2015 trade deadline, and he made his major league debut with Atlanta in 2016 before the Mariners acquired him after the season with Max Povse in exchange for Alex Jackson. Whalen succumbed to severe patellar tendinitis in both knees shortly after joining the Braves in 2015, but returned to health and led the Braves system with a 2.40 ERA across Double-A and Triple-A before making five starts in the majors at the end of the season. He has a deep six-pitch repotoire, including both four-seam and two-seam fastballs in the low 90s with sink, two different curveballs with one harder than the other, a solid-average slider and a changeup. He is a cerebral pitcher who relies more on his guile than stuff, but the sinking action on his fastballs gives him a chance to stick as a ground-ball oriented spot starter or long reliever. He will likely begin 2017 in Triple-A Tacoma's rotation and see time in Seattle during the season.
Heredia made his name as a two-time gold-glove center fielder in Cuba's Serie Nacional and was the starting center fielder for the Cuban national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. He left Cuba in January 2015 and signed with the Mariners in February 2016. Heredia is a defense-first outfielder with an explosive first step and the ability to make both routine plays and spectacular ones. After beginning the year at Double-A Jackson, Heredia received a callup to Seattle for good in August and served as a late-game defensive replacement at both corner-outfield spots down the stretch. His plus defense and above-average arm allow him to play all three outfield spots, though center is where he can best use his speed, superb instincts and extensive range to maximum effect. He is an average hitter with little power who works counts and controls the strike zone well enough to consistently get on base. Heredia profiles as a valuable glove-first fourth outfielder and will fill that role for the Mariners in 2017.
The former Louisville closer was named the Cape Cod League's top prospect in 2010 and signed with the Cubs for $400,000 after being drafted one year later as a junior. He stalled at Double-A after five seasons in the Chicago system and was sold to the Mariners for $1 at the end of spring training in 2015. The fresh start did wonders for Zych, who loosened his delivery and simplified his pitch mix to just his fastball and slider after joining Seattle. The adjustments helped him reach the majors in 2015 and 2016 and record a 2.81 ERA and 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings in 25 appearances. Zych possesses an electric 95-98 mph fastball and a plus 83-86 slider that generated a swinging strike 17 percent of the time it was thrown in the majors in 2016. Zych has the stuff to work as a set-up man, but injuries have held him back from reaching that ceiling. He made the Mariners' Opening Day roster in 2016 but went down with shoulder tendinitis May 1, missed the next three months and made two appearances in August before being shut down again. He had offseason shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for spring training.
Gamel, the younger brother of former big leaguer Mat, was drafted by the Yankees in 2010 and signed away from a Florida State commitment for $500,000. He earned the Triple-A International League MVP award in 2016 while playing for the Yankees' affiliate in Scranton-Wilkes Barre and was traded one day after winning the award to the Mariners for promising Rookie-level righthanders Jio Orozco and Juan De Paula. Gamel is undersized but makes hard contact from the left side and drives the ball into the gaps, allowing him to use his above-average speed to generate a high number of doubles and triples. His athleticism, solid-average arm and all-out style of play allow him to play all three outfield spots with above-average ability, but he has spent most of his time in center and left field. He played 24 games in right field for the Mariners after a September callup. Gamel doesn't have enough power to profile as a corner regular, but he is well-rounded enough in his skillset to stick on a major league roster as an oft-used backup. He will be in the mix for that role with the Mariners in 2017.
Torres signed with the Mariners for $375,000 as a 17-year-old. After spending 2015 in the Dominican Summer League, he made his U.S. debut in 2016 and lived up to his reputation as a defense-first shortstop with impressive range and intriguing defensive tools. He is a smart defender who positions himself well and has tremendous instincts, which is amplified by his athleticism to go get anything hit in his zone. He has a plus arm as well that makes him a true shortstop. Offensively he is further behind, with a singles-oriented stroke from the right side and a poor one from the left that led to a .178 average and .467 OPS in 2016. As a below-average hitter with little power potential and above-average speed, Torres fits the mold of a potential utility infielder but has youth and time on his side to grow into more offense. He will begin 2017 in extended spring training before heading to short-season Everett.
Brigman boasts an athletic track record few can compete with. He was a standout hockey player in his youth and his father Vince was a pitcher at Pacific. Brigman chose baseball over hockey in high school and became the first player to play for three different USA Baseball championship teams. That athletic track record led to a decorated college career at San Diego and a $700,000 bonus after being taken as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2016. Brigman's athleticism helps him seamlessly play both second base and shortstop and profile as an above-average defender at both. He compensates for a near-average arm with a tremendous internal clock that ensures he makes his throws in time. Offensively he has below-average power but controls the zone well, makes solid contact and draws enough walks to let his above-average speed play on the bases. The Mariners plan to rotate Brigman between second base, shortstop and center field to prepare him for a future utility role. He will begin 2017 at low Class A Clinton.
Burrows became Alabama's all-time saves leader as a junior in 2016 and finished a decorated three-year college career with a 2.20 ERA, 30 saves and 113 strikeouts in 102.1 innings before signing for $450,000. He showed a 94 mph fastball and hard-biting slider with the Crimson Tide but struggled with fatigue once in pro ball and saw his velocity decrease to 87-90 mph. His slider, more of a low-80s hard slurve, also lost some bite and velocity but is an above-average pitch when at full strength. Burrows still recorded a 2.55 ERA in 20 games in his pro debut at short-season Everett. He pitches from the first-base side of the rubber, making him exceptionally difficult for lefthanders, and his average changeup helps neutralize righthanders. His overall command needs work, but his track record of success makes the Mariners optimistic he can rise quickly and eventually be a bullpen option. He will begin 2017 at low Class A Clinton.
Liberato signed for $140,000 as a 17-year-old international free agent in 2012 and climbed the minor league ladder since. He shows flashes of multi-tool potential and has developed into a plus defender in center field with above-average speed and instincts, but his bat continues to develop slowly while injuries hamper him. Liberato missed 40 games in 2016 because of two separate disabled-list stints for pulled hamstrings, which followed a leg injury that cost him a month in 2015. Liberato possesses a pure lefthanded swing he uses to drive the ball into the gaps for doubles and triples, but he struggles to make consistent contact. His power grades as below-average, and his raw speed generated just four stolen bases in 2016. Liberato is increasingly starting to profile as defense-driven fourth or fifth outfielder, but he has a chance to give his offense a jolt in the California League at high Class A Modesto in 2016.
The Mariners discovered Miller because they had kept an eye on the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletics Conference after successfully finding Mercyhurst (Pa.) righthander Dan Altavilla in 2014. Miller went 12-2, 1.42 with 115 strikeouts and 13 walks in 107.2 innings in 2016 to lead Millersville (Pa.) to a No. 1 ranking in D-II and a national runner-up finish. He tossed a complete game with five hits and one earned run and seven strikeouts in the opener of the D-II World Series and was drafted by the Mariners a week later, signing for $250,000. He kept up his dominance in pro ball, recording a 2.72 ERA and 51-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 56.1 innings at short-season Everett. Miller works off an 89-91 mph fastball that gets up to 93 with an elite spin rate, while his 80-83 mph slider grades as a plus pitch that also features excellent spin and a high whiff percentage. His curveball and changeup are currently below-average but project to average with further development. Miller's balanced four-pitch mix, poise and durability project him to a back-of-the-rotation starter, and he has a chance to skip low Class A Clinton altogether and begin 2017 at high Class A Modesto.
The Mariners made Vargas the gem of their 2015 international class when they signed him for $1.625 million as a 16-year-old. Vargas, the younger brother of Diamondbacks minor league righthander Emilio Vargas, has a broad-shouldered build with strong wrists that help him generate exceptional raw power, which projects to plus and shows up in games. He hit two home runs in the MLB international showcase prior to signing, finished tied for third in home runs in the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut and was the MVP of the DSL all-star game after hitting a two-run triple. He did that while playing a better-than-expected shortstop that included highlight-reel plays on par with the system's top defenders. Vargas' below-average speed and sizable frame make him a probable third baseman once he fills out, but his power and excellent plate discipline should allow him to project at acorner. Vargas could face another season in the DSL in 2017 before moving to the Rookie-level Arizona League, though he could follow the path of Brayan Hernandez and Christopher Torres and head to the U.S.
Motter partnered with Tommy La Stella in the middle of Coastal Carolina's infield in college before the Rays signed him as a junior. They moved him all over the diamond defensively, moving him into a utility role, and he started coming into his power when he got to Double-A. Added to the 40-man roster after a boffo 2015 that included 43 doubles with Triple-A Durham, Motter flopped in 2016, even though he made his major league debut. Tampa traded him and Richie Shaffer to the Mariners in a November deal for non-40-man righties Andrew Kittredge and Dylan Thompson and first baseman Dalton Kelly. Motter's athleticism and versatility are his best traits. He has a plus arm that plays on the left side of the infield or in right field, and the above-average speed to play up the middle. Motter has average power but his swing and approach get too big. Always noted for playing with some flair, Motter had scouts questioned his effort in 2016. That won't fly if he wants to seize a big league utility spot in 2017.
The Yankees drafted and signed Pazos for $100,000 out of San Diego in 2012 and he quickly rose through their system in the bullpen, reaching the majors in 2015 and again in 2016, when he struggled. The Mariners traded for Pazos after the 2016 season giving up righy Zack Littell. Pazos sits 95-98 mph with his fastball and 81-84 with his slider, but both have proven hittable to major league batters due to lack of command. Pazos has struggled with deep pitch counts and has to improve his below-average fastball command. Still, the Mariners see promise in Pazos' raw stuff and the .152/.250/.217 line to which he held lefthanded batters at Triple-A. He will have every chance to win a spot in the 2017 big league bullpen as a matchup reliever.
Marlette was a high school showcase standout as a power-hitting catcher, and the Mariners drafted and signed him away from a Central Florida commitment for $650,000. After a strong start to his pro career, he hit a wall as he ballooned out of shape and his 5-foot-11 frame became pudgy. Assigned back to high Class A for the third straight season in 2016, Marlette got into visibly better shape with improved core strength and demonstrated better emotional and mental maturity in all parts of his game. He made strides in his game-calling while showing an above-average arm and improved blocking. At the plate he showed a more disciplined plate approach, which led to a new career high in walks and continued offensive success after an August promotion to Double-A Jackson. Marlette possesses plus raw power to go with improving defensive tools. He still needs to improve his below-average receiving but is trending back up and will begin 2017 at Double-A Arkansas.
Walton was a two-time all-Big 12 Conference shortstop for the Cowboys as well as a multi-year team captain and academic all-conference honoree. The Mariners drafted him as a senior and signed him for $125,000 after he helped lead the Cowboys back to the College World Series for the first time since 1999. He earns raves for his tremendous instincts that help his average tools play up. He has above-average bat speed and surprising strength in his wiry frame--particularly from the left side. He is a patient hitter who doesn't miss his pitch. Walton's speed is also average, but excellent baserunning ability makes him an efficient stolen-base threat. He positions himself well defensively and effectively handles both shortstop and second base, though his fringe-average arm fits better at second. The Mariners plan to develop Walton as versatile, switch-hitting utility infielder. He will begin 2017 at low Class A Clinton.
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