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BA Grade: 70. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 70. Power: 70. Run: 45. Fielding: 50. Arm: 70. c Track Record: Rodriguez was one of the premier hitters in the 2017 international class and signed with the Mariners for $1.75 million. Seattle took it slow in Rodriguez’s first season and kept him in the Dominican Summer League, where he won MVP honors. The gloves came off in 2019. The Mariners teamed Rodriguez with fellow top prospect Jarred Kelenic at low Class A West Virginia in an aggressive assignment. The only speed bump Rodriguez encountered was a broken hand suffered in mid-April that kept him out of action for two months, but when he was on the field Rodriguez was the talk of scouts, managers and opposing players. The Mariners promoted Rodriguez to high Class A Modesto in August, and he further embellished his lofty reputation by annihilating California League pitchers to the tune of .462/.514/.738 in 17 games. He finished his year with an assignment to the Arizona Fall League and more than held his own as the youngest player there. Scouting Report: Often described as a man-child, Rodriguez packs an impressive set of tools in a large, muscular frame. He has unbelievable feel to hit, especially for his age, and shows a good approach with the ability to retain information and make adjustments at the plate. With plus bat speed and quick hands, Rodriguez’s swing has a solid bat path through the zone. He controls the zone well and struck out just a shade over 20 percent of the time in 2019. Rodriguez’s most exhilarating tool is plus-plus raw power to all fields. He makes loud, memorable contact and projects to hit for both average and power when he’s fully developed. Rodriguez is no more than an average runner now and will slow with age, especially since he’s already getting thicker in his lower half. He split time between center and right field, but a plus-plus arm profiles him perfectly for right field. Rodriguez gets good reads and jumps in the outfield, projecting to be an average defender. Rodriguez has outstanding makeup and character and is frequently described as a joy to be around. He has learned English rapidly and takes pride in being able to do interviews in his second language. The Future: Rodriguez will continue to be pushed quickly through the Mariners’ system, with some observers stating it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the major leagues as a teenager. He has a chance to break camp with Double-A Arkansas to start 2020 and gives the Mariners a potential franchise, middle-of-the-order hitter to build around.
BA Grade: 65. Risk: High Tool Grades: Hit: 70. Power: 60. Run: 55. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: Kelenic was the consensus top high school hitter available in the 2018 draft and became the first prep player taken when the Mets picked him sixth overall. Six months later, the Mariners acquired him in the deal that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York. Kelenic shot through Seattle’s system in 2019, jumping three levels to Double-A and posting a 20-20 season. He reported late to the Arizona Fall League due to dental work, then was shut down early with a sore back. Scouting Report: Kelenic is a precocious hitter who hits to his strengths and lays off his weaknesses. He has both an advanced feel for his swing and makes quick adjustments. Kelenic uses a short, compact swing with powerful hip rotation that allows him to drive balls with above-average power, and he has good enough strike-zone awareness to hit for power without striking out much. A plus runner now, Kelenic may slow down as his body matures but should be a basestealing threat because of his advanced instincts. He has the foundation to be an average defender in center field with a plus arm, but his focus and effort on defense need to improve. The Future: Kelenic is a potential all-star in the mold of Jim Edmonds or Grady Sizemore. He’ll see Triple-A in 2020.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Hit: 55. Power: 50. Run: 60. Fielding: 70. Arm: 55. Track Record: White’s plus athleticism and premium defense date back to his college days at Kentucky, but the 2017 first-rounder long faced questions regarding whether he had enough power to profile at first base. White answered those questions in 2019 with 18 home runs in 92 games at Double-A Arkansas while maintaining a high average. After the season, the Mariners signed him to a six-year, $24 million major league contract, adding him to the 40-man roster. Scouting Report: White’s defining tool will always be his defense. He’s a plus-plus defender with a plus arm, with scouts praising his glove work as the best since J.T. Snow. His footwork, soft hands and instincts are all top notch and should result in multiple Gold Glove awards. A plus runner, White could also handle an outfield position and possibly even be a plus defender there with his natural athleticism. At the plate White has very good feel for the barrel, excellent hand-eye coordination and keen strike-zone awareness. He lowered his hands to increasing the loft in his swing and now shows 20-home run power to go with above-average or better hitting ability. The Future: White is on the fast track to Seattle after signing his big league deal. If he spends any time at all at Triple-A Tacoma in 2020, it won’t be for very long.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 55. Track Record: Gilbert didn’t pitch in 2018 after the Mariners made him their first-round pick but made up for lost time by jumping three levels to Double-A Arkansas in 2019. The former All-American showed his college success was no fluke with a combined 2.13 ERA and 165 strikeouts, tied for 10th in the minors. The Mariners named him their minor league pitcher of the year. Scouting Report: The velocity Gilbert lost near the end of his college career returned in 2019, with his plus fastball generally sitting 92-93 mph and touching 96. Gilbert’s fastball is a separator with extra life, carry and ride due to the plus extension he generates with his long limbs. He is still inconsistent commanding his breaking balls, but they both play up because of his pitchability. Gilbert’s 72-77 mph curveball is an 11-to-5 pitch with downer shape and high spin rates. His 78-84 mph slider comes in with a 10-to-4 shape with more horizontal movement. Both breaking balls are currently below-average but project average to above-average in time. He has feel for an average changeup in the low 80s, though he needs to throw it more frequently. Despite a long arm action, Gilbert is a good athlete who pounds the strike zone with above-average control. The Future: Gilbert projects as a solid mid-rotation starter.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 50. Slider: 55. Changeup: 55. Control: 70. Track Record: Kirby walked just six batters in 88 innings in his final season at Elon and became the highest drafted player in school history when the Mariners selected him 20th overall in 2019. He signed for $3,242,900. Kirby reported to short-season Everett after signing and didn’t walk a batter in 23 innings while striking out 25. Scouting Report: Kirby is more than just a strike thrower and possesses an impressive arsenal of pitches. His fastball sat 93-95 mph and touched 98 in his pro debut, though those velocities were higher than usual because he was limited to shorter outings. He generally sits in the low 90s and touches 95. Kirby’s slider is his best secondary pitch. It’s a potential above-average to plus offering at 83-88 mph with depth and a crisp break. His 79-83 mph curveball with 11-to-5 break projects to be an average pitch, while his 85-87 mph changeup flashes above-average, though he didn’t use it much after signing. Where Kirby stands out most is his plus-plus control. He has a clean arm action and plus command, allowing him to put the ball wherever he wants in the strike zone. The Future: Kirby has a chance to jump straight to high Class A Modesto and rejoin his college pitching coach, Sean McGrath, whom the Mariners hired in the offseason. He’s a likely No. 3 or 4 starter.
BA Grade: 60. Risk: Extreme Tool Grades: Hit: 60. Power: 55. Run: 60. Fielding: 50. Arm: 60. Track Record: Marte signed with the Mariners for $1.55 million during the 2018 international signing period and made his pro debut in 2019 with an outstanding season in the Dominican Summer League. He batted .309/.371/.511, led the league with 54 RBIs and 134 total bases, finished second with 31 extra-base hits and, significantly, stayed strong late with a 1.041 OPS in August. Scouting Report: Marte is a five-tool athlete with plenty of upside. He has an advanced approach at the plate and uses a compact stroke with whippy bat speed and makes good swing decisions. An intriguing power-speed threat, Marte stole 17 bases in addition to hitting nine home runs in his pro debut. A plus-plus runner when he signed, Marte is now closer to 200 pounds after filling out and more of a plus runner. After having some throwing issues early in the season, Marte’s defense at shortstop improved thanks to a throwing program that boosted both his arm strength and accuracy. Concerns he would eventually move to the outfield have been lessened, but whether he remains at shortstop or slides to third base will be determined as his body continues to grow. The Future: Marte is following in the footsteps of Julio Rodriguez as another potential impact Dominican signee. He will make his U.S. debut next year.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Slider: 55. Changeup: 50. Control: 45. Track Record: Originally drafted by the Indians and traded to the Yankees in the 2016 Andrew Miller deal, Sheffield had an up-and-down first season in the Mariners’ system after coming over in the James Paxton trade. He began the year at Triple-A and got bombed for a 6.87 ERA, then dropped down to Double-A and rediscovered his form. He then jumped to the majors, finishing the year with eight appearances, including seven starts, in Seattle. Scouting Report: When he’s on, Sheffield delivers a plus power fastball from the left side that sits at 93 mph and touches 97. The key to his improvement during his time in Double-A was commanding his fastball better after working with pitching coach Pete Woodworth, who will be the Mariners’ big league pitching coach in 2020. Sheffield can vary the shape of his above-average mid-80s slider and gained confidence throwing his 84-88 mph average changeup with fade late in the year. Sheffield’s effortful delivery has long resulted in below-average command, but he improved as the season progressed and stayed better on line to the plate. The Future: Sheffield’s command shortcomings have most rival evaluators projecting him to the bullpen, but he will enter 2020 with a chance to make the Mariners’ rotation.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Fastball: 55. Curveball: 40. Slider: 60. Changeup: 45. Control: 50. Track Record: Dunn mostly pitched in relief at Boston College but turned himself into a first-round pick with a successful move to the rotation as a junior. The Mets drafted him 19th overall in 2016, and the Mariners acquired him in the December 2018 trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York. Dunn’s first year in the Mariners’ system went splendidly at Double-A Arkansas. He led the Texas League in strikeouts, made the Futures Game and earned his first major league callup in September. Scouting Report: Dunn’s fastball sits 90-94 mph and averages 92, but it gets on hitters quick from his easy, effortless delivery. His separator is a plus low-80s slider he can land in the strike zone or bury in the dirt. It drew swings and misses nearly 40 percent of the time he threw it in the majors and gives him an out pitch. Dunn has the makings of an average changeup, though it is presently too firm in the upper 80s, and he also has a get-me-over curveball he’ll occasionally mix in. Dunn noticeably gained bad weight in 2019 and struggled to throw strikes in the majors, so he spent the fall improving his conditioning. The Future: Dunn will get another shot in Seattle in 2020. Most see his future as a two-pitch late reliever.
BA Grade: 55. Risk: High Tool Grades: Fastball: 60. Curveball: 55. Slider: 50. Changeup: 50. Control: 50. Track Record: Williamson transferred from Northern Iowa Area JC to Texas Christian last year and missed the fall after having surgery on both hips. He recovered to settle in as the Horned Frogs’ No. 2 starter behind fellow lefthander Nick Lodolo and showed enough for the Mariners to draft him in the second round and sign him for $925,000. Williamson reported to short-season Everett after signing and showed an uptick in stuff. Scouting Report: After living in the low 90s in college, Williamson’s heater came out sitting 91-96 mph with electric life at Everett. The result was an overall swinging-strike rate of 20 percent, one of the best in the minors, and plus grades on a pitch that was seen as average in college. Williamson generates high spin and good shape on his mid-70s curveball, another above-average pitch batters swing through, and he also has a low-80s slider that flashes average. He has feel for an above-average changeup but didn’t use it much at Everett. Williamson uses a three-quarters delivery that is high on the front side and provides deception, and he maintains average control. The Future: The Mariners may have a second-round steal in Williamson. He will make his full-season debut in 2020 and projects as a possible No. 3 or 4 starter.
BA Grade: 50. Risk: Medium Tool Grades: Hit: 50. Power: 55. Run: 45. Fielding: 55. Arm: 55. Track Record: It’s been an arduous climb through the system for Lewis since the Mariners drafted him 11th overall in 2016, when he was the BA College Player of the Year. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a grisly home plate collision in his pro debut and struggled with setbacks throughout 2017 and 2018. But he finally made it to the majors in 2019 after a solid, healthy season at Double-A Arkansas and made a splash by homering in each of his first three major league games. Scouting Report: Lewis is a power-over-hit type with high strikeout totals as part of the package. There are a lot of moving parts to his swing, with a hand trigger and a leg kick, but he sees the ball well and generates the bat speed through the zone to produce high exit velocities. Now a tick below-average runner, Lewis’ time in center field is likely coming to an end. The Mariners plan to station him in left field in 2020, where he’ll be an above-average defender with solid instincts and an above-average arm. The Future: Lewis may skip over Triple-A Tacoma and win the wide-open left field job in Seattle. It will likely be his job to lose in spring training.
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