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Mariners 2019 top prospect report

The Seattle Mariners have broken Spring Training for real this time and head into their continental US Opening Day against the defending champion, Boston Red Sox. We know who made the 25 man roster, but where are some of the bigger names from the farm system going?

JUSTUS SHEFFIELD

  • Team: Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) 
  • Position: LHP 
  • Age: 22  
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the New York Yankees on November 19th, 2018. The Yankees sent LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Erik Swanson, and CF Dom Thompson-Williams to Seattle for LHP James Paxton. 
  • Spring 2019: In two appearances Justus looked downright dominant this spring. Sporting a 0.00 ERA in 4.0 innings pitched, he walked one batter and struck out four. Granted it was a small sample size, but he couldn’t have performed any better. He showed top-notch velocity on his fastball and his slider looked as advertised.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: Since acquiring the young lefty from the Yankees the Mariners have not wavered from their game plan for 2019. He will start the year in Tacoma, they don’t want to rush him. They feel there are a few things for him to polish up before they give him the call. When the Mariners do call, they feel it will be permanently. He projects as a middle to top of the rotation starter. 

JARRED KELENIC 

  • Team: Everett AquaSox (A Short) 
  • Position OF
  • Age: 19 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the New York Mets on Dec 3rd, 2018. The Mets sent CF Jarred Kelenic, RHP Gerson Bautista, RF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak and RHP Justin Dunn to Seattle for 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, and cash considerations. 
  • Spring 2019: This spring Jarred looked like a young player getting his first taste of a big-league camp. His numbers were not impressive, he recorded a hit, an RBI and drew a couple of walks. What did impress Mariners brass was his maturity for his age, especially at the plate.  He is not bad in the field either, he has been playing CF up until now. If he isn’t able to remain there as he moves up the ranks, his arm strength projects as an above average RF.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: The first thing is just to get acquainted with his new franchises approach to young hitters. The Mariners are big on quality at-bats, they want guys to work the count, take walks, swing at hittable pitches and not go down on strikes. Jarrod has shown above-average power and an ability to create solid contact. If this continues to develop, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kelenic move up quickly. He could potentially jump up to Arkansas AA by the end of 2019 or to start 2020. A 5-tool player, with his strength being his power,
    he projects as a major leaguer by 2022. His speed is and fielding slightly above average. 

JUSTIN DUNN 

  • Team: Arkansas Travelers (AA)
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 23 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the New York Mets on Dec 3rd, 2018. The Mets sent Justin Dunn RHP Gerson Bautista, RF Jay Bruce, RHP Anthony Swarzak and CF Jarred Kelenic to Seattle for 2B Robinson Cano, RHP Edwin Diaz, and cash considerations. 
  • Spring training 2019: Coming into the spring Justin has partially gone through a reboot. He came out of the bullpen through most of his college career. After changing to a starter with four quality pitches for his junior season, he pitched well enough to be a first-round pick in 2016. Justin had a fantastic spring. He pitched in 12 innings with a 3.75 ERA, struck out 15 while allowing 5 walks.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: Many feel Justin may show enough to get a call up to Seattle this season. The Mariners want him to show improvements on his change-up before they bring him up to the bigs. They feel this pitch holds the key to his long-term success as a Mariner. In addition to a 93-95 mph fastball, Dunn has a slider and a curveball that receive above average grades. For this season, if Dunn continues to do what he is being asked I’d expect him to play in Seattle at some point. He projects as a middle of the rotation starter.

EVAN WHITE 

  • Team: Modesto Nuts (A Adv) 
  • Position: 1B 
  • Age: 22 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted 17th overall in the first round of the 2017 MLB draft 
  • Spring training 2019: Evan had a decent spring in 22 plate appearances hitting .222/.292/.318 with 0 HR, 3 RBI and 2 doubles. Coming out of Kentucky there were questions if he would be able to remain at first base and make it in the majors. While those questions have yet to be answered for certain, he is making strides in becoming the type of hitter coveted at his position. There is no question about his defense, He could win a gold glove at 1B this season if he was in the MLB. That was on display for everyone once again this spring and those of us who love defense took notice. 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: This is where it will get interesting for Evan, he is going to start the year off with Modesto. If he approaches his at-bats the way they would like to see him, he could spend most of his time in Tacoma in 2019. In the case he becomes an effective hitter with more bop than he’s shown thus far. He could make it to up to Seattle at some point because the injury to Kyle Seager makes 1B a possible weakness in Seattle’s Major League infield. It’s more likely we won’t see Evan as a Mariner until 2020. He projects as a possible gold glove first baseman, with average speed and slightly above average ability at the plate. 

JULIO RODRIGUEZ

  • Team: AZL Mariners (ROK) 
  • Position: OF 
  • Age: 18 
  • How the M’s acquired him: International prospect signing 2017-18 
  • Spring Training 2019: This kid looked like a lot for pitchers to try and deal with from the mound. He hit .571/.571/.714 with a double, in 7 at-bats this spring. He may very well be the finest of all the current Mariners prospects. He has some power now at 18, that figures to increase as he develops his body and swing. He has also looked very good in the field; he looks like a natural RF but can also play CF if needed. 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: If he remains healthy, I’d expect him to set the Arizona Rookie League on fire. I’d hate to be an 18-year-old pitcher trying to sneak a strike by this guy’s swing. He already has one short season under his belt in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .315/.404/.525 and a .929 OPS with 5HR, 36 RBI, 13 doubles, 9 triples and 10 steals in 255 plate appearances. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him jump up to one of the single-A clubs early, he is certainly talented enough. It probably depends as much on how he handles all the life adjustments he will be facing as it does on his play on the field. He projects as a power bat that will also hit for average. He possesses above average speed, fielding and throwing arm. If all goes well, he could be in Seattle by 2022 or even earlier. 

LOGAN GILBERT 

  • Team: Everett AquaSox (A short) 
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 21 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted 18th overall in the first round of the 2018 MLB draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: After being shut down due to illness after the draft last season. The Mariners have tried to bring Logan along slow this spring. He was given the ball after a rough start by Felix Hernandez and Jorgan Cavanerio on March 10th. He gave up 5 earned runs on two doubles and a home run in the 5th inning before Art Warren was brought in for the final out. Not ideal for his first appearance as a Mariner, yet we would be foolish to judge him on this one trip to the mound. He was drafted that high for a reason, he has four quality pitches and he throws them all for strikes.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: For this season the young 6’6″ RHP main priority must be staying healthy and getting that first season under his belt. His fastball has Major League torch, he was topping out at around 97 MPH before he became ill. That should get him through any rough patches he hits early on his journey with the Mariners. He also has better control than most pitchers with his experience. A rare combination that could pay dividends down the road. Logan projects to be in Seattle by 2021. 

KYLE LEWIS 

  • Team: Arkansas Travelers (AA) 
  • Position: OF 
  • Age: 23 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted 11th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: Of all the stories in Peoria this spring Kyle Lewis was by far my favorite. He looked like the player the Mariners thought he would be at this point.  Considering the gruesome knee injury, he suffered in a home-plate collision while playing for Everett in the summer of 2016. Being on target this season is quite the comeback story. In his first spring training at-bat, he clocked a two-run homer that energized everyone in the Mariners organization. Kyle hit an impressive .423/.464/.923 with 3 HR, 5 RBI, and a stolen base this spring.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: I’m going to reel in some of my excitement that the talented CF prospect is finally healthy. For this season let’s just get a full season under his belt, his talent and work ethic will take it from there. I’d expect to see Kyle wow some people in AA and AAA this season. If he gets his 500 at bats this season, he may very well be pushing for time with the Mariners by next season. Kyle is a true five tool player who will be a lot of fun to watch play for years.  

SAM CARLSON 

  • Team: AZL Mariners (ROK) 
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 20 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted 55th overall in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: DNP recovering from Tommy John surgery 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: If rehab goes well for Sam, he may get to throw a few innings at the end of the season for the AZL Mariners in 2019. After that, he will have an opportunity to develop under professional tutelage for the first time in his career. He projects to have a 93-97 MPH fastball, to go with a great changeup and an above average slider. He has only thrown 3 innings in ROK league back in 2016 before being shut down for minor elbow discomfort. We look forward to seeing what this youngster can bring to the table, expect him to make his push up to Seattle around 2022. 

ERIK SWANSON 

  • Team: Tacoma Rainiers (AAA) 
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 25 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the New York Yankees on November 19th, 2018. The Yankees sent RHP Erik Swanson, LHP Justus Sheffield, and CF Dom Thompson-Williams to Seattle for LHP James Paxton. 
  • Spring Training 2019: For a guy who has pitched over 350 professional innings, Erik didn’t wow us this spring. In 3 games he pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 3 earned runs, struck out 5 and walked 4. That doesn’t mean he isn’t close and possibly the closest of the young Mariner arms to giving a quality contribution to the big-league club. He has a ML fastball that goes around 93 MPH with a high spin rate. He couples that with two solid off-speed pitches in his slider and his changeup. 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: While Erik projects as a starter long term, his first opportunity as a big leaguer may come in a relief. Not only are the Mariners short in that department to start the year, Swanson’s stuff translates well as a reliever. Mariners brass has shown they are not afraid to get creative in order to win ball games. Especially when it comes to their pitching staff. Erik has above average control and power from the mound. He projects as a back of the rotation starter.  

NOELVI MARTE 

  • Team: Unassigned 
  • Position: SS 
  • Age: 17 
  • How the M’s acquired him: International prospect signing in 2018-19 
  • Spring Training 2019: DNP will make his professional debut in 2019 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: This kid is raw, even for a young prospect. One thing we know he has is speed, currently graded as a 70 on the 20-80 scale. Some scouts think he may end up an 80, which is as high as it gets. In the field and at the plate he needs work, which is completely normal for a 17-year-old player. His ceiling is very high, he shows the ability to hit for average and power. His approach is not yet what you would desire from a professional hitter. His range in the field could translate to SS, CF, 2B or 3B. Nobody is quite sure where yet. In high performance camp, his feet were ahead of his hands when taking ground balls. If he has the work ethic, he could make it to Seattle by 2023 or possibly earlier given his ability. 

BRADEN BISHOP 

  • Team: Tacoma Rainiers 
  • Position: OF 
  • Age: 25 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted 94th overall in the third round of the 2015 MLB draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: Braden played his way into the conversation for the fourth outfielder with a stellar performance this spring. Already the most polished defensive outfielder in the organization, he was the most consistent Mariners hitter this spring. In 29 trips to the plate, he hit .379/.419/.724 with a whopping 1.143 OPS. He showed some serious bop with 3 homers and 12 RBI. Unfortunately for him, there are three everyday starters ahead of him and one proven ML bat.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: The local kid has a chance to make good on his potential this season. He is without a doubt the next man up in the Mariners outfield and is almost certain to make his Major League debut in 2019. His defense at CF has been outstanding for many seasons. He has adjusted his swing and has gone from essentially a contact hitter to a player who could potentially hit a few homeruns. He is projected as a good fielder, with good speed and a strong arm. At the plate he grades above average hitting for contact, with average power.  

SHED LONG 

  • Team: Tacoma Rainiers 
  • Position: 2B 
  • Age: 23 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the New York Yankees on January 21st, 2019. The New York Yankees sent 2B Shed Long to Seattle in exchange for OF Josh Stowers. 
  • Spring Training 2019: After bursting on to Mariners fans radar in the first week of camp Shed cooled down some by the end of spring training. He ended up hitting .273/.407/.455 with one HR and four RBI. Maybe more impressive to me was his versatility in the field, he played 2B, 3B and LF at a high level. Many believe he will eventually replace Dee Gordon at 2B. I think he showed this spring he is willing to do whatever it takes to break in to the big leagues.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: The versatile second baseman was highly sought after by the Mariners brass; they obviously see him as a part of their re-tool. For 2019 I would expect him to be in Tacoma most of the season baring anything unforeseen. He projects as an above average player at the plate, throwing and running. He is not considered great at anything, but he is pretty good at everything. As Mariner fans we have been waiting for a utility player to live up to the standard Mark McLemore set years ago. Shed Long may get an opportunity to do so. 

CAL RALEIGH 

  • Team: Everett AquaSox (A short) 
  • Position: C 
  • Age: 22 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted 90th overall in the third round of the 2018 MLB draft 
  • Spring training 2019: The offensive backstop got a small taste of major league spring training with nine trips to the plate and he notched his first professional hit. He showed ability behind the plate as also, communicating well with pitchers and coaches. He proved capable of setting a nice tone for the defense and framing pitches. His one weakness maybe his arm, he allowed two stolen bases on his watch. 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: While Cal doesn’t project as a Mariner until 2021, there is a bit more pressure on young backstops in the organization to develop and contribute quickly nos. When it comes to arguably the most important position in baseball, the lanes to the Major Leagues are wide open. Aside from Cal and ML starter Omar Narvaez, there is really nobody else that’s projected to make an impact long term.  

JAKE FRALEY 

  • Team: Modesto Nuts (A Adv) 
  • Position: OF 
  • Age: 23 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. On Thursday, November 8th the Tampa Bay Rays sent CF Jake Fraley and CF Mallex Smith to Seattle in exchange for C Mike Zunino, LF Guillermo Heredia and LHP Michael Plassmeyer. 
  • Spring Training 2019: If it wasn’t for Jake’s lack of experience, with only 540 professionals at bats to this point. He may have earned himself a shot at the ML level this season, with his outstanding play this spring. In 39 at bats he hit .234/.294/.426 with two HR and seven RBI. He struck out 15 times, while only drawing 3 walks. The message to hitters from the organization, is that type of behavior at the plate is frowned upon. He will need to clean that up to be called up sooner rather than later. 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: I get the impression that Fraley was a throw in during the trade between our Mariners and the Rays this offseason. After all who doesn’t need another athletic outfielder, who when healthy can play center and hit leadoff. He pleasantly surprised this spring and put his name squarely on everyone in the organizations radar. Other than the strikeout/walk issue, he faces some steep competition at CF. He projects to be in Seattle in 2020. He has almost elite speed, a very good glove in CF or LF, his arm grades as average. At the plate he has solid ability to make contact, with average power.  

DOM THOMPSON-WILLIAMS 

  • Team: Arkansas Travelers (AA) 
  • Position: OF 
  • Age: 23 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade with the New York Yankees on November 19th, 2018. The Yankees sent CF Dom Thompson-Williams, RHP Erik Swanson and LHP Justus Sheffield to Seattle for LHP James Paxton. 
  • Spring Training 2019: DTW has a ton of ability in the field and at the plate, he is fast, and he has power with the bat in his hands. He didn’t really get a chance to show what he can do in a crowded outfield this spring. At the plate, in 16 at bats he hit .188/.316/.188. He like Fraley needs to cut down on strikeouts, he struck out in half of his at bats this spring. If he is to succeed at the highest level, he will need to put in extra hours with coaches working on his approach at the plate.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: The sky is the limit for the talented DTW, he could be a 20/20 guy throughout his career. He will most likely play in Arkansas for most of the 2019 season, with fellow highly touted prospects. He can play all three outfield positions at an above average level. His arm is good, his glove is better, and his range is even better. At the plate he can hit for contact but has the power that is rare in someone with his speed. He projects as a major league caliber player in 2020.  

WYATT MILLS 

  • Team: Arkansas Travelers (AA) 
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 24 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted with the 93rd overall pick in the 2017 MLB draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: Wyatt is quite a sight to see when he gets out on the mound. The Gonzaga product is a tall and slender fellow with low three quarters arm slot. He struggled this spring against the competition, in two games he managed to get through an innings work. Walking three, plunking another and allowing six earned runs. How’s that for a spring sophomore slump? For him to get to the big leagues he’s got to develop a changeup to help him out when facing lefties.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: Late last season the Mariners called up Wyatt to AA ball and he seemed to hit a wall. This seems to be a bit of a crossroads for the young right hander. If he gets back on track this year, he could help the bullpen in Seattle as early as next year. He has an above average sinking fastball and a slider with an incredible spin rate in his arsenal. Many compare him to Steve Chishek, due to his build and hard to gauge delivery. 

MATTHEW FESTA 

  • Team: Seattle Mariners 
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 26 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted with the 207th overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: Matt Festa will start the season with the big-league ball club. In part because of a solid performance this spring. In 7 appearances he pitched 7.2 innings with a 4.70 ERA, threw eight strikeouts while allowing four walks. Matt is one of those guys who has never jumped out at you, but he is quietly getting his job done. Last year in a few outings with the M’s he also pitched well. If he remains effective, he will remain with Seattle for the entire 2019 season.  
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: For 2019, I think it’s important that he works in all four of his pitches and keeps hitters from sitting on his fastball. He has a very good fastball but it’s not the type of pitch you can just throw over and over to a Major League hitter. His slider is also a very effective pitch that breaks just before it goes over the plate. His curve and his changeup are not his strongest pitches but they are pitches he needs to work in from time to time to keep guys off balance. With a little time, Festa could be one of the teams most reliable relievers in the coming seasons.  

JOEY CURLETTA 

  • Team: Tacoma Rainiers
  • Position: 1B
  • Age: 25 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Via trade on September 15th, 2017 the Philidelphia Phillies sent 1B Joey Curletta to Seattle for SHP Pat Venditte 
  • Spring Training 2019: DNP due to a back injury 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: The first thing for Joey is to get completely healthy, when he is this guy has some kind of power. For a long time, he was a homerun or a strikeout type of player. Since joining the M’s he has cut down on strikeouts and has learned to work the count and take walks from time to time. He projects as a below average fielder and runner. He can hit for an average and get on base. He could be ready for the big leagues as early as this season if needed. As long as his glove gets up to snuff.  

JUAN QUERECUTO 

  • Team: DSL Mariners (ROK) 
  • Position: SS 
  • ge: 18 
  • How the M’s acquired him: International prospect signing 2017-18 
  • Spring Training 2019: DNP 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: Juan comes from a family of good defensive ball players; his father was a catcher in the minor leagues. While his older brother made it to the big leagues as a utility player with the Rays in 2016. The youngest of the three appears to be the most gifted, he has a long frame that appears to fit naturally at shortstop. His arm and his glove currently grade way ahead of his bat or running ability. With a lot of hard work and In time this young player could be the Mariners starting SS. He projects to be ready for the big-leagues in 2022. 

JOEY GERBER 

  • Team: West Virginia Power (A) 
  • Position: RHP 
  • Age: 21 
  • How the M’s acquired him: Drafted with the 238th overall pick in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB draft 
  • Spring Training 2019: DNP 
  • Expectations for 2019 and beyond: Joey has a fastball to die for, it is thrown in the 95-97 mph range and he puts a premium spin on it. Some scouts believe by the time he is called up its overall grade will be a 70 out of 80 possible. He is a two-pitch pitcher with his second being a slider which is well above average. In his pro debut last season he saved 8 games with a strikout rate of 15.1 per 9 innings. The Expectation is for Joey to be ready to help the big leauge club in 2020.  
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