Mariners Continue to Chart Course to World Series

The Mariners set an American League record in 2001 when they won 116 games in the Ichiro Suzuki era. But they lost in the playoffs to the Yankees and have yet to appear in a World Series. Only the Washington Nationals (originally the Montreal Expos franchise) are the only other franchise in major league baseball that has failed to appear in a World Series. The Mariners feel their chances of making the playoffs are near, so they have been trading prospects for veterans to complete their roster. This has put a dimmer on their minor league system as far as premium prospects.

Their one and only top prospect from a tool stand point is outfielder Kyle Lewis. He suffered a severe knee injury in 2016 which restricted his 2017 season to just 49 games. The Mariners first round 2016 pick was to play in the Arizona Fall League last year but had to leave the season early because of continued knee issues. The Mariners do not think the setback is serious, which would be good news for a player they feel has all five tools. Kyle can hit for both power and average, has the speed to play center and the arm for right. Because of the knee issues he could start the season in extended spring but when ready will play at High A. As a college drafted player he should move up quickly once his knee is determined to be fully healthy.

They drafted another college experienced player in the first round last year in Evan White, despite already having someone who they were grooming for first base in Dan Vogelbach. At first base White has the defensive attributes to win a gold glove, but he also has the speed and arm to play the outfield. There could be some question on his power but he slugged .532 in rookie ball with three homeruns in his first minor league season in rookie ball. Next year he should start the season in full season ball at Low A and if he does well should be quickly promoted to High A.

This could put Dan Vogelbach in the DH spot, which is possibly his best spot. The Cubs drafted Vogelbach in the second round of the 2011 draft. His physique reminded scouts of Prince Fielder. Defensively, it was a challenge for him to play first so the Cubs traded him to the Mariners to allow him to squeeze into the DH role. To play there his bat needs to show a little more productivity. In 2016 he only slugged .422 with the Mariners. Last year he showed a little improvement with 17 homeruns and a .455 slugging. Another major league promotion showed continued struggles to hit for power so another season in AAA is likely. The Mariners do not really have an option for first base, though they traded for Ryan Healy. Nelson Cruz is their preferred choice at the DH spot though they could stick him out in right field to get Vogelbach’s lefthanded bat in the lineup. A good spring should give Vogelbach an opportunity to play for the Mariners in April, with both Healy and Cruz righthanded hitters.

Unfortunately there is no one else in the system that myworld is intrigued by. None of the pitchers excite me. It could be the most vanilla farm system in the major leagues. Joe Rizzo was drafted in the second round in 2016 with what was considered the best bat in the minor leagues. In his first two seasons his bat has shown very little power and his defense at third has just been marginal.

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