Mariners Set Sail for New Voyage

The Seattle Mariners are one of seven franchises never to win a World Series. To break it down even further, they have yet to appear in a World Series, even though they are tied with the Chicago Cubs for teams with the most wins in a season at 116. The Mariners accomplished that feat in 2001 but lost to the New York Yankees in the playoffs.

Last year the Mariners had one player appear in top 100 lists, Kyle Lewis, a tooled up player who seriously damaged his knee and may have eliminated one excellent tool from his arsenal. Back in 2012 and 2013 myworld ranked their farm system first and second in baseball. Those were the years they had James Paxton, Taijuan Walker and Nick Franklin. They also had Jesus Montero and Danny Hultzen. Now they are embarking on a voyage to capture new prospects, tanking the 2019 season to rebuild the franchise and return to the 2012 and 2013 time periods.

The recent acquisition of Jarred Kelenic from the Mets strengthens their outfield prospects. Jarred was a first round pick in 2018. He has the speed to play a quality centerfield, create havoc on the bases with some power to hit in the middle of the order. In his first minor league season he slugged .468, hitting as many triples (6) as he hit homeruns. The one down side to his game is his challenge to make contact.

Kyle Lewis was their top prospect after the Mariners selected him in the first round in the 2016 draft. A gruesome knee injury has cut into his playing time and development and may have taken a step from his speed. He has the arm to shift to right and still be an above average corner outfielder. There is power in his bat, but it was silenced in 2018 as he slugged just .405. His .244 batting average was the lowest of his three year career. Rust may have been a factor for his struggles so the 2019 season will be key, where he will start the season in AA, just a step from reaching the majors.

Julio Rodriguez was signed for $1.75 million and played well in the Dominican Summer League as a 17 year old, hitting .315 with a .525 slugging. He should make his stateside debut next year after seeing time in extended spring training. The reports are that he has power but his lack of speed will limit him to the corners.

Justus Sheffield was acquired from the Yankees in the James Paxton deal. The lefthander could win a spot in the starting rotation, though with the Mariners rebuilding they may not want to slow his service time by waiting until mid-season to call him up. Justus has a good fastball slider combination, with the radar readings sitting in the mid-90s, excellent for a lefthander. Last year he got some relief opportunities with the Yankees but did not fare well. In the minors he struck out more than a hitter an inning and limited the opposition to a .195 average.

Justin Dunn was another arm acquisition from the New York area, included with Kellinic for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz. Dunn was a first round pick of the Mets in 2016. His fastball slider combination elicit a lot of swings and misses but a .253 opposition average indicates there is some hard contact. Inconsistency with his command gets him behind in the count too often, making him more hittable. Finding a pitch to retire lefthanded hitters is a need as well.

Logan Gilbert was their 2018 first round pick. He did not pitch last year but shined when on the mound for Stetson, striking out more than a hitter an inning. At 6′6 inches with the ability to hit the mid-90s Gilbert can be an imposing force. A quality change makes his fastball even more devastating.

Evan White was the Mariners first round pick in 2017. His power for the position may be short but he carries an excellent glove. He also has the speed to play a corner outfield, but they would lose his quality glove at first base. Last year he slugged .458 in the California League, fueled by 27 doubles, 7 triples and 11 round trippers. If he can learn to pull the ball his power may develop, making him a better fit at first base..

Joe Rizzo was drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft. He was supposed to be the best high school hitter in the draft with excellent power. That power has yet to appear. His defense is weak at the corner, the speed is not there to play the outfield and his 5′9″ height would make him a small target for first base. Last year he only slugged .321 in the California League, not what major league teams want to see in their corner infielders or outfielders. The 2019 season could be his last opportunity to prove himself.

Two long shots on the prospect map are Ricardo Sanchez and Jake Fraley. Ricardo was a highly touted prospect with the Angels, traded to the Braves and then released by the Braves. The stuff is still there with a fastball that touches 95 but the ability to find the plate can be a bit of a challenge. Fraley was a second round draft pick in 2016 who carried rather ordinary tools. He was one of the top players in the Australian League (.361, 13 Hrs and 39 stolen bases with a 1.130 OPS) in 2017 then dominated last year in High A hitting .347. Speed and solid defense will get him to the majors, though he showed surprising power in the Australian baseball league with 13 homeruns. He makes solid contact and could work nicely as a fourth outfielder.

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