Bryan Woo called up to Mariners active roster, set to debut Saturday against the Rangers
In a surprising move the Mariners have opted to call up top pitching prospect Bryan Woo ahead of Saturday's game against Texas. What to expect from the young right hander and more here at Sea Level.
In advance of Seattle’s series with the Texas Rangers, we received surprising news from the beat reporters and manager Scott Servais. Bryan Woo has been recalled from Double-A Arkansas, taking the place of the injured Marco Gonzales.
Gonzales is undergoing tests on his injured left forearm back in Seattle. Some issues popped up after his last start and the Mariners wanted to get things checked out. This will leave Woo to start Saturday’s game.
Woo, the Mariners’ number six prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was just named the minor league pitcher of the month for May according to Mariners Player Development. Over the month of May Woo has pitched 27 innings in five starts, posting a 2.33 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP.
This move is surprising, to say the least. Woo is just 23 years old and has thrown just 101 career innings in the minor leagues after recovering from Tommy John surgery ahead of the 2022 campaign. For comparison’s sake, Bryce Miller had thrown 162 minor-league innings when he was called up.
It is very hard to imagine Seattle rolling with Woo for the rest of the season in the rotation, he simply doesn’t have the innings built up to do so. Even though he isn’t likely to be a long-term option, the talent is tantalizing.
A 2021 sixth-rounder out of Cal Poly, Woo had TJ in April of 2021. He was drafted that June after only throwing 69.1 innings in the entirety of his college career, a measly amount compared to many draftees.
His rise has been meteoric through the ranks, and after seeing him in person it is easy to see why. Woo is one of the smoothest and most impressive movers I have ever seen, and his bullpens and live sessions stood out to me more than anyone else’s in Peoria.
Woo’s fastball will sit in the mid-90s and has touched 99 at times, with good arm side run. He also operated with a slider and a changeup, both could use more consistency but have the chance to be plus offerings. He has at least mid-rotation upside, with bullpen risk.
Woo seemed destined for a late-season call-up to pitch out of the bullpen for this team, but the injury to Gonzales may have forced them to call him up earlier.
While many fans have been frustrated with Gonzales and his lack of productivity, this is a big blow for the Mariners. He has been a consistent innings eater and if nothing else is a competent fifth starter that can give this team innings and a few quality starts.
Gonzales had a forearm injury back in 2021 but didn’t miss much time. These injuries can be tricky, however, and Seattle already lost Robbie Ray for the season to a forearm.
It is still somewhat surprising the club decided to go with Woo, although he has been throwing the ball very well at Arkansas. Emerson Hancock was the sixth pick in the 2020 draft, but it is clear that Woo has passed him by. Hancock still has a chance to reach the big leagues this season, but Seattle will likely need to see more from his breaking ball.
Sources tell me Taylor Dollard is rehabbing down in Arizona, but information is scarce on his timeline. This leaves Woo, a tantalizing prospect with little pitching experience making his debut against one of the best lineups in baseball right now.
Overall this move is certainly fine for a spot start, and I am a big fan of Woo as a prospect. The upside on him is unbelievable, but it will be interesting to see how they manage his innings if he does stay in the rotation long-term.
The club will no doubt hope for the best regarding Gonzales and his health, but the injury muddies the waters for Seattle in many ways. Murmurs about Chris Flexen being designated for assignment have been circulating for a while, but following these injuries, the club may not be able to part with him.
Hopefully, for the Mariners and their pitching depth, Gonzales will be able to bounce back quickly. For now, we get another exciting debut, this time in the form of Bryan Woo.
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