Mariners' top 20 prospect list following International signing day
The Mariners added a few new players to their organization following international signing day. Check out my updated prospect ranks, the last before the start of the 2023 campaign.
As the offseason slowly moves, my attention has turned to the young players in the Seattle farm system. This research and film study led me to re-rank my top 20 prospect list, and a few players were traded from the initial list. Let’s take a look at my updated rankings going into the 2023 campaign.
Tie 20: Cade Marlowe (OF)
Cade Marlowe is one of the closest players on this list to actually making his debut in Seattle, as he was on the taxi squad for the playoff roster. Marlowe has shown some nice tools in the minors, with above-average speed and power.
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He hit 23 bombs while swiping 42 total bags in Arkansas and Tacoma in 2022. Marlowe projects as a fringey fourth outfielder depth type, maybe similar to a Ben Gamel type but with a different toolkit. The biggest issue with Marlowe is his swing and miss, as he struck out 156 times this season. This issue inhibits his ceiling, but he could have some value with his speed and power.
Dipoto has been pounding the drum for Marlowe as a potential five-tool player, which is hard to ignore. However, his strikeout numbers are extremely concerning, which ultimately leads me to believe he is a fourth outfielder type who could excel against right-handed pitching. If he can cut the strikeouts way down he has the potential to be more.
Tie 20: Hogan Windish (IF)
Windish is my favorite prospect in the entire system. I always love players who find a way to hit their entire life, because they find their way to the big leagues. Seattle has coveted players like Ty France and Mitch Haniger in the past, and Hogan Windish has a chance to be exactly that.
The kid can flat-out hit, and taking a look at his Baseball Reference is a lot of fun. He played his college baseball at North Carolina Greensboro and raked, getting drafted in the 7th round of the 2022 draft.
He should continue to hit, and while he seems positionless right now I think he could be a guy who could handle second base and play first as well. His bat is going to carry him to the big leagues, and he already has some of the most plate appearances of anybody in the 2022 draft. Windish can flat-out rake, and I am looking forward to watching him fly through the system.
I believe he could be the replacement at first base for Ty France, and that is my player comp for him. The swing is different, but the body and ability to find barrel is a solid comparison.
19: Tyler Locklear (1B)
Locklear is out of VCU and was a trendy selection from this last year’s draft. The Mariners love players who performed well on the Cape, blasting nine home runs over the 2021 summer.
The former VCU Ram posted absurd numbers against questionable opponents, hitting .402/.542/.799 in his final season with 20 home runs. He has to hit as a pro, otherwise he doesn’t have a place. There was a lot of data supporting Locklear as a draft pick, including really nice exit velocity numbers.
Locklear has a pretty stiff swing but has power to all fields. There is a lot to like about his exit velocities and swing overall. The power is huge. He must hit, as his glove with relegate him to first base duties. The positional value and risk involved don’t allow me to move him any higher here.
18: Michael Morales (P)
Morales is still just a youngster but is exactly the type of player the Mariners have proven they can develop. He has a decent-sized frame (6-2, 205) and a nice repeatable delivery. Seattle has shown the ability to get the most out of pitchers, and there’s no reason they cannot do this with Morales.
He has a really nice curveball and the Mariners can get more out of his fastball as he grows and develops. The former Vanderbilt commit is sitting around 93 with his heater. His ERA was in the high 5 territory in A ball, but keep an eye on him as he gets older.
17: Jonatan Clase (OF)
Clase is one of the fastest and most fun prospects in the Seattle system. Although he is just 5-8 and 150 pounds, Clase is pound for pound one of the most explosive players in the system. With 70 grade speed, the Dominican native also popped 13 home runs in Modesto this season as a switch hitter. His stat line is ridiculous from A ball this season, going .267/.373/.463 with 55 stolen bases.
The Instagram workouts and work ethic of Clase are unquestioned, and if you haven’t seen it go check it out. He is a slam dunk center field long term. His bat and hit tool are the things that worry me a little bit, and his proximity from Seattle lands him at 17 on my list.
16: Prelander Berroa (P)
The trade for Berroa may go down as one of the signature moves of Jerry Dipoto’s tenure. Seattle acquired him early last season for infielder Donovan Walton who had been designated for assignment. Berroa was fantastic in 2022 in the starting rotation for Everett and Arkansas, posting an ERA of 2.86 over 100-plus innings.
Berroa has a smaller 5-11 frame, with a thick lower half. He has an explosive fastball that sits 96 and can touch 98. He throws a hard slider that could be his best pitch eventually, especially as he continues to develop with the Mariners’ pitching development.
He was a starter this year but likely projects as a bullpen arm going forward. He doesn’t throw enough strikes to be a starter, but his stuff should uptick in the bullpen. Berroa could be a good mid to high-leverage reliever, reminds me of Diego Castillo with a four-seamer instead of a sinker.
He needs to throw more strikes or he could end up as a middle reliever or less.
15: Isaiah Campbell (P)
The former Arkansas Razorback underwent elbow surgery which relegated him to the bullpen in 2022. He wasn’t extremely likely to be a starter, and his stuff has the ability to play up in a big way out of the ‘pen.
He has a legit 98 with a slider in the mid-80s, which is the better pitch of the two at this time. His fastball has good velocity but it seems to be pretty hittable. This may come along as he pitches more, but it is important to keep in mind he is 25 years old and will turn 26 during next season.
He still needs more innings and to improve both pitches to get to the big leagues, and will likely start next season at Double A. I expect Campbell to be able to impact the big league club next season.
14: Juan Pinto (P)
One of my favorite names on this list long term is Juan Pinto. We haven’t seen a large amount of him in professional baseball just yet. Pinto is only 18 years old, but checks in with a very projectable 6 foot 4 frame. His delivery looks smooth and effortless, especially for such a young player. Colby Patnode of Locked on Mariners may be his biggest fan, comparing him to Barry Zito.
It is hard to find a lot of film on him, but the reports are awesome. His fastball could easily sit in the mid-90s eventually, with an above-average curveball. He has the time and the tools to develop into a really nice player, and I fully expect him to move into my top 10 sooner rather than later.
13: A.J. Izzi (RHP)
The high school right-hander has yet to make his debut in the Mariners’ system, so he is all projection for now. However, the tools are exciting for the young pitcher.
He is listed at 6-3 and just 165 pounds after the Mariners drafted him out of Oswego High School in Illinois this past summer. Signing with Seattle kept him away from Witchita State, which is a huge win for the Mariners.
Once Izzi fills out his frame the sky is the limit. He carries a fastball that sits in the low to mid-90s and touches 97 MPH. He has a slider and a changeup that both need a lot of work, but that is why he will be perfect to develop in the Seattle system.
Seattle’s pitching development system has shown the ability to take players like this and turn them into gold, and there is no reason to believe they can’t do it again. There's an upside but it doesn’t come without the risk that he could be a reliever. He will be a fun one to watch in his professional debut season next year.
12: Taylor Dollard (RHP)
Dollard is one of the closest players to Seattle inside my top 20. The 23 year old was dominant at Arkansas last season, going 16-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 144 innings. He was given the Texas League Pitcher of the Year for his performance.
Dollard will turn 24 before next season and is expected to be on the doorstep to the big leagues. He projects as a number four starter with the potential to be a number three if he can get some more value out of his secondary pitches.
He has an average fastball that ranges from 89-93 with three average secondary pitches including two breaking balls and a changeup. He has some of the best command in the system, but doesn’t miss very many bats at all. If he can improve secondary pitches or get more value from his fastball he could raise his ceiling to a number three starter, but at this point, he is a back-end starter.
Dollard is MLB-ready and has a relatively low ceiling with a high floor. He is going to be a valuable player that could help the Mariners or be valuable in a trade.
11: Lazaro Montes (OF)
Montes began his professional career in the DSL last summer and posted an OPS above 1.000. Next summer he will begin his career stateside with one of the highest upsides in the entire system.
Montes is a big kid at 6-3 and 210 pounds at just 18 years old. He has huge raw power from the left side that has drawn comparisons to Yordan Álvarez based on size. Many scouts believe he can bash 30 homers as an everyday player in the major leagues, giving him massive upside as a prospect. This upside comes with a big risk as well.
He is already showing a propensity to swing and miss a lot which could be a problem as he moves stateside. There is also the risk that Montes could end up at first base eventually. For now, he runs well enough to stick in the outfield, but eventually his size and ability may make a move necessary. I need to see him play stateside and not post sky-high strikeout numbers before he can hop in my top 10.
The power and tools are tantalizing, so next season will be important. If he makes contact consistently enough he can be an impact big-league regular someday.
10: Axel Sanchez (SS)
This kid was very impressive in 2022, likely the biggest riser in the entire organization. I realize I have him ranked higher than most, but his tools can make you salivate. Jerry Dipoto even shouted Sanchez out as a prospect on the rise in his postseason press conference.
Sanchez is just 19 years old and spent this season at three different levels, ending up with Everett at the season’s end. He hits the ball really hard, plays defense, and is a plus runner. He could be a very nice prospect in this system if his hit tool comes along. The positional value is too good for me to keep him out of my top 10.
He slugged .618 in Modesto, which is extremely impressive. I am looking forward to watching him in person at Everett this year.
9: Bryan Woo (P)
The Cal Poly product was recovering from Tommy John surgery but moved up the ranks in 2022. Jerry Dipoto mentioned him in his end of the season press conference as somebody who could make an impact at the top end of this system next season.
Woo sits in the mid 90s with his fastball and can touch upper 90s. They will need him to throw more strikes to be a starter long term. He also has a slider and a changeup that both flash as plus pitches. The former 2021 6th rounder has nice potential as a starter long-term as he is still just 22 years old with three potential plus pitches. Control refinement could have Woo rising in the ranks in 2023.
His ceiling is extremely high, especially with how much he has developed just a year out from major elbow surgery.
8: Michael Arroyo (3B)
The 18 year old infielder is a monster already, and will be heading to his stateside debut season in 2023. He will be 18 for the entirety of next season.
Arroyo is a shortstop currently but will likely have to move to the hot corner or possibly second base long-term. His body will likely change a lot so it is hard to project what position or what power level he could eventually get to.
For now, Arroyo projects as an above-average hitter that could have average to above-average power long term. He is a pure hitter and it will be exciting to watch his development moving forward. He reminds me of Gleyber Torres and could be that caliber of player if he develops.
7: Walter Ford (RHP)
Ford may be a bit high due to the fact that he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the system, but the 17 year old has insane projectability. He is a big tall kid with really good athleticism and a rocket for an arm. He also carries an 80-grade nickname as the “Vanilla Missile.”
He embodies this nickname with his electric fastball and a slider that many scouts love. We don’t know a ton about him but he projects extremely well but will need to add a third pitch. Ford is interesting and electrifying, and just like many others on this list, we need to see him perform to fully buy-in and determine his ceiling.
6: Emerson Hancock (P)
This will come as a surprise to many, as most casual fans will look at Hancock’s pre-draft projections and draft position. He has simply proven at this point he is not the front-line arm the Mariners thought they were drafting.
Hancock has struggled with injuries and command throughout his minor league career. His 2021 was an injury-filled season that never allowed him to really get going., but 2022 was a step in the right direction in terms of availability. He still had many moments where he really struggled throughout the season.
The 23-year-old has a nice frame and good arm speed, especially with the use of his changeup. Hancock has a fastball, slider, and changeup that works really well already.
His fastball sits 92-94 mostly but can touch 96 miles per hour. His fastball is going to need more value if he is going to be anything more than a back-end starter. The pitch seems relatively ordinary at this point and needs to be commanded better if it doesn’t develop more life.
The changeup is a tough pitch to learn, and Hancock has a very good one. The pitch grades out as an excellent offspeed, especially with his arm speed.
Hancock also has a slider that is nothing more than average at this point. This pitch was one that was very highly regarded coming out of Georgia, and he needs it to come back if he wants to reach his ceiling. The right-hander needs a breaking ball that can miss bats, something he doesn’t do nearly enough of.
Overall, Emerson Hancock still has enough intrigue to keep him in my top ten. The fastball/changeup needs the third offering to go with it, as well as some extra fastball value. His command is a big concern, as he got hit with a ton of damage in 2022. There are also plenty of questions about his makeup as a player, but if a third pitch is developed the former first-rounder can still be a nice rotation arm.
5: Cole Young (IF)
Young checks in at number four on the prospect list, just a few months after being selected in the first round. A shortstop out of Pennsylvania, the 19-year-old has an interesting profile for a high school bat.
High school bats always have risk, but Young profiles as a much safer bet than most. The reason for this is the hit tool, which is pretty advanced for his age. His compact left-handed swing and hand-eye coordination should lead to a pretty safe major leaguer.
He could look to drive the ball a little more often and gets a little bit more weak contact than you would like to see. It remains to be seen if Young can add much more to his frame.
He should stick at shortstop, certainly up the middle of the infield. He reminds me a lot of Adam Frazier, especially in the clip below.
4: Felnin Celesten (SS)
This is as high as I am willing to go with Celesten, the prize of the international signing class for Seattle. He is just 17 years old and has become the highest paid international signing for the Mariners.
His hit tool will ultimately decide his future, but he is a bonafide shortstop who should stick there. If he can hit at an above-average level, Celesten could be a superstar in this league.
However, I was unwilling to rank him any higher because he has not played affiliated baseball yet. It will be exciting to watch him play this season and keep track of him, but we won’t have a good idea on him until he makes his stateside debut.
3: Gabriel Gonzalez (OF)
Gonzalez is all upside, especially in the bat. Positional value wise he doesn’t fit in well with the rest of the top 10, but the bat should play better than any of them.
He is just 19 years old and has no real shot of being anything other than a corner outfielder. Listed at 5-10 and 185 pounds, the youngster likely would check in around 200 plus pounds. He isn’t going to wow anyone defensively or run well.
In his first year stateside at age 18, Gonzales absolutely raked. The way he gets leverage by using his lower half reminds me a lot of Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres.
I believe his bat is easily going to be the best in the system next season. There is a chance he can get to Double-A Arkansas, and could move extremely quickly. There is no reason to rush him, but the bat is going to play.
2: Bryce Miller
Bryce Miller is the highest-ranked prospect we could see in Seattle next season, assuming he is not dealt this offseason. The 24 year old right hander has an extremely impressive repertoire, anchored by a 70-grade fastball.
Miller sits between 94-98 with his fastball, which has gained 2 to 3 MPH since his days at Texas A&M. He threw just over 50 innings at Double A last season, and 133.2 in total. He averaged over a strikeout per inning, but will probably see Double A Arkansas to start next season.
He throws plenty of strikes with his fastball but it will be important that he gets a better handle on his secondary pitches next year. His best secondary is a nasty slider that gets a ton of swing and miss. Miller also has a cutter that he throws a little slower, as well as a curveball and changeup that could both use some work.
He needs a little more polish on a few of these pitches and a little better command. Overall Miller is electric and has massive upside as a starter, with some reliever risk involved. His ceiling and floor are both pretty high in my opinion, giving him the number two spot on my ranks.
1: Harry Ford (C)
Ford grabs the number one spot in my rankings, but I could have easily given it to Miller as well. Ultimately upside and positional value give Ford the top spot.
He is an uber-athletic catcher, a rarity for sure. If he does not end up sticking behind the plate Ford can easily slide out to second base or even the outfield, as he runs well above average right now.
The 20 year old is a freakish athlete and a monster in the weight room. He stands at 5-10 and 200 pounds, which some have suggested could prohibit him from staying behind the dish. He certainly has the instincts, athleticism, and arm to become a quality MLB catcher, or play anywhere else in the field.
His bat has been a nice surprise so far, slashing .276/.422/.878 with 14 home runs in his minor league career. Ford ended last season in the Cal League, showing nice discipline in the strike zone.
He is a prototypical “Control the Zone” player for Jerry Dipoto and this Mariners farm. I think he will develop into more power as he goes along, but has alleviated many of my questions as a hitter thus far. Ford looks like a really nice find by the Mariners, and next year will be a big one for him.
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