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Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners’ system might be young, but there are a ton of players that have significant upside.  Harry Ford is becoming one of my favorite players in the minor leagues.  He can hit with plus speed, and he’s a catcher!  Gabriel Gonzalez also has a feel to hit with 15+ home run potential, and Jonatan Clase has blazing speed. If he can carve out playing time, he could be a fantasy monster.  There’s also plenty of high-end pitching led by Emerson Hancock.  There’s a chance he moves to the bullpen, but the stuff is good enough for him to be at least a mid-rotation arm, if not more.

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Harry Ford
  • Biggest Mover: Gabriel Gonzalez
  • Emerging Prospect: Felnin Celesten

1. Harry Ford (C)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: If he can stay at catcher, there are 20+ stolen bases with a .260 batting average and a .360+ OBP upside

There’s a lot to like about Harry Ford.  He’s a plus runner with above-average power and an advanced approach for a teenager.  Oh yeah…he’s a catcher.  While there are still questions about whether he will stay there long-term, it’s a Daulton Varsho starter kit with a better approach.  I think Ford will hit, and with his athleticism, the upside is substantial.  As a 19-year-old, he slashed .274/.425/.438 with 11 home runs and 23 stolen bases, striking out 23% of the time while walking 18% of the time.   In case you’re wondering, that’s pretty good.

2. Emerson Hancock (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP
  • Tools Summary: Shoulder problems returned to start the season, but he pitched healthy after May.  He has a quality arsenal, and assuming he continues to throw strikes and is healthy; the ceiling is a number two starter.

Since being drafted in the first round in 2020 (pick #6), Emerson Hancock’s biggest stumbling block has been staying healthy.  He only pitched in 44.1 innings in 2021 and started 2022 late with more shoulder issues.  Once he got ramped, he pitched well in Double-A, finishing with a 3.75 ERA while striking out over eight per nine and walking 3.5 per nine.  He has four quality pitches, with his fastball returning to what evaluators saw in college.  Assuming health, I think the ceiling is a number three starter or a low-end, number two starter.

3. Gabriel Gonzalez (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has a chance to be a great hitter with enough power and speed to project a 15-15 player.

After an impressive debut in the DSL in 2021, Gabriel Gonzalez followed it up with an even better sophomore year in 2022.  As an 18-year-old across the Low-A and the Complex League, he slashed .321/.410/.468 with seven home runs and nine stolen bases.  Most impressively, he only struck out 14% of the time.  His current doubles power should yield more home runs as he fills out and gets stronger, but I do not see a future power hitter.  Instead, I see a kid that could post a .300 average and hit 15+ home runs with similar stolen base totals. 

4. Cole Young (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: He’s showing a feel to hit with speed and enough bat speed to project average future power.

Cole Young was the Mariners’ first-round pick last July.  Despite being on the older side for high school draftees, the Mariners took the plunge, and the early returns are positive.  He hit everything in sight in his 17-game debut across the Low and the Complex League slashing .367/.423/.517 while walking as much as he struck out – and he only struck out eight times in 71 plate appearances.    The Mariners hit on Harry Ford and might have done the same thing with Young.

5. Jonatan Clase (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: He strikes out too much but can steal bases in bunches with possibly some emerging power.

Fantasy managers are always looking for speed-power players with a feel to hit.  While there are flaws in his game, Clase has a lot of those characteristics.  If you squint, there’s a little Cedric Mullins in there.  He’s a little guy at 5-foot-8 with plenty of bat speed and can really run.  He’s striking out too much and does chase too many pitches out of the zone, but it’s a good swing, and over time, I believe he will improve his chase rates and, ultimately, his strikeout rate.  Given his size, you always worry about teams labeling him as a “4th outfielder”.  But if he gets stronger and improves his strikeout rate, a Cedric Mullins-type player could be his ceiling.

6. Bryce Miller (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP
  • Tools Summary: He made excellent adjustments in 2022 and, despite some limitations, could develop into a back-of-the-rotation starter, maybe a little more.

The Mariners drafted Bryce Miller in the fourth round last June, and while many believed he would work best as a reliever, they’ve been developing him as a starter.  His fastball sits 94-95 with a good cutter and curve.  He’s still working on his change-up, but it shows promise.  Plus, he’s throwing more strikes with a walk rate of around two per nine.  Assuming he keeps developing, the Mariners might have a #4, maybe a #3 starter in their system.

7. Zach DeLoach (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: He has an excellent approach, but his power and speed only grade out as average.

Zach DeLoach had a solid 2022 season slashing .258/.369/.409 with 14 home runs and four stolen bases.  He has an excellent approach with decent contact skills that should allow him to post .340+ on-base skills.  However, the swing is flat, and unless he adds some loft, I see his power output limited to 15 to 20 home runs yearly.  If you throw in a handful of stolen bases, he profiles best as a number four outfielder on a fantasy team.

8. Taylor Dollard (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP with upside if velocity is added
  • Tools Summary: Command and control pitcher who posted gaudy numbers in Double-A.

The Mariners selected Taylor Dollard in the 5th round of the 2020 Draft.  He’s more command and control with a fastball that sits 89 to 91 MPH.  The fastball has plenty of spin; therefore, he gets swings and misses with it.  He has solid secondary pitches, which resulted in striking out over eight batters per inning.  Given his stuff, he profiles more of a back-of-the-rotation starter, but he has good size at 6-foot-3, and pitchers have been known to add velocity, so there is upside.

9. Walter Ford (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  DNP ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 SP with extreme
  • Tools Summary: He has a great arm with a fastball and slider that could give him two powerful weapons.  Please don’t get too excited, as he has a long way to go.

Walter Ford was the Mariners’ second-round pick last July and was one of the youngest players in the draft.  He didn’t turn 18 until December and will play the entire 2023 season as an 18-year-old.  He has a great arm, a fastball that will touch the upper 90s, and a great slider.  He doesn’t repeat his delivery well, but plenty of athleticism suggests that he will play in the future.  Given his age and upside, he’s the definition of high-risk, high-reward with the ceiling of a number two starter.

10. Cade Marlowe (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy with an approach that should allow him to play in the big leagues.  Then, why is he still in Double-A at 25 years of age?

There’s a lot to like about Cade Marlowe.  He’s athletic, runs well, with enough bat speed to project 20 home run pop at the highest level.  It’s not a plus hit tool, but there’s enough of an approach to suggest he could hit at least .260 with a .330+ OBP at the highest level.  While the tools and statistics looked great, he’s already 25 and played most of the season in Double-A before a late-season call-up to Triple-A.  Part of the problem is that the Mariners are flushed with outfielders at Triple-A and the Major Leagues.  However, I think there is enough for fantasy managers to roster him in hopes he can break through next season.

11. Victor Labrada (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: He’s a plus runner with solid bat speed.  He must reduce his swing and miss to get full-time at-bats at the highest level.

After getting off to a slow start and a return to Low-A, Victor Labrada had a solid 2022 campaign.  Across Low and High-A, he slashed .251/.347/.401 with 12 home runs and 30 stolen bases.  He will expand the strike zone too much, but he’s a plus runner with enough bat speed to suggest double-digit future home run pop.  He is only 5-foot-8, and you hope there is some Cedric Mullins upside, but he falls into a fourth-outfielder big-league role unless he can cut down on his strikeouts.

12. Juan Mercedes (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: Moved to the rotation in 2022 and pitched effectively.

In 2021, Mercedes was used exclusively as a reliever.  While he had an elevated ERA, he missed plenty of bats and kept his walks down.  In 2022, the Mariners decided to move him to the rotation, and he arguably pitched even better.  He split his time between Low, High, and Triple-A, with most of his time spent in High-A.  The arsenal is solid with a fastball that sits 94 to 95 MPH with an above-average change-up and slider.  While it’s not an overpowering arsenal, it plays up because he pounds the strike zone.  Before this season, he was an afterthought in my Top 15 rankings.  Now, he has a chance to be a number four starter at the highest level.

13. Prelander Berroa (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Closer
  • Tools Summary: He has a wipeout slider and fastball that can hit triple-digits but also walks over five per nine.

Prelander Berroa has one of the best arms in the Mariners system.  He has two double-plus pitches in his fastball that will touch triple-digits and a wipeout slider that is his primary out-pitch.  He rarely throws a change-up, which could ultimately push him to a bullpen role.  Finally, and not to bury the lead, he can not throw strikes.  He doesn’t repeat his release point, which can lead to bouts of wildness.  However, he can be unhittable when he pounds the strike zone.  For me, the ceiling is a high-leverage reliever.

14. Lazaro Montes (OF)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: He has 70-grade raw power but a long swing that could generate many strikeouts.

Lazaro Montes was the Mariners’ significant 2022 International acquisition.  We wrote last year that he had substantial raw power but with concerns about how much contact he would make.  He didn’t disappoint us in that forecast.  In 55 games last season in the DSL, he slugged .585 with ten home runs but also struck out 33% of the time.  He did walk 16% of the time, and that was encouraging.  There’s a ton of upside here as he just turned 18, but he’s a big dude with a big swing, so Dynasty League owners understand the risks.

15. Michael Arroyo (SS)

  • Highest Level:  DSL ETA: 2026 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: A little speed and power to go with a promising hit tool.

The Mariners gave Michael Arroyo a $1.3 million signing bonus in 2021 and had to be pleased when he put up an impressive stat line in the DSL in 2022.  In 49 games, he slashed .314/.457/.484 with four home runs and four stolen bases.  Most importantly, he controls the strike zone by posting a 16.6% strikeout rate and a 13.6% walk rate.  He just turned 18 on November 3rd.

16. Bryan Woo (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: He pitched well after recovering from TJS, showing a plus fastball and the ability to throw strikes.

Bryan Woo finally got on the mound after having Tommy John Reconstructive surgery in his 2021 Draft year.  He pitched to a 4.11 ERA striking out over 13 per nine while walking 3.5 per nine.  His velocity has ticked up and is now sitting at 95 to 96 MPH with a plus slider.  He’s still working on a feel for his change-up, but we will give him a pass, given all he’s dealt with over the past two years.  Assuming he stays healthy and improves, the upside is a number three starter, maybe more.

17. Felnin Celesten (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Expected to sign ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 SS with extreme risk
  • Tools Summary: Toolsy with a feel to hit.

Felnin Celesten was one of the top international talents available for teams to sign in January.  He’s toolsy with a feel to hit with an excellent feel for the game.  Most evaluators believe he will be able to stay at short with a chance to hit and hit for power with well above-average speed (at least early in his career).

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