An organization rarely has two Top 10 prospects in the game. However, the Mariners do and Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez fit that bill. Both have significant upside but with his speed, Kelenic has the higher fantasy upside. Taylor Trammell is also a significant prospect with double-plus speed and supreme make-up. He’s been traded twice in two-years, but I’m still a believer…a big believer. On the pitching side, Logan Gilbert has one of the best arms in all of the minor leagues. He’s 6-foot-6 and doesn’t always know where the ball is going, but with his athleticism, I think he figures things out.
Expect all four of these top prospects to hit Seattle within the next two-years and form the nucleus of a solid Major League team that should start to compete by 2023.
Prospect Quick Shot
- Top Prospect: Jarred Kelenic
- Biggest Mover: Logan Gilbert
- Emerging Prospect: Noelvi Marte
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 fantasy player
- Tools Summary: 20-15, maybe more upside. Oh, and he can really hit
We pumped Jarred Kelenic hard last year, ranking him as the seventh overall prospect in all of baseball. We love his premium bat speed and that beautiful lefty swing. The swing already has some loft, so the power he demonstrated in the minor leagues should translate to the Majors quite well. He’s also a solid-average runner and should be able to steal double-digit stolen bases annually, ,maybe 20 early in his career. But, it’s his ability to control the strike zone will be what gets him invited to multiple All-Star games. I did expect to see him in Seattle last season but that did not happen. However, assuming health, he should be up in 2021, and early.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2021 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 OF
- Tools Summary: Plus power who can hit. Classic right-field profile
Could Julio Rodriguez be a better baseball player than Jared Kelenic? Absolutely. You can argue that he’ll be even a better hitter as he has a great approach and an impressive ability to control the strike zone. He also has impressive bat speed with the chance to hit for 30 plus home run power. The one skill he will not have is plus speed. He’s a good runner and will steal bases early in his career but long-term, I don’t see that being a big part of his toolbox. If you put it all together, I see the ceiling as a .300/.400/.500 player with 30 plus home runs and 5 to 8 stolen bases. If that sounds a little like Juan Soto, well…
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 40 SP
- Tools Summary: Big kid who improved in nearly every start last season.
Logan Gilbert was the Mariners first-round pick (pick 14) in 2018. He’s been tearing through the minor leagues and if it weren’t for Covid, could have seen time in the Major Leagues in 2020. Gilbert stands 6-foot-6 with his primary pitch being a two-seam fastball that has a lot of arm-side run and sink. He throws two breaking pitches that tend to merge into more of a slurve offering. He needs to develop a better change-up and if not, could be exposed as he starts facing more advanced hitters. All-in-all, he has the makings of a solid mid-rotation starter, possibly more if he can develop his change-up.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
- Tools Summary: Solid arsenal with good control but he needs work on his slider as well as commanding his pitches
Emerson Hancock was the Mariners first-round pick (pick #6). He was a three starter at the University of Georgia pitching to a 3.43 ERA striking out over a batter an inning and walking less than three per nine. He’s primarily a fastball-changeup pitcher with his slider showing too much inconsistency to be considered a Major League quality pitch. While the control is there he can’t yet command his arsenal and therefore can be prone to getting hit. In his four starts in 2020, he struck out 13 per nine, hardly walked anyone but gave up nearly a hit an inning. I see the upside as a solid mid-rotation starter.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2021-22 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 OF
- Tools Summary: Double-plus runner with a chance to hit for some power. On-base over Batting Average player. A chance to be an impact fantasy contributor.
Full disclosure. I’m a huge fan of Taylor Trammell, both as a baseball player and as a human being. I think the upside is significant and despite being traded twice in the last two years, I’m not dissuaded. Should I be? Perhaps, but I believe in the player.
In 2019, the Reds soured on him after trying to add loft to his swing and he stopped hitting. Once he got back comfortable with his old mechanics, he started to hit again and with power. Go figure! Sure, I’d like to see more loft, but if he can hit .280 with a .340 OBP and 10 to 12 home runs, I’ll take it. What I’ll also take are 30+ stolen bases he’ll produce annually. He’s a double-plus runner and has already demonstrated that he can steal bases. Throw-in great makeup and I think Trammell can be an All-Star.
Now for the bad news, Kelenic and JRod could be superstars and Kyle Lewis just won the Rookie of the Year award. Where does Trammell play? He’s just about ready with an ETA of 2021 or 22. For now, I’m not going to worry about that as I think Lewis eventually moves out of the outfield to save his knees. Plus, is he really that good?
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 10 SS with extreme risk
- Tools Summary: Toolsy middle infielder who is showing the ability to hit
There’s a lot to get excited about with Noelvi Marte as he has plus speed with excellent bat speed and a chance to hit for above-average future power. He’ll likely stay at Shortstop and given his solid approach, could move through the system quickly. At the Alternate Site, I have reports that he didn’t look lost. That is high praise for a kid who’s only professional at-bats have been in the DSL. He should start the 2021 season in Low-A.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Solid stuff with some concern about his strike-throwing ability.
The Mariners drafted right-hander George Kirby with the 20th pick in the first round of the 2019 Draft. He has a solid three-pitch mix with a fastball that will touch the mid 90’s and a curveball and change-up that will both play. The delivery looks simple although in watching a video of his delivery, it doesn’t look like he slots well. That usually leads to poor control, but then again, he didn’t walk anybody in 23 innings in his professional debut. While everything looks good on paper, in talking with evaluators, I got a lot of back-of-the-rotation ceilings.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 15 Catcher
- Tools Summary: Plus power with solid receiving skills.
Cal Raleigh was drafted in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft. His carrying tool is his plus raw power and provided he can continue to control the strike zone, he has a chance to be a full-time regular. He’s a fine receiver with a solid arm and pitchers like throwing to him. He’ll likely start the 2021 season back in Double-A but assuming health, should see Triple-A by the end of the season putting him on track for a big-league promotion in 2022.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
- Tools Summary: Controls the strike zone well but until his final 18 games at Texas A&M, he didn’t hit at all
The Mariners selected Zach DeLoach with their second-round pick in the 2020 Draft. He was a three-year starter at Texas A&M but didn’t show much until his abbreviated junior year where he slashed .421/.547/.789 in 18 games. He rarely strikes out and has a good understanding of the strike zone. There are questions about how much power he’ll have as his swing is more contact-oriented. The Mariners love his potential and believe they can unlock the power with a ceiling of a classic corner outfielder at the highest level.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: A 6-foot-6 lefty with clean mechanics. Fastball velocity is 92 to 93 MPH but the secondary pitches need work.
The Mariners selected Brandon Williamson in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Despite being 6-foot-6, he doesn’t have an overpowering arsenal with his fastball touching the mid-90s when needed. His secondary pitches also need some work. But, he has the size, simple clean delivery and he’s a lefty. If he can work on his arsenal, and that’s a big part of what the development process is all about, there could be something there.
- Highest Level: Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
- Tools Summary: Good speed with good bat-to-ball skills. He could be an interesting player over the next couple of years but long-term, he’s likely a fourth outfielder.
Jake Fraley got into another seven games in the Major Leagues in 2020 but has yet to impress; although he steals two bases. He strikeouts out too much and lacks the great bat speed to wait on pitches. He does have good speed but long-term, I think he’s a fourth outfielder. However, before Jarred Kelenic and JRod get to Seattle, could he see playing time? Surely, but time is running out for the 25-year-old.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
- Tools Summary: Turned 23 in August and has yet to throw a professional pitch. The arsenal and mechanics point to a number four starter
Isaiah Campbell was the supplemental second-round pick of the Mariners in the 2019 MLB Draft. He’s got great size at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds and was an effective starter in his four years at Arkansas. He didn’t pitch in his draft year and with the 2020 minor league season being canceled, he has yet to throw a baseball competitively. Plus, he was injured in his sophomore year in college and redshirted. If you add it all up, he enters 2021 at 23-years-old and has yet to throw a pitch. That said, the arsenal and mechanics point to a number four starter.
- Highest Level: Alternate Site ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling: Closer
- Tools Summary: Big arm that the Mariners just protected on their 40-man roster
Juan Then was original signed by the Yankees but was traded to the Mariners in the 2019 trade of Edwin Encarnacion. He’s got a big fastball and a slider that when he throws it for strikes can be a real weapon. He’s likely headed to the bullpen as I don’t think the change-up will develop.
- Highest Level: Int’l player expect to sign ETA: 2024+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
- Tools Summary: Young 16-year-old with a potential impact bat
I received direct feedback from an evaluator that Starlin Aguilar, who is expected to sign with the Mariners, has the highest offensive upside of anyone available in the J2 signing period. I was told that he can flat out hit with great bat speed that should eventually translate into plus in-game power. Look, he’s only 16 and isn’t one of the “big money” players but he’s a name to know and follow.
- Highest Level: DNP ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 45 SP
- Tools Summary: Drafted in 2017, he has premium stuff but has yet to pitch in a professional game
I liked Sam Carlson when the Mariners drafted him in the 2017 MLB Draft. The problem is missed the entire 2017 and 18 seasons rehabbing from TJ Surgery and of course missed the 2020 season. At this point, I have no idea what to think but he has great size, can run his fastball up to the upper 90s (at least he used to), with some promising secondary pitches. Hopefully, he can pitch in 2021 so we can see if he’s still a prospect.