by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Seattle Mariners isn’t necessarily a system that you’d think of when it comes to high end prospects, though they’ve seen a few develop as such in recent years. They’ve also made a few intelligent, somewhat under-the-radar, acquisitions (like Mitch Haniger), further bolstering the system. That’s not to say that they are a top end group (they are actually far from it, especially after jettisoning Luiz Gohara earlier this year), but Seattle is could be better off than you’d might think. Let’s take a look:
1) Kyle Lewis – Outfielder
ETA – 2018
Grade – B+
The 11th overall selection in the 2016 draft quickly made his mark, hitting .299 with 3 HR and 3 SB over 117 AB. Not impressed? He added 8 doubles and 5 triples (.530 SLG), while also adding a good command of the strike zone (22 K vs. 16 BB). At 6’4” and 21-years old, there’s a good chance that his power comes quickly.
The biggest question will be whether or not he can stay in centerfield, though chances are he’s ultimately shifted to a corner slot. That obviously isn’t a major concern, and isn’t a knock against him.
2) Tyler O’Neill – Outfielder
ETA – 2017
Grade – B+
After hitting .293 with 24 HR, 102 RBI and 12 SB at Double-A (showing his proximity to the Majors), the hype machine is going to be in full force for O’Neill. Considering he hit 32 HR at High-A in ’15 there’s obviously reason to believe in his power, though he has not supplemented the long balls with a significant number of additional extra base hits (21 doubles and 2 triples in ’15, 26 doubles and 4 triples in ’16). He also has shown a propensity to swing and miss at an excessive amount:
- High-A – 30.5%
- Double-A – 26.1%
Obviously improving, despite the tougher competition, is an impressive sign. That said last season’s mark still has a long way to go. It’s something that could be exposed at Triple-A, and how he produces early in the year will help to cement our impressions.
3) Mitch Haniger – Outfielder
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – B
It’s easy to overlook Haniger as the “other” piece in the trade that netted Seattle Jean Segura. That said he was mighty impressive splitting time between Double and Triple-A last season, hitting .321 with 25 HR (along with 34 doubles and 5 triples) and 12 SB. Even better was the consistent command of the strike zone he displayed (strikeout rate // walk rate):
- Double-A – 15.7% // 12.7%
- Triple-A – 19.9% // 12.5%
He has the potential to claim a starting role with the team immediately, as he certainly could help to add some thump to the lineup (he had an additional 5 HR in the Majors). He also didn’t appear to be overmatched with Arizona, with a 9.5% SwStr% and 22.6% O-Swing%. He’s an easy player to overlook, but that would be a mistake.
4) Mox Povse – Right-Handed Pitcher
ETA – 2017
Grade – B-
Standing at 6’8”, it’s impressive that he walked just 29 batters over 158.0 IP between High-A and Double-A last season. Couple that with a solid groundball rate (1.24 GO/AO) and there’s a lot of reason for optimism. That said, he doesn’t have the strikeout upside of other pitching prospects (139 K last season), and that is going to ultimately limit his overall appeal. You would think he was a flame thrower, given his size, but that’s not the case. It’s possible he turns out to be more Chris Young than anything (though that’s not a direct comparison).
5) Dan Vogelbach – First Baseman
ETA – Already Arrived
Grade – C+
A key acquisition from the Cubs, Vogelbach combined to hit .292 with 23 HR over 459 AB at Triple-A last season. He showed a strong approach for both teams he played for, adding to his potential appeal (strikeout rate // walk rate):
- Cubs (365 PA) – 18.4% // 15.1%
- Mariners (198 PA) – 17.2% // 21.2%
We will have to wait and see if he can continue tapping into his power potential, something he hadn’t shown before playing in the Pacific Coast League (which easily could have helped to skew things). There’s potential, but he needs to prove he can do it at the highest level.
6) Nick Neidhart – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
7) Andrew Moore – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
8) Brayan Hernandez – Outfielder (Grade – C+)
9) Chase De Jong – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
10) Rob Whalen – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MLB.com
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Grade A – Elite Prospects (aka potential future perennial All-Stars)
Grade B – Above Average Prospects (aka above average Major Leaguers, could develop into a potential All-Star)
Grade C – Average Prospects (aka solid, though unspectacular)
Grade D – Nothing More Than Roster Filler
Grade F – Move On
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: