The 2017 Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects

Announcement: Described by Michael Salfino of The Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Sports as “an insightful and often contrarian viewpoint to prospect rankings,” The 2017 Prospect Digest Handbook is now on sale! Check it out here! 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

1. Kyle Lewis, CF                                 
Born: 07/13/95 Age: 21 Bats: R Top CALs: N/A

 

Height: 6-4 Weight: 210 Throws: R

Background: Fun Fact Part I: Prior to the Mariners selecting Lewis with the 11th overall pick last June, no other Mercer University player had been chosen in the opening round of the June draft. Fun Fact Part II: There have been only two players taken from the school in the first 10 rounds this century – Lewis and Cory Gearin (2007, fourth round). So it’s easy to how the tools-laden center fielder was the crux of the Bears’ offensive punch during his three-year tenure. He batted a respectable .281/.340/.382 with three doubles and a pair of homeruns during his freshman season. Then his production exploded during his sophomore year as he slugged a whopping .367/.423/.677 with 19 doubles and 17 homeruns while earning a litany of acknowledgements including:

  • SoCon Player of the Year
  • Gregg Olson Award Finalist
  • Rawlings/ABCA All-South Region Second Team
  • Louisville Slugger Second Team All-American
  • NCBWA Second Team All-American

But most importantly, that production earned him an invite to show off his skills against the premier college talent in the Cape Cod League. And he did just that. In 39 games with the Orleans Firebirds, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound outfielder slugged an impressive .300/.344/.500 with seven doubles, one triple, and seven homeruns.

And, yet, he took his production to an entirely different level in 2016.

In a career high 61 games with Mercer, Lewis walloped the opposition to the tune of .395/.535/.731 with 11 doubles, a pair of triples, 20 homeruns, and six stolen bases. After the club grabbed – and signed – him, they sent him to the Everett in the Northwest League – where, of course, he continued to produce at an elite level: .299/.385/.530 with a 152 wRC+ in 135 plate appearances. Unfortunately, Lewis succumbed to a rather gruesome knee injury after just 30 games. The reports of his rehab have been favorable.

Projection: Per the usual, here’s what I wrote about Lewis heading into the draft last season:

“Just to kind of put Lewis production into perspective a bit, considering the following: Since 2011 there have been three other instances of Division I players that have batted .400/.500/.700 in a season in which they’ve slugged more than 15 homeruns in at least 180 at bats – D.J. Peterson, a former first round pick, C.J. Cron, another first round pick, and Trenton Moses, who wasn’t grabbed until the 26th round in 2012. 

But this also highlights something quite concerning: Peterson hasn’t solved Class AA across parts of two seasons, Cron’s been essentially a league average hitter, maybe a touch better, and Moses never made it above High Class A. Lewis is clearly feasting off of inferior, low level-ish DI competition, and while he’s made tremendous strides in the plate discipline department he’s fanned in nearly 16% of his plate appearances – a staggeringly high number for a player in the Southern Conference. 

Lewis’ power potential is quite tantalizing, but there’s an awful lot of risk involved in selecting him early in the draft as well.” 

Again, it all comes down to that knee injury he suffered; he tore his ACL, MCL, and lateral meniscus in his right knee in a collision with a catcher in mid-July. Here’s hoping for a full recovery. 

Ceiling: 3.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2018/2019

 

 

2. Tyler O’Neill, LF/RF                            
Born: 06/22/95 Age: 22 Bats: R Top CALs: Trayce Thompson, Domingo Santana, Jamie Romak, B. Borchering, Michael Burgess
Height: 5-11 Weight: 210 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2014 19 A 245 9 0 13 0.247 0.322 0.466 0.219 8.20% 32.20% 124
2015 20 A+ 449 21 2 32 0.260 0.316 0.558 0.297 6.50% 30.50% 128
2016 21 AA 575 26 4 24 0.293 0.374 0.508 0.215 10.80% 26.10% 152

Background: Fun Fact Part I: O’Neill finished second in the Southern League with 24 homeruns last season, trailing only Arizona’s Kevin Cron, who is two years older than the Mariners’ Baby Bopper. Fun Fact Part II: O’Neill’s 24 dingers were the seventh best total among all Class AA bats last season and the second best mark for any player under the age of 22. Fun Fact Part III: And this one’s a doozey – among all players under the age of 22 with more than 400 at bats in any Class AA league since 2006, O’Neill’s at bats per homerun last season, 20.5, ranks as the eight best total. The Mariners grabbed the stocky Canadian-born outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft. Since then, he’s moved methodically through the minor leagues.

O’Neill spent his debut battering the Arizona Summer League pitching to the tune of .310/.405/.450. He would then follow that up in an injury-shortened stint in Low Class A, topping the league average offensive mark by 24% in 57 games as a 19-year-old. He then spent the entire 2015 season bashing the High Class A pitching, slugging a whopping 55 extra-base knocks.

The front office pushed the 5-foot-11, 210-pound corner outfielder up to the minors’ toughest challenge last season: Class AA. And, needless to say, O’Neill passed with flying colors.

In a career high 130 games with the Jackson Generals, O’Neill batted .293/.374/.508 with 26 doubles, a career high four triples, 24 long balls, and 12 stolen bases (in just 14 attempts). His overall production, according to Weighted Runs Created Plus, topped the league average mark by a mindboggling 52%.

Projection: So just to put some context around O’Neill’s dominance, consider the following:

  • Among all qualified Class AA bats last season, O’Neill’s overall production (152 wRC+) tied Blue Jays’ slugger – and fellow 21-year-old – Rowdy Tellez as the third best mark.
  • Since 2006, here’s a list of hitters under the age of 22 to post at least a 150 wRC+ in Class AA (minimum of 400 PA): O’Neill, Tellez, Oscar Taveras (20-years-old), Mike Trout (19), Joc Pederson (21), and Evan Longoria (21).

Notice something about the players in the second bullet point?

That’s sure as hell a lot of star power. But…

And there’s always a “but”, isn’t there? O’Neill, by far, has the worst swing-and-miss rate of group, sporting a borderline red flag 26.1%. The second worst K-rate of the group, Joc Pederson (22.0%), is more than four percentage points less. However, a little bit of a silver lining: That 26.1% K-rate for O’Neill was the second best mark of his entire career, a very positive sign considering his age and level of competition.

Because of his swing-and-miss tendencies (as well as his lack of double-digit walk rates throughout his career), O’Neill isn’t likely to develop into the same caliber player as Trout (obviously) or Longoria (obviously) or even Taveras’ projection ceiling. But there’s no reason that he isn’t going to develop into a slightly lesser version of Joc Pederson. CAL’s most optimistic comparison, Domingo Santana, is a slightly better-than-average MLB bat – which seems spot on.

In terms of O’Neill’s offensive ceiling, think: .250/.330/.480.

Ceiling: 2.5-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

3. Andrew Moore, RHP                             
Born: 06/02/94 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Lindsey Caughel, Ryan Weber, Andrew Lockett, Dillon Gee, Pedro Hernandez
Height: 6-0 Weight: 185 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 21 A- 39.0 1 1 2.08 2.29 9.92 0.46 28.50% 1.30% 0.46 75.30%
2016 22 A+ 54.2 3 1 1.65 3.18 7.74 2.14 22.40% 6.20% 0.33 75.80%
2016 22 AA 108.1 9 3 3.16 3.34 7.14 1.50 19.70% 4.10% 0.75 76.00%

Background: A three-year mainstay in Oregon State’s rotation between 2013 through 2015, the Mariners selected the slighted-framed right-hander in the second round, 72nd overall, two years ago. Moore left the school with a career 2.09 ERA with an impressive 27-9 record, 251 strikeouts, and just 75 walks in 347.2 innings. After his selection, Moore was ridiculously dominant during his debut with the AquaSox in the Northwest League, posting an absurd video game-esque 43-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. And after that type of production the Mariners aggressively challenged the 6-foot, 185-pound hurler by sending him straight up to High Class A to start last season.

He passed – with flying colors.

In nine starts with Bakersfield, Moore average 7.7 punch outs and just 2.2 walks per nine innings with a 1.65 ERA and a 3.18 FIP.

In late May the club bumped him up to the minors’ toughest challenge – Class AA – with another aggressive promotion. And, once again, he made it look quite easy. In 108.1 innings with the Generals, Moore averaged 7.14 K/9 and just 1.5 BB/9 to go along with a 3.16 ERA and a 3.34 FIP.

Projection: Again, just as a remainder: He went from squaring off against the PAC12 conference to reaching – and succeeding against – Class AA bats within a year’s time. And if you ignore his first start with the Generals, a three-inning clunker against the Montgomery Biscuits, Moore’s ERA and FIP improve to 2.77 and 3.15, respectively. He’s obviously going to need to prove that he can adjust to teams seeing him more than once or twice. But he has the makings of a very capable backend starting pitcher, one who will likely be big league-ready by mid-2017.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

4. Mitch Haniger, OF                           
Born: 12/23/90 Age: 26 Bats: R Top CALs: Tim Fedroff, Eric Thames, Ryan Rua, Allen Craig, Scott Van Slyke
Height: 6-2 Weight: 215 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2013 22 A 178 12 2 5 0.297 0.399 0.510 0.214 14.00% 13.50% 152
2013 22 A+ 365 24 3 6 0.250 0.323 0.396 0.146 8.80% 18.60% 107
2014 23 AA 301 10 1 10 0.262 0.328 0.419 0.157 7.30% 15.00% 109
2015 24 A+ 226 16 3 12 0.332 0.381 0.619 0.287 7.50% 17.30% 163
2015 24 AA 174 10 1 1 0.281 0.351 0.379 0.098 9.20% 18.40% 107
2016 25 AA 236 14 2 5 0.294 0.407 0.462 0.168 12.70% 15.70% 156
2016 25 AAA 312 20 3 20 0.341 0.428 0.670 0.330 12.50% 19.90% 185

Background: Pop Quiz #1: Name the most productive Class AAA bat last season (minimum 300 PA). The answer: Mitch Haniger, of course, with a mind-warping 185 wRC+. Pop Quiz #2: Name the last player to throw up a 185 wRC+ in Class AAA (minimum 300 PA). The answer: Chris Colabello in 2013. Pop Quiz #3: Since 2006, how many hitters have posted a 185 wRC+ in Class AAA (minimum 300 PA)? The answer: Two. The Mariners acquired the former first round pick, along with Zac Curtis and Jean Segura, from the Arizona Diamondbacks in late November as part of the deal that shipped Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to the NL. Haniger opened the year up on a torrid stretch, slugging .294/.407/.462 in 55 games in Class AA before absolutely catching fire in the PCL. Overall, he walloped the opposition to the tune of .321/.419/.581 with 34 doubles, five triples, 25 homeruns, and 12 stolen bases (in 16 attempts).

Projection: What’s the likelihood that a hitter that posts a 185 wRC+ in a reasonably sized sample won’t put together a solid triple-slash line in the big leagues? I’m betting that it’s not 100%, but it’s more than 90%. CAL brings up some interesting comps, linking him to Eric Thames (96 wRC+), Ryan Rua (90 wRC+), Allen Craig (113 wRC+), and Andy Van Slyke (113 wRC+). I’m not entirely certain he’s going to post another walk rate north of 12.0% given his track record. And I can definitely state that he’s never going to throw up a .330 ISO again like he did Class AAA last season. But there’s a quality offensive foundation without question. Defensively speaking, he’s been solid, average in center and right fields.

Ceiling: 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate to High

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2016

 

 

5. Dillon Overton, LHP                                       
Born: 08/17/91 Age: 25 Bats: L Top CALs:  Robert Ray, Simon Castro, Robert Rohrbaugh, Kyle Lobstein, Mark Leiter
Height: 6-2 Weight: 175 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 23 A+ 61.1 2 4 3.82 4.07 8.66 1.76 23.90% 4.90% 1.03 71.40%
2015 23 AA 64.2 5 2 3.06 3.34 6.54 2.09 17.70% 5.60% 0.56 78.00%
2016 24 AAA 125.2 13 5 3.29 3.46 7.52 2.22 19.80% 5.90% 0.43 73.40%

Background: Oakland grabbed the polished lefty in the second round out of the University of Oklahoma four years ago. And then they made the typical development move: they sent him under the knife for Tommy John surgery. Yes, sarcasm applies. But here’s the amazing thing: just 246.2 innings after coming out of college, with a significant arm surgery under his belt, Overton made it all the way to big leagues. Last season the 6-foot-2, 175-pound southpaw opened up with 83.2 solid innings with the Nashville Sounds in the Pacific Coast League, fanning 72 and walking just 22. Then from the end of June through the rest of the year he yo-yoed between the PCL and Oakland where the results were mixed – at best. He would finish the year with 125.2 innings in the minor leagues, averaging 7.5 strikeouts and just 2.2 walks per nine innings. As for the time in the major leagues…umm…it wasn’t so good: 24.1 IP, 17 K, 7 BB, 11.47 ERA.

Projection: Overton had an impressive string going on in the big leagues – and not for the right reasons. He made seven appearances with the A’s. Of those seven games, he allowed at least five runs four times. Ouch. With that being said, his homerun rate (4.44 HR/9), BABIP (.396), and strand rate (63.8%) were all out of whack – so he’s just going to improve a lot through regression. He’s your typical soft-tossing, finesse lefty who does the things he needs to win: limit walks, miss a couple bats, and typically keep the ball in the park. He’s a nice little #3/#4 type arm.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2018

 

 

6. Ben Gamel, OF                                      
Born: 05/17/92 Age: 25 Bats: L Top CALs: Sean Henry, Kyle Parker, Caleb Gindl, Denard Span, Jamie Hoffman
Height: 5-11 Weight: 185 Throws: L
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2011 19 A- 220 19 1 2 0.289 0.373 0.432 0.142 10.90% 22.70% 133
2012 20 A 476 23 5 2 0.306 0.342 0.394 0.088 4.80% 14.90% 104
2013 21 A+ 423 28 4 3 0.272 0.352 0.396 0.124 11.30% 18.20% 114
2014 22 AA 586 31 3 2 0.261 0.308 0.340 0.079 6.10% 15.00% 80
2015 23 AAA 551 28 14 10 0.300 0.358 0.472 0.172 8.30% 19.60% 138
2016 24 AAA 533 26 5 6 0.308 0.365 0.420 0.112 8.10% 17.60% 126

Background: Acquired from the Yankees on August 31st last season in exchange for a couple low level, intriguing minor league arms: Juan De Paula and Jio Orozco. Gamel, a 10th round pick out of Bishop Kenney High School all the way back in 2010, turned in another quietly strong showing in the International League with the Yankees’ affiliate. In 116 games with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound batted .308/.365/.420 with 26 doubles, five triples, six homeruns, and 19 stolen bases while topping the league average production by 26%. And that, of course, comes on his .300/.358/.472 showing with a 138 wRC+ showing in the level the previous season.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote in last year’s book when I ranked him as the 14th best prospect in the Yankees’ system:

“I’m not quite sure – or in other words entirely convinced – that Gamel’s power surge with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is a repeatable skill; his career Isolated Power mark is .100 vs. his .172 showing last season. And, unsurprisingly, his HR/FB ratio nearly doubled his previous career high as well. Gamel has typically handled LHP and RHP equally well, showcases double-digit stolen base potential, and a fringy-decent eye at the plate. Combine that with his CALs – Sean Henry, Caleb Gindl, Xavier Paul, Mikie Mahtook, and Juan Portes – and it’s easy to see how he’s likely to slide into a backup outfield role in the near future.”

So let’s do an update, OK?

As I suspected his Isolated Power, or ISO, came crashing back to earth, going from the .172 mark in 2015 all the way back down to .112 last season – a number, by the way, more or less in line with his career numbers. He still handles lefties and righties equally well. And the speed and plate discipline maintained status quo too. As for CAL, well, it’s still linking him to three non-descript players in Sean Henry, Kyle Parker, and Jamie Hoffman. But it does offer up some hope by linking him to Caleb Gindl, who owns a 103 wRC+ in his brief big league career, and Denard Span, who owns a 105 wRC+. That seems like a reasonable offensive ceiling for Gamel. And if his defense grades out as average – especially in a corner spot – he should have no qualms in churning out league average production.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: 2017

 

 

7. Dan Vogelbach, 1B                                
Born: 12/17/92 Age: 24 Bats: L Top CALs: Mike Carp, Max Muncy, Logan Morrison, Lucas Duda, Andy Wilkins
Height: 6-0 Weight: 250 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level PA 2B 3B HR AVG OBP SLG ISO BB% K% wRC+
2012 19 A- 168 9 1 10 0.322 0.423 0.608 0.287 13.70% 20.20% 189
2013 20 A 500 21 0 17 0.284 0.364 0.450 0.166 11.40% 15.20% 128
2014 21 A+ 560 28 1 16 0.268 0.357 0.429 0.162 11.80% 16.30% 126
2015 22 AA 313 16 1 7 0.272 0.403 0.425 0.154 18.20% 19.50% 140
2016 23 AAA 563 25 2 23 0.292 0.417 0.505 0.214 17.20% 17.90% 147

Background: Once viewed as a key cog in the Cubs’ rebuilding efforts, Chicago simply ran out of room in the star-packed, power-laden lineup. Enter Seattle General Manager Jerry Dipoto. The two clubs got together near the trade deadline last year, agreeing to a two-for-one package that sent lefty reliever Mike Montgomery and minor leaguer Jordan Pries to the eventual World Champs in exchange for Vogelbach. Originally taken in the second round of the 2011 draft Vogelbach got off to a scorching-hot start in the Pacific Coast League last season, slugging a whopping .318/.425/.548 with 18 doubles, a pair of triples, and 16 homeruns while topping the league average production by a 58%. His numbers cooled a bit following the trade (.240/.404/.420), but he finished his sixth professional season with an aggregate .292/.417/.505 triple-slash line.

Projection: I’ve always been a fan of the former second round pick; he’s been an OBP monster during his minor league tenure. But his power took another leap forward last season. Vogelbach’s always shown some platoon splits, but not enough that would eventually limit the lefty-swinging first baseman. CAL compares him to a trio of solid big league bats: Mike Carp, Logan Morrison, and Lucas Duda – all three of them being better-than-average sticks. He doesn’t have a lot standing in front of claiming the starting gig in Seattle – Danny Valencia is currently slated atop the first base depth chart. And there are plenty of boppers to push him down the lineup until he gets his feet wet. In terms of big league ceiling, think .270/.360/.440 with 15-homer potential.

Ceiling: 1.5- to 2.0-win player

Risk: Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2016

 

 

8. Dan Altavilla, RHP                              
Born: 09/08/92 Age: 24 Bats: R Top CALs: Paul Clemens, Josh Taylor, Chris Jones, Dan Griffin, Kevin Comer
Height: 5-11 Weight: 200 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2014 21 A- 66.0 5 3 4.36 4.84 9.00 4.36 22.50% 10.90% 0.95 73.90%
2015 22 A+ 148.1 6 12 4.07 4.15 8.13 3.22 21.30% 8.40% 0.67 63.50%
2016 23 AA 56.2 7 3 1.91 3.04 10.32 3.49 27.70% 9.40% 0.48 82.20%

Background: The Mariners made stocky right-hander the earliest selection in Mercyhurst College’s history three years ago when they used the 141st overall pick to obtain his services. Altavilla, who stands a brick shit-house-like 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, simply dominated the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference during his final year with the small Division II school. He would make 12 starts that year, throwing a career best 80.1 innings with a mind-warping 129-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio en route to posting a 9-and-1 record to go along with a 1.23 ERA. After his selection in the fifth round, the Mariners sent the hard-throwing right-hander up to the Northwest League for his debut – one in which he spent working exclusively as a starting pitcher. He would throw an additional 66.0 innings with a solid 66-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Seattle pushed him all the way to High Class A the next year, 2015, with impressive results: 148.1 IP, 134 K, 53 BB, and a 4.15 FIP.

Last season, however, Altavilla was converted in a full-time reliever. And let’s just say he was pretty damn good at it.

In 43 games at the minors’ toughest challenge, Class AA, he averaged 10.32 K/9 and 3.49 BB/9 to go along with a 1.91 ERA. Altavilla also appeared in 15 games with the Mariners as well, throwing 12.1 innings with a 0.73 ERA and a 2.01 FIP.

Projection: Here’s what I wrote about him in last year’s book when I ranked him as the 14th best prospect in the system:

“Unsurprisingly, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Altavilla wore down in the season’s final weeks last year. He surrendered 27 earned runs over his final 36.0 innings. He was a bit homer-prone during his debut and got bit by the long ball quite often as well during his run with Bakersfield last year as well. So it’s not surprising that his groundball rate was only 34.7% last season. He doesn’t offer up a tremendous amount of upside in the rotation (especially given his small stature), maybe a fringy #5-type arm, but Altavilla could slide into a late-inning relief role in the coming years. “ 

And, viola!, instant dominance out of the bullpen.

Altavilla showed an explosive mid- to upper-90s fastball with a hard 89- to 90-mph slider. You’d like to see the control take a step forward, but he has the makings of a very good eighth-inning arm. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see him ascend to a closer’s role either.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2016

 

 

9. Tony Zych, RHP                                                         
Born: 08/07/90 Age: 26 Bats: R Top CALs: Framk De Los Santos, Jason Hursh, J.R.Graham, Adalberto Mejia, Matt Anderson
Height: 6-3 Weight: 190 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2012 21 A+ 36.7 3 3 3.19 2.17 8.84 1.72 24.80% 4.80% 0.00 61.00%
2013 22 AA 56.0 5 5 3.05 3.13 6.43 3.38 16.50% 8.60% 0.32 61.30%
2014 23 AA 58.3 4 5 5.09 3.74 5.40 2.78 13.80% 7.10% 0.46 65.40%
2015 24 AAA 31.2 1 2 3.41 3.13 10.52 2.56 27.40% 6.70% 0.57 78.20%

Background: Some early season shoulder/biceps tendonitis – and subsequent DL time – likely kept the rookie status intact for the hard-throwing right-hander. Zych, a fourth round pick out of the University of Louisville in 2011, broke camp with the Mariners and quickly developed into a reliable – often times dominant – setup man during the month-plus of the season. In his first 10 games, spanning 12.0 innings, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound flame-thrower held opponents to a putrid .171/.320/.244 triple-slash line as he punched out 19 and walked eight in 12.0 innings. He wouldn’t reach the big leagues until the end of August after making a few brief rehab appearances throughout the minors.

Projection: I was pretty high on Zych coming into last season as I ranked him as the eighth best prospect in the system, writing the following:

“It’s pretty easy to see how Zich can rack up strikeouts with the best of them: his fastball averaged a smidge over 96 mph during his admittedly brief tenure in the big leagues. He complemented it with a low- to mid-80s slider and a hard, high-80s changeup. And even though the Mariners’ bullpen is loaded with a bunch of promising – sometimes dominant – arms, Zych should easily see a fair amount of action, potentially even working his way into some high leverage situations as he continues to earn the trust of new manager Scott Servais. One more thought: CAL seems to be a pretty big fan as well.”

It didn’t take long for him to earn the trust of new manager Scott Servais last season. Of his first 10 games last season – you know, before he hit the DL – Zych pitched in the eighth or ninth inning six times. Assuming he’s going to be back to full health in 2017, he could be in line for a lot more high leverage work.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2015

 

 

10. Rob Whalen, RHP                                     
Born: 01/31/94 Age: 23 Bats: R Top CALs: Brooks Pounders, Adalberto Mejia, Richard Castillo, Bryan Shaw, Trevor Reckling
Height: 6-2 Weight: 220 Throws: R
 

Year Age Level IP W L ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 K% BB% HR/9 LOB%
2015 21 A+ 83.0 4 5 3.36 3.84 6.61 3.69 17.10% 9.60% 0.43 69.20%
2016 22 AA 101.1 7 5 2.49 3.19 8.35 3.29 22.20% 8.80% 0.36 76.00%

Background: If there’s one thing that could be said about Seattle General Manager Jerry Dipoto it’s this: he’s not afraid to trade potential for production. Case in point: on November 28th, the team sent southpaw Tyler Pike (with his big strikeout and walk totals) and Alex Jackson, the sixth pick in the 2014 draft, to Atlanta for a couple of polished former college arms (Rob Whalen and Max Povse). At its very root, it’s the production vs. potential argument. And it looks like the Mariners will eventually win that deal. Whalen, a 12th round pick out of Haines City High School five years ago, has been on the move quite a bit over the past couple of seasons, going from the Mets to the Braves as part of the Kelly Johnson-swap; and then moving a year later to Seattle. As for the actual production, well, the right-hander with the upper-80s fastball plowed his way through Class AA and earned brief stints in Class AAA and the big leagues last season. He finished the year in the minors with a career-best 120.0 innings of work, with 112 punch outs, just 44 walks, and an aggregate 2.40 ERA. He posted an impressive 25-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24.2 innings with the Braves too.

Projection: Your typical finesse-type right-hander with an assortment of low velocity offerings and strong control. Whalen, who battled shoulder fatigue late last season, is capable of stepping into the back of the Mariners’ rotation and producing enough to keep the job – assuming he’s fully healthy. He generates a ton of groundballs, so that bodes well for his future as well. He’s a nice little pickup by the increasingly savvy front office.

Ceiling: 1.5-win player

Risk: Low to Moderate

MLB ETA: Debuted in 2016

 

 

Author’s note: A special hat tip the following websites for the use of the their statistics – fangraphs, baseballreference, baseballprospectus, statcorner, and ClayDavenport.com



About

After serving as a video scout/analyst for Baseball Info Solutions, Joe Werner began writing at his original site, ReleasePoints.com. He’s since transitioned into his current niche, prospect analysis, at ProspectDigest.com. He has been fortunate — and incredibly blessed — to have some of his work published and mentioned by several major media outlets, including: ESPN, Cleveland.com and the Baseball Research Journal. He can be reached at: JosephMWerner@yahoo.com.