The Arizona Fall League is over. Gone are the days of Tebow and Happ and O’Neill and Torres and all of those wonderful names you’ll be hearing often at some point in the next few years (I’m sure Tebow will still be calling football games then).
Seven Mariners had their years come to an end. Here’s how they all performed over the last few weeks:
Tyler O’Neill - OF
O’Neill continued his big 2016, putting up a slash line of .292/.395/.486 and a 143 wRC+ across 86 plate appearances against some of the best pitching other organizations had to offer. He totaled 12 walks, 3 home runs, 5 doubles, and 22 strikeouts.
He frequently managed to grab the attention of onlookers, be it with his glove:
or even his wheels:
O’Neill didn’t have the most impressive performance down in Arizona; that honor belonged to New York’s Gleyber Torres, but he did everything to cement himself as a legitimate, Top-100 prospect. I wouldn’t be shocked if he manages to squeeze himself into a few Top-50 prospects lists over the coming months.
Drew Jackson - SS
Jackson’s first full season of pro ball ended with a whimper as he managed just a 19 wRC+ in his 52 plate appearances this fall. He recorded just one extra base hit, a double, and struck out 16 times for a 30.8% k-rate. This all came after he had a bit of a disappointing year with High-A Bakersfield (596 PA, 88 wRC+, .258/.332/.345).
2017 will be a major year for Jackson. I can live with writing off this year as the organization challenging him to a crisp, but he’ll need to prove himself against High-A competition next year to maintain his standing as a top-ten prospect in the system. Here’s hoping he figures things out (or just relaxes) in the offseason.
Tyler Marlette - C
Marlette’s inclusion in the AFL came as a bit of a surprise, but the 23-year-old catching prospect responded by slashing .267/.306/.467 in 49 plate appearances. And while the glove still won’t be highly regarded, it’s come a long way since he was drafted.
The showing could prove to be vital for Marlette. With the Mariners deciding to not protect him in the Rule 5 Draft, there’s a chance–-a small chance, but a chance–-that a rebuilding club with a hole at catcher decides to give him a shot at the MLB level.
Guillermo Heredia - OF
Heredia looked like one of the better players in the AFL, putting up a 138 wRC+ and a .403 OBP over 62 plate appearances in addition to his stellar presence in the outfield. Almost everything we have on Heredia are waves of small samples across multiple levels (AA, AAA, MLB, and AFL), but patterns are beginning to emerge: strong defense, good plate approach and contact skills, and a little bit of speed.
In hindsight, Heredia was one of my favorite moves of last offseason. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table in 2017.
Emilio Pagan - RHP
All the issues that plagued Pagan in Tacoma followed him to the AFL. In his 11.0 IP this fall, command issues lead to an inflated walk-rate (6.55 BB/9) and the continuation of a sudden dinger issue (1.64 HR/9).
There is still clearly some potential there with a fastball-slider combo that has produced stellar strikeout-rates wherever he’s gone, but Pagan’s sudden command issues are real and they don’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
Luiz Gohara - LHP
The surging of Gohara’s stock continued in Arizona, where he put up a 2.40 FIP and 14.66 K/9 mark across 11.2 IP. Gohara was reportedly in the high-90s frequently and flashed the slider that helped him to a wonderful 2016 season.
I expect Gohara to start out in Modesto next year, where he’ll get the chance to prove himself against the California League before taking the big leap to Double-A. It’s been a big and sudden rise for the 20-year-old.
Thyago Vieira - RHP
Aside from O’Neill, no other Mariner prospect turned as many heads as Vieira. The Brazilian fireballer lit up the radar gun, running his fastball up over the 100 mph mark and frequently sitting in the high-90s range. It wasn’t just the raw power that won people over, either. Vieira dominated during his time in the AFL, putting up a 1.71 FIP with 7 strikeouts and just one walk in 5.1 IP.
The performance culminated in Vieira nabbing a 40-man roster spot, protecting him from any potential poachers come Rule 5 Draft time.