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State of the Farm: 12/6/16

A look at some of the starting pitching prospects in the system

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We’re nearing the end of the position-by-position breakdowns for State of the Farm. This week, I’ll be taking a look at all of the starting pitching prospects in the organization and how close they are to getting to Seattle. As you’ve probably come to expect by now, the list isn’t filled with sexy names or Top-100 prospects or guys with exploding breaking balls and 100 mph fastballs, but there are some nice pieces to be found. Here are the bigger names in the group:

Some notes on this chart:

  • For each player, I used the stats from their highest level, meaning most of the lines above are not representative of the entirety of their season. Some players on this list, such as Ryan Yarbrough and Brandon Miller, spent their whole season at one level, however.
  • This isn’t an all-inclusive list. There’s a few more guys you could argue deserve a mention, but I wanted to limit the list to fifteen guys to avoid a gigantic cluster of names being chucked at your eyes.

On we go.

MLB-Ready Group

Rob Whalen? Ariel Miranda?

I’m not totally comfortable pointing to anyone on this list and declaring they should immediately be inserted into the Mariners’ rotation. Rob Whalen has the best argument after putting up a 4.77 xFIP in 24.2 innings with the Atlanta Braves in 2016, but I’d like to see him develop his changeup a bit more to give him a third respectable pitch. As it stands, he’s a fastball/slider-heavy pitcher who is capable of pounding the zone. He has a curveball that he’ll throw once in a blue moon, but the changeup will typically be the pitch he mixes in to keep hitters guessing.

You could also lump Ariel Miranda in this group if you want to consider the 27-year-old Miranda a prospect. Miranda flashed signs of being a somewhat dependable arm last year, but the 5.06 xFIP and .222 BABIP, amongst other things, would make anyone hesitate before penciling him into any rotation.

On the Horizon

Max Povse, Andrew Moore, Ryan Yarbrough, Dylan Unsworth

This group is a pretty hefty one. The first name that comes to mind here is Andrew Moore, the Mariners’ second-round pick out of Oregon State back in 2015. Moore’s polish, command, and makeup have helped him shoot through the Mariners’ system, taking him from Corvallis, OR to a legitimate name being tossed around for potential 2017 rotation piece in just eighteen months. I would prefer Moore gets one more year to truly finish polishing off his secondary stuff before he’s called upon by the Mariners, but he’s fairly close to being MLB-ready. He lacks a true strikeout pitch, with his curveball being the closest thing to one when it’s working and his slider being average, at best. He’ll rely heavily on his fastball/changeup combination, which is very good, but he’ll struggle to miss bats against major league hitters. I still have his ceiling penciled in as a No. 4/5 guy.

Ryan Yarbrough is another one who could be nearing Seattle, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see him settle in as a bullpen piece in the future. He throws a low-90s fastball and a slider that seems to get better every year. The command is fine and he was quietly the most consistent starter in the Generals’ rotation last year. Could see him eventually taking on a Mike Montgomery-type role for Seattle in 2018.

Recently acquired Max Povse, who I admittedly am still learning about, also appears to be getting fairly close. From what I’ve seen, he makes the most of his 6’8 frame, using the Chris Young approach of dropping a hammer out of the sky to offset any shortcomings his fastball may have. In addition, his love for throwing strikes and a stellar changeup to go along with it makes him intriguing as a back of the rotation option in the near future. If he continues his dominance of the minor leagues, I expect him in Seattle sooner rather than later.

Unsworth may also be another guy who pops up in the near future. After re-signing with the Mariners this offseason, Unsworth went out to the Arizona Fall League and turned in a decent performance, putting up a 4.15 FIP in 21.0 innings after a long layoff due to injury. His arsenal doesn’t feature anything special, but he pounds the zone and has good enough command to where you could probably live with him for a spot start or two.

Way off in the Distance

Luiz Gohara may be the only pitcher in the system with legitimate, top-of-the-rotation potential. The 20-year-old lefty has a fastball that he’ll run up as high as 100 mph and a slider that’s developing into a considerable weapon. Command remains a concern with Gohara despite his breakout campaign in 2016, but the raw stuff is clearly there and he’s one to be excited about (you know, if Jerry doesn’t trade him tomorrow for Jake Odorizzi).

Nick Neidert turned in a brilliant first full season as a pro, posting a 3.58 FIP and a 1.29 BB/9 with the Clinton LumberKings. Neidert’s ceiling will rise and fall with the development of his curveball, his best shot at a true out-pitch against higher-level hitters.

The rest of this group are more wait and see kind of players. Kevin Gadea and his unique, “pound the zone with breaking balls to set up his fastball” approach intrigues me. Nick Wells has a spectacular curveball that could be a force if he ever gets everything else figured out. Brandon Miller was created in a test tube to pitch for a Jerry Dipoto-ran organization. Ryne Inman had some impressive outings in his second year with the AZL Mariners. Heck, even Tyler Herb flashed some previously hidden potential in Bakersfield last year before struggling in Double-A Jackson.

Zach Lee

This is the section for Zach Lee, recently-DFA’d pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization. I hope you have enjoyed this section dedicated to Zach Lee, recently-DFA’d pitcher in the Seattle Mariners organization.