There is so much going on in spring training. Split squad games are happening. Scorecards look like ramblings of psychopaths when games end. Players you’re sure were invented in a test tube for spring training and nothing but spring training just a few weeks ago are taking the field left and right. It’s a lot and it can be a blur.
Amidst all the chaos over the past few weeks, the Seattle Mariners had several prospects take the field. Some of them are exciting, some of them are not. Some of them got good, long looks, some of them did not. As we examine how these prospects performed this spring, we’ll be focusing primarily on the guys who got longer looks. I’m not about to tell you how to feel about someone who got ten plate appearances. There will be a couple small samples to talk about, but it’ll be more from a “oh, hey, that guy exists” perspective, rather than any sort of conclusion-drawing one.
On a final note before we get started, some of the numbers may not be updated to reflect last night’s game against the Rockies. I am human and you are human and we all shall live.
The Pleasant Surprises
Dylan Unsworth, RHP – 12.0 IP, 5 H, 14 K, 0 BB, 0 ER
I don’t know if there was anyone else in camp with a more surprising spring than Unsworth. The South African righty arrived in big league camp as a non-roster invitee and was thoroughly dominant throughout camp, posting twelve shutout innings as of this morning.
Unsworth doesn’t do anything spectacular on the mound, working with five offerings that range from below-average to kinda sorta average, but he excels at both pounding the strike zone and staying away from the middle of the zone. Those abilities were on full display all month long, and if you’re looking for a neat story to root for, I’d recommend this guy. If he ever manages to get himself a cup of coffee in Seattle, he’ll be the first South African to ever play in the big leagues. Ever ever ever.
Boog Powell, OF – 29 AB, .577/.607/.769, 2B, 2 3B, 2 BB, SB, 0 K
Powell entered the spring as a forgotten man in Seattle’s big picture, a result of a lengthy PED-related suspension and a fight with a teammate in the Dominican Winter Leagues. The Mariners didn’t even pretend to still be in love with the dude, with manager Scott Servais essentially saying they’ve moved on to bigger and better options. If Boog had shown up to camp, struggled, and disappeared into the ether, I’m not sure anyone would have particularly cared or noticed. And yet, he showed up and looked as good as ever, performing like one of the most electrifying players on the field on a daily basis.
Making the trip to Arizona with Powell was a new stance, a smoother looking stride, and that superb contact/speed combination that had me so high on him a couple years ago.
Boog still has a long way to go before he’s back into the Mariners’ plans, but his decent spring was a start. When he’s finally done serving a suspension, he’ll be worth keeping an eye on.
Dillon Overton, LHP – 19.2 IP, 16 K, BB, 6 ER
How do you go from having one of the worst debut seasons in MLB history (24.1 IP, 9.15 FIP, -0.9 fWAR) to breaking camp on a 25-man roster the following season? There’s a few things you could try:
- Don’t walk one single batter all spring (or go ahead and issue your first walk of the spring as a random internet blogger literally sits down to sing your praises, no biggie).
- Have your fastball jump up two full ticks from where it was for the majority of last season.
- Have your changeup develop into a legitimate weapon.
- Have like thirty guys who seemed like locks for the rotation/bullpen get injured
Overton achieved all of these things and now here he is, officially a member of the 25-man roster. He will not be with the team on Opening Day, as he will be attending the birth of his child, but his name is on the list and everything.
And as I mentioned, the Dillon Overton that has suited up for the Mariners the last few weeks looks nothing like the one that got knocked around for twenty-four-ish innings with Oakland last season. The fastball has jumped up from the high-80s to the 91-93 range. His changeup has generated a 37.88 whiff percentage. He’s using his curveball more and getting results. When I gave my scouting report on Overton a month ago, I mentioned that he might need to develop his cutter if he was going to survive as a major league pitcher. That all kinda goes out the window when your fastball suddenly bumps up as much as his has. Overton looks good. Overton looks exciting. The Mariners picked him up for a catcher (Jason Goldstein) who couldn’t be further from the majors (Low-A Everett in 2016). That is good. That is exciting. The Mariners don’t have a single intriguing catching prospect now, but that’s beside the point.
The “They’re Good and We Know it” Crowd
Max Povse, RHP – 10.0 IP, 3 H, 7 K, 0 BB, 0 ER
Rob Whalen is fine and dandy and all, but the Alex Jackson trade this offseason was all about Povse. The gigantic righty is arguably the best pitching prospect in the system right now (depending on how you feel about Nick Neidert) and he showed why in spring, twirling ten shutout innings across four appearances. Brooks Baseball had his fastball clocking in just a pinch under 95 mph (94.77), which is A) likely a luxury of working in a short stint, but B) really freaking cool when your pitcher is dropping baseballs out of the friggin’ thermosphere.
I still expect Povse to be near the back of the line of the primary pitching depth for this season, but this spring was a tremendous start to his career in Seattle.
Tyler O’Neill, OF – 29 AB, .310/.412/.552, 4 2B, HR, 4 BB, 12 K
Let me start this section by saying the flaws in O’Neill’s game that currently exist were evident: the swing-and-miss aspect of his game is still overwhelming and putting him up against major league-quality breaking pitches is hardly fair, but we also saw the positives the Mariners’ top prospect brings to the table. He hits the ball hard. He sprays it all around the field. He’s getting better at working counts. At one point, he hit a big ol’ homer off of Clayton Kershaw.
O’Neill taking the next step forward will be perhaps the second-biggest point of emphasis on the farm this year, following Kyle Lewis’ return from injury. The tools were there, though, and my goodness was it fun to watch in HD for a month. See you in Tacoma, Tyler.
Mitch Haniger, OF – 72 AB, .389/.436/.653, 11 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 4 BB, 12 K
Haniger came over as the potentially sneaky good addition in the Jean Segura-Tai Walker trade. The hype surrounding him seemed to build with each passing shred of information we got about him. He hasn’t disappointed this spring, entering camp as the penciled in starting right fielder and laminating the living hell out of that lineup card over the next few weeks.
Everything you need to know about Haniger has been penned by John Trupin in a 40 in 40 piece this offseason. I try not to get excited about 26-year-old prospects who’ve yet to prove anything at the major league level, but I’m struggling with this stance when it comes to Haniger.
The Guys Who Were Just Fine
Andrew Moore, RHP – 10.0 IP, 8 K, 2 BB, 5 ER
Moore’s spring was a bit hit and miss, as he managed two strong outings and two poor outings before being sent down to minor league camp. In that time, we got a good display of what Moore brings to the table: lots of strikes, making hitters uncomfortable, and mixing locations and pitches effectively. He wasn’t spectacular, but he didn’t do anything to suggest he isn’t capable of being reliable depth at some point this season.
James Pazos, LHP – 10.1 IP, 7 ER, 2 BB, 12 K
We saw Pazos more frequently than most pitchers this spring, as the shiny new lefty had made 10 appearances heading into Friday. Two ugly appearances skewed Pazos’ numbers pretty heavily, as he was actually pretty solid all spring. With his fastball ticking up towards the upper-90s and his command looking better, Pazos managed to secure a spot on the 25-man roster. He could be one of the guys who heads down when Zych and Simmons return, but he did enough to earn that spot.
Tyler Smith, INF – 64 AB, .297/.324/.469, 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 16 K
Smith managed six extra base hits this spring, which I feel like is six more than he had all last year in Triple-A Tacoma. For a guy who will largely be asked to just be a competent defender (which he is) and not a total disaster at the plate when he does get his cup of coffee, it was a perfectly fine performance. Good job, Mr. Smith.
The “take this and see me in two weeks” Daniel Vogelbach Tribute Group
Daniel Vogelbach, 1B – 57 AB, .228/.313/.333, 3 2B, HR, 8 BB, 14 K
Vogelbach struggled to get in a groove this spring and was eventually sent back down to Triple-A camp to work on his approach. The Mariners’ large, lovable first baseman is still very much part of the future plans in the organization, they just don’t seem quite ready to hand him over the keys to the family car quite yet. In the process they made themselves look a little silly, as well, using a ten-game spring training stretch of all things as their justification.
The “I’m gonna be honest here, I kinda forgot this guy was in the organization already” Group
Rob Whalen, RHP – 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 K, BB
Whalen pitched in two games, got beat up a little, showed up on crutches one day, and hasn’t pitched since March 12th. He is currently on the 10-day DL.
Chase De Jong, RHP – 9.0 IP, 11 H, 5 ER, 3 K, 3 BB
De Jong got roughed up in all three of his outings with the Mariners. He was then sent to minor league camp. Whatever.