[Editor’s Note: With the minor league season winding down, we’ll be giving a rundown of how each affiliate’s season went. We’ll take a look at a different affiliate each day, starting with the rookie ball teams and eventually working our way up to Triple-A Tacoma. Yesterday we started with the AZL Mariners]
On day two of our affiliate-by-affiliate rundown, we’ll be heading deep down the ranks to check out how the DSL Mariners of the Dominican Summer League performed this season. Despite the Mariners being nowhere near as active on the international front in recent years as many hoped, there’s always young, exciting talent to be found on the DSL squad. The fun part of it all is that most of the players are 17 or 18 and still so far away from being anything resembling a finished product. The ceilings and floors are wonky as hell at this level, and I love it.
Overall Record: 30-40, 7th in Baseball City Division
Playoff Record: N/A
All year long, the pitchers and hitters of the DSL Mariners never seemed to get on the same page. Offensive slumps followed by pitching slumps followed by offensive slumps were common, and the team struggled to hit anything resembling a groove. The offense was the bigger offender, failing to produce a single player with a .400+ slugging percentage, but there were plenty of reasons one could point to all over the talented-but-incredibly-raw group.
Top Position Player Performances
Alexander Campos, SS
There weren’t many Mariners prospects who saw their stock surge the way Campos’ did in 2017, and it was very much deserved. The toolsy 17-year-old enjoyed a successful professional debut, slashing .290/.413/.367 (136 wRC+) with 10 doubles, 2 home runs, and 7 stolen bases. In addition to leading the team in OBP, OPS, wOBA, and wRC+, Campos also collected more walks (41) than strikeouts (39) and flashed promising defense at shortstop. He doesn’t turn 18 until February. There are far less exciting prospects to be found out there.
Nolan Perez, 3B
Just to the side of Campos, we have Nolan Perez, the DSL Mariners’ everyday third baseman and biggest power threat. Perez, an 18-year-old out of Venezuela, finished with the highest slugging percentage (.398) and ISO (.121) on the team after collecting 11 doubles, 4 home runs, and a triple for the season. The switch-hitter faded a bit down the stretch, but he put together one of the best months of hitting amongst the whole team in July (.303/.354/.449).
Sebastian Ochoa, CF
Ochoa is a bit older than Perez and Campos at 19 years and 3 months, but he used his old man wisdom to his advantage, slashing .298/.375/.362 with a 121 wRC+ over 268 plate appearances. This was all in addition to his admirable handling of the outfield.
Freuddy Batista – 17-year-old catcher. Slashed .268/.364/.375 in his first professional season while being a reliable presence behind the plate (15 CS).
Top Pitching Prospects Performances
Erik Espinal, RHP
The 20-year-old Espinal, signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2016, enjoyed his best season as a professional in 2017. Over 58 innings with the DSL Mariners, Espinal struck out 51 while walking just 6 and compiled a 2.27 xFIP. Pitched in 20 games, starting 5 of them.
Juan Then, RHP
Then delivered perhaps the most promising season amongst all of the DSL Mariners pitchers. Just 17-years-old, Then was brilliant in 2017, posting a 2.61 xFIP over 61.1 innings. There were times where he showed legitimate swing-and-miss potential, as well, collecting 21 strikeouts in 18.1 innings in August. His stock is still fairly low, but considering how quiet the Mariners have been on the international pitching front, it was a fun performance to see.
Dayeison Arias, RHP
On a staff full of contact pitchers, Arias was one of the few strikeout-heavy arms. In 29 innings, the 20-year-old reliever struck out 36 while walking just 9. His 2.43 xFIP was the second-best mark on the team amongst pitchers with at least 10 innings and his K/BB ratio clocked in at third-best.
Christian Pedrol, RHP – 17-year-old Brazilian who popped onto the roster towards the end of the season. Pitched in only eight innings, but managed to impress during the short time span by striking out 10, walking none, and allowing just 2 runs.
Melquiades Escobar, RHP – Another prospect born in the year 2000! Like Pedrol, Escobar came in towards the last month or so of the season and performed admirably, striking out 10 over 9.2 innings while recording a 2.27 xFIP. Aside from one poor outing against the DSL Padres on July 27th, he was about as reliable as you could ask.
Other Noteworthy Prospects
Luis Veloz, OF – Veloz, a top-30 international prospect a year ago, was considered to be an exceptionally raw talent when the Mariners signed him out of the Dominican Republic. The rawness showed in his first season, as he hit just .180/.265/.185 and was near the bottom of the team in virtually every single offensive category. The tools are clearly there and the frame (6’4, 180) presents so much reason to believe the batting practice power will begin translating to game power, but his first season confirmed what most believed: Veloz is very much a project.