Pitchers and catchers report in just over three weeks, with the first Spring Training game barely a month away, but until then there is little salvation from the flood of gloom that this offseason is delivering Mariners fans.
Today the Mariners were up in Baseball America’s Top-10 prospect rankings, and it wasn’t pretty.
The top three or four would likely have a spot in most teams top-10, but the predictable concern for Seattle right now is one of depth. Outside of the bullpen and outfield, there are few reinforcements within the organization at the moment who are not already on the 40-man roster. That’s particularly evident with starting pitchers, as only Max Povse makes the top-10, following a season hampered by a hamstring injury and a failed bullpen conversion.
Kyle Lewis remains well regarded in his talent and work ethic, which has BA encouraged that his long rehab will ultimately be successful. He is the only player of the group who will crack the BA Top-100 list to start the year. Evan White earns an endorsement as a potential 80-grade defender at first base, and was recently ranked the fifth-best 1B prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline as well.
Jerry Dipoto has contended that the shift in cost-controlled talent has moved from the lower reaches of the farm to the MLB club, and in some ways that’s true. Guys like Andrew Moore, Marco Gonzales, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, and Edwin Díaz were on this list last year or the year before, but have graduated out. More of those players, however, will have to exceed their projections for that gamble to pay off positively in the majors.
Dipoto has also posited that the high number of cost-controlled, mid-20s players currently on the roster will allow the team to restock the farm while remaining competitive from year-to-year, in lieu of a complete teardown and rebuild. Some teams have had success with that as a model, with Cleveland being the poster child in recent years. The key, of course, is having exceptional player development, which is ultimately what will make this year pivotal in my eyes for evaluating this front office. They have gotten rid of much of the sparing well-regarded minors talent that existed when Dipoto took over. They’re betting big on themselves, and if they’re wrong it’s not gonna be pretty.