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LL’s Top 50 Mariners Prospects 2019: 46-43

The list continues with two young players facing long odds and a pair of curiosities.

Luis Liberato as part of the Cal League Champion Modesto Nuts in 2017

It’s prospect list season and this year LL is doing our own in-house rankings of the top 50 prospects in the organization. You can find further explanation and our methodology at the hub for the series. Yesterday, we kicked off LL’s top 50 Mariners Prospects rankings by looking at #’s 50-46; today, as we will for the rest of this week, we will continue to count down by fours. Today’s set contains a nice variety: an outfielder, an infielder, and a pitcher of each hand (who, to clarify, are two different people. None of this amphibian pitcher business).

Signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2013, Liberato has been a bit of project since joining the organization. He underwent a change in his offensive profile during the 2017 season, slugging 14 home runs after never hitting more than five in any of his first four campaigns, although his strikeout rate climbed ~6-7% in his first exposure to High-A. After opening 2018 back at Modesto, “Libby” managed to replicate his power production and more impressively, cut his strikeout rate to an all-time low of 17.0%. Fangraphs has tabbed him with 70-grade speed, but injuries cost him nearly half his 2018 season and in all likelihood limited his production on the basepaths. After swiping 12 bags and hitting 14 triples in 2017, he was just 2-for-7 in stolen base attempts last year. 2019 will be a telling season for his career as he attempts to combine health with his newfound plate discipline and make his presence felt in the Texas League in what could be a make-or-break season. -BT

Oh to be young and left-handed. Holden Laws was one of the few prep talents the Mariners targeted in the 2018 draft, but they were able to lure the young lefty away from North Carolina State. What Laws is presently is a fringy lefty, likely overmatched in the low minors. At just 19, however, Laws has solid command, so Seattle will be looking for velocity and sharpness to come. Laws works a 4-seam/curveball/slider/changeup and has showcased an above-average pickoff move, which should serve him well. If he can push up to the 92-93 range with increased muscle on his 6’2”/165-pound frame and professional training, he’ll be a promising arm like his idol, former Rangers starter Matt Harrison, but that will take years of work. ~ JT

Honeyman is one of a flurry of college players with breakout senior performances taken in the later rounds of last year’s draft. After three middling years at Stony Brook, he put up an absurd 2.9% K% in his final college season, and laid waste to the Northwest League in his pro debut, slashing .346/.383/.474 over 244 trips to the plate en route to a 139 wRC+. He was able to keep his K-rate in the single digits, and also got a cup of coffee at High-A Modesto, though he scuffled to just a 39 wRC+ in a tiny sample of 22 plate appearances. The lefty-swinging Honeyman is primarily a third baseman, but started at least one game at every infield position last year, and could move into more of a utility role as he advances. It’s likely that he’ll start 2019 in West Virginia, but there’s a chance the club decides to be a little more aggressive with “Honey,” as a slightly older prospect, and send him back up to Modesto. -CD

Following an impressive first full season as a pro in 2017, Anderson opened 2018 on a rough note, twice posting outings of ≥ 4 ER in <1.0 inning. He rebounded nicely however, posting a 1.29 ERA and 2.62 FIP through 42.0 innings over 33 outings to finish out the season. The submariner has had a tougher time when facing left-handed hitters, but his deception should allow him to continue posting strikeout rates north of 9.0 K/9 and forcing the opposition to hit the ball on the ground as he’s done throughout his career. The ground ball rate he posted last season (66.0%) would have slotted him fourth among all qualified major league relievers in GB%. -BT