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LL’s Top 50 Mariners Prospects 2019: 38-35

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Arms on arms on arms on arms

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-All Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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. So far we have worked through the first fifth of the list: 50-47, 46-43, and 42-39. Now we sail off into the 30s with a quartet of young arms rowing dutifully forward.

Misiewicz features in one of Dipoto’s poorer deals—shipping the lefty and young infielder Luis Rengifo away to Tampa Bay in August 2017 in exchange for C Mike Marjama and RHP Ryan Garton. Marjama has since retired from baseball and Garton had an injury-shortened 2018 in which he pitched 42 innings for Tacoma to the tune of an FIP around 4. Meanwhile, the Rays sent Rengifo to the division-rival Angels, where he exploded through the lower minors, shooting all the way to Triple-A as a 21-year-old. Not great! As a consolation prize, the Mariners got Misiewicz back prior to the 2018 season in exchange for Not Ohtani pool money. They sent him to Double-A this past season, where he struggled with injuries but finished out the season strong. He had somewhat of a redemption tour in the AFL, striking out 13 in just over 16 innings of work. Misiewicz’s curveball is a true weapon, as is his ability to throw baseballs with his left hand. Maybe 2019 will be the year he puts it all together and shows enough consistency to earn himself a late-season call-up in what figures to be a fairly hilarious Seattle bullpen. -KP

As we close in on the one-year anniversary since McKay was released by the Kansas City Royals—they cut him loose on February 14 of last year—the career trajectory of the 2016 14th-rounder couldn’t look more different than it did then. Then an A-ball starter with a penchant for coughing up homers and an apparent inability to rack up K’s, the FAU alum just put the finishing touches on a dominant Double-A season pitching out of the Arkansas Travelers bullpen. Armed with a low 90’s 2-seamer that runs in on right-handed hitters and a curve in the upper 70’s, McKay posted a 12.6 K/9 and a 2.49/2.90/3.34 line through 50.2 Texas League innings. He followed that up with a stint in the prestigious prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, where he showed signs of fatigue but still managed to limit runs for the most part. McKay’s surprising success on the heels of a noteworthy amount of organizational investment in him may well lead to an invite to major league camp when spring training rolls around. -BT

My favorite thing about Nick Rumbelow is his name. It is quite fun to say. My least favorite thing about Nick Rumbelow is this picture from an old Instagram story. It is quite weird to look at.

Rumbelow doesn’t profile as someone who will change a bullpen. He’ll surely get some chances, as pitchers who can hit the mid-90s always get chances, and reliever arms are reliable as Fyre Fest. This year we could very likely see Rumbelow break camp with the MLB team. There is a world in which we see him regularly handle seventh-inning duties. There is also a world in which he underwhelms in Spring Training, starts the season in Triple-A, and is never heard from again.

The Rumbelow pill would be easier to swallow if not for JP Sears, one of the prospects Jerry Dipoto traded to acquire him. While Sears could easily fizzle out before ever reaching the majors, his chances of becoming A Guy are astronomically higher than Rumbelow’s, especially as the Yankees continue to transition him to a starter. Last year we got 17.2 harrowing innings from Rumbelow. In five straight appearances from July 4 to August 22, the righty allowed two, one, one, four, and one earned run. Even better, those games were during a playoff race! I love this sport.

Rumbelow finished his 2018 big-league campaign with a 6.11 ERA, 6.95 FIP, and -0.4 fWAR. Opponents hit .271 and spanked six homers off the LSU product in his short stint in Seattle. Obviously, the sample size of 17.2 innings isn’t huge, and few positions set themselves up for year-to-year improvement like short-outing relievers, but it’s hard to get excited about him from the small amount we’ve seen. If looking for something he can build on in 2019, keep an eye on Rumbelow’s changeup. He started throwing it more often than his curveball (the reliever’s longtime preferred secondary pitch) toward the end of the year and generated more whiffs on the change than any of his other offerings. -MR

“He’s a dude.”

So spake a scout who saw Darren McCaughan last season in Modesto. It’s a simple statement that nonetheless is lofty praise for a player with a profile that is anything but assuming. As the highlighted points of deception and movement in the graphic above might suggest, McCaughan (pronounced muh-CACK-in) does not have MLB velocity. The soon-to-be 23-year-old has a low-effort delivery but typically tops out at 90-mph on his fastball, and more often sits 87-89 with notable sink and run. His slider is his best pitch, with late break and dive, and it runs in the upper-70s and low-80s. He’ll utilize the slider liberally to keep hitters off-balance, as well as the occasional changeup, but thus far McCaughan has been greater than the sum of his parts. His 3.08 ERA and 3.60 FIP in 149.0 IP (all but 10.1 in High-A Modesto) are the second-best marks of any starting pitcher in the Mariners’ minor league system last year, trailing only an older Austin Hutchison. Baseball America honored him with the best command of any pitcher in the M’s organization. It will take that and more to make an MLB pitcher out of him. Still, the results have been there thus far for the Big West Pitcher of the Year, and 2019 will provide him with a true test, particularly of his ability to remain in a rotation role: the leap to AA.