Keith Law released his top prospect rankings for 2019, and three Mariners have made the list. You can read the first part of the list here and the back half here (ESPN Insider subscription required). It’s worth noting that Law is often a little bit of an outlier; while he has his own network of sources and gets out to see prospects, it’s not a process like Baseball America’s or even FanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus, where a group of experts get together, hash things out, and come to a compromise. Law is the ruler of his own tiny principality, which might explain why some of his rankings don’t jive with industry consensus, so keep that in mind.
The first Mariner on the list is Justus Sheffield, who checks in at #34, way down from his 2018 rank of 16. Law cites concerns regarding Sheffield’s command and control, and notes his lack of swing-and-miss stuff, something Jake took a look at a while ago. Although Sheffield is still just 22, it appears some prospect fatigue has set in for him, with Law among the evaluators who have downgraded Sheffield for not taking a big enough step forward last season.
Just four slots later, technically-still-a-teenager Jarred Kelenic makes the list at #38, higher than he’s been anywhere else. Law calls the prize of the Edwin Díaz trade a “tool shed,” and notes that if the hit tool plays he’ll be a superstar. That’s a different tune than we’ve heard from other evaluators, as the question mark they’ve drawn next to Kelenic’s name has gone in the power box more so than hit.
The big surprise of this list for Mariners fans is Justin Dunn at #58. Dunn wasn’t even listed on Baseball America nor Baseball Prospectus’s lists, and barely crept on to the MLB Pipeline list at 91. For Dunn, questions about whether he’s a starter or a reliever combined with a reliever-only profile in college and a down 2017 seemingly caused him to be shunted aside at other outlets. Law, however, cites an opposing manager in Double-A who called Dunn the best pitcher his team had faced all season, and sees “at least” #2 starter upside in Dunn, who improved greatly in 2018.
Evan White was shut out from both Law’s Top 100 and the “just missed” dozen or so of prospects mentioned in a separate article. This isn’t too surprising; only Baseball America, who had an evaluator at the Arizona Fall League and has been trumpeting White’s prowess for some time now, has him within their Top-100. Despite being named the second-best prospect in baseball at first base by MLB Pipeline, he was absent from the list produced by the official arm of MLB, and the Delaware-based Law leaves him off, as well.