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. The whole list so far is there, but if you missed any, here are links to 50-47, 46-43, 42-39, 38-35, and 34-31. We’re into the Top 30 now, so if you’ve been struggling to keep up with some of the names, this is where things should start to get more familiar. We’re also shifting into profiling two prospects per day rather than four. Check out 30-29 here, 28-27 here, 26-25 here, and 24-23 here. Today we close out the 20s with that precious jewel—an MLB-adjacent catching prospect—and a top international signee.
On the surface, Joe DeCarlo is in an awkward place within the Mariners’ organization.
The 25-year-old had a pretty good year in Double-A Arkansas last year, as his .246 batting average was more than offset by a .339 OBP and a .440 slugging percentage. The line was good for a 114 wRC+, which is quite strong for any player, much less a converted catcher. If DeCarlo doesn’t start the year in Tacoma, he should be there shortly.
When Mike Zunino got traded in early November, DeCarlo’s future within the organization looked intriguing. Suddenly, he was the closest thing to an MLB-ready catcher in the entire system. Cal Raleigh, the Mariners’ 2018 third-round pick, figured to be at least a few years away. If the Mariners were truly punting away 2019, DeCarlo fit right within the projected 2020-2021 window.
Of course, then the Mariners traded for Omar Narváez. Narváez is under team control through 2022, at which point Raleigh stands to be ready. So is DeCarlo going to be too late to have the chance to supplant Narváez, but then see Cal Raleigh take over before he even has a chance?
Not if he has anything to say about it. Even if Narváez lives up to all of his potential as a pretty-good-catcher (admittedly a big “if”), DeCarlo’s combination of power and plate discipline should translate nicely to at least a part-time role on a big league club. And if you need to see the power for yourself, just look.
A back-up catcher with decent defense, decent power, and good plate discipline is something any team would want. If DeCarlo can continue his developmental trajectory, maybe this profile next year will drop the “back-up” caveat. -ZG
Unlike players like yesterday’s “most pleasant surprise in the system” Keegan McGovern, Juan Querecuto Jr. is here for future value—the 18-year-old Venezuelan posted a wRC+ of just 98 in his first pro season in the DSL—but the Mariners had seen enough they liked to sign him for $1.2M this past July. Querecuto draws positive reviews from scouts for fluid footwork and a plus arm that projects to stick at shortstop, although there are questions regarding the bat. JQJ comes from good baseball bloodlines: Juan Querecuto Sr. played 13 seasons for the Cardenales de Lara, and older brother Juniel has some major league experience and is currently an NRI for the Diamondbacks this spring. Juniel starred for the Cardenales this winter, winning MVP for the championship series—a feat missed by his little brother, who was safely ensconced in Arizona for a Mariners minicamp, far from the tumult in Venezuela. Taller and leaner than his brother and father, Juan Jr. has the potential to be the Querecuto who makes the biggest mark on the major leagues.