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, so make sure to click on over if you happen to have missed any of the previous 30. We’re into the top 20 prospects now, and it’s Truck Day for the Mariners, and football is officially over, and baseball is getting oh so very close.
After slipping unclaimed through the Rule-5 Draft, Art Warren cracks the top-20 on the back of his expressive fastball. In 2017, the strikeout maestro passed through the low levels with flying colors, but was limited to just 15.2 innings in Double-A last year due to hip and shoulder woes. In the limited game action he saw in 2018, Warren struck out 12.64 batters per nine innings and managed a 1.72 ERA.
A 70-grade fastball will land Art in some big-time galleries, so long as he can learn to paint the corners. In each professional season in which the right-hander threw at least 60 innings, he colored the strike zone and its surrounding area like a messy Jackson Pollock painting. 2016 included a tepid 2.19 BB/9 for the Aquasox, followed by a more eye-catching 6.87 in 36 innings for the LumberKings later in the same year. He spent all of 2017 at the Class-A Advanced level and still missed on a few too many brushstrokes (3.48 BB/9), but was much more refined in his overall work (improved from 15.3 BB% in his 2016 stint with Clinton to 9.2).
Like many artists, Warren is prone to a wild streak every now and then, but he has a proven track record of making beautiful masterpieces. The rest of the palette includes a biting curveball and snapping slider, which could play very well as a big-league, multi-inning reliever.
In order to make that dream a reality, the Mariners need Warren to be a little less abstract and a little more straightforward when attacking hitters. -MR
Following a draft night theme we’ve seen throughout Jerry’s tenure as the Mariners’ GM, he took a chance on a collegiate late bloomer in Joey Gerber. Though his frame was that of a projectable flamethrowing bullpen piece, the Maple Grove, MN (!) product didn’t have much to show for it through his first two seasons for the Fighting Illini, posting a 4.85 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, and 5.3 BB/9 through his first two seasons. He burst on to the scene during his Junior year, impressing enough in just 28.2 innings to hear his name called on day two of the draft.
Another cold-weather prospect who arrived at Illinois after playing his high school ball in Fridley, Minnesota, Gerber only continued to improve upon joining the professional ranks as he added another 25.2 innings in Seattle’s system. After a dominant 14.0 innings with Everett, he closed out the season with 11.2 innings for the Clinton LumberKings, slashing 2.31/1.00/1.67 while posting 17.0 K/9. His rapid ascension—while impressive—was hardly much of a surprise as college relievers are often selected specifically because they typically make the transition to pro ball with relative ease, as was the case for Gerber, who was even mentioned back on draft day as perhaps the best candidate to reach the bigs first out of the entire pool of potential draftees.
Armed with a devastating one-two punch of a mid-90’s heater and sharp mid-80’s slider, Gerber is already absolute murder on right-handed hitters. A full year in the organization to continue to hone in his mechanics and perhaps even experiment with the development of a putaway pitch when facing left-handers could be the finishing touch for what looks to be a close-to-ready major league bullpen piece. -BT