As we inch ever-so-close to the Top 10 in our LL’s Top 50 Mariners Prospects series, we’re introduced to a couple of new faces today, one joining the Mariners by way of the Yankees farm system, and one who was nabbed out of Cotui, Dominican Republic. If you’re just now jumping into the series, you can catch up on prospect #’s 50-15 here.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a lightly-regarded outfielder puts up a blistering performance and Jerry Dipoto gets him included as an apparent throw-in as part of a larger deal. At this point it feels like about one in three of these prospect writeups starts this way. Not only THAT, it was how, deep in the bowels of November 2016, the Mitch Haniger legend began. Dom Thompson-Williams is another entry in this series.
The Yankees took the South Carolina product in the 5th round of the 2016 draft. After a pleasant debut with short-season Staten Island (113 wRC+ and 15 steals in 231 PA), DTW stepped it up the next year at the same level, earning a promotion with a 132 wRC+. Unfortunately, he struggled severely with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, ending 2017 with a mere 47 wRC+ and slugging a whopping .213. From there, the lightswitch went on—after 40 blistering PA back in Charlotte, he was sent to high-A Tampa (why do they name so many affiliates the Yankees? Come on, guys. Stop trading on the past.) and maintained his newfound plate excellence, posting a 147 wRC+ to go with 17 home runs and 17 steals. The major red flag in Tampa was the 25.3 K%, but a lot can be forgiven when you’re a center fielder slugging .517. Jerry Dipoto pounced on the chance to get him as the third piece in the James Paxton trade, and here we are.
Like many of the Mariners’ recent acquisitions, Thompson-Williams’ main calling card is his athleticism. As you can see from the steals numbers, the raw athleticism is there and usually matched with good instincts on the basepaths. Scouting reports indicate generally positive outfield performance, with capable ability in all three spots and enough speed to play center or even to excel with further refining of his routes. Like many such athletes, the question for DTW is how well the bat will play at AA and above.
Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of video to investigate, but—as you’d expect for a hitter with his numbers—what we can see is pretty nice. He goes down to get this low pitch and is able to elevate it with seeming ease to the opposite field for a double. It’s tough to see from one swing gif, but generally the concern is how he’ll do with higher velocities in the major leagues, though the consensus is he has the hand-eye coordination to make it at least plausible he’ll be able to handle it. If he can’t manage those higher velocities, well, the world needs bench outfielders, too, Danny. If he can, his ceiling should shoot past the current “glove-first reserve” tag and to something more exciting, though the high K% does still indicate expecting more than a solid regular is probably unreasonable. - TC
On October 15, 2001 the Mariners beat Cleveland to advance to the American League Championship Series. On October 16, 2001 Noelvi Marte was born. It’s certainly disheartening that a player who could be on the next Mariners playoff team wasn’t alive the last time the team won a playoff series. It’s also a little poetic.
Marte was signed by the Mariners last July at the age of 16. Scouts have gushed about his power and speed. Baseball America’s 4th-ranked international signing period prospect, Marte was signed by the Mariners for other attributes as well. The Mariner’s director of international scouting Tim Kissner said after Marte’s signing that they saw “instincts as a hitter and a fundamentally sound swing, in addition to the power.” Baseball America commented on his command of the strike zone, ability to get on base, and natural hitting instincts. One scout on MLB Pipeline made the comparison to a young Miguel Cabrera.
Currently a shortstop, the prevailing wisdom seems to be that he’ll move to third base later as he develops. However, his defense at shortstop has earned approval as well. His hands were universally praised along with his arm, footwork, and feel for the position.
Generally, the Mariners do not play their IFA players the year they sign them. Marte did not see any game action after his signing, but he will be playing in the Dominican Summer League this year and won’t see any time in the United States until 2020 at earliest. This summer, we’ll get our first extended look at him and learn how he plays in game situations. The Mariners organization sees his as a 5-tool talent who can become a star. We just have to be patient until he does.
In the meantime, here’s video from a November 2017 MLB Dominican showcase that shows off his hitting, running, and fielding: