Usually finding bullpen arms is a booby prize in the draft; a secondary choice after Plan A has fallen through. But the Mariners have made many moves recently by shoring up their bullpen depth with young, polished college relievers. This year the MLB draft is June 3-5. Leading up to draft day, we’ll be doing a positional overview of the depth at each level of the system, surveying the shelves of the pantry as it stands now before the draft. So far we’ve done the position players and discovered that the outfield is somehow deeper than even before, the catching position happily contains more than 5% catcher now, but the infield remains thin. We conclude our overview series with one of the more consistent areas of depth - relief pitching.
Future High-Leverage Wyverns:
RHP Joey Gerber (A+), RHP Wyatt Mills (AA), Sam Delaplane (A+)
The magical 2018 Edwin Diaz was a fire-breathing dragon who incinerated opponents and put the Mariners on his back all year long. It’s more likely than not that there are no Edwin Díazes in the organization, but these three have shown high-leverage stuff and pedigrees. Gerber is the highest profile, with mid-90s velo, a wipeout slider, and a violent motion that adds deception and command issues. Mills comes from the side and lower, getting grounders and evading damaging contact. Delaplane has struck out literally 50% of the hitters he’s faced and has a high-spin curve.
The Radar Gun’s Best Friends:
RHP Gerson Bautista (AAA), RHP Art Warren (AA), RHP Jake Haberer (A+), RHP Reggie McClain (AAA), RHP Kyle Wilcox (A+), RHP Dan Altavilla (AAA), RHP Dayeison Arias (A)
Most of this group works 94-96 consistently, even pushing higher at times. Bautista has been rehabbing along with fellow hard-hurler Sam Tuivailala but his straight offerings and command issues have made his velo play down. Warren has had similar issues, as well as nagging shoulder issues. Haberer burst onto the scene out of Indy Ball a la Parker Markel this year, but is still 24 in High-A. McClain is a #GasCamp graduate who has risen quickly with a SEVEN MPH JUMP since last year. Already in that high velo range is Kyle Wilcox, though his command also is a question mark. Altavilla is ostensibly not a prospect, but he too retains upper-level ceilings if he can ever corral his control. Arias burst onto the scene as Everett’s closer with 95 mph heat and a string-bean frame. So far in A-ball he’s posted almost identical results to what he did in Everett, and is yet to give up an earned run in May.
Bouncing Betwixt the Bigs and Blong Brelief :
RHP Matt Festa (AAA), RHP David McKay (MLB), RHP R.J. Alaniz (AAA), RHP Nick Rumbelow (AAA), RHP Parker Markel
The Mariners have cycled a fair few players through the minors and majors piple, including Ryan Garton, Mike Wright, and Chasen Bradford, but this crew is the most prospectful. Each of the above names has had a moment in the sun with Seattle, but they’ve yet to stick fully.
Funky Foundation for the Future Stress Reduction of Mariners Fans:
RHP Collin Kober (A+), RHP Jack Anderson (AA), RHP Nolan Hoffman (A)
Seattle has had more weird arm slot guys than just Wyatt Mills. At three different levels, this trio is befuddling hitters. Kober and Anderson are combining their gnarly sinker/slider combos with high strikeout rates, while Hoffman is a true groundball-reliant entity.
Big Neat Toys In Need of Homes:
RHP J.T. Salter (A+), RHP Zac Grotz (AA), RHP Penn Murfee (A+), RHP Bryan Pall (A), LHP Ben Onyshko (A), RHP Devin Sweet (A)
This is the section for interesting players who have shown something, but it’s tough to be confident yet. Salter is 6’8 and works low-90s stuff with solid command. Grotz is another Mets rescue story, and he’s been striking out 36.7% of hitters he’s faced in AA. Murfee has bounced all over the system doing yeoman’s fill-in work, but his stuff plays up at 88-89. Pall was an impact arm in the Big-10 and in his first healthy pro season at last. Onyshko is the lone lefty showing promise right now, as Logan Gilbert’s former Stetson teammate. Lastly, Sweet is an UDFA who has given the team his best in long relief mostly, with great peripherals outpacing his results.
Overall health of the position:
High-floor, low ceiling. It’s what defines so many relievers and fits this group as well. Still, the true defining characteristic is a lack of southpaw relievers. The team is overflowing with lefties in the rotation, so a conversion from somewhere can come eventually, but for now there are simply few or none.