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8 Mariners Headed to Arizona Fall League

Kelenic, Julio, Rizzo and more will look to build on strong 2019 campaigns

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The Mariners will be well-represented at the Arizona Fall League this year as the team will send eight prospects to Peoria for more work.

The group is headlined by blue-chip outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez. Infielders Joe Rizzo and Jose Caballero will join in on the fun. Starting pitcher Penn Murfee, as well as relief pitchers Sam Delaplane, Raymond Kerr and Aaron Fletcher will also be headed to the desert.

Kelenic and Rodriguez have both arguably surpassed expectations in 2019. In 111 games across three levels, Kelenic has slashed .294/.369/.536 with 20 home runs and 19 stolen bases. Continually facing advanced pitching should do wonders for Kelenic as he makes his case for a cup of coffee in 2020.

Goal for Kelenic: Continue developing an eye for advanced breaking balls.

Rodriguez has been just as good, if not better, slashing .326/.388/.530 with 11 home runs over 78 games across two levels. Just 18 years old, Rodriguez has taken his first taste of stateside ball by storm and could start 2020 in AA-Arkansas if he continues to show a highly advanced feel at the plate this fall.

Goal for Rodriguez: Get your first taste of elite pitching, keep strikeouts down, walks up.

Rizzo is a very interesting prospect having a breakout season at High-A Modesto. Rizzo, a 2016 2nd round pick, is slashing .294/.353/.425 with ten home runs — career-highs in every category. Just 21 years old, Rizzo projects as a utility player that can play any infield position, though if the power continues to develop, a full-time role could certainly be in the cards. Rizzo figures to begin 2020 in AA-Arkansas and a strong showing in Peoria should cement that notion.

Goal for Rizzo: Continue to develop positional versatility and show flashes of developing power.

Caballero was acquired in the Mike Leake trade this season. Another utility infielder by trade, Caballero has slashed .258/.356/.369 with an eye-popping 31 stolen bases in just 63 games. Caballero is currently with the High-A Modesto Nuts.

Goal for Caballero: Get on base, find gaps, and let your speed do the talking.

A converted reliever, Murfee has quietly put together a pretty impressive campaign as a starter this season, posting a 1.255 WHIP and 3.74 ERA in 108 innings. The bulk of Murfee’s innings have come at High-A Modesto. At 25 years old, Murfee is now entering a critical point in his minor league career and the Mariners organization figures to be aggressive with him.

Goal for Murfee: Work deep into games and avoid big innings

Delaplane and Kerr represent two of the premier strikeout/stuff pitchers in the Mariners system.

Delaplane, 24, has thrown 66 innings across High-A and Double-A this season, racking up an unbelievable 115 strikeouts. His 15.08 K/9 ranks among the top five in all of minor league ball for pitchers that have tossed at least 50 innings.

Goal for Delaplane: Continue to prove your elevated fastball and secondary offerings are advanced enough to get premier hitters out.

Kerr was reasonably unknown entering 2019, but that sure didn’t last long. In 86 innings at High-A Modesto, Kerr has struck out 90 batters, but it’s his stuff that has begun to garner serious attention. A southpaw, Kerr rushes his fastball to the plate in the high-90s, and has touched 100 on a number of occasions this season. Kerr will look to build on his season and improve his control.

Goal for Kerr: Avoid walking batters and let your stuff do the talking.

Last but not least, Fletcher was acquired from the Nationals in the Elias-Strickland deal this season and has really shown out since arriving. In 12 innings with AA-Arkansas, Fletcher has been lights out, posting a 1.50 ERA and a WHIP barely over 1.

Goal for Fletcher: Avoid the walks to RHB, prove you’re ready for AAA or more.

The Arizona Fall League is incredibly important in the development of players looking to get a head start on Spring Training. Any or all of these players are arguably ready for promotions and strong showings in Peoria can be just the boost each needs to get challenged with the next level of development.