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LL’s top Mariners prospects 2020: introduction, and the ones who just missed

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Because it’s prospect season

San Diego Padres v Seattle Mariners

It’s prospect ranking season, which means it’s time for Lookout Landing to release our annual top Mariners prospects list. We go all the way up to 50 names in order to provide you, loyal reader and prospect-watcher, with what we pride ourselves on here at LL: the most in-depth information you can find about the Mariners system anywhere here on Julio Rodriguez’s internet. Because we go all the way up to 50, though, know that the margins between those who appear on the list at, say, 40-50 and the ones who just miss are much more slim than the difference between 10 and 20, for example.

A word on methodology: we held a staff-wide vote where everyone ranked players up to where they felt comfortable given the extent of their prospect knowledge (shoutout to Matthew, who after a certain point just filled in his own name). Then, I tossed out the highest and lowest numbers and aggregated the rest of the rankings, taking into consideration previous high or low votes, to come up with a ranked list. That list was then presented in chunks to the staff over Slack for us to haggle over with tears and recriminations discuss civilly. As we go deeper into the list—to where passions became more inflamed—we’ll have writeups from each of the staff members who are particularly high on or low on a certain player. We’re also including Tools grades, new for us this year, as pre-season rankings tend to be more granular than the mid-season update we’ll do around July. Finally, we’ll re-publish the list with rankings alone as a handy cheat sheet should you find yourself at Spring Training, any of the minor league affiliates, or deep in a dynasty draft.

For starters, though, here are the players who either just missed the cutoff this season or at least earned a mention on someone’s list, sorted into categories for your convenience:

The Zipper Arm Club:

Michael Koval, Jamal Wade, Joey O’Brien, Max Roberts, Levi Stoudt, Blake Townsend, Nolan Hoffman, Ty Adcock

These are young pitchers who are in various stages of their journeys back to baseball. Most are TJ survivors, with the exception of Adcock, a 2019 draftee who didn’t pitch in his draft year. Another 2019 draftee on this list is Levi Stoudt, the third-rounder out of Lehigh who had some buzz from various outlets before falling victim to the pernicious jaws of TJ. Townsend is an 18-year-old international signee (Australia) who also went under the knife recently, derailing what was looking like a promising start to the season after just five innings. The other members of this club are entering the back half of their TJ rehabs and should be coming to a mound near you sometime soon.

Los Marineritos:

3B Milkar Perez, RHP Wilton Perez, LHP Anderson Mercedes, C Ortwin Pieternella, RHP Igor Januario, OF Gunn Omosako

These are players from the DSL Academy about whom we’ve heard intriguing things, but ultimately don’t know well enough or haven’t heard enough about from scouts to feel comfortable ranking. Mercedes, Pieternella, and Januario are all on their second season with the Mariners, as is Omosako, the 6’4” Brazilian who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Other names to watch in this category include OF Carlos Jimenez, SS Andres Mesa, and RHP Pedro Lemos da Costa, all of whom were 2019 J2 signings and didn’t play this season, as is typical for first-year Mariner signings. RHP Deivy Florido, 1B Robert Perez, and RHP Luis Curvelo are all players who could be considered to have just graduated from this category, but haven’t quite made it on to our list yet.

Young Arms Run Free:

LHP Adam Macko, RHP Dutch Landis, RHP Anthony Tomczak, LHP Holden Laws, LHP Danny Chang

This is the fresh-from-high school crop; Macko, Landis, and Tomczak are all 2019 draftees, and Laws is a 2018 draftee, while Chang (formerly known as Jing-Yu Chang) was an international signing from Taiwan in 2018. This group is being brought along slowly but each should get an opportunity to break free of the training ground of Arizona this season.

Still having nightmares about college finals:

OF Trent Tingelstad, INF Patrick Frick, OF Cade Marlowe, OF Antoine Carter-Mistico, RHP Jarod Bayless, RHP Tim Elliott

The Mariners are always college-heavy, but dipped especially deep into the campus pool in an underwhelming 2019 draft. Tingelstad and Frick both showed a preternatural ability to get on base, and while Marlowe struck out a little more than those two and walked a little less, he also hit over .300 with some pop. Mistico showed a similar ability to C the Z down in the AZL, although with less pop than the other three. Elliott, out of Georgia, is a favorite at Baseball America, named as their “sleeper” pick in the system in a recent article and posting solid numbers out of the AquaSox bullpen last season; Bayless, from DBU, is a favorite here for his highly analytical approach to pitching and tireless work ethic. All of these players will test their college-trained endurance and ability to nap in public places in full-season ball in 2020.

Prod, Prod:

OF Jack Larsen, RP JT Salter, SS Cesar Izturis Jr., INF Chris Mariscal, 2B Joseph Rosa, RHP Darren McCaughan, LHP Jorge Benitez, INF Jake Scheiner

This is a bummer of a category. These are players we hoped would take a step forward in 2019 but didn’t, for whatever reason. On the bright side, these are largely players who have appeared on the list before, and could again, but just missed on a list that’s a tad more crowded than in previous years. Larsen struck out at a prodigious rate in Modesto as his power production fell; defensive specialist Izturis, now 20 years old, couldn’t hit enough to hang in West Virginia; Mariscal’s bat fell flat after a promotion to the offensive haven of Triple-A; Benitez and Salter both struggled with command. Rosa was close to making the list but has yo-yoed through the lower levels of the minors since 2015 and is a few days away from turning 23. It’s not really fair to put Scheiner on this list, since he was traded to Seattle midseason in the Jay Bruce deal, but he is 24 in High-A and didn’t exactly blow the roof off Modesto. McCaughan was the other one who received serious consideration for the list, as his stuff is especially punishable by the Triple-A rabbit ball (18.6% HR/FB rate!), but his troubling home/road split in Double-A gave us pause.

Reliever/5th starter life:

RP Collin Kober, LHP Ian McKinney, RP Elvis Alvarado

There is a very good argument for any of these three to appear on our list, especially over some of the young and raw players we did wind up giving a spot on the list. In fact, there’s a better-than-average chance that Kober or McKinney wind up buttoning up an MLB jersey while another player on the list flames out in the low minors. Kober posted excellent numbers out of Modesto’s bullpen and if he takes off in Arkansas, could find himself pushing for an MLB callup in the back half of the season. McKinney, a left-handed starter released by St. Louis, found new life under pitching coach Rob Marcello’s tutelage in Modesto and will see if he can repeat his strong performance at Double-A, the level that confounded him as a Cardinal. Alvarado, a converted infielder acquired in the Roenis Elias trade, might be the liveliest arm of the three, but also the most raw.