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LL’s top Mariners prospects 2020: 26-23

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Two infielders, a sidearmer, and a high-upside DSL prospect hold down the mid-20s

BASEBALL-USA-MEX Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

It’s prospect ranking season and this week we’ve gotten into our Top 30 prospects in the Mariners system for 2020. A reminder that most other outlets are just getting started at the Top 30 but we’ve already cruised through 20 other names you should know, plus a bonus roundup of other interesting players. You can catch up on all that in the main hub here.

26. OF Jonatan Clase

I’ll start with this up front: Jonatan (pronounced “DJOH-nah-tahn”) Clase (pronounced like “Class-A”) is the only prospect on this list to personally beat me in a footrace. Fortunately for Clase, he’s outrun more than just plodding former pitcher-only’s. Clase stole 31 bases at a 75.6%, comfortably above the break-even point. There’s room for improvement, however, considering he’s been called both the fastest player in the system and the fastest person on the island, by scouts and coaches. He’s a bit more Mallex Smith than Lorenzo Cain in the outfield right now, still learning his routes and using his speed to make up for mistakes, but Clase spent most of his time before joining the organization as an infielder, so his outfield instincts have plenty of room for improvement. Though his playing age in 2020 will be 18 (the cut-off is a player’s age on July 1), Clase will be 17 until late May, making him one of the youngest players in the DSL last year, and the youngest player in our top-30 by half a year. Like with most small-bodied speedsters, the challenge for Clase will be maintaining his excellent on-base numbers against better pitching, which will allow him to use his speed on the bases. The easiest way to do that is adding strength and power, to give pitchers pause about coming over the plate, which Clase has focused on this winter. He should start 2020 in extended spring training, before heading to the AZL or possibly Everett. ~JT

25. INF Joe Rizzo

Rizzo was a cornerstone of the Mariners 2016 draft. Selected in the second round, he was tabbed as a bat-first prospect. Initially drafted as a third baseman, Rizzo has now wears his Swiss Army Knife cap proudly. He’s a strong enough defender to play all over the diamond, but at the end of the day, it’s his burgeoning bat that will need to continue its ascension if Rizzo is to reach his currently undefined ceiling. Some believe a utility player is the likely outcome, but it’s hard not to draw comparisons to the Kyle Seager trajectory from a decade prior. This isn’t to say Rizzo will be even a fraction of what Seager has been, but carving out a starting role isn’t out of the question. The bat really took off last season, slashing .295/.354/.423 in 129 games at High-A Modesto. His 10 home runs and 43 extra-base hits were both easily career highs. After a big swing change pre-2019, the prospect shine has begun to show signs of life. Rizzo will tackle his biggest, and most defining test yet at AA Arkansas next season. Seattle will have a much better idea of what they have in their young infielder after 2020. - JD

24. RHP Wyatt Mills

Mills had better results in 2019 than his ERA would indicate (4.27 ERA vs. a sub-3 FIP/xFIP) but a wobble in command in his first full season at AA and a slightly elevated home run rate slotted him slightly behind fellow Bullpen Hawgs Sam Delaplane, Joey Gerber, and Art Warren. Still, there’s a MLB-adjacent skillset here with Mills’ one-two punch of a 92-95 mph heater with movement and a frisbee slider, both thrown out of a tough sidearm angle, and fans should expect to see the Gonzaga product in Seattle sometime in 2020. -KP

23. INF Donovan Walton

I am maybe overly high on Donnie sorry Donovan Walton, who was the dependable heart of the Arkansas Travelers lineup this past summer. Walton has the kind of no-strikeout, contact-oriented approach I love, and backs it up with solid middle infield defense, although he’s more comfortable at second than short. Walton also found some power this year in his first full taste of Double-A, hitting double-digit home runs and 20+ doubles. Not gifted with plus speed, Walton is a smart baserunner who can take advantage of an inattentive pitcher or make a good read to take an extra base when it’s available. A coach’s son, he’s the kind of player who does all the little things right and, even if he starts the year in Triple-A, should be able to find playing time even in a crowded utility infielder group. -KP