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LL’s top Mariners prospects 2020: 14-11

Examining the prospects who fell just outside the Top-10

MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox
we are THIS CLOSE to the Top 10
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

In case you’ve missed it, we’ve been counting down our top Mariners prospects for 2020 for the past two weeks. Next week we’ll start in on the Top 10, but first we’ll close out with this group of the players who landed just outside of that. Remember if you’ve missed any of the previous installations, which I promise aren’t quite so shout-y, you can catch up on previous lists and the introduction to the series in the main hub here.

14. RHP Sam Carlson

When Sam Carlson was drafted, his fastball sat between 93-95 and could touch 97. Currently, Carlson’s fastball is between 91-92 mph—and that’s a good sign, because it means he’s finally throwing again, after a lengthy recovery from TJ. Lagging even further behind is Carlson’s changeup, typically one of the last pitches to return after TJ surgery. When healthy, Carlson was able to get excellent late fade on his change, pairing it with a hard-biting slider for a three-pitch mix that was very advanced for a high school prospect, especially one from a cold weather state. With his raw stuff and physical projection, Sam Carlson will remain Top-10 adjacent until he gives us reason to believe otherwise. -KP

13. RHP Juan Then

Moving Juan Then for Nick Rumbelow was bad. Acquiring Juan Then for Edwin Encarnacion was good. Then has put on good weight in the last calendar year, now pressing the scales at 195 pounds. The added weight will be crucial if he’s to stay an option for a future spot in Seattle’s rotation. The newfound bulk has paid dividends on the mound too. Reports from Gas Camp suggest Then is reaching 95-97 on his fastball on a consistent basis; a far cry from the 91-93 he sat for most of 2018-2019. He’s continued to show good feel for a sharp slurvy breaking ball, and the changeup continues to develop in the low minors. 2020 feels like a potential breakout campaign for the Mariners’ 2016 international signee. Added velocity, as well as continued feel for pitching late into games may push his stock up this season. Don’t be surprised if Then ticks up a tier in prospect circles. The Dominican product will likely begin the season at West Virginia where he started three games last season. If the stuff has truly taken a step forward, don’t be surprised if a promotion to Modesto takes place before June, adding him to an already stacked rotation of George Kirby, Brandon Williamson and Isaiah Campbell at High-A ball (though Kirby may be in Arkansas by then). Just 20 years old, Then is ahead of the development curve. The biggest question is whether or not he’ll be able to stick in a rotation, or if his stature and added velocity will eventually suggest a move to the bullpen. - JD

12. OF Jake Fraley

When Jake Fraley is healthy, he’s been one of the most impressive hitters in the Mariners organization. When healthy, for that matter, he’s been one of the more impressive hitters in minor league baseball over the past two years. His bat speed is above-average despite his compact frame, elevating the ball consistently with line drives and pull power. He’s struggled with breaking balls in a brief AAA and MLB sample, but his recent show of handling high velocity well has been a long-standing trend. His swing’s modern tweaks have been encouraged in Seattle after receiving pushback in Tampa, and he’s at a prove-it age with a golden opportunity in Mitch Haniger’s absence. Fraley is better suited for left field than right, though he and Kyle Lewis may trade off in Haniger’s absence. Fraley’s face-plant (or, more specifically, thumb-jam) cut short his big league debut, giving him an incomplete and inconsistent first 12 games. His speed and defense are both a shade behind Braden Bishop, but his offensive performance gives him a solid shot at an everyday future - so long as he can be healthy enough to post. ~JT

11. C Cal Raleigh

There are few hills I’m more willing to die on than “Cal Raleigh is underrated.” Maybe it’s that he was drafted in the same year as Giants catcher Joey Bart, a top-20 prospect in baseball. Maybe he was underscouted after an undisclosed hand injury dampened his sophomore year season at FSU. Maybe national evaluators aren’t attuned to the subtle shift in throwing mechanics Raleigh made in pro ball that has increased his arm strength and accuracy. In Modesto, Raleigh threw out 36% of would-be basestealers—well above the 28% recorded by Joey Bart and tied with the kind of defense-specialist catchers who post double-digit wRC+. That Raleigh did it while bashing 22 “Beef Boy” home runs and a BB/K of almost .5 (10% BB, 20% K) is all the more impressive. Raleigh’s prodigious power has a good chance to show up in games thanks to his strong plate discipline, and while he stumbled after a late-season promotion to Arkansas (unlike Bart, who rose to even greater heights after being promoted to AA-Richmond), there’s a big-league skillset here, even if not one that lands him on Top-100 lists...yet. -KP