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Mariners sign INF Justin Lavey as UDFA

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The Mariners get a seasoned player from a power conference

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Auburn vs Louisville Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Wisconsin-to-Seattle pipeline grew even stronger today as the Mariners signed infielder Justin Lavey out of Louisville, a Kenosha native who played for Hitter’s Baseball, the same Wisconsin-based baseball academy as Jarred Kelenic. Lavey was a three-year starter for Lousiville, posting a career slash line of .277/.347/.393. After going through a bit of a sophomore slump when he first took over a starting role in 2017, batting .248, striking out 47 times in 214 ABs, and committing 12 errors on the diamond, Lavey rebounded in a big way his junior year, batting .286, shaving his K% from 21% to just 15%, increasing his walks, cutting his errors down by more than half (5), and adding 20 stolen bases to his resume. He capped his regular season in 2019 with a strong performance in the playoffs for the Redbirds, going 3-for-4 in Regionals against Indiana, and a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles in Super Regionals against East Carolina. (He also doubled in the CWS opener against Vanderbilt, and scored Louisville’s only run that game.) Lavey was off to a similarly strong start this year before the season was shut down.

Lavey has a nice, compact stroke with a quick bat that’s currently geared more for punching balls through the infield, which is less of a problem if he’s more of a middle infielder but not the ideal profile for third base. He has a strong lower half, though, and his swing mechanics are solid enough that he might be able to find more power with a slight swing adjustment that incorporates some more loft.

However, D1’s Aaron Fitt is a big fan of Lavey’s, and suggests that maybe the speed and defense can help carry the overall profile:

Lavey gets high praise from teammates and coaches for his makeup and will be a good cultural fit for the Mariners. When the pandemic hit and baseball was shut down, he took it upon himself to text younger players on the team and check in on them and their needs. He’s service-minded, socially aware, others-focused, and seems to really care about giving back to his community at both the local and global level and for those reasons alone, will be a great addition to the Mariners organization, along with the big-game experience and bag of tools he’ll bring with him. We’re going to have to set up a Mariners store pop-up shop in Wisconsin, at this rate.