In normal times, the Mariners would be finalizing deals with their latest crop of international free agency signees and we would be seeing scads of selfies from the Dominican Academy as the newest group of players move into their new home away from home. However, MLB owners have pushed the signing date for this year’s J2 period into 2021, so no players will put pen to paper until January 15 of next year. Regardless, Baseball America has a list of the high-profile players who are expected to sign with the Mariners, which you can read here.
Headlining the list for the Mariners is 3B Starlin Aguilar from the Dominican Republic, expected to sign for around $1.5M, or about 30% of the Mariners’ bonus pool. Aguilar, who trained with the recently deceased legendary trainer Rudy Santín, has been described as “Baby Devers,” a reference to Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. Like Devers, Aguilar projects to third base with a stockier, powerful build, and is also a left-handed hitter with good barrel control who can make contact to all fields.
The Mariners have a history of recruiting heavily out of Venezuela and that won’t change this year, as they’re connected to three higher-profile Venezuelan prospects. OF Gabriel González is strong for his age, already close to 200 pounds and six feet, making an outfield corner his likely landing spot. “El Gonzo” might remind some Mariners fans of Noelvi Marte, standing tall in the right-handed batter’s box with a noticeable leg kick. He’s aggressive at the plate and swings to do damage.
Also coming out of Venezuela is OF Luis Bolivar. A true center fielder with 70 grade speed and a strong arm, “El Boli” is long and lean with present strength and room to add more. Despite a lighter frame, Bolivar shows some promising pop from the right side, at least:
LHP Juan Pinto is yet another Venezuelan prospect connected to the Mariners. Unlike fellow Venezuelan lefty Brayan Perez, Pinto is a tall drink of water at 6’3”, with a frame that looks like it will add muscle and strength (and a good thing, since he currently weighs about as many pounds as he has miles on his fastball). Pinto’s second pitch is a curveball praised for its depth that projects to be a swing-and-miss pitch. He also, and this is extremely scientific analysis, has a very nice smile.
These are only the most prominent names—there will be other, smaller signings, who nonetheless have the opportunity to impact the organization. 3B Milkar Perez signed for just $175K in 2018 before going on to a strong DSL debut in 2019, and OF Jonatan Clase signed for the tiny sum of $10K and ended 2019 leading the Mariners DSL team in stolen bases and OBP, winning recognition for his work in the weight room and being selected to the Mariners’ High Performance Camp that fall. When the signing period re-opens, the Mariners will also firm up the signing of Cuban outfielder Victor Labrada, whose signing was reported this winter but apparently never finalized.