It’s prospect-ranking season, a significantly more delightful time of the year now that the Mariners farm is more...farm-y. Baseball America dropped their list earlier this week; today it’s Baseball Prospectus’s list, which has all the same names in some of the same places. Here’s your general pitch to subscribe to BP, which has a tiered membership program with the highest levels generally being the fantasy baseball stuff, which I think is fair because people can theoretically use their fantasy baseball winnings to pay for their subs. Or they can if they aren’t the worst fantasy baseball players in the world, like me. But I digress! On to BP’s list.
Again in a refreshing change of pace, the question with all of these lists isn’t “will these Mariners prospects be ranked” but “how highly and in what order?” Last year, BP, like most other outlets, ranked Jarred Kelenic over Julio Rodríguez, placing the former at #7 and Julio, fresh off his first season stateside, at #10. This year, BP has reversed course, ranking Julio as the #3 overall prospect in baseball, behind Wander Franco and Adley Rutschman, and Kelenic #6. That sound you hear is Jarred Kelenic angrily bench-pressing the entire state of Wisconsin. The change comes as a bit of a surprise considering there was no minor-league season to fully track each player’s progress, and the alternate site reports on Kelenic were glowing—including from his pitching teammates, who expressed almost to a man that the player they’re happiest not to have to face is Kelenic. It’s a testament to how quickly Rodríguez’s prospect star has risen once he got stateside and proved what he could do, and how a loud carrying tool—specifically the power tool—gets one noticed as a player. We are excited to see a ticked-off Kelenic take his frustrations out on some unsuspecting Double- and Triple-A pitchers this year.
After those two, the next up is Logan Gilbert, who barely squeaks into BP’s Top 40 at #38. Like Kelenic, he only moves up one spot from last year, a testament to the lack of a minor league season, although Gilbert at least had a moment in the sun at Spring Training before the shutdown when he cruised through a Mike Troutless Angels A-lineup. With Gilbert poised to make his MLB debut at some point this year, this is more than likely the highest he’ll make it on prospect lists in his career. But hey, Shane Bieber and Jacob DeGrom never even made various Top 100 lists and they seem to be doing okay.
RHP Emerson Hancock checks in for his first time on the BP list at #50, one tick ahead of fellow college righty and 2020 draftee Max Meyer, a popular target for Seattle who was drafted three slots ahead of him. I personally agree that Hancock has more frontline starter potential, while I see more of a bullpen risk for the shorter, harder-throwing Meyer, so this ranking pleased me, as opposed to BA’s, which slotted Meyer in all the way up at #44 while pushing Hancock down to #57. It will be exciting to see where Hancock winds up after he finally gets to play a year of pro ball and push that shortened 2020 season at Georgia further into his rearview mirror.
The next two Mariners prospects on BP’s list are ones that fell outside of Baseball America’s Top 100: George Kirby (68) and Taylor Trammell (72). Given Trammell’s track record as a prospect, it was curious to see him outside of BA’s Top 100, so it’s nice to see him pop back up here. Kirby is another pleasant surprise, ranking even higher than Trammell, but BP has scouts dedicated to the Northwest League, where Kirby pitched his 20-odd professional innings in 2019, and maybe one of those people argued for his inclusion after he was left off the list in 2020. Reports of a boosted fastball velocity and sterling reports out of the alternate sites can’t have hurt.
Noelvi Marte, despite appearing on Baseball America’s list in the low 70s, fails to make the cut here. BA has Ben Badler embedded in the Dominican Republic and has been hot on Marte since his time in the DSL, which could account for the difference in ranking there for a player who hasn’t yet appeared officially stateside. Something to watch over the next few weeks at BP as the list gets broken down in chats and further articles is for some indication on how close Marte came to making BP’s Top 100, if at all.
Update re: Marte, it appears quite close!
Not a super easy question to answer because we have a pretty collaborative and ongoing process. I would’ve liked to have gotten Noelvi Marte on but we ran out of space and he’s literally 102. Of the guys in the back ten I am probably the highest senior staffer on Clarke Schmidt.— Jarrett Seidler (@jaseidler) January 21, 2021