2021 was a fantastic year for the Seattle Mariners fam system. You’d be hard-pressed to find names that struggled to live up to their prospect pedigree. In fact, there were far more names establishing themselves as legitimate guys to watch, as opposed to burying themself in minor league purgatory.
The system really thrived in following its
Control Dominate The Zone™ mantra. By and large, guys limited strikeouts and forced pitchers to throw them hittable pitches. The result is the optic of a mature system with patient hitters; arguably a building block to future success.
With the season behind us and the data in-hand, it’s a good time to reevaluate the guys at the top of this system and others to watch as they climb the ladder. Only players under the age of 27 years old qualify for this list, so guys like Ray Kerr, Dillon Thomas and Eric Filia won’t be present.
In this series, I’ll reveal and evaluate my Top 50 prospect following the season. These rankings could move a little following the Arizona Fall League and LIDOM, but by and large, these will be my top guys to watch going into the 2022 season.
Part Two: 9/27
Part Three: 9/28
31. Brayan Perez, LHP, 21, A-Ball Modesto
It was a strong year for Perez at Modesto, posting 67.1 innings and striking out 81 along the way; both career highs. Perez saw a velo bump this year too, touching 96 and sitting 90-92. Perez limited walks and missed a lot of bats this season. He’s been a steady performer in the organization for a few years now. Everett in 2022 should be a real test for the crafty lefty.
2 strikeouts in a scoreless 4th for Brayan Perez. pic.twitter.com/tQRjuqnBC8— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) July 31, 2021
32. Cade Marlowe, OF, 24, High-A Everett
Marlowe was the first Mariners prospect to post a 20 homer/20 stolen base season since Jarred Kelenic achieved the feat in 2019. It’s generally a pretty good indicator of a future big leaguer. Marlowe pummels balls at the top of the zone but will need to adjust to hitting the low ball moving forward. The former 20th round pick is likely set to start 2022 at Double-A Arkansas as a 24-year-old.
Cade Marlowe mashes a 2-run HR. pic.twitter.com/VoNfTkiSKG— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 11, 2021
33. Kaden Polcovich, 2B/OF, 22, Double-A Arkansas
Polcovich was extremely productive at High-A Everett before getting promoted to Double-A Arkansas and struggling mightily. He’s played the outfield and second base thus far and is an above average runner with some sneaky pop in the bat. He’ll need to improve his strikeout woes should he hope to eventually forge a big league role.
34. Luis Curvelo, RHP, 20, Low-A Modesto
Curvelo was one of the surprise performers in the system in 2021. He pitched a ton of innings as a reliever for Modesto this season and figures to move quickly with a similar performance in 2022. He struck out over 13 batters per 9, one of the best marks in the organization, limiting walks along the way. Curvelo is led by his well-shaped mid-90s fastball that touched 97 this season. He’s got a slider that can be plus when it’s on. He’s got a shot at becoming a leverageable reliever.
Luis Curvelo 1-2-3 9th. Modesto & the Quakes tied at 2. pic.twitter.com/ApxUutencd— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) July 29, 2021
35. Juan Then, RHP, 21, High-A Everett
It was a tough year for Then who missed some time with different ailments throughout the season. He surrendered more homers than ever before in his career, though his strikeout rate ticked up a bit this season. At the end of the day, Then simply didn’t avoid enough damage this year and he’ll hope to rebound in 2022. Still just 21 years old, there’s a ton of development in front of him, though he doesn’t quite look like the “Edwin Diaz 2.0” that some throned him entering the year.
36. James Parker, SS, 21, A-Ball Modesto
Parker, a 2021 draftee, showed good contact rates and an advanced hit tool in his organizational debut. He’s good enough to stick at shortstop long-term, though his skillset may force him around the diamond a bit, a la Donnie Walton’s path. He’s an aggressive hitter who doesn’t draw a ton of walks, but he puts the ball in play and makes things happen. Parker reminds me a bit of Chad Pinder.
JAMES PARKER FOR THE LEAD!!!— Clemson Baseball (@ClemsonBaseball) March 21, 2021
With two outs & two strikes on him, @james_parker15 COMES THROUGH with a three-run blast, his third homer of the weekend! The Tigers now lead 4-2!
E8 || VAT 2, CU 4 pic.twitter.com/znQ8SDsMAd
37. Kristian Cardozo, RHP, 18, Dominican Summer League
Cardozo was one of the gems from the 2020 international signing period for the Mariners, earning a big bonus out of Venezuela. He didn’t strikeout many batters in 44.2 innings in the DSL this season, but hitters did have a tough time squaring him up. The fastball touched 91. He features a changeup and a slider as well, though at 18 years old, he’s still in his infancy in terms of development.
38. Juan Pinto, LHP, 17, Dominican Summer League
Just 17 years old, Pinto has yet to pitch for the organization but evaluators absolutely love the clay here. A 6-foot-3-inch lefty with long, lanky levers and impressive fluidity on the bump, Pinto looks like a starting pitcher through and through. He’ll likely debut in the DSL in 2022 and could find time in the ACL should the stuff be advanced for the level.
Venezuelan LHP Juan Pinto is another projectable arm in Seattle’s system. The southpaw is 6’3” and is hitting 90mph on the radar gun. To go with the fastball, Pinto demonstrates a curveball with good depth. pic.twitter.com/wmdvdhX8XS— Tyler J. Spicer (@tylerjspicer) January 21, 2021
39. Michael Limoncelli, RHP, 21, Arizona Complex League
After missing 2019 and 2020 with Tommy John, Limoncelli, a 2019 draftee out of New Jersey, finally debuted this season and posted impressive numbers. He punched out a ton of batters, though he struggled mightily with walks. A fastball up to 94 with a big, 12-6 curveball, Limoncelli has swing-and-miss stuff. But he’ll need to find the zone more in 2022.
40. Isaiah Campbell, RHP, 24, High-A Arkansas
It’s been a difficult road for Campbell who’s been slowed by any number of ailments in his Mariners career. He missed much of the 2021 season after having minor elbow surgery, though when he was on the mound things looked pretty good. Campbell will be 24 next season in High-A Everett where he’ll need to show improved durability and miss some more bats.
41. Natanael Garabitos, RHP, 20, Arizona Complex League
Garabitos is a 20-year-old relief arm who touched 100.4 mph this season. He pretty effortlessly sits 95-98, significant arm strength for a kid his age. He produced a lot of swings and misses this season, though walks were an issue. He will likely jump to Modesto in 2022.
42. Dayeison Arias, RHP, 24, Double-A Arkansas
Arias has been as consistent a performer as you can find in the organization the last few seasons. He’s a relief profile who touched 99.4 mph this season with a wipeout slider though his command for the breaking ball can waver. Now 24 years old, Arias figures to head back to Double-A Arkansas next season, though he could be a quick mover.
43. Devin Sweet, RHP, 25, Double-A Arkansas
Sweet moved out of the rotation this season and into a bullpen role where his stuff seemed to tick up. The fastball touched 95, though his changeup is likely the best in the organization. It’s got plenty of conviction and heavy parachuting action. Sweet’s best role will be as a low-leverage reliever/long relief where his three-pitch mix and unique changeup will play best.
Straight filth from Devin Sweet. pic.twitter.com/WU0PTHihec— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 13, 2021
44. Aaron Fletcher, LHP, 24, Triple-A Tacoma
Kelenic once called Fletcher the most difficult player he’s ever had to play catch with as “he couldn’t throw a ball (without movement) to save his life.” Fletcher’s stuff ticked down a peg in 2020 and it hasn’t quite come back yet. He’s had trouble missing bats in Tacoma despite a decent ERA. His deception and slider have trended in the wrong direction. Still on the 40-man roster, 2022 will be an important year for Fletcher.
45. Edryn Rodriguez, 2B/SS, 18, Dominican Summer League
A 2019 international free agent signing, Rodriguez is a diminutive switch-hitting middle-infielder with an exceptional hit tool. He hit five homers in the DSL this season, a fairly surprising total for a kid of his stature. He didn’t strikeout much, drew a ton of walks and impacted the baseball. He’ll be a very intriguing name to watch in the ACL in 2022. This one is a bit of a sleeper.
46. Axel Sanchez, SS, 18, Dominican Summer League
Like Rodriguez, Sanchez was a 2019 international signing who plays shortstop. He’s got very good hands and a strong arm. The body projects a bit more punch than Rodriguez, though most evaluators don’t believe he’ll be a power threat. Sanchez does everything pretty well, his bat-to-ball skills being his most refined trait.
47. Collin Kober, RHP, 26, Double-A Arkansas
Kober has some similarities to Steve Cishek in that he’s a side-arm sinker/slider guy who does a good job getting whiffs on a sweeping breaking ball. Kober is generally only 87-90 mph with the sinker, relying heavily on deception and his unique delivery to throw off hitters. 26, Kober will head to Tacoma in 2022 and has a shot at debuting with a strong Triple-A performance.
Big strikeout by Collin Kober to keep it a 1-run game. pic.twitter.com/MoKjXwN6gH— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 12, 2021
48. Michael Stryffeler, RHP, 25, Double-A Arkansas
Nobody in the organization missed more bats than did Stryffeler in 2021. His 46.6 percent whiff rate comfortably bests all his teammates. Stryffeller touched 99 this season, sitting 94-97 on most nights. He works in a tight slider to keep hitters off-balance. 25 years old, the former undrafted free agent will likely head back to Double-A Arkansas next season, though Tacoma isn’t out of the question.
Perfect 8th for Michael Stryffeler. pic.twitter.com/BxEJzYsjy4— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 19, 2021
49. Charlie Welch, C, 21, Arizona Complex League
Welch is, for all intents and purposes, a bit of a mystery in prospect circles. He was primarily used as a pinch hitter at Arkansas, catching mid-week games with Casey Opitz handling the weekends. When he played, Welch showed off big power and a bit of a flair for the dramatic. Defensively he’s a fringy receiver with fringy, boxy athleticism. Welch pounded the ball in the ACL for Seattle in 2021. He’ll likely head to Modesto in 2022.
CHARLIE WELCH THE PINCH-HIT KING OF COLLEGE BASEBALL pic.twitter.com/G8p0gOdOyz— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 8, 2021
50. Gabe Moncada, 1B/OF, 19, Dominican Summer League
Of all the teenage international signings on this list, Moncada may have the best power. He’s a corner outfield/first base profile with limited athleticism at this point. Still, the bat was, by many measures, the best in the organization in 2021. His 194 wRC+ sits atop the farm system leaderboard. Also of note, Moncada was the only player in the DSL to average north of 85 mph on his batted balls. The strength and raw power is clearly there. He’ll be tested next year as a 20 year old in the ACL, possibly even Modesto.
Just Missed: Tyler Keenan, Patrick Frick, Joe Rizzo, Adrian Quintana, Jimmy Joyce, Spencer Packard, Randy Bednar, Jack Larsen, Jake Scheiner, Juan Querecuto, Bryan Woo