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Top 50 Mariners Prospects: No. 16-30

A heaping helping of 2021 draft picks plus starting pitchers with some ceiling

The Seattle Mariners farm system is arguably deeper than it has ever been and much of that can be attributed to promising draft selections over the past few years, as well as successes on the international signing front. Jerry Dipoto and Co.™ have done a good job identifying players with leverageable tools that help their ascent through the system. A focus on finding players with a mature process at the plate has filled the system with guys that present a high floor as their development moves up the ladder.

On the pitching side, walks were a bit of a bugaboo for some of the system this year, but that’s to be expected from players that aren’t premier prospects.

The guys in the 16-30 range all present exciting promise in one way or another. Most are on the younger side, with those in the upper minors a tweak away from reaching a big league role.

The Top 15 prospect will publish tomorrow morning. You can find players 31 through 50 HERE.

30. Kevin Padlo, 3B, 25, MLB

Padlo is a three-true-outcome player with impressive raw power but swing-and-miss concerns that thwart his total offensive package. He does have a good eye at the plate, drawing plenty of walks, but he’ll likely never be a hitter at the highest level. Still, it’s hard to ignore his 2021 season. Padlo was the only player in the organization to rank inside the top 15 in both K% and BB%. That earned him a September cup of coffee.

Padlo is currently on the 40-man roster and may be subject to tough decisions this offseason as the Mariners look to add free agents and protect other players from the Rule 5 draft. The 24-year-old showed extremely well in his 85 plate appearances for Tacoma, making what might have previously been a little easier decision one that requires more thought this offseason.

29. Jonatan Clase, OF, 19, Arizona Complex League

Clase missed most of the 2021 season with various bumps and bruises, though when he was on the field his electric tools were on full display. Clase stole 16 bags in 14 games and added two homers for good measure.

Strikeouts and swing-and-miss plagued Clase in his limited looks this season, though with such an abbreviated sample size, it’s hard to buy too hard into that. He’ll be 19 years old in 2022 where he’ll likely repeat the Arizona Complex League with a full-season debut in Modesto likely at some point.

28. Wyatt Mills, RHP, 26, MLB

Mills won’t be 26 years old anymore when the 2022 season commences, but as for today, he qualifies for the list. Despite his seldom use at the big league level, Mills has been nothing short of un-hittable in Tacoma, posting some of the most outrageous batted-ball (or not batted, in this case) data out there. Over 28.1 Triple-A innings this season, Mills punch out out 47.2 percent of the batters he faced, good for a 16.20 K/9 rate. Both of those comfortably sit at the top of the organization.

Mills is a ground ball pitcher who avoids damage and hard contact. He gets ahead of hitters and isn’t afraid of pitching backwards. Mills gets a ton of strikes looking. He’s been up to 98 mph. He has the makings of a mid-leverage reliever. Next season will be a big one for the former Gonzaga standout. Like Padlo, Mills is one to watch in the 40-man roster crunch this winter.

27. Sam Carlson, RHP, 23, A-Ball Modesto

2021 was a resounding success for Carlson, the Mariners second round pick in 2017. After three years lost by way of injury and COVID, Carlson finally took the bump again this season. Despite not having pitched an inning since 2017, Carlson logged the third-most innings (100) of any pitcher in the organization. He touched 96, but settled in the low 90s most nights. His curveball, slider and changeup all flashed at times.

Carlson, 23 next season, will make the jump to High-A Everett where his development will continue. The body and athleticism are every bit that of a big league starting pitcher, but he’ll need to miss more bats going forward and limit the walks. That said, I’m not sure you could ask for anything more from a guy who’s traveled his road.

26. William Fleming, RHP, 22, A-Ball Modesto

The Mariners eleventh round pick out of Wake Forest, Fleming was largely overshadowed by Ryan Cusick in school but made his presence known after his organizational debut. Fleming really filled up the zone this season boasting one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios on the farm over 22 innings. The 6-foot-6, long-bodied righty was up to 97 with a changeup and two breaking balls that flashed at times. He works in a conventional four seam fastball, but his better heater comes in the form of a sinker that plays well off his tight slider.

Fleming has the building blocks of a future starting pitcher at the next level. He’ll be 23 years old during the 2022 campaign, so it’s likely he’ll begin his season in Everett after getting a taste of Modesto this year.

25. Juan Mercedes, RHP, 21, A-Ball Modesto

Signed as an international free agent in 2017, Mercedes is a 21-year-old righty with burgeoning velocity and secondary stuff ticking up in the right direction. Over 63.1 innings with Modesto this season, Mercedes posted a 2.42 ERA and a 4.03 xFIP. He punched out 88 batters, really changing the narrative as to what kind of pitcher he is moving forward.

Mercedes touched 96 this season, sitting 92-94. He works in a firm, tight slider and a fading changeup against lefties to get his whiffs. He ranked inside the top twelve in the organization inducing swing-and-miss. Maybe most important for his future, Mercedes really limited walks this season.

Most of Mercedes’s damage this season came by way of the homer. If he can continue pounding the zone and his secondaries tick up a notch, he could move quickly. He’ll likely open 2022 in Everett.

24. Victor Labrada, OF, 21, High-A Everett

Labrada is a top-of-the-order spark plug with plus speed and solid bat-to-ball skills. Often compared to Guillermo Heredia, Labrada has more development in front of him than Heredia did when he arrived, though the final package may end up similar. Labrada plays with his hair on fire and can handle centerfield. He’s at least a plus runner with good instincts and the ability to steal bases, even if he can get a little overanxious in that regard.

Labrada will need to cut down his swing-and-miss and his strikeout totals next season should he hope to continue letting his tools talk and climbing his way up the ladder. He’s a good bet to repeat Everett and make the jump to Arkansas at some point next season.

23. Jose Aquino, LHP, 19, Dominican Summer League

Aquino signed with Seattle as an international free agent in 2018 alongside Noelvi Marte. 18 years old for most of 2021, Aquino really impressed both in terms of stuff and performance. Over 8 starts and 39.1 innings, Aquino posted a 3.02 xFIP with 58 strikeouts.

At 6-foot-3, 184 pounds, Aquino is starting to grow into his adult body and athletic markers are tantalizing. He’s got long levers and really works down the mound well. The lanky lefty touched 97 this season and worked 91-94, generating the fifth-best whiff rate in the organization at 40.5 percent. Aquino has good spin metrics and throws enough strikes as a 19-year-old to project a starting-caliber arm in the future. Seattle could potentially be aggressive with Aquino in 2022 and start him in Modesto.

22. Starlin Aguilar, 1B/3B, 17, Dominican Summer League

Aguilar, like many of the other first-timer debuts for the Mariners organization, really impressed with his plate approach and hit tool in 2021. Striking out at an 18.9 percent clip and walking 13.5 percent of the time is a good potential sign of things to come. Aguilar got a little unlucky with the BABIP this season, but his swing metrics and contact rates are strong. Aguilar didn’t show for a ton of power this year, but most agree he’ll develop some juice as he matures.

Aguilar has the swing speed, fluidity, and mature approach at the plate necessary to become an impact hitter at the highest level. He’s got a long ways to go, but the Rafael Devers-lite comparisons aren’t for nothing. That said, it’s unlikely he’d see Seattle before 2025 or so. A big-bodied corner infielder, there will be plenty of pressure on his bat as the supplementary tools aren’t quite as loud as the bat may end up being, Aguilar figures to debut in the ACL next season as an 18-year-old.

21. George Feliz, OF, 19, Dominican Summer League

Feliz has all the makings of a centerfielder once fully-developed thanks to a lean, rangy body and some of the best athleticism from his signing class. He put those tools on display in his first taste or affiliated ball this season, posting a .286/.360/.468 slash. Maybe most impressive, the five homers hit by the 2019 signing, generally not considered a power hitter at this stage.

Feliz gets high marks for his hit tool, and it was quite evident why this season. His 22.1 percent K-rate and 23.5 percent whiff rate are both very healthy. Feliz came as advertised in 2021 and he’s set to debut stateside as a 19-year-old next season.

20. Colin Davis, OF, 22, A-Ball Modesto

Davis and fellow draftee Corey Rosier are strikingly similar, though the latter gets a slight nod in that he’s a little younger and just a touch faster. Still, Davis put on a show of his own this season after being selected by Seattle in the seventh round.

Davis posted the third-best strikeout percentage in the organization this season at 13.1 percent and was one of just five players to walk as many times as he struck out. His .313 average places him inside the top twelve for the system. He’s a plus runner with base-stealing instincts, and at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he’s got a more physical frame than Rosier. Still, power isn’t in his profile just yet. That will need to come with more development. Davis will turn 23 before the 2022 season kicks off. He figures to start his year in Everett.

19. Corey Rosier, OF, 22, A-Ball Modesto

Seattle may have found a diamond in the rough in their twelfth round selection out of UNC-Greensboro. Rosier is a speedster in centerfield and shows good instincts and routes to the ball, capable of handling the position long-term. But it’s Rosier’s bat that has everyone talking.

Posting a .380/.451/.570 slash over 144 plate appearances, Rosier led the entire organization in batting average. He also ranked inside the top ten in K-rate, showcasing exceptional discipline. Rosier won’t blow you away with exit velocities, but his 22.4-percent whiff rate is certainly impressive and good for twelfth-best in the organization. He’s got wheels too, adding 13 stolen bases in just 32 games.

Rosier has some thump at the plate, but he’s going to stoke his prospect pedigree through blistering baseballs into the gaps and stealing bases once he gets on base. A middle-of-the-field speedster, Rosier has the chance to be a dynamic table-setter should his development continue in this linear fashion. 22 years old, Rosier will likely start next season in Everett.

18. Taylor Dollard, RHP, 22, High-A Everett

The Mariners’ fifth round pick in 2020, Dollard burst onto the scene this season posting 105 innings across Modesto and Everett. That total was the second-most in the organization, trailing only Darren McCaughan’s 108.1 total innings.

Dollard dominated A-ball over 7 starts but scuffled a bit upon arriving to High-A. The long-levered righty features a fastball that sits in the low 90s, up to 94, as well as a curveball and a changeup. But his bread and butter is a huge sweeping slider that can be brutal on right-handed hitters, especially when Dollard throws enough strikes get ahead and use it as a weapon. Homers and keeping the ball on the ground were an issue for Dollard in 2021, something he’ll need to improve upon should he hope to take the next step in 2022. The 22-year-old will likely start next season repeating Everett.

17. Edwin Arroyo, SS, 17, Arizona Complex League

Arroyo was one of the youngest players available in the 2021 MLB Draft. A second round pick by Seattle, Arroyo logged 86 plate appearances in the ACL as a 17-year-old, holding his own. Arroyo drew his walks and showcased promising bat-to-ball skills against more advanced competition.

A switch-hitter, Arroyo is better from the left side of the plate with better bat speed. He’s got a little bit of juice in the bat right now, though scouts believe he could eventually develop into a guy that gets to double-digit homers as a big leaguer. Arroyo is revered as an above average defender with an absolute howitzer for the position. He’ll likely start 2022 at the complex level again, though a promotion to Modesto at some point is probably likely.

16. Bryce Miller, RHP, 23, A-Ball Modesto

The Mariners fourth round selection in 2021, Miller is a divisive pitching prospect who some believe is destined for a relief role while others believe in the whole package as a starter. I have Miller a definitive starting pitcher prospect and had him a Top 100 prospect in the 2021 draft, and for good reason. The fastball has been up to 99 with a supplementary slider, curveball, and changeup, all of which flash above average at times. The fastball more commonly sits 95-96. Miller threw a ton of innings for Texas A&M in 2021 and thus didn’t throw much for the Mariners this season.

When it comes to identifying prospects, I look for outlier data, and Miller’s arsenal is just simply different. His stuff is disgusting. The fastball shape is elite, routinely sitting north of 21 inches of induced vertical break. His fastball has more hop and ride than Logan Gilbert’s heater. In fact, in terms of pure shape, Miller metrically has one of the best fastballs in all of baseball.

The slider is thrown hard and firm, touching the high 80s with tight, short break. The changeup has good shape with darting fade. Command for the changeup isn’t there yet, but the ceiling here is a starter with a double-plus fastball and two above average secondary offerings.

Skeptics believe Miller’s fastball command wavers and his arm action is too long to sustain a rotation role over long innings. Believers point to the track record at Texas A&M, as well as feel for four pitches. Miller was a senior when he was drafted, so he’s already 23 years old. Don’t be surprised if Miller sees a meteoric rise a la Drew Rasmussen from the Rays this season. Rasmussen, a Puyallup native, was a sixth round senior draftee out of Oregon State in 2018. Now he’s part of a playoff rotation in Tampa. Miller will likely start 2022 at Everett where he’ll have the chance to cement himself into a big workload as a starter. Look for this guy to potentially get to Arkansas quickly.