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Seattle Mariners 2022 affiliate preview: Low-A Modesto

Harry Ford highlights the most exciting affiliate in the organization

Seattle Mariners on Twitter

It’s that time of year where we bring you an overlook of every Mariners MiLB affiliate for the upcoming season. In previous years we’ve started at the lowest levels of the system and worked our way up, but this year we started in the high minors and worked our way down, due to the opening of the Triple-A season back on Tuesday and the slow release of official rosters due to Major League spring training running right into the opening of the minor-league season. So far we’ve covered:

If you’ve already read those, hey thanks! And also, you might want to go back and check them again; we’ve been updating the rosters as we’ve continued to get official announcements of who’s where, which has called for a lot of strikethrough text. We’ll continue updating these until they reach some form of stasis when the season is well underway, but right now players are still filling in at various levels and the overall outlook is somewhat murky. Opening Day for all MiLB levels A - AAA is this Friday, April 8 (the ACL and DSL will open later this summer, and we’ll bring you roster previews of those when it’s time).

If you’ve been reading the FanPosts you’ll have seen that Ian Wiltamuth did a roster preview for each level based on some observations with specific info on each of the players; we won’t be going as in-depth on every player as Ian did, so definitely give his articles a look. We’ll link to the relevant one in each preview.

2022 Everett AquaSox

Link to Ian’s Preview

2021 Season in Review:

Modesto finished last season with a 64-51 record, which left them outside the two-team postseason because of the excellent seasons from Fresno and San Jose. Modesto was home to Noelvi Marte for much of his first full season playing stateside, and his strong play, along with childhood best friend Alberto Rodríguez, kept Modesto in games even after the pitching staff was depleted by promotions. The move to make Everett the Hi-A full-season squad means that Modesto will be the first spot to see many of the Mariners top prospects make their debuts in an actual game for the organization. We’ll get to it, but that means that Modesto probably has the most fun roster of the entire farm system. with the style to match.

Modesto Nuts on Twitter

Schedule:

The Nuts open the season tomorrow, April 8, at home against San Jose. They will have Mondays off the entire season while playing a single team in a six-game series that takes place Tuesday-Sunday. The all-star break is July 18-21. The Nuts wrap things up at home against Stockton on September 11. While the promotion schedule isn’t as robust as some of the other clubs in the organization, the Nuts feature Pups & Pints night every Thursday home game, which, like the name implies, allows people to bring their dogs to games. You can keep all the fireworks nights, just let me see dogs at baseball games and I’ll be happy. The full schedule can be found here, with the promotions included. Ticket information can be found here.

Coaching Staff:

We covered new Modesto manager Austin Knight, and the rest of his staff, here.

Roster:

Our longstanding site-wide nightmare is finally over! We finally got an official roster announcement Wednesday afternoon, approximately 32 hours prior to the Nuts taking the field for the first time, and boy was it worth the wait. This team is extremely fun on paper and I am already lowkey just looking into the logistics of getting from Seattle to Modesto to watch Harry Ford, Edwin Arroyo, Michael Morales, Jonathan Clase, and Milkar Perez all play on the same team together.

Infielders:

Edwin Arroyo, Amador Arias, Milkar Perez, Robert Perez Jr., Ben Ramirez

It is me, conductor of the Edwin Arroyo hype train. The Mariners have a history of not having the most exciting draft strategy, which is fine, I guess, in some cases. George Kirby looks like he is going to be a good baseball player, but that strategy makes the legitimate swings they do take that much more intriguing. Harry Ford fits that description too, but drafting him #12 overall didn’t feel as shocking as drafting an 18-year-old shortstop out of Puerto Rico with a second-round pick. To put Arroyo’s age into context, he was born approximately three months after Finding Nemo came out. I may be completely wrong on this, but Arroyo’s solid defense paired with athleticism and a good enough hit tool give him the potential to skyrocket up prospect rankings a year from now. Perez, a 2018 international signing, has a chance to place himself solidly in the top ten in the Ms organization if he can do anything close to his outstanding 2021 season. Perez had a .455 OBP across ACL and Modesto last season, aided by an excellent 20.7 BB%. The rest of the infield is rounded out by three speedy and versatile defenders who can play all over the diamond, who need to take a jump offensively to remain important parts of the organization beyond 2022.

Outfielders:

Randy Bednar, Walking Cabrera, Jonathan Clase, Colin Davis, Brett Rodriguez

Bednar and Cabrera are both new faces to the Mariners organization over the last year who impressed in 2021. After a solid career at Maryland, Bednar joined Seattle as an undrafted free agent. He posted a .437 OBP in his first season in the organization in limited playing time. Bednar ran an 18.4% BB%. Cabrera came over from the Rockies system in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December. Last season he posted 11 steals in the ACL. This will be his first test stateside. Speaking of fast outfielders getting their first playing time in affiliated ball stateside, I am so excited for Jonathan Clase. Clase grades out as a 70-grade runner and has stolen 47 bags in his first 77 games as a pro. His speed will make it easier to find a spot for him going forward, but Modesto will be an excellent test for the switch-hitter to see if his bat is up to par against a higher level of competition. Two Wofford College alums round out the outfield in Davis and Rodriguez. Calling Rodriguez an outfielder is actually a gross mischaracterization, as he played five different positions last year. During the off-season, Rodriguez played in the Puerto Rican Winter League, which we absolutely love to see. He was also a member of Team Puerto Rico during the Caribbean Series. Davis, a 2021 7th round draft pick, posted a 128 WRC+ last season in Modesto. It would not be a shock to see him in Everett without much delay if he gets off to a strong start with the Nuts; he’ll likely bring his pal Davis along, as the 2021 draftee transitioned to Modesto from the ACL last year without a hiccup.

Catchers:

Harry Ford, Freuddy Batista

It’s not a huge stretch to call Harry Ford the most exciting Mariners first-round pick in the better part of a decade, with all due to respect to the hype train surrounding Kyle Lewis after he won the Golden Spikes Award. Ford is such a departure from the last few years of Mariners draft picks because he is 1. a position player and 2. was not allowed to go celebrate getting drafted by going out for a drink because he is still a teenager. Ford is the face of the next wave of prospects for the Mariners in a farm system that is overwhelmingly top-heavy. This whole group’s progress, but Ford, in particular, will be a key indicator if the Ms can sustain the level of success they have built on the farm the last few years. As for Ford himself, he is a tremendous athlete with a bat that should play, a 150 WRC+ in the ACL, even if he eventually moves off the catcher spot. Batista came over from the Dominican Republic in 2016. He absolutely raked in his very short time in Modesto last season, a 1.145 OPS, but even his full-season OPS of .867 isn’t too bad for a backstop. He will benefit from getting a full season down in Modesto, but as a team leader, translator, and beloved defensive catcher and pitcher-whisperer, Batista’s value is beyond what he provides in the box.

Starting Pitchers:

Riley Davis, Josias De Los Santos, Jimmy Kingsbury, Michael Morales, Raul Alcantara (LHP), Joseph Hernandez, LHP Holden Laws

Things get very squishy at this level regarding who’s a starter and who’s a reliever, but a few names jump out: Michael Morales was the Mariners’ third-round pick in 2021, when they shocked the world and went for three preps in a row. The Mariners are incredibly high on Morales, from both a talent and pitch design standpoint, and he’s earned Walker Buehler comparisons in the organization. Kingsbury, a 2021 17th rounder, started in Modesto last year; the Mariners like the Villanova’s grad polish and ability to throw strikes, and he’s likely ticketed for Modesto for a good time not a long time. Davis, another 2021 draftee, hasn’t pitched at all in pro ball yet, but worked as a starter at Alabama (Birmingham), so we’ll put him in the rotation for now. De Los Santos is about to start his third straight assignment at Modesto, where he’ll work on improving a wretched K-BB ratio of just over 4%; he’ll likely see spot starts or maybe a move to the bullpen. Alcantara, Hernandez, and Laws all split time between starting and long relief last season.

Relievers:

Jorge Benitez (LHP), Juan Burgos, John Creel, Tyler Driver, William Fleming, Natanael Garabitos (LHP), Jordan Jackson, Juan Mercedes, Andrew Moore, Kelvin Nuñez, Yeury Tatíz

There’s a lot of firepower in this bullpen. Tatíz sits at 95 with a plus slider; the big-bodied Mercedes was at 92-94 but has added velocity; Garabitos can crank it up to 97. Jackson, a 2021 draftee, has no pro ball experience yet, but at 6’6”, it’s safe to assume he’s a tough look for hitters. John Creel is another new name to the organization, as an undrafted free agent who comes out of the well-regarded Tread Athletics program.

MLB Pipeline Mariners Top 30 Prospects at this level:

Ford (5), Edwin Arroyo (9), Perez (13), Clase (20), Morales (29) Fleming (30)

MLB Pipeline Top 100 Prospects at this level:

Ford (93)