The 2023 MLB season is underway, as is the MiLB season for all clubs at the affiliate level, from Low-A to to Triple-A. While the complex leagues in Arizona, Florida, and the Dominican Republic will begin later this summer. We will have our coverage and roundups of these clubs, but to help you as a reader and us as writers focus our coverage, it can be helpful to lay out some specific players we’ll be keeping an eye on. That then brings us to the venerable institution that is a prospect ranking list.
For the list of the Seattle Mariners top prospects as Lookout Landing sees it at the outset of the 2023 season that comes below and in the articles to come, a few things are to be understood.
- This list is a compilation of all our prospect writing team’s appraisals. Some among us may be bigger fans of one player or another, but this grouping is collaborative.
- We have used a Tier system to break up these groups of players. When reading this, please treat players within a tier as roughly on par with one another in our estimation - the gap between player 45 and 34, for instance, is negligible from our evaluation standpoint, whereas the gap from 12 to 2 spans multiple tiers and is far more significant.
- When we use future value (FV), it is meant largely in the way that the term is defined by FanGraphs, albeit with some variation. Players with a lower FV may occasionally check in ahead of a higher-rated player in our estimation, typically because that player is closer to the majors or more likely to reach their best possible big league role (e.g. a steady relief prospect vs. a toolsy, unproven young outfielder). Again, please remember the tier range is more consequential than the specific number ranking.
- There are, frankly, a number of players that could quite easily be considered on par with the Tier 6 group, in particular many of the pitchers still young enough to develop further but unproven and rarely viewable down in the complex in Peoria. If you don’t see a name on this list, feel free to ask in the comments, and also check out the rest of our minor league coverage where we’ll be doing reviews of the farm goings-on all year long!
45. Luis Curvelo, RHP
Age: 22 / B/T: R/R / Signed: 2018 / Final Level in 2022: A+ / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 stat of note: BB% of 12.3%
This was supposed to be a breakout year for Curvelo, fresh off a solid 2021 capped by a strong turn at the Arizona Fall League last summer. And indeed, Curvelo still has the nasty stuff to miss bats, including a wicked slider and a fastball that hangs out in the mid-90s, but he has to reliably get the ball in the zone to induce those whiffs, and he struggled with that in 2022.
FV: 40 - A potential late-inning bullpen piece if he can tame his electric slide-piece. The Mariners have been good at this kind of thing organizationally, but Curvelo has to demonstrate more consistency on the mound to pitch his way out of Everett and back into the org’s good graces in order to keep getting development opportunities. -KP
Luis Curvelo strikes out 2 in the 7th. Frogs up 2-1. pic.twitter.com/m1nDhSuyDj— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) July 27, 2022
44. Logan Rinehart, RHP
Age: 25 B/T: R/R / Drafted: 2019 / Final level in 2022: A+ / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 Stat of note: 13 games started in 2022 was most since first college season at California Baptist University in 2017
Elbows - can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em (your mileage may vary). For Rinehart, it was no doubt invigorating to get back to life with his UCL and elbow functioning properly, as Tommy John surgery wiped out the 2021 season entirely for the promising righty. Rinehart returned strong in June, however, and shredded opposing hitters in Everett with his 92-95 mph four-seam delivered from a nearly fully over-the-top angle. While he utilizes a bevy of off-speed, a firm breaking ball is Rinehart’s best out pitch, with late biting action that dives under bats to help him strike out over 30% of hitters in High-A across 54.1 IP in 2022. The long-levered 6’3 righty mixes in a developing changeup, though the pitch may be scrapped if he makes an expected move to the pen as soon as this season. Rinehart’s health history is pockmarked heavily with arm issues, and have pushed his development timeline back enough to land him in this more muted range of projection.
Logan Rinehart was great tonight. Final line: 5IP, 0H, 0R, 2BB, 9K, 70-46. pic.twitter.com/s5zilWLqLy— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) July 29, 2022
FV: 40 - Middle relief could suit Rinehart well at higher levels, with the potential for more if his velo trends further upwards in shorter outings. The 25-year-old must make up for lost time in Everett and Arkansas this year, as he has an uphill battle to assert his durability once again. -JT
43. Carlos Jímenez, OF
Age: 20 B/T: L/L Signed: 2019 / Final level in 2022: RK (DSL) / MLB ETA: 2027
2022 Stat of note: walked 22.6% of the time in 126 PAs; shares a birthday with your editor-in-chief
The Mariners have been slow-playing Jímenez, sending him back to repeat the DSL after hitting under .200 in his debut pro season, which was delayed a year due to COVID. It’s too bad, because I’m curious about how Jímenez’s three-true-outcomes of the DSL approach plays against better arms. Jímenez loves swatting homers–he had as many in the DSL as monster power prospect Lázaro Montes–and he has a compact, powerful build with quads the size of Christmas hams to go with his explosive swing.
FV: 45 - This is a coward’s grade but we simply don’t have enough information on Jímenez and how his bat will perform stateside; nor do we have any looks at what his fielding is like and if he’s going to stick in center or not. What we do have is some film of him hitting absolute tanks in the DR, so that feels like enough to suggest that even if he has to move to a corner, there’s enough in the bat to keep interest high. -KP
42. Josh Hood, SS
Age: 22 / B/T: R/R / Drafted: 2022 (6th) / Final level in 2022: RK / MLB ETA: 2026
2022 Stat of note: Middle name is “Haggerty”
It’s no coincidence Hood’s middle name is Haggerty, as his strong arm and defensive acumen allow him to play all over the field - a boon for the superutility-loving Mariners. Like Haggerty, who refuses to do the team-supplied USA Today crossword in the cafeteria, preferring the NY Times version, Hood is also a smartypants who was Ivy League Freshman of the Year at Penn in 2019 before the pandemic threw everything upside-down. Hood reportedly has plus raw power with powerful exit velocities; in a brief look this spring he seemed to have good plate coverage with a bat that stays in the zone, but MLB’s draft writeup criticized him for hunting homers too often while at NC State and a 28% K rate in the complex league is less than ideal.
FV: 40 - With the understanding Hood could absolutely follow the path of his namesake grinder and carve out a major-league role as a superutility player provided he can get his plate discipline in order. -KP
Josh Hood is HIM— Modesto Nuts (@ModestoNuts) April 8, 2023
9th inning Granny Smith FTW pic.twitter.com/hIJDikz7Kz
41. Victor Labrada, OF
Age: 23 B/T: L/L Signed: 2019 / Final level in 2022: A+ / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 Stat of note: Stole at least one base against every opposing team he faced.
Speed and its discontents. Labrada is up there with Jonatan Clase and Julio Rodríguez as one of the fastest players in the Mariners’ organization. That’s an unalloyed good, however it has not been enough to help the well-built, albeit pint-sized Cuban surpass High-A. While his arm is average, the majority of the outfield can be covered by Labrada when he takes center field, as he rests on no laurels, hurtling at max effort across the field whenever he laces up, though he can take adventurous routes. The stall of his progression can be chalked up to trouble at the dish, where Labrada is a patient player, at times to a fault as he walks and strikes out at a heightened clip. Labrada has enough power to perhaps post a double-digit total, but is best served defending the strike zone til he reaches base and letting his speed work. At times it seemed Labrada pressed in 2022, as his speed still made him an excellent base runner but overaggression in stealing bags overpowered his efficiency, with 27 successes in 35 tries at High-A.
FV: 40 - All the pieces are still here for a quality 4th outfielder, and despite signing in 2019, Labrada only has two stateside professional seasons. This year will demand better, and hopefully time in Double-A to show greater progress. -JT
40. Gabe Moncada, 1B/3B
Age: 21 / B/T: L/L / Signed: 2018 / Final level in 2022: A / MLB ETA: 2026
2022 stat of note: walk rate of 12.35% over two levels
Signed in 2018’s J2 signing period, Moncada is among the prospects who got stuck in the DSL after the COVID year and then was assigned to repeat the DSL in 2021. He finally made his way to the ACL in 2022 and thrashed the ball in his third go at Rookie ball, but was blocked at first base in Modesto by the organization’s refusal to promote Robert Pérez Jr. and only got the call up to A ball in early August, where he struggled initially to adjust against tougher pitching and then whoops the season was over. Moncada has shown an excellent sense of the strike zone as a young pro, though, walking often and striking out rarely, so the chances of him getting to his above-average power are good, and once he figures out Cal League pitching (hint: it’s bad!), there’s a good chance he could be a breakout star in Modesto. He’s also significantly bigger than his listed 6’2, 175 at this point.
Crushed. Gabe Moncada blasts a game tying solo HR in the 7th! pic.twitter.com/X9JpDo5qDY— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 14, 2023
FV: 40 - “Defensively limited” is a hard label to shake when applied this early and puts significant pressure on the bat, but above-average exit velocities and easy power suggest Moncada’s bat can hold up to scrutiny. If he can live up to the “3B” part of his positional designation even moderately, there’s an even easier path forward here. -KP
39. Jean Muñoz, RHP
Age: 20 / B/T: R/R / Signed: Sept. 2019 / Final level in 2022: RK (DSL) / MLB ETA: 2027
2022 stat of note: struck out 27% of batters faced
The rare DSL repeater, Muñoz hasn’t pitched stateside yet but the team did have him in camp for spring training this year, as they’re high on his raw stuff: a mid-90s fastball and his best pitch, a whiff-getting slider. The question is whether or not he’ll be able to refine a third pitch (currently, an inconsistent changeup) to remain a starter or will slide into relief, where his already strong stuff should play up and accelerate his timeline to the bigs. Muñoz took huge steps in refining his command in his second tour of the DSL, making use of a stutter-step timing mechanism in his delivery that can be filed under the “not weird if it works” category. Now, the challenge of full-season ball awaits.
FV: 45 - Another coward’s grade for another player we haven’t yet seen emerge from the havoc COVID wreaked on the development of some of the youngest players in baseball. It’s always a safe bet to pay attention to the players the organization seems high on, though, and Muñoz fits that bill. -KP
38. Tyler Gough, RHP
Age: 19 / B/T: R/R / Drafted: 2022 (9th) / Final level in 2022: N/A / MLB ETA: 2027
2022 stat of note: Pronounced “Goff” like Jared Goff, or how a British person would refer to the painter of ‘The Starry Night’
The design of Gough’s pitches is fascinating, with the California prep pumping mid-90s heat from a compact, over-the-top delivery that maximizes his high-spin heat with a backspin release. The best off-speed the 19-year-old righty has is a split-change that he throws aggressively already, giving him a bulwark against platoon issues from lefties and eliciting grounders from hitters on both sides of the dish. His two breaking balls lag behind, with a true 12-6 curveball that is at this point a get-me-over pitch that pops out of his hand without great deception or velocity, as well as a slurvey breaker with equal horizontal and vertical break that similarly lacks true firmness or bite. These are, however, the issues many would argue are more than acceptable for a player with Gough’s youth to grapple with, especially given the fleeting number of innings he’s thrown and how many years he’s got before he’ll be expected to make a big league impact.
FV: 40 - Gough is in line with the array of young arms Seattle has taken to drafting beyond the first few rounds throwing overslot money at in recent years, like Michael Limoncelli, Adam Macko, Anthony Tomczak, Dutch Landis, Tyler Driver, and Damon Casetta-Stubbs. -JT
37. Brayan Pérez, LHP
Age: 22 / B/T:L/L / Signed: 2017 / Final level in 2022: A / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 Stat of note: Almost 1/5th of total 2022 runs allowed came in first start of the season
With a diligent work ethic and weight room focus, Pérez’s 6’0 frame has become more muscular, however he has not been able to add the type of bulk and strength to cultivate top-notch velocity. After starting the year with a shorthanded High-A Everett club, Pérez was transitioned back to Low-A Modesto and out of the rotation. The compact lefty relies on a funky, deceptive delivery that comes out close to his torso, with his best pitches a fastball that ranges 88-92 and a sweeping slider that devastates lefties as well as a more vertically dropping curve that helps the young Venezuelan induce tons of groundballs. Paired with plus command, the 22-year-old still has a pathway to a big league bullpen role because of that ability to limit walks and get non-threatening contact on the ground to escape jams. He acquitted himself well despite his youth against quality competition all winter as well in the Venezuelan Winter League for the Cardenales de Lara with a 17-5 K-BB and a 3.79 ERA in 19.0 innings.
Brayan Perez was great today. Final line: 6IP, 3H, 0R, 0BB, 4K, 70-51. pic.twitter.com/HXdWYnaYz8— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 4, 2022
FV: 35+ - Born too late to be a LOOGY, born too early to be a No. 6 starter for an expansion team in 2032 pitching to contact in the Manfred-ball universe. Pérez’s low-velo, bat-finding repertoire carves a narrow pathway to big league bullpen use, but he, alongside the next name on this list and even younger lefty Juan Pinto are the only southpaws we ranked. Opportunities to rise in the system remain. -JT
36. Jorge Benitez, LHP
Age: 24 / T: L / Drafted: 2017 (9th) / Final level in 2022: A+ / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 Stat of note: Struck out 40% of batters in 12 innings at Everett
Benitez is still officially listed at 6’2” and 155 pounds, but those numbers don’t take into account multiple years spent grinding in the Mariners’ weight room and high performance camps, which have given the lithe lefty a more powerful lower half. When Benitez is on, he misses bats with a sweeping slider he can backfoot to lefties and run away from righties, paired with a 93-94 mph fastball he can both sink and run up and away from right-handed batters. But as you might have guessed from these various movement profiles, command can be a real issue and he issues too many free passes. Because his fastball isn’t overwhelming, he can’t just bully batters into strikeouts if the command is fleeting, which can quickly turn into too many ducks on the pond.
FV: 40 - Drafted out of high school in Puerto Rico in 2017, Benitez has always been the baby of his various teams, but he’s now approaching his mid-20s and yet to reach Double-A. Lefty relievers remain valuable, but only ones who can consistently find the strike zone. -KP
Jorge Benitez sends this game to extra innings with a 1-2-3 9th. pic.twitter.com/qUMh1S5OND— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 13, 2023
35. Hogan Windish, 2B
Age: 24 / B/T: R/R / Drafted: 2022 (7th) /Final level in 2022: A / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 Stat of note: 31 RBI in 144 PA
Windish plays the brand of hard-nosed baseball that makes elderly uncles’ hearts thrill, but it was always a relief seeing Modesto put runners on ahead of Windish, the Mariners’ 2022 seventh-rounder. Windish just seems to know what to do on the field, whether that’s driving home runs or playing a capable second base, and does so consistently if not flashily.
Crushed. Hogan Windish blasts a game tying HR in the 8th! pic.twitter.com/wU9u2KSwNI— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 15, 2023
FV: 40 - The kind of gritlord who either claws his way up to the bigs on sheer force of will and Playing The Game The Right Way, or becomes a beloved player-coach on the way up. -KP
34. Kelvin Nuñez, RHP
Age: 23 / B/T: R/R / Signed: 2017 / Final level in 2022: A+ / MLB ETA: 2025
2022 Stat of note: Pitched for four clubs in 2022, from Low-A Modesto
The 2022 season was a whirlwind for Nuñez, who was one of the high-leverage arms for the Modesto bullpen but also was an emergency call-up for the pitching-thin Rainiers, earned a promotion to High-A Everett near the end of the season. To wrap things up, Nuñez spent the winter playing well in a few opportunities with the Aguilas in LIDOM. The Dominican’s profile is not overwhelming, but he has a quality swing-and-miss combo with a heater in the low-to-mid-90s and a power breaking ball. Most of Nuñez’s work has been multi-inning fare, a burden he has handled well. Still, this is a true bullpen profile, with command issues at times flaring up to hold him back from more than a middle relief projection.
FV: 35+ - There are more exciting players in Tier 6, but Nuñez has the sort of straightforward, effective toolset that can climb incrementally to a fringe big league role with steady mastery of one level at a time. -JT
33. Martín González, SS
Age: 18 / B/T: R/R / Signed: 2022 / Final level in 2022: DSL / MLB ETA: 2028
2022 stat of note: 40 K%
Martín González was a major part of the 2022 international free agency class for Seattle. With fluid motions on the dirt and a projectable, athletic frame with room to add muscle, González earned himself a sizable signing bonus of 1.3 million dollars. Signed out of the Dominican, we are still several years away from seeing González in affiliate ball, but the upside is tantalizing to dream on. It would not shock me if González, a true shortstop, shot up prospect rankings in the next few years. Alternatively, it would not shock me if González, who struggled to make consistent contact and lacks considerable power, wasn’t able to make it past the lower levels of the minors. A ton of fun and a name to know for the future, but far from a surefire bet.
FV: 40 - There is considerable upside with González, but we just don’t know enough about where he’s at developmentally. He will be another high-ceiling player the Mariners seem to have in abundance at the lower levels of the minors with the added bonus of plus defensive traits at a premium position. -ME
32. George Feliz, OF
Age: 20 / B/T: R/R / Signed: 2019 / Final level in 2022: ACL / MLB ETA: 2027
2022 stat of note: 31.8 K%
George Feliz is a strong center fielder originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in the 2019 international free agent class. Feliz has struggled to control his strikeout numbers thus far in his brief career and will subsequently be held back until he can get them under control. With plenty of athleticism and a legit shot to stick in center field, there is still plenty of upside in the profile. Whether or not the bat is able to progress will determine whether or not Feliz, the impromptu “headliner” of the 2019 class that saw the Mariners spread out their bonus pool, will realize his full potential.
FV: 35+ - The lack of a carrying tool with an alarming level of K’s makes me worry about Feliz’s ability to stick. There’s still a lot of potential in the player, but the odds of cracking the big leagues dwindled considerably over the course of the 2022 season. -ME
31. Devin Sweet, RHP
Age: 26 / B/T: R/R / Signed: 2018 (UDFA) / Final level in 2022: AA / MLB ETA: 2023
2022 stat of note: 63.8% strand rate.
It’s hard not to root for Sweet, who has already vastly surpassed any expectations as an undrafted free agent out of North Carolina Central University, an HBCU where Sweet was, frankly, a good-but-not-dominant four-year starter. Nearly six years later, Sweet is trying to solve his dinger problem that is the primary barrier between him and a taste of the bigs.
Cardinals load the bases with 1 out in the 5th but Devin Sweet escapes by getting a strikeout & a groundout. 2 strikeouts in the inning. pic.twitter.com/ok0OnYwe6f— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 12, 2023
This is ultimately a velocity issue, as Sweet sits 90-94 with his fastball, and while the pitch has some extra zip at times it has simply been too hittable when it’s in the lower range there for high minors hitters. Sweet has come into 2023 with a bit more bulk in his lower half, hopefully a pathway to improving the consistency of his heater. Moreover, shelving the heater for the most part seems like a winning proposition for Sweet, whose appeal as a prospect stems from two sharp off-speed pitches: a Fernando Rodney-esque spelunking changeup that might as well end up underground it dives so sharply late, devastating lefties and righties both. The hard, tighter slider Sweet is already showing this year is an upgrade on his past variations, a key stride that may help him better flummox righty hitters and take the next step to Tacoma and beyond in 2023.
FV: 40 - Sweet has a two-pitch relief profile, but unlike most arms with that designation, it is his heater that is a largely ineffective pitch. Still, few pitchers can generate the type of movement, deception, and velocity separation on the cambio that Sweet can swing, and with his retooled slider he could sneak into Seattle’s low-leverage bullpen rotation by late in the summer, pending health elsewhere. -JT