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Mariners reportedly call up 2020 1st round pick RHP Emerson Hancock to debut Wednesday

Seattle’s highest draft pick since Alex Jackson has arrived.

Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers minor leaguers Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Seattle Mariners are calling up RHP Emerson Hancock, per reporting by trustworthy MLB insider Robert Murray of Fansided. Shannon Drayer of 710 AM Seattle Sports has confirmed the report, while Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times has noted the club will likely make the move official on Wednesday. Seattle’s 2020 first round pick was selected sixth overall, following Seattle’s 68-94 performance in the 2019 season. The former University of Georgia Bulldog was in consideration for the number one overall pick but fell to the M’s due to injury concerns and the lack of track record exacerbated by the shortened 2020 college season.

As a pro, Hancock has had success, albeit rarely dominance, finishing the 2021 season at Double-A Arkansas and proceeding to spend all of 2022 and 2023 thus far at the level. The 24-year-old has a 4.32/4.08/4.68 ERA/FIP/DRA in the Texas League in 98.0 IP this year, with numbers balanced by pitching in one of the most pitcher-friendly home parks in professional baseball, but a league that is overall a hitter’s delight everywhere else. That’s represented by Baseball Prospectus’ Deserved Run Average, which has him at a 4.68 as listed above but accounting for the league and run environment, a DRA- of 87, 13% better than Texas League average.

Hancock’s numbers are somewhat confounding in 2023. He’s made 20 starts, four of which have seen him allow 6+ runs, for a total of 31 earned runs in 10.2 innings with a catastrophic K-BB of 11-14. In Hancock’s other 15 starts, he’s allowed 16 earned runs, never more than 3 in any single outing, across 87.1 frames with a K-BB of 96-24. Which Hancock are the Mariners going to be getting? They certainly hope the latter, and with a solid start Hancock could be well on his way to being the best big leaguer from UG in history.

The righty has tinkered with his delivery plenty as he and the M’s have attempted to get more bat missing out of his repertoire, but the righty works in the low to mid 90s, getting significant run on his four-seamer that he attempts to work up in the zone these days. His best options are a sharp biting slider and a changeup that roughly mirrors the pitch with arm side movement instead. All of this comes, typically, with above-average command, and while Hancock is not the strikeout pitcher that Bryce Miller or Bryan Woo have been, Hancock’s easy, fluid release and 6’4, athletic build make it easy to see how Hancock has still the makings of a mid-rotation starter.

Based on current reporting, it seems likeliest that Hancock is being called up to start Wednesday’s game against the San Diego Padres, allowing the Mariners to shuffle their rotation and get some extra rest in for their rotation of young starters, including Miller and Woo in particular. To make this move, in addition to a likely demotion for a reliever, possibly Devin Sweet, a 40-man roster spot will need to be cleared, which will likely come in the form of a DFA for one of the relievers in Tacoma or a 60-day IL move for Jarred Kelenic.