For a team that has graduated or traded Julio Rodriguez, George Kirby, Matt Brash, Jarred Kelenic, Noelvi Marte, and Edwin Arroyo in the last year, you might think the Seattle Mariners would be a bottom-five farm system. However, that’s far from the case as the Mariners seem to have more impact players on the way thanks to the organization’s ability to first identify and then develop talent.
Drafting well is the one part of the equation, as 2021 brought in Harry Ford, Edwin Arroyo, Bryce Miller, and Bryan Woo, and the 2022 class also looks promising with Cole Young, Tyler Locklear, and Walter Ford. Would this be a good time to mention they have three first-round picks (No. 22, 29, and 30) in 2023?
Another huge aspect is the player development side which has taken multiple steps forward as the organization has embraced modern technology and implemented camps such as ‘Dominate The Zone’ which is designed to help pitchers reach their development potential. They won Baseball America’s 2022 Organization of the Year award so I’d say what they are doing is well respected.
Now the system is quite young, but it is filled with upside, and there are a few close to Major League-ready players. The hitters are highlighted by a potential five-tool player and a plethora of uber-young talented bats. If that didn’t excite you, how about a prospect with Esteury Ruiz type speed?
What might be even more impressive is what Seattle has been able to do on the pitching development side. Even with the aforementioned players graduating, they have multiple exciting arms led by Bryce Miller, and Prelander Berroa along with four others spotlighted below. Whatever the Mariners’ secret sauce is for pitching, I’m buying. The contention window is now in Seattle, and they have more talent on the way. The future is bright!
*For consistency purposes throughout the team prospect articles, new international signees are not being ranked. For reference, I have Felnin Celesten ranked sixth.
Seattle Mariners Top Fantasy Baseball Prospects
1. Harry Ford, C
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A): 390 AB/.274 AVG/.425 OBP/.438 SLG/11 HR/23 SB/89 R/65 RBI
Harry Ford was the Mariners’ first-round pick (12th overall) in 2021 out of North Cobb High School in Georgia. The 5’10” 200 lb catcher may be short in height, but he oozes athleticism and physical skills that should help him become a strong fantasy contributor in the future. Through 445 pro at-bats, Ford has shown a quality approach with a good eye (19.4% BB% in 2022), explosive bat speed, and plus speed that plays on the basepaths. Ford projects to have an above-average hit tool and is so athletic with a strong work ethic that he will likely continue to grow into more power, not to mention he will play the entire 2023 season at the fresh age of 20. If that happens, we’re talking about a potential five-category contributor, and you don’t need me to tell you how valuable that is. Ford has the skills to stay at catcher, and while I can’t argue with how a plus offensive profile at catcher can provide flexibility to a lineup, I’d personally like to see a move to the outfield where his athleticism and complete toolset can shine every day. Ford is a fan favorite, and for good reason. While he’s likely two years away, especially if he stays at catcher, he is arguably worth acquiring if the cost is not too astronomical.
2. Bryce Miller, RHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats (RK/A/A+/AA): 133.2 IP/3.16 ERA/1.04 WHIP/163 K
Looking for the next electricity to come out of the Seattle pitching factory? You found him. Bryce Miller climbed three levels in 2022 thanks to an impressive arsenal, growing command, and an easy, repeatable delivery. Miller has one of the best fastballs in the minor leagues due to elite velocity (sits 94-97, touching 100), and extreme ride that blows hitters away. He pairs that with a slider that has major sweeping depth, and there are rumors he has added even more horizontal movement to the pitch this off-season. Miller’s arsenal is rounded out with an above-average cutter that plays well off the fastball/slider combination, a changeup that flashes above-average and has a good feel for, and a curveball he can mix in to show a different look. Previously thought of as a likely reliever, Miller has put those thoughts to bed in 2022, which included a good showing in a hitter-friendly Double-A Texas League (3.20 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, .191 BAA, 61 K’s in 50.2 IP). Miller has the ingredients to be a successful mid-rotation starter and given the development, both he personally, and the organization as a whole have shown, there could be even more upside. I’d try my best to acquire him now before the window slams shut. Major helium coming this season and it could come quickly, make sure you hold on tight.
3. Gabriel Gonzalez, OF
Age: 19/2022 Stats (ROK/A): 252 AB/.321 AVG/.410 OBP/.468 SLG/7 HR/9 SB/51 R/34 RBI
Gabriel Gonzalez marks the first of many Mariners prospects that are extremely young, and have plenty of talent to be excited about. Gonzalez backed up a strong 2021 Rookie Ball performance with more of the same in 2022, which earned him a Single-A promotion before his 19th birthday, and impressed even further by holding his own against the older competition (.286/.400 OBP 14% K% in 126 AB). He profiles as a hit-over-power hitter, but given his age, there’s a lot of time for his body to mature and grow into more power. And even if the power only develops to about average, Gonzalez’s hit tool could still be good enough to carve out a role on the big league team. There’s a lot to like with the bat, potential power, and stolen base contribution upside here, but I don’t think the tools are so elite that he will blaze through the minors in two years. 2026 is probably more realistic so practice patience.
4. Cole Young, SS
Age: 19/2022 Stats (ROK/A): 60 AB/.367 AVG/.423 OBP/.517 SLG/2 HR/4 SB/17 R/14 RBI
Cole Young was the Mariners’ first-round pick (21st overall) in 2022 out of North Allegheny High School in Pennsylvania. Young jumped right into the system showing off his plus bat-to-ball skills making quick work of Rookie Ball. More of the same as he dipped his toes in the Single-A waters with a .385/.422/.538 slash line and as many strikeouts as walks (four) in 39 AB (10 games). Young has a short, quick swing that helps him make a ton of contact, albeit sometimes weak contact, which is something he can look to improve upon. An above-average runner, Young should help contribute to stolen base totals, and likely won’t hit for much power, but there’s time for growth. Not a flashy prospect, but Young has great baseball instincts and arguably the best hit tool in the system. There’s potential for a high-average hitter with 10-15 HR and steals profile.
5. Axel Sanchez, SS
Age: 20/2022 Stats (ROK/A/A+): 251 AB/.283 AVG/.365 OBP/.510 SLG/10 HR/13 SB/42 R/47 RBI
This time last year Axel Sanchez was relatively unknown, fast forward to today and he’s a lot of people’s favorite to continue where he left off from his 2022 breakout season. Sanchez climbed three levels in 2022 displaying plus bat speed, solid bat-to-ball skills, and playing a slick shortstop. Another major contributor to his rise is that the power started to show up in games (10 HR in 251 AB versus 1 HR in 162 AB in 2021) as he was able to get to some pull-side power. How much power is the big question as players of Sanchez’s build (6’0″ 170 lb) are often limited, but he is only 20 years old so it’s far too early to make a final assessment. If the skills continue to develop as they did in 2022, Sanchez could easily be a five-category contributor and one raved about during the 2023 season. I would be trying to acquire him before he becomes more mainstream.
6. Tyler Locklear, 3B
Age: 22/2022 Stats (ROK/A): 123 AB/.285 AVG/.366 OBP/.504 SLG/7 HR/0 SB/19 R/31 RBI
Tyler Locklear was the Mariners’ second-round pick in 2022 out of VCU. The 6’3″ 210 lb third baseman is the definition of a bat-first profile, aka he rakes. Locklear is what you look for in a hitter: someone with plus bat-to-ball skills, the ability to take a walk, and plus bat speed and power. The reason Locklear isn’t higher on this list is that he lacks in most other facets of the game, such as baserunning and defense, which will put pressure on his bat to sustain pro ball success. He likely profiles as a first baseman or even DH, but there’s a good chance for a special bat and approach combination. He’ll be lower on non-fantasy lists, but the hit and power potential create a valuable profile for fantasy.
7. Prelander Berroa, RHP
Age: 22/2022 Stats (A+/AA): 100.2 IP/2.86 ERA/1.16 WHIP/150 K
Prelander Berroa was signed by the Twins in 2016 and came to Seattle in a trade with San Francisco involving Donnie Walton. Berroa is a very intriguing prospect because he has absolutely electric stuff, but has some signs that might point to a future in the bullpen which would limit his overall fantasy appeal. The positives are a nasty fastball-slider combination that is both plus-plus and induces lots of whiffs. The fastball sits in the high 90s and can regularly touch 100, with plus movement. And his slider sits around 88-90 and has two plane break. So why is someone with this great of a 1-2 punch not ranked higher? Because Berroa’s control can still allude him at times (63 walks in 2022) which could spell trouble against better hitters. Also, given his smaller stature of 5’11”, there are questions on if he can handle a starter’s workload (2022 was career innings pitched max at 100.2) but don’t tell that to Marcus Stroman or Johnny Cueto. There’s a chance his stuff is so nasty that he won’t have to control it better to have success at the highest level, but the development of a third pitch or improved control and command would help him reach his ceiling of a mid-rotation starter with strikeout upside. If that fails, he has a good chance to be effective in the late innings. With a stuff-over-command profile, Berroa is in the right organization to help him maximize his skills. I would be buying.
8. Emerson Hancock, RHP
Age: 23/2022 Stats (AA): 98.1 IP/3.75 ERA/1.20 WHIP/92 K
Emerson Hancock, the Mariners’ first-round pick (6th overall) in 2020, is the biggest faller on the list due to injuries and a lack of elite tools, such as stuff or command. To be fair, Hancock has had some tough luck with a lost 2020 season, injuries knocking him out most of 2021, and injuries coming back for more early in 2022. He did manage to stay healthy for 98.1 innings, but he looked pretty hittable, struggled with his command, and didn’t miss many bats (sub K per 9). How much of that is a product of him knocking the rust off is a question that can’t be answered precisely, but maybe he is more of a back-end rotation member rather than the previous number two tag. Hancock did show the ability to generate weak contact so it’s possible that is his pathway to success, but that can be a risky profile against elite competition. Hancock’s changeup is his best pitch which plays into the weak contact, but hinders him in the strikeout department, especially against righties. The range of outcomes is pretty vast for Hancock as some still see the number two upside while others wonder if he’ll ever be able to handle the workload of a starter, let alone have the stuff to compete. 2023 should be a telling season for Hancock’s future role.
9. Bryan Woo, RHP
Age: 23/2022 Stats (RK/A/A+): 57 IP/4.11 ERA/1.32 WHIP/84 K
Bryan Woo was the Mariners’ sixth-round pick in 2021, but the skills are better than that round suggests given Tommy John surgery in April of ’21 likely affected his evaluation. Woo made his return in 2022 showcasing a plus fastball with good velocity and movement, and an above-average slider that can get whiffs. The changeup is a distant third pitch as of now and needs development (or a different third pitch maybe a cutter), as does the command if he wants to be a starting pitcher. There’s a chance we saw some rust coming back from TJ in 2022, so 2023 could show a more refined feel for his arsenal. If he does, there aren’t many other obstacles in Woo’s way to a rotation spot as he has a smooth delivery, a starter’s frame (6’2″ 205 lb), and already two above-average pitches. Woo looks to have reliever risk as of now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see growth with a chance to reach his mid-rotation ceiling.
10. Jonatan Clase, OF
Age: 20/2022 Stats (A): 423 AB/.267 AVG/.373 OBP/.463 SLG/13 HR/55 SB/91 R/49 RBI
Here is the player with insert your favorite speedster’s name speed, Jonatan Clase, or maybe we should call him Flash. Clase packs a ton of speed in his 5’8″ frame, is extremely athletic, and is a lot of fun to watch. The double plus speed is tantalizing, but where Clase’s future lies is likely dependent on how his hit and power continue to develop, which both showed positive signs in 2022. Clase flashed some added strength and upped his HR total from 2 in 2021 to 13 in 2022, and good plate discipline which should help his overall hit tool. There is still some swing-and-miss but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s important to remember how young some of these players are, and how much time there is for skill growth (or regression). With blazing speed as his carrying tool, the floor is probably a fourth outfielder if his hit tool and power don’t develop as he climbs the system ladder. But if he builds on his 2022 season this upcoming year at High-A and above, we could have a fantasy monster on our hands. I’m certainly intrigued, and it might be wise to buy on the potential upside.
11. Lazaro Montes, OF
Age: 18/2022 Stats (DSL): 176 AB/.284 AVG/.422 OBP/.585 SLG/10 HR/3 SB/34 R/41 RBI
Lazaro Montes was signed by the Mariners for $2.5 million out of Cuba, and he’s a good prospect to dream on. Montes is tooled up with plus-plus raw power, good barrel control, and an already big-league body (6’3″ 210 lb) at the age of 18. He showed some plate discipline with a 16% walk rate, but he did also strike out 33% which is more than you’d like to see against that level of pitching. Montes is a big dude so he’ll likely need to tighten up his swing to handle elite stuff and spin, but there’s a lot of time for that. The early returns show a potential power hitter that can stick in a corner outfield spot with an above-average arm. I want to say his future depends on how his hit tool develops, but maybe the power will play regardless. He’s one to be excited about who could rocket up the ranks if he gets off to a hot start.
12. Cade Marlowe, OF
Age: 25/2022 Stats (AA/AAA): 499 AB/.287 AVG/.377 OBP/.487 SLG/23 HR/42 SB/83 R/102 RBI
Unlike most of the hitting prospects on this list, Cade Marlowe is a 25-year-old outfielder that is likely pretty unknown with just 55 at-bats at Triple-A. But this is how you have pop-up prospects every year where they seemingly come out of nowhere. Marlowe backed up his 26 HR in 2021 with 23 HR in 2022 suggesting maybe he could be a 20+ HR bat. Pair that with the above-average speed that plays on both sides of the ball (42 SB) and now he looks like an intriguing power/speed blend if he can make enough contact and maintain his ability to take a walk against elite pitching. While that upside is possible there’s also a chance big league pitching overmatches him, and he might not be good enough defensively to justify a bench role. Marlowe could get a chance as early as 2023, which makes him a potentially interesting late-round or trade option if you want to take a chance on a power/speed threat.
13. Taylor Dollard, RHP
Age: 24/2022 Stats (AA): 144 IP/2.25 ERA/0.95 WHIP/131 K
A fifth-round pick in 2020, Taylor Dollard likely doesn’t have a lot of hype due to his command-over-stuff profile, but he absolutely dominated Double-A hitters in 2022. Even more impressively it was in the Texas league which has very hitter-friendly parks, good for a league average ERA around 5. Dollard has plus command which helps his four-pitch arsenal play up. He also repeats his delivery well and has a starting pitcher’s frame at 6’3″ and 195 lb which should help him build upon his 2022 innings total (144). Keep an eye on how his fastball velocity develops as a couple more ticks could unlock more levels. He’s in a good organization for it to be a possibility. However, if low-90s ends up being Dollard’s velocity cap, he will need to maintain his plus command to have success against elite hitters and reach a back-end of the rotation role. There’s a lot here that you look for in a future starting pitcher. The command, pitch ability, and organization development potential provide some intrigue.
14. Michael Arroyo, 2B
Age: 18/2022 Stats (DSL): 153 AB/.314 AVG/.457 OBP/.484 SLG/4 HR/4 SB/46 R/22 RBI
Michael Arroyo signed for $1.3 million in 2022 and played well in his first action of pro ball. Arroyo will play all of 2023 at age 18 so he is still very young, but early signs point to good bat-t0-ball skills and feel for the zone (13.6% BB% to 16.6% K%) which could make for an above-average to plus hit tool. His frame and approach suggest he’ll be below average in the power department, but there’s time for adjustments. Arroyo’s average range and arm likely profile better at second base, which would put more pressure on the bat. There’s enough skill in the hit tool to be intrigued, and keep an eye on how the power develops.
15. Walter Ford, RHP
Age: 18 – Did not play in 2022
Walter Ford, one of the youngest players in the draft, was the Mariners’ 74th overall pick in 2022. Ford didn’t debut in 2022, but possesses raw tools that you look for in a future rotation member. Ford has the makings of a plus fastball with already plus velocity (mid-90s) and movement, an out-pitch to get whiffs in his slider, and shown flashes of a solid changeup. His command is solid, especially for his age, and he already has a starter’s frame with room for physical maturity. We’re probably looking at a long development process, and that is why he is ranked where he is. But those development tracks seem to be shortening for special talents, and there is a lot to like in Ford’s profile, with upside of a number two starter. He could be one that rises up my ranks when it comes time for an update.
Featured image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)