The 2022 season is fast approaching, and the Seattle Mariners minor-league system is among the very best in all of baseball. For an organization desperate to snap a 20-year playoff drought, the influx of high-level talent emerging should play a vital role in their future success.
Last season saw the graduation of top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert. Both players are expected to fill an essential role with the big league club entering 2022. This season, we should get our first glimpse at and a few other key members of the young, exciting core.
It’s worth noting the Mariners have links to three notable prospects in the upcoming international signing period beginning January 15th. Lazaro Montes (Cuba), Michael Arroyo (Colombia), and Martin Gonzalez (Dominican Republic) all possess the necessary upside to be added to this list when eligible. Montes is ranked #8 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 50 international prospects. The slugger has drawn some lofty comparisons and should slot into tier 3 and could work his way into tier 2 with a successful debut season.
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors, but provide minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making their team’s 40-man roster
Levels listed for each player are the highest levels player reached in 2021
1. Julio Rodriguez, OF, 21, AA
Without question, one of the finest hitting prospects that I have ever had the pleasure of evaluating, the righty impacts all aspects of the game. The phenom has underrated athleticism and plays the game with a noticeable joy and passion. His combination of talent, work ethic, leadership qualities, and baseball IQ are rare. Rodriguez is a franchise-altering prospect that has the potential to be a cornerstone player for years to come. His overall skill set is a dynasty building block with a perennial first-round price tag throughout his prime.
2. Noelvi Marte, SS, 20, High-A
It takes a unique talent to keep Marte out of the top spot in any organization. The righty is a legitimate power/speed threat with an above-average hit tool, and he’s just beginning to scratch the surface of his immense upside. Expect him to take a similar path as Julio Rodriguez in 2021, which should have him lined up to make his MLB debut in 2023. Marte is on the shortlist of prospects capable of landing #1 overall over the next couple of seasons.
No doubt about this one from Mariners No. 6 prospect Noelvi Marte. pic.twitter.com/NoOPQag6hC
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 12, 2021
3. George Kirby, RHP, 23, AA
Known for his command/control since being drafted out of Elon in 2019, the righty leaped the upper echelon of pitching prospects when he added velocity to his fastball. Now routinely sitting in the upper-90’s (touched 100.7 mph), he pairs it with an above-average slider, improving curveball and changeup. What makes Kirby extraordinary is a deep arsenal paired with double-plus command. Continued improvements to his secondary offerings and ability to go deeper into starts would put Kirby in rarified air amongst pitching prospects.
4. Matt Brash, RHP, 23, AA
Originally acquired via trade from the Padres, Brash took perhaps the most significant step forward of any prospect in the organization in 2021. The righty possesses a plus fastball that nearly hit 100 mph in 2021 and sits in the 95-98 mph range deep into starts. His double-plus slider is one of the most lethal individual pitches in the Minors. His changeup also flashes potential. With continued improvements to his fastball command, Brash has the potential to be a dynamic starter with electric stuff.
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) September 3, 2021
5. Harry Ford, C, 18, Rookie (ACL)
Selected 12th in the 2021 draft, the prep catcher possesses a combination of plus power and speed, which is rare for the position. His athleticism should allow for a transition to 2B or 3B down the line, should the organization determine his bat is too valuable to risk behind the plate. Ford should begin 2022 in Low-A, with the potential to become one of the premium prospects in the game in a couple of years.
good morning from Harry Ford, the top high school catcher in the 2021 Draft class: pic.twitter.com/TBCx1JIYjr
— Céspedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) March 4, 2021
6. Emerson Hancock, RHP, 22, AA
The 6th pick in the 2020 draft battled through arm fatigue for the second straight year, which limited his innings in 2021. The righty has a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s, which he compliments with a plus slider, plus changeup, and above-average command. Hancock possesses a deep arsenal but needs to improve his ability to miss bats and prove he can remain healthy. There is still time to reach the frontline starter potential he showed coming out of the draft. Considering his draft pedigree and overall skill set, it makes sense to view Hancock as an intriguing buy-low.
7. Brandon Williamson, LHP, 23, AA
The 6’6” lefty from Canada had a breakout season in 2021, led by noticeable improvements to his slider and curveball. Both pitches generated plenty of swing-and-miss, with a fastball that comfortably sits in the 93-95 mph range. Williamson now possesses three above-average pitches. His 14.0 K/9 was the third-best among qualified pitchers in the minor leagues. The lefty should get his first taste of the Big Leagues in 2022. The lefty is a fascinating dynasty target that may be under-appreciated in the big picture.
Nasty breaking ball by Brandon Williamson. pic.twitter.com/dO4B0Xm8UW
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) September 18, 2021
8. Zach DeLoach, OF, 23, AA
The lefty lacks raw upside but makes up for it with a solid, well-rounded skill set. DeLoach has an average hit tool, average power, and above-average speed. The lack of a standout tool will likely keep him on the fringe of the prospect world, but he could have a long career as a player capable of chipping in double-digit homers and steals with a good OBP. Expect DeLoach to spend most of the 2022 season with Triple-A Tacoma, with a late-season promotion in the cards if the team needs reinforcements down the stretch.
9. Gabriel Gonzalez, OF, 17, Rookie (DSL)
The next in a line of high-level international prospects to emerge in the system. Gonzalez was a statistical and scouting standout in the DSL during his debut season. Currently listed at 5’11”, 170 lbs. the teenager is athletic, strong, and should continue adding power as his frame fills out. His ability to make contact, paired with plus bat speed and patience, are great signs for a young player. Gonzalez is a highly recommended dynasty stash that is just scratching the surface of his upside.
10. Jonatan Clase, OF, 19, Rookie (ACL)
Players with plus-plus speed don’t grow on trees. When they pair it with an above-average hit tool, the possibility for fantasy potential is mouth-watering. Clase has worked diligently to add muscle to his growing frame since signing. While he missed time with various ailments in 2021, his electric tools were on display when he was on the field. The speedster reached base 19 times in 57 PA. He was a perfect 16-of-16 in SB attempts, with a pair of homers. Clase will need to show he can handle the rigors of full-season ball, but his upside is tremendous if and when it all clicks.
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) October 8, 2021
11. Alberto Rodriguez, OF, 21, High-A
The lefty is one of my favorite dynasty targets in the organization. Rodriguez quietly had a very nice season in Low-A before getting a late-season taste with High-A Everett. He ended up hitting .289/.379/.470 with 10 HR and 15 SB between the two stops. His ability to hit the ball hard, coupled with a solid approach at a relatively young age, should put Rodriguez on sleeper lists. It’s time to add him in fantasy before he gains more mainstream appeal.
This was the PTBNL the Mariners got for sending Taijuan Walker to the Blue Jays.
Alberto Rodríguez, remember the name ✍️
20 year old outfielder now has 8 homers, 9 stolen bases, and 49 RBIpic.twitter.com/ujdwVayasP
— Certified Sports Cards (Max) (@certifiedcards) August 18, 2021
12. Milkar Perez, 3B, 20, Low-A
Signed as part of the 2018 international class, Perez showed off his above-average hit tool in his debut season stateside. The righty ended up getting a taste of Low-A as a teenager. The third baseman should tap into more power as he matures, but stolen bases will not be a part of his game. Generating more fly balls as he gains strength should be his priority entering 2022.
13. George Feliz, OF, 19, Rookie (DSL)
An athletic signing from the 2019 international class, Feliz had a successful pro debut in the DSL. The righty hit .277/.362/.451, flashing his hit-tool, plate discipline, speed, and more power than anticipated. The outfielder could be a fast-riser next season if the skill set he showed in 2021 translates in his stateside debut. Players with hit tools, speed, and developing power are generally worth the investment. Feliz has ample upside with a very reasonable price tag attached.
14. Edwin Arroyo, SS, 18, Rookie (ACL)
Selected in the 2nd round (48th overall) in the 2021 draft, the switch-hitter was one of the youngest players available. Arroyo then held his own in the ACL upon signing. While he doesn’t project to have any plus tools, he possesses a well-rounded skill set. His defensive capabilities should lead to a high floor and long professional career.
15. Connor Phillips, RHP, 20, High-A
Another intriguing arm on the horizon had a quietly impressive campaign. The righty has a fastball that sits between 93-95 mph (touches 98), an above-average curveball, an average slider, and incorporated a change with potential. Like many young pitchers, the development of his command will determine his ultimate upside. Phillips has very intriguing potential with almost no hype at this stage.
— Baseball Farm (@BaseballFarm) May 4, 2021
16. Cade Marlowe, OF, 24, AAA
The lefty turned heads in 2021 in route to hitting .275/.368/.566, with 26 home runs and 24 stolen bases. However, it comes with the caveat of a 28.0 K% at age-24 in High-A. There is a lot to like here if he reduces his K% while maintaining his power/speed profile in the upper levels. Marlowe should begin the season with Double-A Arkansas and could be an option for the Mariners late if he can handle upper-level pitching.
17. Kaden Polcovich, 2B, 22, AA
The 3rd round pick from the 2019 draft out of Oklahoma State had a productive debut season for High-A Everett but encountered struggles upon promotion to Double-A. He doesn’t have the loudest tools, but the switch-hitter profiles as an OBP asset capable of helping out in stolen bases. His ability to play second base or the outfield increases the chances he makes the MLB roster down the road.
18. Victor Labrada, OF, 21, High-A
The lefty is a top-of-the-order type with plus speed. Labrada plays with passion and displays energy that is hard to miss. He won’t bring much power and will need to keep his K% in check as he climbs the ranks. His ability to take a walk, combined with his ability to steal bases at a high rate, puts Labrada in excellent shape long-term if the hit tool cooperates.
19. Adam Macko, LHP, 21, Low-A
The 7th round pick in 2019 took a step forward with his stuff in 2021 but was limited to only 33.1 innings. The lefty ended up missing time on four different occasions throughout the year. His fastball tops out at 98 mph (sitting 92-95). Macko also uses a plus curve and an above-average slider to round out his three-pitch mix. His ultimate role in the future will largely depend on how far his command develops.
20. Levi Stoudt, RHP, 24, AA
The righty sits comfortably in 92-95 mph range with his fastball but can ramp it up to nearly 99 mph. The development of his command will determine his future role as an impact starter or a high-leverage reliever. As it stands, Stoudt should begin 2022 with Triple-A Tacoma and should get his first taste of MLB action this summer.
21. Starlin Aguilar, 3B, 17, Rookie (DSL)
Part of the 2020-21 international class, the teenage third baseman brings an above-average hit tool with above-average raw power to the table. The righty showed a mature approach at the plate in his debut season. There are many hurdles left to clear, but Aguilar profiles similarly to a young version of Milkar Perez at this early stage in his development.
22. Michael Morales, RHP. 19, Rookie (ACL)
Selected in the 3rd round (83rd overall) in the 2021 draft, the prep arm brings plenty of long-term intrigue. The Mariners signed the righty over-slot to keep him from committing to powerhouse Vanderbilt. Morales currently sits in the lower 90’s with his fastball, but he should add velocity as he matures. Morales has smooth mechanics, pounds the strike zone, and is worth monitoring moving forward.
23. Bryce Miller, RHP, 23, Low-A
Selected in the 4th round of the 2021 draft, the righty from Texas A&M has a plus fastball (95-96 mph), above-average slider, average curveball, and below-average change. If Miller can improve his curve or change while showing growth in command, there is a chance he can carve out a career in the rotation. Evaluators are split regarding his future role, though I like his chances to stick as a starter with four pitches at his disposal.
24. Colin Davis, OF, 22, Low-A
Listed at 6’1” 190 lbs. the righty was a 7th round pick in 2021 out of Wofford. He immediately turned heads with his production, and there are early signs the team got a draft-day steal. Davis has an above-average hit tool and speed, so the building blocks are in place. His lack of power at this stage is a bit concerning, but he has a physical frame that should get to more power as he matures.
25. Taylor Dollard, RHP, 22, High-A
The righty had a little trouble mowing down hitters in Low-A but encountered more pushback once promoted. Dollard lacks in elite fastball velocity, but he makes up for it with a plus slider and command. He also deploys an average curve and change to complete his four-pitch arsenal. Continued improvements to his secondary offerings and limiting flyballs will go a long way towards reaching his potential as a rotation piece.
26. Jose Aquino, LHP, 19, Rookie (DSL)
27. Juan Mercedes, RHP, 21, Low-A
28. William Fleming, RHP, 22, Low-A
29. Sam Carlson, RHP, 23, Low-A
30. Brayan Perez, LHP, 21, Low-A
31. Juan Then, RHP, 21, High-A
32. Kevin Padlo, 3B, 25, MLB
33. James Parker, SS, 21, Low-A
34. Edryn Rodriguez, 2B, 18, Rookie (DSL)
35. Kristian Cardozo, RHP, 19, Rookie (DSL)
36. Gabe Moncada, 1B, 20, Rookie (DSL)
37. Wyatt Mills, RHP, 26, MLB
38. Aaron Fletcher, LHP, 25, MLB
Tier 4 is mostly younger pitching prospects that displayed upside in the lower levels, with a few hitters sprinkled in. Aquino is a teenage lefty that touched 97 mph with 58 K in 39.1 IP in the DSL…..Mercedes took a step forward in velocity and secondary offerings, sitting 92-94 mph, and limiting walks…..Fleming is a 2021 draftee with 4-pitches and a heater that touches 97 mph…..Carlson showed flashes of dominance despite not pitching competitively since 2017…..Perez is a lefty with a steady track record and increased velocity…..Then battled through injuries but his upside as a high-leverage reliever remains intact…..Padlo is a three-true outcome hitter that should see time in the majors in 2022…..Parker is a 2021 draftee with an aggressive approach and excellent contact rates…..Rodriguez is a switch-hitting middle infielder with a plus hit tool and excellent plate discipline…..Cardoza is a high-upside 2020 international signing who touched 91 mph at age-18…..Moncada posted an astounding 194 wRC+ with big power in the DSL and could shoot up this list if it carries stateside…..Mills posted an absurd 16.2 K/9 in 28.1 innings in AAA.
39. Josias De Los Santos, RHP, 22, Low-A
40. Michael Limoncelli, RHP, 21, Rookie (ACL)
41. Natanael Garabitos, RHP, 20, Rookie (ACL)
42. Luis Curvelo, RHP, 20, Low-A
43. Dayeison Arias, RHP, 24, AA
44. Isaiah Campbell, RHP, 24, High-A
45. Juan Pinto, LHP, 17, Rookie (DSL)
46. Axel Sanchez, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
47. Tyler Keenan, 3B, 22, High-A
48. Patrick Frick, SS, 24, AA
49. Devin Sweet, RHP, 25, AA
50. Michael Stryffeler, RHP, 25 AA
Tier 5 consists of a mix of older pitchers who profile as relievers, and utility players or bench bats if they reach the majors…..Pinto is a 6’3″ lefty with a projectable arm that has yet to make his professional debut…..Curvelo improved his reliever stock limiting walks and increasing his K%…..Limoncelli returned from TJS and flashed big swing-and-miss stuff with command issues…..Campbell was limited all season by injuries, but looked good when healthy…..Arias is a reliever with a 99 mph fastball, vicious slider, and occasional command problems…..Sanchez is an international shortstop from 2019 with good bat-to-ball skills……Sweet is a former starter who saw his stuff tick up in a move to the bullpen.