2022 Seattle Mariners Top 5 Prospectsby Carter LaCorte February 4, 2022 0 comments
A new dawn of Mariners baseball is on the horizon. This team came close to making the postseason for the first time since 2001, as they had a chance down to the final day of the season. While they were unsuccessful, there is still hope that the team can rebound for 2022. But, they could look very different. Longtime Mariner Kyle Seager called it a career recently. Jarred Kelenic, for long the team’s best prospect, will try to become an established player after a tough rookie season. The farm system looks strong, prompting hope for the not too distant future.
Make sure to check out all of our other MLB Team Top Prospects.
1. Julio Rodriguez, Outfielder
Rodriguez is definitively a top-five prospect in the game, although it seems unlikely at the moment that he debuts in 2022. His magnificent talent propelled him up the prospect rankings in the past. Last year, Rodriguez’s production backed that up. Rodriguez, who turned 21 just over a month ago, split 2021 between High-A and AA. In 74 games combined, he hit 13 home runs with 21 stolen bases, a .347 average, .441 OBP, and a 1.001 OPS.
The thing that makes him so special is his lack of weaknesses. Rodriguez is a five-tool player who, along with Kelenic, can transform the next decade of Mariners baseball. His counting numbers in the minor leagues were nothing outstanding but would look a lot better if you pro-rate them.
2. Noelvi Marte, Shortstop
Marte is in that talent range of Rodriguez, although he is yet to have that outstanding minor league season that sets him apart from the rest. That is not to say that Marte has struggled in the low minors. As a 19-year-old in his second minor league season, he spent most of the season at Single-A Modesto. He hit 17 home runs with 23 stolen bases, a .368 OBP, and an OPS of .831 in 99 games.
Just like Rodriguez, Marte also has the pro-rated numbers that propel him. Given his young age and inexperience beyond Single-A, it will be a good amount of time until we see Marte on the big club. For now, he will be the constant at the top of the Seattle prospect board as others graduate.
3. Emerson Hancock, RHP
The sixth overall pick in 2020 out of Georgia, Hancock may not sound like a future MLB pitcher, but he has the pedigree. He only made 12 starts in his first professional season, but at High-A and AA, they were at a high level for a recent draft pick.
Hancock posted a combined 2.62 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 44.2 innings, plus a very low 5.8 H/9. If there are any areas to improve on, Hancock’s 3.4 BB/9 could be it. Walks were not a big issue in college though, so that should not be a major concern.
4. George Kirby, RHP
Like Hancock, Kirby spent his 2021 season divided between High-A and AA. Selected by Seattle 20th overall in 2019, the 24-year-old started his professional career in Low-A that year, not walking a batter and only allowing one home run in 23 innings.
His 2021 season was just as impressive. In 15 starts, Kirby posted a 2.53 ERA along with 80 strikeouts in 67.2 innings. He walked 15 batters while only allowing one home run all season. If Kirby can limit the long ball in today’s game, then that could rise as a massive strength of his going forward. Look for him and Hancock to join forces with 2021 rookie Logan Gilbert and Cy Young winner Robbie Ray to create a strong rotation in the future.
5. Matt Brash, RHP
If his 2021 numbers are a precursor to anything, then the Mariners may have something in Brash. The Canadian was a fourth-rounder in 2019 by the Padres but did not do much upon his professional debut. In 2020, he was sent to the Mariners for wild reliever Taylor Williams, who has already departed the San Diego organization.
The 2021 returns on Brash were nothing but positive. In 20 games (19 starts) between the same two levels as Hancock and Kirby, Brash posted a 2.31 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 97.1 innings. Those are eye-catching, even without the fact that he allowed just six home runs. Where Brash has struggled is, like a lot of young pitchers, with control. He walked 48 batters for a 4.4 BB/9. Potentially a bullpen role could be in his future.
What Does the Future Hold?
In terms of making an impact for 2022, there are not many options here. Players like Kelenic, Gilbert, Cal Raleigh, and Taylor Trammell all recently graduated from being a prospect. For the long haul, Harry Ford is a name to look out for. The Mariners just took him 12th overall in 2021. The High School catcher had a .982 OPS in 19 rookie ball games this summer.
Follow Carter LaCorte on Twitter @CarterHudBlog
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images