I hear Jerry Dipoto kills the whistling solo from the Scorpions “Winds of Change“. Then again, it’s a whistling solo in a rock song. But that’s not the reason he kills it. Oh no, it’s because JDP, as I call him, loves change. I mean, JDP walks into a room and changes everything just because he can. He only leases cars, and never moves in with his girlfriends. He loves a good month to month contract, and has had 7 different hairstyles in the past 17 months. Suffice it to say things at his workplace are changing too. His work place just so happens to be the Seattle Mariners baseball club, and he just so happens to run the joint. He’s already made dozens of trades over the last couple of offseasons, and overhauled the organizational philosophy. Running a hitting summit for their minor leaguers, focusing on cutting strikeouts, and improving contact rates. What followed were career years from some of their top power bats with contact woes, players like Tyler O’Neill, and DJ Peterson gained the most. All across the organization winning became a priority. In fact, all six of the Mariners minor league affiliates qualified for some sort of post season baseball, with Jackson their AA affiliate, and their rookie level Arizona League affiliate taking home titles. The changes are evident in the upside of their recent draft class too, spearheaded by 2016 Golden Spikes winner Kyle Lewis, and talented prep bat Joe Rizzo. Add that to trades for MLB ready talents, and the aforementioned break outs across the organization last year, and you have recipe for success. Big shouts to Tehol Beddict, Sky, and the rest of the Mariners fans here on Razzball. It’s the Top Seattle Mariners Prospects for 2017 Fantasy Baseball.
Tier 1: Specs On The Beach
Potential stars. Consensus T100 prospects with premium fantasy ceilings.
Tyler O’Neill, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA
The man, the myth, the legend, the King of the North! One of my personal favorites, O’Neill possesses elite bat speed, caveman power, and a students approach to the game. The strides he’s made as a hitter, and defender over the last year have me buying O’Neill as a future middle of the order bat. He was the best full season player in AA this year, leading the Jackson Generals to a Southern League title and hitting .293/.374/.508 with 24 homers, 102 rbis, and 12 steals in the process. My forthcoming top 100 might set the bar for O’Neill rankings in top 100 lists. Then again he’s high on Halp’s.
Kyle Lewis, OF | Age: 21 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: Rk
I was all ready to rank Lewis as my top prospect in first year player drafts, but then two things happened. First Lewis blew out his knee in rookie ball which effectively ended his season, and two Nick Senzel decided to go bananas and steal the top spot. There’s not much to dislike about Lewis, he’s an advanced college bat with middle of the order upside. He’s going to be well within my top 50, and his workout updates on twitter are only testament of his work ethic and love for the game. That’s matters to me.
Tier 2: Floorboreds
Lacking the “star” upside. They might have some warts, but their ETAs are on the horizon.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Is this the year the Jelly Donut of Swat breaks through the glass ceiling and finally graces the majors with his presence? My hope is yes, and quite honestly if he doesn’t I’m moving on. He struggled in Tacoma after being acquired from the Cubs, and didn’t look very good in his limited MLB at bats. When he’s at his best, he works counts, takes walks, and he makes hard contact to all fields. When he struggles, he strikes out and hits too many grounders for a player of his type. You either see a plus hit tool with developing power, or a quad A player.
Mitch Haniger, OF | Age: 26 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
The long shot has-been prospect reversed the course of his career with a major breakout in 2016. Staring across two levels before getting the call to Phoenix, Haniger put up arguably the best numbers in the minors. Unfortunately, even after the deal to the Mariners, it’s tough to figure where he fits into a crowded Major League outfield situation. With that said, if he wins a job out of camp he immediately becomes an interesting late round flier in deeper leagues, and one to add to your watch list early in 12 teamers too. He’s always possessed elite bat speed, and raw power, which he finally tapped into this season. His issue has never been ability as much as health. After dealing with several injuries early in his career he finally had a full healthy season. More than likely a 4th outfielder, but he has hope for more.
D.J. Peterson, 1B | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AAA/AA
After performing well below expectations in 2015 across the upper levels of the minors, Peterson took a step in the right direction in 2016. Embracing the Mariners new found organizational focus on plate approach, Peterson raised his batting average 50 points, and his slugging by about 70. While the increase in walk rate was incremental, the former top prospect focused on finding his pitch and driving it, and it worked. 2017 will be a big year for Peterson, we’ll see if he really took the jump or if he’s the washout we all labeled him a year ago.
Max Povse, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
The 6’8 giant is truly a BORP type pitcher with very little upside. Not going to be a dominant player at any point in his career, but should be a streamable major league starter at certain times. Someone for the deep dynasty payers to make note of.
Dillon Overton, LHP | Age: 25 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
A back of the rotation lefty, with an average fastball and three above average offspeed/breaking pitches. He was acquired from Oakland in January after he was surprisingly DFA’d. Though his major league debut didn’t go as planned, he still looks to profile as a very solid 5th starter if he can improve his command and avoid mainlining his mistakes.
Drew Jackson, SS | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
A 5th round pick out of Stanford in 2015, Jackson had a very strong showing in his rookie ball debut. Slashing .360/.434/.449 and swiping 47 bases in just 225 at bats. Last season was a different story, as he struggled to find any consistency at the plate, or on the bases. He still showed the ability to get on base, but the 16 total steals in his full season debut was a major let down.
Rob Whalen, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA/AA
Acquired from the Braves in the Alex Jackson trade, Whalen is a back of the rotation arm with a plus curveball, and a bulldog mentality. He struggles at time with control, but has shown the ability to miss bats and generate weak contact, and groundballs. Should be in the mix for a rotation spot with the Mariners this spring.
Ben Gamel, OF | Age: 24 | ETA: 2017 | 2016 Level: MLB/AAA
Former Yankees farmhand and brother of all time bust Mat Gamel, the lefthanded outfielder is a hit tool and speed player with some deep league relevancy. At the moment he looks like a 4th outfielder/platoon bat type, but he’s worth your attention in a 24-30 team league with deep minors.
Andrew Moore, RHP | Age: 22 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: AA/A+
Moore is an interesting study, he’s the owner off the charts pitchability, often being described as having a cerebral approach. His control and command are double plus, but his actual stuff is just mediocre. His fastball sits 89-91, and his best offspeed pitch is a change. Whether he’ll be able to continue to play up his stuff with sequencing, and precision will remain to be seen.
Tier 3: Long Shot Lolitas
Sexy ceilings, but these youngsters also come with risks and distant ETAs
Nick Neidert, RHP | Age: 20 | ETA: 2019 | 2016 Level: A
A pitchability righty with some upside. Neidert gets a lot of Tim Hudson comps, and it’s not far off. He possesses both advance control and command, throwing strikes 69% of the time. He mixes a low 90’s fastball, with an above average change, and a developing slider. If he’s to boost his strikeout totals in the coming years, it will be in direct relation to the development of the slider.
Joe Rizzo, 3B | Age: 18 | ETA: 2020 | 2016 Level: Rk
Short and stocky Rizzo is blessed with a sweet lefthanded stroke, and good instincts. He had an impressive rookie league debut in the AZL, slashing .291/.355/.392 with a pair of homers. He’s obviously still developing his power, but at 18 he has plenty of time to develop some pop. The term “special bat” has come up in multiple evaluations I’ve seen.
Brayan Hernandez, OF | Age: 19 | ETA: 2020 | ETA: Rk
A switch-hitting teenager with projection that flashes all 5 tools. Hernandez signed for the highest signing bonus of any Venezuelan in the 2014 international class, edging Anderson Espinoza by about $50K. In 2016 across two levels of rookie ball he showed power and speed upside, with solid bat to ball skills. He’s the best Mariners lottery ticket prospect to dream on.
Thyago Viera, RHP | Age: 23 | ETA: 2018 | 2016 Level: A+
Flame throwing righty out of Brazil, Viera showed off his triple digit heater in the AFL, hitting 100-102 consistently. After an underwhelming first few years in the states, Viera made adjustments to his mechanics, and polished his slider in extended spring training working with Class A pitching coach Ethan Katz. The results were immediate as his strikeouts jumped, walks stabilized, and his ERA dropped below 3. Looks like he has a chance to be a good pen arm.
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