Before I even got this posted Alex Reyes exhausted his rookie eligibility (needed a single out to do so and pitched an inning on Friday) so I updated my top 150 before it went live. Reyes was at 22 but is now removed making room for Ryan Weathers, giving the Padres two more than any other team with 12 players making the top 150. 15 players on the list open the season in the big leagues, with 14 of those in the top 80 and the Padres and Mariners both starting with two players in the big leagues.
Quick Report: He doesn’t possess the biggest arsenal, but all three of his pitches are above average. His fastball can get up to 97 but sits more in the 93-94 range, while the slider is his best pitch, a wipeout slider that grades out as plus. His change is a touch behind his other two pitches but has flashes of being an excellent offering. He is listed at 6’ but is probably closer to 5’10” in reality. Despite his shorter stature, he gets good extension thanks to solid drive with his lower half and creates downhill plane even out of a lower 3/4 arm slot. I have seen him in person back in the AZL when in the Indians organization and in the AFL with the Yankees. I say that to highlight the fact I have seen him have real control trouble, but also in the AFL where he demonstrated the best command of his young career. If he can keep the command closer to the AFL version, he can be a number two or three starter.
Quick Report: Like most Japanese pitchers, Kikuchi has a ton of different offerings and all have movement. His worst pitch is probably his fastball, which is definitely different than most pitchers in today’s game. He has a very good curve and his sinker is a viable out pitch, but he also shows a cutting slider that is above average. He does have the wild movements we often see from Japanese imports, and all the moving pieces and the pause at the top of his leg kick do lead to some inconsistencies in his delivery, hurting his command. He is a solid number three starter without a ton of upside, but he has plenty of stuff to be successful in the states.
Quick Report: Getting out from under the Robinson Cano contract was a good move even if they had to deal Edwin Diaz along with him but getting Kelenic in return could prove to make it a great deal. The hit tool is plus thanks an advanced approach and smooth stroke from the left side. There is plenty of raw power and natural strength in the bat, but he is more of a line drive hitter currently, although the home run power could develop into 20-25 a year eventually. He is a solid fielder but his speed shows up better on the bases than it does in the field, suggesting he will have to move off center. If/when he does, he has plenty of arm to hold down right.
Quick Report: The other main piece of that Cano/Diaz deal, Dunn was a standout pitcher at Boston College in both the bullpen and rotation, but rotation is where he has landed and should stay. He sits up to 95 with his fastball to go with a plus slider and solid curve. His change is a newer pitch but has really impressed thanks to significant arm side run, although there isn’t the velo difference you typically want off the fastball. Coming out of Boston College he was very thin but has filled out well in his couple years of pro ball and now looks to be over 200 lbs. rather than his listed 185. He should also be able to hold up to the riggers of a starter’s workload thanks to the properly added strength and solid mechanics that see his legs providing some drive and the arm being smooth in his delivery.
Quick Report: The first player on the list to be drafted by the Mariners and there was genuine buzz in Spring Training a season ago, rightfully so. He is far from your typical prospect, as he is an elite defender at first, where he throws left and hits right. He has also long been a bat over power guy, but some minor adjustments have allowed him to tap into the above average raw power he has. I walked away from Mariners camp last year fully expecting him to get an aggressive assignment but he was sent to the California League where he, unsurprisingly, dominated the younger pitching. He did get a four-game look in AAA to end the year, but I don’t rule out an assignment to AA to start the year and a September call-up to the big leagues to end it.
Player: Logan Gilbert
Opening Day Age: 21
2018 Highest Level: DNP
Weight: 225 lbs.
Quick Report: Gilbert gets the most out of his length, getting good extension on a running fastball that has had inconsistent velocities over the past 18 months, but has played well at any velo. I like his slider more than his curve, while others are the other way around. The slider has late action to it that plays well off the fastball, while I saw the curve as more of a rolling spinner, although I have spoke to scouts who say he can get very good 12-6 shape on it. The change will never be special but is solid, while his mechanics look a mess, but he is able to repeat the delivery well and show a consistent 3/4 slot even if it does come with mild arm bend.
Quick Report: Yet to make his stateside debut, Rodriguez not only could be, but probably will be the biggest climber by this time next year. There is talk he could skip all domestic short season leagues and move straight to Low A to start the year, where I expect him to show well. He has a bat that gets to the ball in a flash with a swing that looks like it should spray line drives all over the field, but those line drives carry over fences with some ease. He will likely have to move off center to right in time, but there is upside for Rodriguez to be my number one prospect in the Mariners system in 12 months.
Quick Report: I will confess, I have no idea what to think of Kyle Lewis. In 2016 at Mercer, he has a monster junior year that earned him the Golden Spikes award, but his pro career has been a head scratcher. I saw him a bunch, well, as much as one could in 2017 as he bounced back from an ACL injury. He started back in complex ball where he didn’t stand out, but he was coming off an injury. Then he went to the AFL, a stint that lasted all of two games before another injury. Last year he was largely healthy a season ago but struggled after getting the bump to AA. In person, I have not been impressed, but in talking to scouts and swing tape, he has the athleticism to play center and plenty of arm to play right. The bat has plenty of power and many think he can hit for a quality average as well. He is one who could tumble down prospect lists this year, or rocket up them, it all depends on whether or not he can put together a season where he shows both health and consistency this year.
Quick Report: The piece often overlooked when word of the James Paxton trade came down thanks to the name recognition of Sheffield and name length on the back of the Thompson-Williams jersey, but Swanson may turn out to be a great pick up by the Mariners. He has a fastball that can get up to 96-97 but sit mid-90s with good plane thanks to the high arm delivery, but also mixes in a two seam that runs. His change can really run arm side to create good deception off the fastball and a quality slider. Thanks to his ability to hide his arm until late in his delivery, all of Swanson’s pitches play up. He will never be an impact starter but could be a solid number four starter and be that in Seattle soon.
Quick Report: A second round pick in 2017, Carlson has a grand total of three pro innings under his belt after having to undergo Tommy John surgery last July and missing all of 2018 and possibly 2019 as well. I caught his one inning pro debut in Surprise and he certainly has plenty of stuff. He was sitting 93-95 with some run and an impressive change tat he could really spot. I have seen video of his curve, although it is certainly behind the other two pitches. There is effort to the delivery and he has a low 3/4 slot, so the future may be in the bullpen where his fastball-change combo can play well. The concern is on the developmental side, as he may be back on the mound in game action as a 21 year old with no college experience and three innings of pro experience, but there is plenty of upside to make him crack my top 10.