Mariners Top 20 Prospects: #14 C Tyler Marlette


Tyler Marlette is the top backstop in the Mariners system, and he comes in at number 14 in SoDo Mojo’s list of the top 20 M’s prospects.

Originally selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, Tyler Marlette has proven to be one of the better hitting catchers in the minor-leagues during his career. The 23-year-old backstop is a player to watch this spring in Peoria, as he could potentially make his big league debut at some point during the 2016 season.

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Marlette’s career got off to a bit of a slow start after being drafted in 2011. The Mariners sent him to their affiliate in the Appalachian League, the Pulaski Mariners. Marlette hit just .156 with 0 home runs, 2 RBI and 12 strikeouts across 13 games in Pulaski.

Unsurprisingly, Seattle decided to send Marlette back to Pulaski in 2012. He looked like a whole new player the second time around, slashing .284/.304/.427 in 214 plate appearances. Marlette added 5 home runs and 23 RBI across 56 games.

The Oviedo, FL native demonstrated a more mature approach at the plate during the 2013 season with the Clinton LumberKings of the Midwest League. Marlette hit .304 with 17 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 37 RBI and 10 stolen bases across 75 games. He posted a .367 on base percentage and slugged .448 through 270 plate appearances.

Many scouts anticipated Marlette would develop above average power, and those scouts were proven right in 2014. Marlette began the year with the High Desert Mavericks, and he dominated the California League. He posted a slash line of .301/.351/.519 across 339 plate appearances. Marlette also connected on a career high 15 home runs and drove in 49 runs in 81 games. He was so impressive that the Mariners gave him a brief look with the Jackson Generals at the end of the season.

Despite his remarkable 2014 season, Seattle opted to start Marlette back in the California League last year. He got off to a rough start with the Bakersfield Blaze, hitting a meager .216 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI across 39 games. Surprisingly, Marlette seemed to rediscover his stroke following a promotion to Double-A Jackson. He slashed .258/.298/.393 in 50 games with the Generals.

The Paul J. Hagerty High School alum has improved his defense behind the plate considerably since being drafted. Marlette boasts a .989 career fielding percentage, and that number rose to .997 last season in Jackson. He also has a deceptively strong arm, as he has gunned down 35% of potential base stealers during his five seasons in the minor-leagues.

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Marlette has also performed well in limited action with the Mariners in Cactus League play. He has seen time with the big club in each of the past two seasons, hitting .375 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored across 6 games. Marlette should get another chance to strut his stuff in the early part of spring training this year.

There is currently a logjam at the catcher position in Seattle, and it is unclear where Tyler Marlette will fit this season. Chris Iannetta is locked in as the Mariners starting catcher in 2016, and Steve Clevenger was acquired to serve as the backup. Mike Zunino is expected to start the season with the Rainiers, and Steve Baron is likely to back Z up in Tacoma. That would seem to leave Marlette returning to Jackson as the everyday catcher with the Generals.

Next: Mariners Season Preview: Taijuan Walker

Marlette is the best catching prospect in the Mariners system right now. If he can continue to produce in the minor-leagues, Marlette should get an opportunity to play at the corner of Edgar and Dave within in the next two seasons. I do not foresee him passing Mike Zunino as the M’s “future” catcher, but Marlette could carve out a career as a backup catcher/designated hitter.