Mariners Prospect Evan White Realizing Potential in Modesto
The Seattle Mariners really lack star power in their farm system. They have very few prospects who profile as Major League starters, and a lot of their depth is in the bullpen and 4th OF types.
However, 2017 Mariners first round pick, Evan White, might be the guy to change this narrative. We recently ranked White as our #5 prospect (complete Top 10 here), and White has suddenly turned his biggest question mark upside down.
The right-handed hitting, left-handed fielding prospect has always gotten knocked for not hitting for enough power to stick at first base. Well, as the Mariners predicted, the power has come. We see it all the time. A guy with questionable power, who has a sound approach and is a good athlete makes a small tweak and unlocks his power tool.
Over the season, White is slashing .299/.365/.454 in the minors, spending most of the year in A+ Modesto. Overall, solid numbers. However, since August 1st, White is slashing .405/.477/.784 with 5 of his 11 home runs. Incredible.
The power surge has been attributed to a slight change with his hand position in his load, as documented here. The power was not totally unexpected. I still contend that position based projections are a bit stupid.
What do I mean by “position based projections”? We have all heard/read a scout who says things like, ” he doesn’t have the power to profile at 1B,” or “he’s too small for SS. He’s a 2B”. For his entire pro career, scouts have focused only on White’s power potential in his first base profile.
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I have been pretty consistent in speaking out about this type of scouting. It is this type of logic that causes Russell Wilson from being drafted earlier than he was. “Well, he doesn’t fit the profile, so he’ll have to change positions”.
Evan White could win a Gold Glove at first base tomorrow if he was in the big leagues. He is a plus runner and an insanely good athlete. Can he cover an OF spot if needed? Yes, 100%. He would probably be above-average or plus in a corner, and passable in CF.
This flexibility should be viewed as a plus, not a negative. To say White will have to move off first base because he can only hit 20 homers instead of 25 is insane, especially when he will more than compensate for the handful of home runs with his defense and base-running.
You know what is better than a 1B who hits 25 home runs? A 3 win 1B. Would you rather have Ryon Healy or Joey Votto? Votto has 9 homers, Healy has 23. Votto is worth 2.8 fWAR, Healy is at -0.4.
No, I’m not saying Evan White is Votto. That is ridiculous. However, it is a good example of how a first baseman can be valuable without smashing home runs. White is a good prospect. Whether he has 50-grade power or 60-grade power, White is one of the best 1B prospects in baseball. If this power surge is legit, great. If not, White can still be a good first baseman.
At the end of the day, White is showing the Mariners that he can be the player they believed in when he was drafted 17th overall. Even if it is a small sample, boy, is it nice to have a player to dream on?