Seattle Mariners Prospect Watch: Don’t Rush Evan White
As we get closer and closer to the hot stove firing up, fewer and fewer people focus on the minor league players or prospects. However, the Mariners must be careful with one to not rush him to try and win in 2019.
As you may be able to surmise from the title, that Mariners prospect is Evan White. White, as you may know, was Jerry Dipoto‘s second, first-round pick as the Mariners GM. A good athlete, White is already a double plus defender at first base. Until recently, that was his calling card.
However, things changed in June when White made a mechanical change to his swing and saw his power production, as well as his prospect status, skyrocket. We wrote about his breakout here. White parlayed his red-hot second half in High A Modesto into an invite to the prestigious Arizona Fall League.
On the year, White finished with a .303/.375/.458 slash line in Modesto with 11 home runs. 27 doubles, and 7 triples. He is currently 5 for 10 in the AFL early in their season.
Director of Player Development Andy McKay stated recently that no matter how he did this fall and in the spring, White would start 2019 in AA Arkansas. A first-round college talent like White is right on schedule.
However, a few weeks back, Dipoto mentioned that he believed there was a possibility that White could be a part of the Mariners as soon as the middle of 2019. Why? What is the reason for him to make his debut in 2019?
Obviously, it would be great for White to force the Mariners hand by playing so unbelievably well, the team would have no choice but to call him up. However, asking a player to make a 2 level jump in one year and contribute to the Major League team is a lot to expect from any prospect.
The Mariners must walk a fine line between calling up a prospect because he is ready versus calling up a prospect because the MLB team needs help. We have seen the Mariners make this mistake before, most notably with Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino.
In the defense of Dipoto and company, they didn’t make either of those decisions. But a straight jump from AA to the majors is not unprecedented with this group. Edwin Diaz, Matt Festa, and Dan Altavilla all made this leap under the Dipoto regime. But Evan White is different. Evan White is an everyday player.
Rushing White to the big leagues in 2019 is a potential recipe for disaster. The Mariners appear to finally have a position player close to the big leagues that fans can be excited about. Pushing up his timetable to maybe win an extra game or 2 in 2019 could lead to disastrous results.
Evan White has to help the Mariners sooner rather than later, either on the team or as a trade chip. However, pushing for mid-2019 is a risk just not worth taking.