Seattle Mariners Prospect Trade Target List: AL Central
By Ty Gonzalez
Which American League Central prospects do we have our eye on as potential future Mariners?
As we swing into the second half of May, trade speculation is starting to grow. Some teams have jumped out in front of the pack as clear contenders and buyers for July’s trade deadline, while others have found themselves in a hole too deep to dig out of. Most, however, remain on the fence about their potential in 2019.
The American League Central may be the toughest division to crack in baseball. Not because of how competitive it necessarily is, but rather because of how mediocre all five teams have been over the last year and change.
The Twins are off to hot 31-16 start in 2019, with the preseason favorite Indians nearly six games behind them. After that, the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers all appear to be headed for another woeful season. That’s not a good thing for us, as it makes it that much more difficult to pry anything of worth out of their respective farm systems.
But, as Colby and I did last week with the American League West, we have each found a prospect from all five teams in the Central that we would love to see the Mariners acquire at some point in the near future.
If you need a refresher on how this works, Colby and I find one prospect per team that could realistically be had if the Mariners so desire. So while we would love to get Nick Madrigal from the White Sox or Casey Mize from the Tigers, it ain’t happening so we’re not going to even bother.
Ty’s pick: RHP Griffin Jax
The Twins are leading a mediocre division by five-and-a-half games and only have a struggling Cleveland team to worry about. Barring catastrophe, they’ll be buyers at the deadline and could line up well with what the Mariners have to offer, whether it be Edwin Encarnación, Roenis Elías, etc.
For my pick, I went with right-handed pitcher Griffin Jax. Picked in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Jax’s commitment to the Air Force held him back through the first two years of his professional playing career. However, after being accepted into the Air Force’s World Class Athlete program a year ago, Jax was given the green light to fully commit to—and proceed with—his life in baseball.
So far, things have gone well for Jax. In 87 innings of work last year, the 24-year-old posted a 3.70 ERA while keeping the ball on the ground 53.9% of the time. Jax currently flashes a three-pitch repertoire that features a low-90s fastball with sink, an above-average changeup that serves as his crutch pitch, and a slider that has shown signs of improvement in 2019.
Though he may never see a high volume of strikeouts on a game-to-game basis, Jax has above-average command of all three of his pitches and should succeed in consistently generating weak contact and eat innings. Sounds familiar.
Now in Double-A at 24-years-old, Jax could potentially make his MLB debut as soon as September and no later than early 2020. That will work for the Mariners, who continue adding pieces close to—or already in—the MLB.
Colby’s pick: LHP Stephen Gonsalves
A one time Top 100 Prospect, the road from top prospect to successful big leaguer has been anything but a straight line for Stephen Gonsalves. He got his first cup of coffee in 2018 and it was a disaster as he posted a 5.72 FIP with more walks than strikeouts in 24.2 innings.
Gonsalves has yet to throw a pitch in 2019 and does have some serious command issues. But what he does have is a solid repertoire, including a low-90’s fastball from the left side. He also sports 2 average breaking balls and an above-average changeup that flashes plus at times.
Gonsalves turns 25 in July and the Minnesota Twins appear to be the class of the AL Central, so they will likely be willing to part ways with prospects like Gonsalves to bolster their team for the playoffs.
With a solid track record in the high minors, #4 starter stuff, and 6-years of club control expect Jerry Dipoto to at least inquire on the left-handed pitcher at some point this season.