The Seattle Mariners farm system is now the great hope of the franchise, after it being it’s darkest point for most of the past 5 seasons. So after taking a look at the state of the farm, we now are ready to reveal our Top 40 prospects.
Before we begin, we do need to lay a few ground rules. First, any player with more than 50 IP and 130 PAs is no longer considered a prospect. These are largely arbitrary cutoffs, but they are the cutoffs used by most of the industry, so for simplicity, we will do the same.
Next, our process is pretty simple. The two-site experts, Colby Patnode and Ty Gonzalez each made their own prospect list. The two lists were compared, point totals were assigned to each spot and the higher the point total, the higher you rank.
Our methodology for our individual ranks is up to us. We all see and value players differently, so setting a template forward for viewing players doesn’t make a ton of sense for us. We may have different opinions on prospects and that is okay. These are, after all, subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Finally, please do not consider these ranks to be anything more than entertainment. Ty and I don’t get to many games to see these guys in person, so we are largely relying on second-hand accounts, statistics, scouting reports, and overall feel.
With all that information out of the way, let’s get started with number 40.
40. Keegan McGovern, OF
The 9th round pick of the Mariners in 2018, McGovern was a prototypical senior signing in an attempt to save bonus pool money. But in his pro debut, McGovern posted a solid .271/.351/.518 in Everett and Clinton, bashing 15 home runs and 14 doubles in just 255 ABs.
2019 has been a challenge for him on and off the field. He missed a good chunk of time with an injury and has largely been ineffective in Modesto this season. The power is the best tool as he has the bat speed to launch 30 home runs with regularity.
Unfortunately, McGovern needs to hit more to get to his power, and his fringey average speed, arm, and defense make his hit tool important. While he may eventually be an average corner outfielder, players with this profile are a dime a dozen. Hopefully the soon-to-be 24-year-old can rebound in 2020 and fight his way back into the Top 30 next season.
39. Jose Caballero
The return of the last minute Mike Leake trade, Caballero probably isn’t going to become an everyday player. But he does have interesting tools and he very well could prove his doubters wrong.
He is a good athlete, with 60-grade speed and a knack for stealing bags and getting the most out of his speed. Caballero also has good on-base skills, including a good knowledge of the strike zone, pitch recognition skills, and a line-drive swing that could give him a decent shot to hit for average.
He can handle shortstop and third, but his arm profiles more as a prototypical second baseman. His ceiling may be as a utility infielder, but one who can hit .270 with a .350 OBP in a few years.
38. Juan Querecuto
Juan Querecuto can play defense, nobody is disputing that. The questions surrounding the 18-year-old are all about his bat. Like many international signings, the Mariners were intrigued by Querecuto’s advanced approach at the plate for a teenager but it hasn’t translated to much success.
At 6’2″, 175 lbs there is still some good weight left to add, leaving the possibility he may hit for more power in the future. Right now as an 18-year-old in the Arizona Rookie League, he has plenty of time to grow as a player. Now, he is a raw lump of clay and maybe the ultimate test case for what this player development group can achieve.
37. Darren McCaughan
Full disclosure, McCaughan is Ty’s guy. He really likes him. So much so that he didn’t make my individual top 40 and yet still cracked our Top 40. The 23-year-old had a great season in AA Arkansas, posting a 2.89 ERA with 89 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 102.2 innings.
Those good vibes haven’t continued in AAA, where he has made 5 starts to the tune of a 12.10 ERA and a 2.07 WHIP. Yikes. Now, the Pacific League is an absolute nightmare for pitchers this year and it is his first go at the league. But his stuff doesn’t profile as much more than a #5 starter.
He throws strikes, doesn’t give away free bases, gets some groundballs, but can have some problems with the home run ball. His ceiling is that of 2019 Mike Leake, which is nothing to scoff at. But the odds aren’t great he reaches that ceiling.
If he is anything more than organizational depth as Ty believes, next season will be important for him.
36. Erik Swanson
So… 2019 has been interesting for Erik Swanson. Acquired in the James Paxton trade last winter, Swanson began the year in AAA Tacoma but received the opportunity to start early in 2019, thanks to some timely injuries.
He flashed some good potential in the rotation early, living on his high fastball to get hitters out. Unfortunately, the league adjusted and Swanson’s off-speed stuff proved to be unable to get him out of jams.
Swanson was demoted after a string of ineffective outings and continued to struggle in Tacoma before hitting the IL. Swanson is currently in the Mariners bullpen, where he will likely stay for the remainder of the season.
Swanson still has a good fastball, sitting 92-96. But neither the changeup or slider have progressed, leaving Swanson’s odds of being more than a middle reliever minimal. Without a clear improvement to his off-speed pitches, Swanson has little chance to climb this list.
But the Mariners may now focus on developing him strictly as a reliever allowing him to put his focus into speeding up his arm and polishing one pitch, something the team has had success with recently.
There you have it. A small taste of our Top 40 Mariners prospects. This list features a few players with role player upside, which isn’t going to be too terribly exciting. But a year ago, these players probably ranked in the Top 20, showing the growth in the acquisition and player development of these prospects is quickly improving.