Seattle Mariners Top 40 Prospects Re-Rank: 35-31

TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Taylor Guilbeau #45 of the Seattle Mariners looks on after pitching in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 17, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - AUGUST 17: Taylor Guilbeau #45 of the Seattle Mariners looks on after pitching in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on August 17, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Our prospect-centric week is in full gear, as we continue our countdown of the top 40 Seattle Mariners prospects.

Even before the Mariners’ current rebuild commenced, there were quite a few names Colby and I liked within Seattle’s system. As Jerry Dipoto continued to add talent across the board over the last nine-or-so months, those names have been pushed farther and farther down the proverbial food chain.

You’ll see a couple of these names appear today, along with a few faces who have only been with the organization for a matter of weeks. Hypothetically, if you were to add these names to the Mariners’ farm system at this point last year, you could make a legitimate argument for them placing in the mid-teens, or higher.

Now, they’re just on the outskirts of our personal top 30⁠—a strong testament to how much talent Seattle has acquired in such a short amount of time and how they’ve managed to develop accordingly. Not only that, but their scouting department has done an excellent job in identifying outside talent and bringing that information forward to Dipoto.

Today, we start with a player the Mariners were thought to have zero shot at acquiring, but were aggressive in doing so when the opportunity presented itself.

35. Kristian Cardozo, RHP

Thought to be a surefire signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers once this year’s international signing period kicked off, Cardozo was a man without an island when the Dodgers instead went the quantitative route and spent their leftover funds on a group of lesser-known prospects. At just 16-years-old, Cardozo already has a strong 6’1, 175 lbs. frame that should develop even more and thus, blossom more velocity from that.

Right now, Cardozo features a three-pitch mix of a low 90s fastball, a changeup, and a curve, all of which he can throw rather effectively at any given time. Cardozo will likely begin his professional career in the DSL next summer, giving him plenty of time to further grow under the guidance and supervision of a Mariners’ organization that has previously succeeded in developing young pitching talent from square one.

34. Art Warren, RHP

After setting the Arizona Fall League ablaze in 2017, a lot has happened in Art Warren’s career that has nearly brought his hype train to a complete halt. Injuries have plagued the 26-year-old since his AFL dominance, putting his timeline to the big leagues on pause. When the Mariners opted not to add Warren to their 40-man roster last December, thus making him eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft, it appeared that his time in Seattle was, for some reason, up.

Likely for the same reasons Seattle rolled the dice on him, all 29 other teams passed up on the chance to draft Warren and give him an opportunity at the Major League level. Warren stayed a Mariner and began his second stint with Double-A Arkansas, where he has stayed all year long.

Within the first month of the season, Warren was already hurt. Thankfully, since being activated from the Injured List on June 8, Warren’s remained healthy and has been a huge contributor in a stacked Arkansas bullpen. In 31.2 innings this year, Warren has accumulated 15 saves on an 11.65 K/9 and 2.47 FIP. Walks have been a bit of an issue, currently resting at a 3.69 BB/9 clip, but Warren has otherwise been a dominant force. Once the Double-A playoffs are over next month, I expect Warren to finally get his Major League shot with the Mariners.

33. Aaron Fletcher, LHP

An even fresher face than Cardozo is Aaron Fletcher, whom the Mariners acquired in a package from the Nationals in the Roenis Elías/Hunter Strickland deadline day deal. The former 14th-round pick is only in his first full year of professional ball and has already pitched himself into Double-A after starting the year in Low-A Hagerstown.

Fletcher presents a three-pitch repertoire with a fastball that touches the mid 90s as well as a devastating slider and a solid changeup. When he’s not completely missing bats at a 30.4% rate, he’s inducing groundballs. In fact, Fletcher has only allowed one home run in his young professional career that spans 97.2 innings pitched. When you consider the drastic shift in competition Fletcher has had to face over the last 14 months, that’s a pretty incredible feat.

More importantly, and quite possibly his best trait, Fletcher can work effectively against both left- and right-handed hitters. With non-LOOGY left-handed relievers being such a prized commodity in today’s game, we may be severely undervaluing what Fletcher could bring to the table rather soon, but we’re typically not very high on relievers in general. Still, he’s fairly exciting, if there ever is such a thing for a relief prospect, and fans may very well get to see him with their own two eyes before the first half of 2020 comes to a close.

32. Taylor Guilbeau, LHP

Also acquired in the Elías/Strickland deal alongside Fletcher, Guilbeau dominated his way through the lower levels of the minor leagues after making the full-time switch from the rotation to the bullpen. Despite some hiccups in the PCL, a league that has brought misfortune to countless pitchers this season, Guilbeau is now a member of his first MLB 25-man roster just weeks after his acquisition.

Guilbeau is in the mid-to-upper 90s on the fastball and backs that up with a hard slider that keeps hitters on their toes. Like Fletcher, Guilbeau strikes out a ton of guys and keeps the ball on the ground at an above-average clip. Since becoming a reliever exclusively last season, he has only allowed two home runs in 85.1 innings, including the one he served up to Bo Bichette in his MLB debut on Friday, which was less on him and more so due to Bichette being unfairly good at baseball.

We’ll see what kind of opportunities Guilbeau finds himself in over the last six-ish weeks of the season, but he has the ceiling of a potential high-leverage stretch reliever in the future. Given his handedness and ability to effectively work both sides of the plate, he has a legitimate shot of being a building block to help turn around the Mariners’ lackluster bullpen in 2020.

31. Donnie Walton, MIF

Both Colby and I love ourselves some Donnie Walton. For being an “older” prospect at the age of 25 in his second straight year at Double-A, Walton has done everything right along the way. He’s not flashy with the glove or the bat, but he also doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. Walton makes the plays he has to make defensively and is an on-base machine at the dish.

Walton stumbled after his midseason promotion to Double-A last year, but has come back strong in a big way this season. It’s hard to shine in a lineup that boasts a good chunk of the Mariners’ upper echelon of prospects, but Walton has done just that with a slash line of .298/.394/.424, putting up 10 dingers, 46 RBIs, and nine stolen bases.

Though Walton would be best suited as a utility player at the Major League level, he’s currently limited to just the middle infield. The Mariners may not experiment with his positional boundaries until he reaches the MLB, which could be soon, because Walton’s starting to force their hand. He may not see that opportunity after the Double-A playoffs next month, but I expect him to get an extended look in Spring Training with the chance to break camp with the team or at least put himself under consideration for a call-up early on in the season.

Next. Prospects 40-36. dark

Seattle will have to add Walton to their 40-man roster as he is Rule 5 eligible this winter.