That’s right, we are almost done with our long winding series of ranking the Top 40 Mariners prospects, and finally, crack our Top 5 with 2 premier prospects who could be impact starters soon.
I hope you guys understand our process for ranking these Mariners prospects but in case you forgot, here is a quick rundown. These ranks are just our opinion and are in no way “expert” level. We are working off stats, scouting reports, and grainy footage from MILBTV so we don’t get the best look at these players.
We each ranked out our Top 40 individually, revealed our list, and combine them with a point system. Our number slot was worth 40 points, our second slot is worth 39 and so on. It is simple and generates a pretty decent list, so we will keep it for a while. With that in mind, let’s get started.
6. Evan White
Evan White, the second, first-round pick of the Jerry Dipoto era, is a straight-up fascinating prospect. He throws left-handed but hits right-handed. He is a great athlete with well-above-average speed but he plays first base. And he very well could be described as a “glove-first” first baseman.
White forces those of us who follow prospects to answer a very simple question: how important is a profile? In this case, we are talking about the often used “offensive profile” attached to a position, regardless of the player who plays there.
In the case of Evan White’s position, first baseman is supposed to belong hulking power hitters, who take walks, are at least 130 wRC+ bats, and you live with whatever defense you get. Well, White isn’t going to fit that profile.
Now don’t get me wrong, White isn’t devoid of power, but the odds of him hitting 30 homers on a consistent basis aren’t high. White will take his walks, but has a swing more suited to line drives and doubles power than most first baseman.
Most scouts believe White can hit .280-.300 at the big league level and is, for lack of a better defensive comp, the Matt Chapman of first baseman. He can flat out pick it. Some scouts call White the best defensive player in the minors, regardless of position.
Some have wondered if a move to left or centerfield makes sense, as White’s bat would fit that profile much better. But the Mariners don’t seem interested in that course of action. For now, they will keep the above-average bat, average power, above-average running, with a great arm and elite defense at first base and see what happens.
Unlike some people who saw Justus Sheffield’s performance in Tacoma as a reason to drop him to NINTH (MLB Pipeline) in the Mariners ranks, we just never gave up on him. And thus far, that appears to be a good thing.
Sheffield, our preseason number 1 prospect, did fall 4 spots, but this was largely due to other players wowing us, as opposed to long-term concerns about Justus. The numbers in AA Arkansas were great and he has shown growth in every start he has made since being recalled in August.
Nothing has changed from our original profile. The fastball still sits in the low-90s and can touch 96. He has a plus slider and a changeup that lags behind the other two options, but should be average given enough time.
The command is still the biggest issue, as he has a tendency to hang more sliders than he should. When he falls behind, he will try to sneak a fastball by hitters to get into the count. But at 92 MPH, it’s a recipe for disaster.
But since returning to the big leagues, Sheffield is trusting his stuff and finding success. He has a 12% whiff rate(number of pitches swung and missed at) this season. For comparison, Walker Buehler and Trevor Bauer sit at 12.2% and 12.1%. That is some serious stuff.
The command issues are still a concern, but Sheffield is a good athlete, giving him a great chance to refine mechanics and adjust to give him the best chance to succeed. But the command issues and lack of a consistent third pitch do limit his ceiling a bit, at least right now.
However, we have seen enough from the 23-year-old to view him as a #3 starter or as a multi-inning, high-leverage reliever, IE Josh Hader. This kind of upside and relatively high floor make him an easy top 7ish prospect, though we understand if you’ve lost some shine on Sheffield.