Seattle Mariners prospect Joe Rizzo will remain with the club
Jerry Dipoto had some decisions to make in November and decided to add Taylor Trammell, Juan Then, Wyatt Mills, and Sam Delaplane to the 40-man roster to protect them from the MLB Rule 5 Draft. But that meant Joe Rizzo, the 21st ranked Seattle Mariners prospect, was left out to dry and could have been selected during the Rule 5 Draft.
Joe Rizzo has shown a lot of promise in the minor leagues, so it was disheartening to see Rizzo available to other teams. I was under the assumption that teams would be very interested in Joe, and that his time with the Mariners was over. But after the Winter Meetings was complete, Rizzo’s name was not called so he will remain in the Seattle Mariners organization.
Why is Joe Rizzo valuable for the Seattle Mariners?
The 5’10” corner infielder was a 2016 second-round draft pick by Seattle, out of Oakton High school in Vienna, VA. As a young 18-year-old, he was able to learn quickly and performed well in rookie ball. He hit .291 in 39 games in his first taste of professional baseball. His second pro season took a small step back but as a 19-year-old you have to be impressed. Rizzo played for two teams and batted .251 in 115 games. In 2018 and 2019, he spent his time in Modesto (High A). The Seattle Mariners prospect batted .241 in 2018 and .295 in 2019.
Rizzo would have spent 2020 in Double-A most likely, but as you know, the minor league season was canceled. The Seattle Mariners were able to get Rizzo playing time at the Instructional League where he played very well. According to the Mariners’ Blog, Rizzo led the young group of players in average and OPS. He batted .357 and posted a 1.112 OPS. His outstanding performance is one of the reasons why I became worried about his chances of being selected by another team.
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But now that we know he will stay with the Mariners, you can expect him to start in Double-A and move up to Triple-A in 2021, or just start in Triple-A. There have been a lot of questions asked about who would replace Kyle Seager in a few years. The longtime Mariners third baseman will most likely remain with the team through the 2021 season, but we do not know what is next after that.
For me, Joe Rizzo is a candidate to be the future third baseman of the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners currently have Ty France on the roster who has been good, but it is not entirely clear where he would play on the field. The Seattle Mariners also have Austin Shenton in the system who is the 17th ranked Mariners prospect who is on a similar timeline to Rizzo. But Shenton’s glove is not as solid as Rizzo’s right now.
It will be interesting to see what steps Joe Rizzo can take this upcoming minor league season. For now, I think the Seattle Mariners got a major win that Rizzo is staying put and has another season in the Mariners farm system to develop.