The Mariners have had a handful of catching prospects play well so far in 2021. Some we know about, others have already been called up, while others are doing it under the radar. Let’s get to know one of those under-the-radar guys, in Brian O’Keefe.
One of the worries heading into the season for the Mariners was the lack of depth in the system at catcher. The major league squad had hope, but also a concern when it came to Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens. We had high hopes for Cal Raleigh, who has been raking in AAA for the Rainiers. Jose Godoy hit well in AAA as well, and earned a call-up, becoming the 20,000th player in MLB history.
They aren’t the only catchers in the Mariners system that we should be aware of. In fact, there is one down in Arkansas playing for the Travelers who has been raking.
Brian O’Keefe is a prospect all Mariners fans should get to know.
Taking a look at the Travellers stats, Brian O’Keefe instantly jumps out. He barely falls into the prospect category, as this is his age 27 season. With the Mariners possibly wanting to keep Raleigh down for a while, O’Keefe might see a shot in the bigs this season if he keeps it up.
Through 109 plate appearances, he has been crushing the ball. A .357/.422/.643 slash line is highlighted by a team high eight home runs and 26 RBI.
He came over to the Mariners system back in December of 2019, when he was claimed off of waivers from the Cardinals farm system. He was actually invited to spring training in 2021 for the Mariners, where he showed a good eye in his limited plate appearances, walking in four of ten opportunities.
It may seem odd to get a bit excited about a late 20s catcher, but there are solid reasons for doing so. Keeping Cal Raleigh down for the remainder of the year, or at least until September when the rosters expand, would help him get more experience under his belt. Catching high-level talent can be quite an adjustment. If he truly is the Mariners long-term plan at catcher, it’s worth taking it a bit slow.
It would also show the youth and lower-level guys on the team that playing well has tangible rewards. Is O’Keefe actually a .350 hitter? No. He has been crushing it for over 100 plate appearances now though. With the lack of production from the catcher position for the Mariners (Murphy leads the trio of he, Godoy, Torrens with a .181 BA), it would be worth giving him a shot.
The worst that could happen is you have to send him back down the minors, while he holds onto a 40-man spot. That’s the only negative really, is that he would take up one of those valuable spots. The upside greatly outweighs that, as you could find a stand-in for the remainder of the year, and even a solid roster spot and backup catcher going forward.
Brian O’Keefe has been playing incredibly well this season and is a name that all Mariners fans should get to know.