Poll: What Pitching Prospect Is 2nd Best in the Mariners Organization?
#1) Mariners RHP Emerson Hancock
Emerson Hancock was taken with the 6th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of the University of Georgia. He was pegged to potentially be drafted first overall before his junior season. He had a 1.99 ERA in 90 innings in 2019 for Georgia, looking like a future front of the rotation pitcher in the big leagues. Then in 2020, he started off slowly against Georgia’s non-conference schedule but had his season cut short right as he looked to be getting back into form.
The Mariners have been very careful with the Bulldog standout, not letting him throw much at all at the alternate training site in 2020. He then did not make it through his first pro season healthy either. He missed starts and had starts pushed back before ultimately being shut down early with shoulder fatigue. The Mariners do not believe that this is a serious injury, merely a lack of strength and endurance in his shoulder.
This has given some industry experts pause about the 6’4″ right-handed starter. Some think this slips his stock significantly, but the hope is that he can be healthy for 2022 and pitch a full minor league season. His four-pitch mix all have above-average grades, led by his 65-grade fastball. His slider and changeup are also 60 grade, as well as a 55 curveball. He could be a front of the rotation arm, but he has a cloudy future as of right now.
Emerson Hancock definitely has the second-highest ceiling of pitchers in the organization, but he has some serious workload and durability questions right now. He could be a strong number two or number three starter, but he needs more time to prove he is healthy in the minors before being considered for the big league rotation.
Based on those results listed earlier, Mariners fans clearly still believe in Hancock and his potential. Those who voted for him clearly don’t believe his shoulder will be a problem for his future. For those who believe it is Matt Brash, they clearly are bought in on his nasty stuff and believe in his breakout season and think he can stick in the rotation. People who thought that Williamson is the best of the trio, think he can take another leap in 2022 to continue to get better and dominate hitters.
Clearly, the Mariners have a great problem debating who is the second-best starting pitching prospect going forward. These three are all great prospects and very strong young pitchers. They should all figure into the Mariners season going forward and all could make their debuts this season. Mariners fans should all be ready to get out to Tacoma Rainiers games in 2022 to see these pitchers dominate AAA before reaching the big leagues.