The Seattle Mariners have put together some of the best young talents in the game of baseball. Baseball America ranked them as the #1 system overall, and they certainly deserve it. In the past week, Keith Law from The Athletic posted his Top 100 Prospects and it was very controversial from a Mariners perspective. Nearly every prospects publication out there has had Julio Rodriguez in their top 3, but Law had him at number 9 overall.
Having Julio Rodriguez that low seems outrageous. The potential that he has shown in the minor leagues is incredible, and it appears that he is only getting better. It is very arguable that he is the number one prospect in baseball, but it is not a slight at all to have him in the top three with Adley Rutschman and Bobby Witt Jr. Those three players appear to be the top three in some order for most people, but why would Law have Julio Rodriguez at 9?
Based on the short paragraph he has about Julio Rodriguez, Law says some glowing things about him.
"he looks like a long-term cleanup hitter who’ll challenge for MVP awards with 30-40 homers, high OBPs and, at least, solid defense in right field."
That is some high praise, and it seems too good for someone ranked 9th overall. The reason that Law has him this low is because he values defensive position more than most. He has catchers higher than nearly every other outlet, and he dings Julio Rodriguez for it. He does not think that a right fielder can be a top-three prospect, which is a fine opinion, but he has a major flaw in his rankings based on his opinions about defense.
He has Spencer Torkelson, a first baseman, ranked at 4. If Julio can’t be too high because he is a right fielder, then having a first baseman ranked 4th is unjustifiable. He makes similar offensive claims about Rodriguez and Torkelson, so having one five spots lower based on being a corner outfielder seems contradictory.
The other player’s Law has ahead of the Dominican wonder kid are Francisco Alvarez, Shane Baz, Gabriel Moreno, CJ Abrams, Torkelson, Riley Greene, Witt Jr, and Rutschman. Having Rodriguez outside the top three by such a wide margin is just too much. It will certainly be interesting to see if he can meet the MVP caliber expectations that Law has for him, but I would take him over prospects 3-8 in a heartbeat.
Law did rank some M’s prospects in a good spot though
Coming in at number 11 overall was shortstop Noelvi Marte, which seems like a pretty good spot for him. He had a great year last year and he has a lot of potential to be an impact offensive force. There are some questions about his defense because he may have to move away from shortstop. Harry Ford also made it in at number 49 overall. This is probably the highest he has been ranked because Law values catchers higher than most, but it is very good to see him ranked so high.
The George Kirby Debate
Law ranked another great Mariners prospect too low, again, and that is right-hander George Kirby. He had him at 45 overall, and the 10th highest rated pitcher. That is much lower than most have him, especially after his stuff picked up in 2021. He says some very controversial things about the Elon product.
"He’s a likely mid-rotation starter, with a chance for more if the stuff ticks up and holds up for a normal workload."
The first thing that jumps out is Law saying he is a mid-rotation starter. That is the absolute floor for Kirby because of his killer command and now 100 mph fastball. He does not think that his secondary stuff is good enough yet, but Law certainly appears to be the low man on Kirby in the industry. Many see him as a potential front-line starter who may be the best in the M’s organization.
We saw Kirby’s fastball jump to around 100 mph last year and his other pitches perform better because of it. If he gets better secondary pitches then he certainly should be in consideration for an ace pitcher because he is already dominating AA batters. He does need to go a full year, and he may make his way to the majors this year.
Left off of the list were pitchers Brandon Williamson, Emerson Hancock, and Matt Brash. He has Brash at the top of the just missed list, mostly because he does not believe he can start. Hancock has been falling because he did not pitch enough last year for some people, but here at SoDo Mojo we believe he will bounce back just fine. Williamson is not a sexy name at all, but he will most likely make his big league debut this year and he should be a good mid-rotation starter.
Overall, of the four Mariners prospects in Law’s top 100 prospects, I would say he got two right with Harry Ford and Noelvi Marte. It is pretty hard to see that Julio Rodriguez and George Kirby are ranked where they are, but it creates great conversation. It is very fun to have a discussion about Mariners prospects being some of the best in the game.