Checking in on Mariners RHP Prospect Emerson Hancock

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 07: A Seattle Mariners logo is seen before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at T-Mobile Park on May 07, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 07: A Seattle Mariners logo is seen before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at T-Mobile Park on May 07, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

It wasn’t that long ago that people when arguments and conversations came up about the top pitching prospect in the Mariners farm system, Emerson Hancock would be one of the names that people would fight for. The 6th pick in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft out of the University of Georgia had Mariners fans excited and for good reason.

Just two years later, It’s a common theme to see people writing him off already. Even though Emerson Hancock just turned 23 (HAPPY BIRTHDAY), there are a ton of people labeling him a bust.

Those people are morons.

Emerson Hancock is back and throwing well in Arkansas

I’m not afraid to be a bit brash or upfront with my feelings. People overreact negatively way too fast, especially online when the vocal minority flexes their respective internet muscles from the friendly confines of their home computer or cell phone.

It’s been two years, with a “pandemic” and you all need to chill out about Hancock.

The team has been taking it easy with him, which is 100% the right call. It’s fine to “baby him” along, ensuring that he gets back to health and doesn’t push it. This is where we are at now with Emerson Hancock as he has started throwing once again in the minors.

He has made three starts so far for the Travelers, going deeper with each outing. He started off on May 17th and threw just 1.1 IP. 23 of his 36 pitches were strikes, and he struck out two while walking one and gave up two hits with one earned run.

His next outing on the 22nd saw him increase the pitch count a bit, up to 45 (28 strikes). He would fan three in 2.2, with three hits, two walks, and one earned run once again.

The most recent outing, that is the one that should stand out to people as being impressive, and a good sign so early on in his recovery and buildup. Hancock would throw four shutout innings against the Sod Poodles (goodness do I love minor league team names), allowing just one hit while striking out 4. Better yet, he did it efficiently with just 44 pitches. Any time you can average 11 pitches an inning, you know you are doing something right.

The first three Ks came from heaters, two elevated and one down in the zone. It’s also incredibly important to note that the heater was sitting 94-96 all night, which is a great sign for his shoulder health. Sounds like there was a strong CH in his arsenal as well, and he finished off the 4th inning with a nice slider that broke outside the zone for his 4th K of the night.

It’s going to be a bit of a road, and I personally hope that we don’t see him throw more than 75 pitches in an outing this year. If he’s feeling good and hasn’t had any setbacks by the end of the season, maybe letting him loose for the final game would be good, just to see what type of strength he has really built up.

He’s only 23, and is still the youngest of Gilbert/Kirby/Brash. He’s not going to be up as young as the other three (obviously), but seeing Hancock up late in 2023 or in 2024 would still be great. He could start the 2024 season in the bigs, and only be 24 years old.

The fastball velocity is likely to tick up a bit more, as he was up to 99 in the past. If he could sit 94-98, it would be amazing. It’s not just the straight heat though, as he has a 2-seamer that he’s working on as well, which looks to be what he threw for that first strikeout. You see the slider, and the change is good as well. Oh, with a curveball too. With heat in the arsenal and four above-average pitches, there is no reason that Hancock can’t be a solid #3, with a fairly high ceiling.

Next. Three Mariners Bold Predictions for the month of June. dark

Keep an eye on Hancock in Arkansas as he continues to build strength. With short outings scheduled, watching how he attacks hitters will be fun. As long as he can stay healthy (I’m honestly not terribly worried) we should see the pitch count slowly tick upwards as the summer moves forward. Emerson Hancock is back, and it’s great to see him on the mound once again.