We talked about Harry Ford already, the top-hitting prospect and top prospect in the Mariners farm system. Now it’s time to talk about their top pitcher, Emerson Hancock.
Hancock is easily the most controversial prospect in the Mariners system, as he is the player with the widest variety of opinions surrounding him. Some (myself included) still think of him as a top 100 prospect in all of baseball. Others see him as a bust already, another top-end failure that will be talked about with the likes of Danny Hultzen and Ryan Anderson.
Emerson Hancock is having a pretty good year in the minors for the Mariners
It’s important to remember that Hancock is just 23 years old. He’s still pretty young and is even younger from a baseball standpoint from missing time due to the COVID-shortened seasons. It’s a common thing with guys his age, and I’ll keep mentioning it every time they get brought up because it’s important to remember. It stunted their growth a bit and should lessen our expectations on how soon we may see these guys.
Hancock hasn’t thrown a ton in the minors for the Mariners. He threw just 43.2 innings last year before being shut down and had a late start this year as well. The Mariners have been very cautious with him and his shoulder, and it has led many to complain, whine, and grumble about him being a “bust”.
Ignorance at its finest.
The Mariners have eased Emerson Hancock into it this year, not yet letting him go above 100 pitches in his 13 starts, and only letting him ramp up above 80 pitches in his 8th start. that 80+ number is important, as he has gone 81, 85, 87, 82, 89, and 93 pitches in his last six starts. He’s actually done pretty well in his five most recent starts, with a 2.22 ERA, going 5+ in all of them.
What is it we are seeing with him though, from a physical standpoint and his repertoire? He’s a big dude, which usually helps pitchers hold up well, and is already about 6’4-220 lbs. He brings a consistent fastball in the mid-90s but can bump up to 98/99 as he showcased in the futures game.
He also goes slider and changeup, but the slider can hang a bit. He has a curve in his arm as well but needs more work on keeping them separate and differing them enough in shape. All three of his non-fastball pitches sit in the mid-80s, but it seems like the change is the one that stands out so far.
This is where the “ranking” of Emerson Hancock can change and vary. If he can keep that fastball velocity up, maybe in the way Gilbert and Kirby have learned to do, it starts to turn a bit more and becomes a much better pitch.
He has struggled with the command a bit, but nothing bad at a rate of 3.1 BB/9 this season. He did just have his second-worst outing of the season, giving up a season-high four walks in five innings, so that has skewed the BB rate. Before that, he walked one in seven innings, while striking out nine (season-high).
Oh, and he received the pitcher of the month award in the Texas League, so he definitely was impressive in July.
The Mariners have shown good things in their development lately with Gilbert and Kirby, as well as some other minor leaguers in Miller and Dollard. I’m rooting for success and staying optimistic. Hancock, as he grows in strength and gets his confidence back in his shoulder, has the makings and pitch set up to be a strong #2 pitcher.
Sure, these reviews and discussions about Mariners prospects are usually going to be done with a ray of sunshine… but that’s because they should look that way coming from a Mariners fan-based website. We are looking at what he *could* be, and examining the potential realistic ceiling. Emerson Hancock has looked good, and the Mariners have another stud pitcher coming up in their system and it wouldn’t surprise me if he made his case to be called up next year.