When the General Manager, Jerry DiPoto, turned to rebuild in 2018, we all knew he would put a premium on young talent, essential prospects. So that year, the team laid a solid foundation by drafting Logan Gilbert and Cal Raleigh in the first three rounds. DiPoto and scouting director Scott Hunter followed that up with a haul that included George Kirby, Brandon Williamson, and Isaiah Campbell, all top-end strike throwers that were added as Mariners Prospects.
Those picks and international signings (Julio Rodriguez) and trades (Jarred Kelenic) propelled the Mariners’ Farm System to a top-three rating in Baseball America’s 2022 list.
Trader Jerry leveraged a few of those prospects to augment the roster this year, with top 10 prospects Brandon Williamson, Noelvi Marte, and Edwin Arroyo heading to Cincinnati for Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, and Luis Castillo in two separate deals. Those transactions, along with the graduation of Matt Brash, Julio Rodriguez, and George Kirby, have likely slipped the team’s farm system into the mid-teens, but that doesn’t mean the farm is baren.
There are a few exciting Mariner prospects performing well in the Arizona Fall League (AFL). They might not have the upside of top prospect Harry Ford, but a few look like they could turn into solid major league-level contributors. Let’s dive into the top three thus far.
Mariners Prospects: Robert Perez Jr
There is a lot of swing and miss in Bobby Bombs’ game, but he took a big step forward this year by cutting down on the strikeouts and showing his immense power over two levels to the tune of a .288/.398/.921 slash line.
Perez solidified himself as a top-run producer in the system and continues to do so in the desert this Fall. He leads the Peoria Javelina’s in homers and is second in hits and RBIs. In addition, his strikeout rate is a little lower (26%) than his regular season average (30%), which is a reason for optimism. The hope is he can use this experience to start the year at first base in Arkansas with a chance at ending up in Tacoma by the end of 2023.
Mariners Prospects: Adam Macko
One of the only Slovenia-born minor leaguers, Adam Macko, is making up for lost time due to injuries in 2022 by toeing the bump for the Javelinas. He has always had the raw stuff, but the injuries keep him from advancing through the system.
Macko only threw 38 innings this year, but he racked up 60 strikeouts with a 3.99 ERA in Everett. His AFL stats don’t tell the whole story (13.50 ERA), which is he is finally healthy and working to give the team a reason to start the talented lefty in Modesto.
Mariners Prospects: Bryan Woo
When the Mariners drafted Woo in 2021 out of Cal Poly, the team’s brass knew he’d be on the shelf for a while with impending Tommy John surgery. Instead, Woo builds on a solid season where he flashed plus command and a big fastball across three levels. The team limited his starts to three to four-inning stints as he built up his arm strength. Despite the reliever-level workload, Woo struck out 84 batters over 57 innings in 16 starts.
He is continuing to turn heads in the AFL and earning awards (AFL Co-Pitcher of the Week) against top-level talent. Thus far, Woo has thrown 5 2/3 innings with one walk and eight strikeouts. That sure looks like controlling the zone at its finest. So the only question is, where does the 22-year-old righthander end up when he gets to Seattle? In the pen, a la Matt Brash, or as a starter like George Kirby. Either way, Woo looks like the real deal.
Additional AFL prospects include Alberto Rodriguez, Jorge Benitez, Jose Caballero, Juan Then and Spencer Packard. There isn’t a ton of upside in this year’s Mariner AFL crop, but they all look like they can make some noise this year and beyond.