5 Mariners' prospects to keep an eye on and watch during Spring Training

Cole Young and Harry Ford aren't the only youngsters worth following this spring. There are numerous under-the-radar prospects who could make an impact on the big league club.

Seattle Mariners v Kansas City Royals
Seattle Mariners v Kansas City Royals / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The Mariners' farm system is in an interesting spot, specifically when looking at the estimated arrival time for some of their top prospects. While two Arizona Fall League standouts, Tyler Locklear and Ryan Bliss, should contribute to the big league club this year, the next wave of high-upside prospects were in Low-A or High-A last season. That group includes highly regarded up-the-middle stars Cole Young and Harry Ford. However, they're not the only prospects to watch.

We're using noted prospect guru Jason Churchill's latest Top 50 list to identify their ranking. However, like most prospect evaluations, they are subjective. Regardless, these five players must follow this spring, with each possibly impacting major league games this season.

5 - Carlos Vargas - #17

Vargas bounced between three organizations over the past few years due to his triple-digit fastball and equally impressive slider. The 24-year-old is impressing in camp bullpen sessions, and Cal Raleigh specifically called out his performance while speaking with Seattle Sports 710 this week.

The slider is dominant, topping out at 93 mph, and comes with some wicked spin (2361 rpm). In limited innings last season, Vargas had a 46.2 whiff percentage on the pitch. Considering ace reliever Matt Brash's injury, Vargas could fill the void if he can reign in his command issues.

4 - Reid VanScoter - NR

In trading away two lefties this offseason, Marco Gonzales and Robbie Ray, the Mariners cut into the pitching depth they've coveted. Fortunately, a few intriguing arms are destined for the upper levels, which could impact the big league rotation. Whether that is with spot starts to preserve Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo's innings for the stretch run. Or stepping into the rotation for an extended period. Reid VanScoter is a prime candidate.

Like former crafty lefty Gonzales, the 25-year-old southpaw is about deception and command. He rode those attributes to the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year award last season thanks to a league-leading 143 innings and a 20.2% strikeout-to-walk ratio.

3 - Jonatan Clase - #18

Clase seems like he's been in the Mariner system for years. The Mariners inked the speedy centerfielder in 2019 through the International Signing Period (ISP). One thing that stands out is his performance: he has improved every season. 2023 was a breakout campaign for the 21-year-old, as he was the first minor leaguer to have a 20/70 season since they began tracking in 1961.

He is already impacting spring training games, showcasing elite speed (70-grade), often a staple of playoff contenders.

2 - Samad Taylor #26

Newly-minted Mariner Samad Taylor might have little power, but he makes up for it in speed and versatility. Those are two attributes manager Scott Servais loves in his bench. Taylor can play all three outfield positions and the middle infield. His high-contact approach aligns with Offensive Coordinator Brant Brown's philosophy of adjusting to hitting at T-Mobile Park.

Additionally, if the latest reports are accurate and third baseman Luis Urias starts the year on the injured list, the domino effect includes a roster spot for the 25-year-old utility man.

1 - Emerson Hancock - #13

The oft-injured right-hander has had a tough go since the Mariners drafted him 6th overall in 2020. Hancock flashed unique pitch-shaping in his major league debut against the Padres, striking out five across five innings.

Reports are promising this spring for Hancock as his velocity is up to 97 thanks to a simplified delivery. The goal is to stash the 24-year-old in Tacoma, but the Mariners will surely call upon the Georgian sometime this season.

Look for these five to make some noise in the box and on the bump during Cactus League competition and hopefully play roles in getting the Mariners back to the playoffs in 2024.