How the 2022 Mariners minor leaguers of the year fared in Spring Training
By Brandon Willman
Many minor leaguers played fantastically during the 2022 season for the Mariners, but two stood out above the rest. Robert Perez Jr., who split time between High-A Everett and Low-A Modesto, and Taylor Dollard, who played in AA Arkansas, were the Mariner’s minor league hitter and a pitcher of the year, respectively.
Both were non-roster invites to Spring Training, but both have seen limited action in their time with the big league club. Despite that, their 2022 seasons point to future success for the Mariners and those seasons deserve a rewind prior to Opening Day.
Mariners Minor League Pitcher of the Year: Taylor Dollard
Dollard was not only the pitcher of the year but also the overall player of the year in Seattle’s farm system. He put up a 16-2 record at AA Arkansas with a 2.25 ERA over 144.0 innings pitched. The 24-year-old righty struck out 131 batters and had a sub 1.00 WHIP at .95.
He had the lowest ERA among qualified pitchers at the AA level, as well as throwing the most innings. Dollard is not the most overpowering pitcher, as his fastball sits in the low 90s. However, his slider is deadly and is his best “pure stuff” pitch.
"He’s got a really tremendous slider. (He can) locate it in really strategic locations—down and away, or back foot, or backdoor, or front hip."- Arkansas pitching coach Sean McGrath
Dollard is currently the seventh-ranked prospect in the Mariner’s system, with an ETA of 2023. He will not start the season at the major league level, but a call-up before September is not out of the question.
In Spring Training, he only threw 0.2 innings, giving up an earned run and striking two for both the outs that he recorded. Outside of his nasty slider, Dollard’s biggest strength is his ability to limit the long ball. Pitching in a hitter-friendly league, he surrounded just nine home runs over his 144.0 innings.
Mariners Minor League Hitter of the Year: Robert Perez Jr.
Despite being the 20th-ranked prospect in the farm, Perez Jr broke out in 2022 to capture recognition as the minor league hitter of the year for the Mariners. Playing at both the A and A+ levels, he was actually even more productive at the higher level.
In 35 games at A+, Perez Jr had seven HR and 27 RBI, slashed .342/.477/.583 for a 1.060 OPS. He showed that he could hit for average and power in his 120 at-bats, but his position has a log jam at the higher levels.
The biggest caveat of his success was that he had a .425 BABIP, assuredly a number that will be entirely impossible to maintain going into 2023. However, his ability to get the ball in play and having 23 walks to 34 strikeouts shows the potential to be a productive hitter against tough competition.
Perez Jr will spend all of 2023 in the minors, as Ty France and Evan White are just two of the other first basemen currently above him in the hierarchy of potential playing time, but 2024 may see some bench playing time for the former hitter of the year.
He also projects more as a designated hitter, but even then, his tools are still raw and could use more time to develop in the minors.
Against MLB-level competition in Spring Training, he had nine at-bats, getting three singles and hitting .333. Being just 22 years old, his hype is in his raw power and jaw-dropping exit velocities, but to make the big league club, he still has a lot of improvement to make.