We've written extensively about the Seattle Mariners farm system this offseason. We've penned articles on sleeper prospects to watch for and deep dives into known entities like Bryce Miller and Harry Ford. This week, prospect graduations and trades have dropped the system from #1 in 2022 to #20 in MLB Insider Keith Law's rankings. He is down on the system and doubled down in a recent article in "The Athletic." (Paywall).
""There's still some interesting pitching and a couple of fairly high-upside teenaged bats, although at this point they're risking becoming a bottom-five system," added Law. "One that can't sustain the major league roster – if they make another huge deal.""- Keith Law, MiLB Insider
While I appreciate Keith Law and what he does to elevate MiLB into the minds of MLB fans, this is one of the coldest takes I've seen in quite some time. The counterpoints are plenty.
Mariners 2023 MLB Amateur Draft Capital
Thanks to American Rookie of the Year, Julio Rodriguez, the Mariners Director of Scouting Scott Hunter has an extra first-round pick to play with this year. That makes three top-30 selections (22, 29, 30) where you can add impact college players to the farm.
Names to keep an eye on include Boston College five-tool outfielder Travis Honeyman, San Diego State utilityman Cole Carrigg, and Davidson catcher Michael Carico. Any of these three would add more helium to the system and fill the gap between most of the high-impact bats below A-ball and the Major League team.
Young Bats in Lower Levels
If you ask most MLB insiders, they'll tell you that Dipoto built the Mariners on pitching, and the farm system reflects that with Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock, Taylor Dollard, and Bryan Woo all close to the T-Mobile Park bump. So is there an impact bat close to debuting in 2023 or even 2024? Probably not. Law's reasoning is that most of the bats are in the lower levels, but that shouldn't impact the rating of the farm.
Axel Sanchez, Harry Ford, Cole Young, and Gabriel Gonzalez excelled in 2022 in a league that could be considered high for their age. Currently, Ford checks in at #48 on the MLB Pipeline Prospect rankings, and with the WBC ahead, he will more than likely gain steam this year. There could be a scenario where all four of these guys move up to Everett together.
If they continue the momentum in Modesto; we'll see multiple promotions, which would likely result in a couple of these guys joining Ford on ESPN, MLB Pipeline, Prospects Live, or even Baseball America's Top 100 list. This doesn't account for Michael Arroyo, an advanced bat who excelled in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) and will probably arrive in Modesto and on scouts' radars by midseason.
Amateur International Signing Success
We've recently delved into the Mariner's 2023 international signings. The Mariners inked 14 players, with the #2 rated prospect in the class, shortstop Felnin Celesten, leading the way. Scouts have said the 17-year-old has loud tools that put him in the class of Wander Franco and Francisco Lindor. That's pretty elite company. Additionally, President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto, is bringing the youngster to Spring Training to fast-track his development and team him with superstar Julio Rodriguez.
Either way, Celesten will learn this spring, make some noise on the back fields, and probably end up in the Arizona Complex League by year's end. You can bet he'll crack the top prospect lists if that path comes to fruition.
Ford and Bryce Miller (98) are already in the Top 100, but Axel Sanchez, Cole Young, Gabriel Gonzalez, Michael Arroyo, and Felnin Celesten are on the way. If you do the math, that could be SEVEN prospects on the list by season's end. For a farm system that Law ranked in the bottom half of the league? My guess is he only looked at the known commodities instead of diving deeper into the farm, because Dipoto's crown jewel would be ranked higher if he did.