It's not a surprise. The Mariners have an abundance of controllable and youthful pitching that they could use to bring in a big bat or two this offseason. While MLB insiders have floated Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo, and, to an extent, Logan Gilbert's names into the Hot Stove chatter, Emerson Hancock is a forgotten asset to remember.
Our 6th-rated prospect is starting to get the dreaded 'oft-injured' label considering he's missed time just about every season since the Mariners drafted him 6th overall in 2020. Lat and multiple shoulder injuries have derailed Hancock's ascent through the system, but he did flash a unique pitch mix in his 2023 debut.
The slider and changeup are the highest-graded offerings (55), but we can make a case for Hancock having the best command of the three youngsters (Miller, Woo). The velocity is down from his college days (97 mph) to 94, but the movement on the fastball is something to watch. His ability to command all four of his pitches probably means we are looking at a mid-rotation starter ceiling, but is that a problem in a Mariners' system chock-full of pitching talent?
There have been rumblings that Hancock and the Mariners' Pitching Development crew will look to reinvent his delivery to alleviate stress on the shoulder, which could completely change his trajectory. If the 24-year-old can continue to flash the plus secondaries with solid command, he becomes a trade chip on par with his peers or a replacement for Marco Gonzales or Robbie Ray in 2025. Either way, 2024 is a massive year for the former Georgia Bulldog.
If Jerry Dipoto and Justin Hollander don't use him in a trade this offseason to augment the offense, we'll see Hancock front the Tacoma Rainiers' rotation and most likely be the first spot start called upon.