Home System list State of the Seattle Mariners farm system: Down for all the right reasons

State of the Seattle Mariners farm system: Down for all the right reasons

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nine months ago when Athleticismby Keith Law published a list of Top 20 Sailor Prospectshe called it “the best farm system in the American League”.

After all, this list was led by two players – the outfielder Julio Rodriguez (#1) and pitcher George Kirby (No. 3) – who were about to do great things (even though we didn’t necessarily know How? ‘Or’ What great at the time).

Nearly a year later, that same agricultural system – once brimming with much-loved prospects – may appear to be a mere shell of itself. That might be a little strong, although it’s a much nicer descriptor than “gutted”.

From Law’s top 17 Seattle outlook as of February, only eight will spend time in the Mariners farm system in 2023.

But before we go any further, let’s face the obvious here: that’s not a bad thing at all. Not by any stretch of the imagination.

The Mariners graduated Rodríguez and Kirby to the big leagues, and they each had a profound impact on the roster and were the main reasons the club won 90 games, won a Wild Card Series and advanced to the AL Division Series. .

Rodriguez was the AL Rookie of the Year in a landslideand while it would be fun to recount all of his accomplishments and achievements, we just don’t have the space for that today.

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Kirby started the season in the minors but eventually landed in Seattle in May and was an immediate success, posting a 3.0 fWAR and 3.39 ERA in 130 innings. The last time we saw Kirby, he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Astros in the ALDS.

Launcher Matt Brash was also on that list (No. 5) and after a failed run in the rotation in April, returned later in the season as a dynamite reliever, posting a 2.34 ERA in 34 games and had three scoreless playoff appearances.

That’s why you build a strong farm system, hoping you can train impact players to increase the big league squad. That’s exactly what Rodríguez, Kirby and Brash did.

But those same leads can also be used in other ways – to help you get resources to help you at the big league level today. And that’s why Law’s roster in a few months will look very different from 2022’s.

Six of those 17 players are now with other organizations – and five of them are with the Redsplayers used in two separate trades that helped the Mariners return to the playoffs for the first time since 2001.


The Mariners used prospects to acquire Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker in spring training. (Frank Franklin II/Associated Press)

In March, shortly after the start of a truncated spring training, Seattle acquired the third baseman Eugenio Suarez and outfielder jesse winker for the reds – winning pieces, basically – for pitchers Brandon Williamson (Number 6), Justin DunnConnor Phillips (#15) and outfielder Jake Fraley.

In August, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and general manager Justin Hollander returned to the Reds to add a pitcher. Luis Castillo. The cost was high: Infielder Noelvi Marte (#3), pitcher Levi Stoudt (No. 8) and infielder Edwin Arroyo (No. 14, although he surpassed that rating in 2022) and reliever Andrew Moore.

It was, unquestionably, the ultimate win-now move for the Mariners and a perfect example of how sometimes you have to take advantage of the future to strike fast. Castillo was everything the Mariners could have hoped for and more and that was even before he dominated the Blue Jays in Game 1 of the Wild Card series with 7 1/3 shutouts.

Last week, the Mariners moved another player from Law’s roster — left-handed pitcher Adam Macko (No. 17) — to the blue jays as part of a deal that landed the outfielder Teoscar Hernandezwho should help bolster an attack that needed help last season.

Which brings us to today. Have the Mariners decimated their farming system to the point that they don’t have enough attractive parts to swing another big trade? Dipoto thinks the answer is no.

“It’s going to make it look like we’re delusional,” Dipoto said last month. “But we don’t think we’ve taken such a big step backwards. We have graduated a number of players in the majors, we still have a very young core in the majors and in the last two years we have graduated the Cal Raleighs, the Logan Gilberts.

“It’s starting to hurt third-party (prospect) rankings. We may not be in the top five like we have in the previous three years, but what we have right now is a stream of talent at the bottom of our system.

Dipoto refers to players like 2022 first-rounder Cole Young (a 19-year-old shortstop), outfielder Lazaro Montes (18), pitcher Walter Ford (17), 2021 first-rounder Harry Ford (a 19 – one-year catcher), outfielders Jonathan Clase (20), Gabriel Gonzales (18), infielder Michael Arroyo (18) and others.

“We don’t see our system as a step backwards,” Dipoto said. “We’ve just gotten younger…and we think over time the (projection) systems will start to take care of that as well.”

The top of the Mariners farm system may not be quite as strong, but there are several players the Mariners can hang on to or jump to for the good deal to help them in 2023 and beyond.

Pitcher Emerson Hancock, their 2020 first-round pick, is closing in on the major leagues. The same could be said for pitcher Taylor Dollard, who might have taken the the biggest leap in performance from anyone in the system.

The Mariners also get plenty of hits from other teams on pitchers Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo, though they probably aren’t inclined to move either. Here again, at the head of a club now well anchored in its competitive window, Dipoto knows how to never say never.

(Photo by Harry Ford: Courtesy of Modesto Nuts)