The Mariners haven’t boasted an above-average farm system in some time. The team has never been known for their drafting strategy, and has sent a lot of first round picks away by signing big name free agents in recent years. But the Mariners’ farm system is in the best shape it’s been in in years. They’ve made good picks in later rounds, thanks to their scouting department, but their player development department is the real MVP. They’ve done more with less than almost any other farm system, turning solid talent into good production.
Dan Vogelbach, 1B
After being drafted in the second round back in 2011 for his major league hit tool and power potential, Vogelbach has shown that he has major league work ethic as well. He slimmed down from 280lbs to250 lbs and as a result he’s rangier at first base, and has further refined his hit tool. In 2016 he put up big numbers, notching a slash line of .292/.417/.505 with 23 home runs and 96 RBIs. He was traded to the Mariners for Mike Montgomery in mid-season. There is some competition in the Mariners organization, but there is a clear path to make Vogelbach the first baseman for the Mariners in the future.
Luiz Gohara, LHP
Signed out of Brazil in 2012, Gohara is the only international signee on this list. He has the best raw talent in the organization, and now has lots of pro experience, though he’s only 20. He still has ample time to develop. Like Vogelbach, Gohara lost 30 lbs prior to this season. During the season, he put up an ERA of 1.81 with a 1.15 WHIP. He has excellent velocity on his curveball, but is a traditional case of being a hurler. His slider and his change-up are coming along, though, and will be key in his development toward the majors.
Nick Neidert, RHP
Taken out of high school in the second round of 2015, the Mariners found a good one with the 60th overall pick. He made big strides in his first full season, putting up a 2.57 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP, playing the whole year at High A. Neidert has a four-pitch mix that he masterfully uses to generate groundballs. He’s a nice change of pace for a high school pitcher. He has an approach beyond his years, even with a fastball that can touch 96. He could move quicker than most people expected.
Tyler O’Neil, OF
A third round pick in 2013, the Mariners stole O’Neil with the 85th selection. With excellent power, an above-average approach, and good athleticism, O’Neil was the ideal prep bat. He’s brought that to fruition in his stint in the minors. This year he hit .293/.374/.508 with 24 homeruns and 102 RBIs. O’Neil has a big frame for his size, but he still maintains adequate range in the outfield. With the approach he has, the Mariners believe they have a future middle-of-the-order hitter in O’Neil.
Kyle Lewis, OF
The Mariners were disappointed to earn the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft, but were elated to find Kyle Lewis sitting on the board there. Lewis was viewed as a top-five talent, as he looked like the highest upside college bat in the class. They snagged him and signed him at slot value for $3,286,700. His pro debut was going great before he tore his ACL, requiring surgery and ending his season. Lewis has some of the best raw power in the draft, and an above-average approach at the plate. Big and athletic, at 6’4”, 210 lbs he’s drawn more than a few comparisons to Jason Heyward, being from the same area of Georgia. Lewis is one of the best talents in the draft, and by far the best talent in the Mariners’ farm system.
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