OAKLAND, Calif. — With the Major League Baseball amateur draft, the international signing period and the trade deadline all in the past, several of the well-known prospect sites have released updated rankings for prospects and farm systems.
With top prospects Julio Rodriguez and George Kirby graduating from prospect status along with relievers Andres Munoz and Penn Murfee, the trade for Luis Castillo that sent infielders Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo, who were both in the top-100 prospects, and two right-handed pitchers Levi Stoudt and Andrew Moore — both in the organization’s top 30 — to the Reds, the Mariners’ organizational ranking took a big hit.
Ranked as the top farm system by Baseball America coming into the season, the Mariners dropped to No. 22 in their midseason rankings, which wasn’t unexpected.
As Baseball America wrote: “The graduations and trades mean the Mariners farm system has taken a big hit, but for the trade-off of building a roster that has the team in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001 — the very point of prospects in the first place.”
Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs updated their top-100 prospects for midseason.
The Mariners have just one prospect in Baseball America’s midseason Top 100, and he won’t remain there for long. Right-hander Matt Brash was ranked No. 54 in FanGraphs’ Top 100 and No. 97 in Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects. Brash doesn’t qualify as a prospect under MLB Pipeline’s ranking system. The Mariners did place catcher Harry Ford, their first-round draft pick in 2021, as the No. 68 prospect overall.
All three outlets have updated their organizational top 30s. Baseball America has Brash as the Mariners’ top prospect with right-hander Emerson Hancock at No. 2, Ford at No. 3 and Cole Young, the 2022 first-round pick at No. 4 and hard-throwing right-hander Bryce Miller at No. 5.
FanGraphs lists Brash as the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect, followed by Ford, Young, right-hander Taylor Dollard at No. 4 and Hancock at No. 5
MLB Pipeline has Ford at No. 1, Hancock at No. 2, 18-year-old outfielder Gabriel Gonzales at No. 3, Young at No. 4 and Miller at No. 5.
Lewis down on the farm
After being optioned to Class AAA Tacoma on Aug. 10, outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Lewis played in his first game for the Rainiers on Friday at Cheney Stadium.
Lewis singled in his first plate appearance and drew a walk in four plate appearances.
There is no plan for Lewis when it comes to playing time or how much he will play in the outfield, if at all. He was back in the lineup as the designated hitter for Saturday’s game vs. Albuquerque at Cheney Stadium.
As part of the maintenance to keep his troublesome right knee healthy, Lewis has rarely played three days in a row and has played minimally in the outfield. It’s clear that running and cutting are still an issue. Lewis has moved carefully if not gingerly when he’s played left field and ran the bases.
Similar to his recent rehab stints, the first for the knee in early May and later after a concussion, the Mariners will allow Lewis to dictate his playing schedule.
Does he have a role with them when rosters expand by two players — one position player and one pitcher — on Sept. 1?
His inability to consistently play in the outfield with the Mariners preferring to rotate their designated hitter spot is an issue. But if he’s hitting at a high level, it’s a risk they’d be willing to take to bolster their lineup vs. left-handed pitching.
The decision for that extra position player will likely be dependent on the roster setup on Sept. 1. The Mariners could go with Lewis or prefer to have an outfielder that can play all three spots such as Taylor Trammell or Jarred Kelenic. Utility infielder Abraham Toro is also on the Rainiers roster and is a switch-hitter.
At this point, Trammell is probably the best fit given Kelenic’s recent struggles at the MLB level when Julio Rodriguez was on the injured list. Trammell showed and improved approach at the plate during his midseason call-up. He could be useful as left-handed hitting platoon option and late-inning defensive replacement after positing a .246/.333/.493 slash line with eight doubles, three homers, nine walks and 21 strikeouts in 79 plate appearances vs. right-handed pitchers this season.