Already in the midst of his best season of pro ball, Evan White punctuated his stellar first half with a tie-breaking, two-run home run in the eighth inning Sunday afternoon to help the Arkansas Travelers to a 5-1 victory at Midland (Texas).

The Travelers, the Mariners’ Class AA affiliate in the Texas League, already had secured their first-half division title, and they improved to 48-26 overall after Sunday’s victory.

The home run was White’s ninth of the season and, more notably, extended his hitting streak to 22 games. During that streak, the first baseman has a slash line of .368/.400/.642 with seven home runs in 95 at-bats, further cementing his status as one of the top five prospects in the Mariners’ system.

Before heading to Tulsa, Okla., to start in Tuesday’s Texas League All-Star Game, White, 23, spoke with The Seattle Times about Arkansas’ team success, adjustments to his swing, his hitting streak and more.

Question: The organization has been pretty transparent about its rebuilding plan, and you are obviously viewed as the first baseman of the future here in Seattle. How do you look at those expectations?

Answer: It’s definitely exciting. I wouldn’t say the word “pressure.” It’s just an opportunity, and you’ve got to go about your business each and every day and try to get better. Because if you don’t do that, you’re not going to be ready when the opportunity comes. So just go about your business on a day-to-day basis, and whatever else happens, happens.


Q: From afar, it seems you guys are having a lot of fun playing — and winning — around the Texas League.

A: For sure. We definitely have a great group of guys, and we enjoy each other’s company. We push each other on and off the field. It’s just a real close-knit group. We enjoy playing for each other, and if one of us has an “off” day, we know the guy behind you or the guy next to you is going to pick you up. It’s a real good atmosphere and fun to play in.

Q: I know part of the Mariners’ thinking is to keep a core group of you guys together for as long as possible as you come up through the system. Do you guys look at it that way, that you’re working together to get to Seattle?

A: Without question. Like I said, we’re a real close group of guys. We love each other. We enjoy each other’s success. And that’s the coolest thing. Coming into pro ball, you hear about how guys are going to be selfish and no one wants to root for the other guy and stuff like that. But that’s just not the case with us. When Jake Fraley won player of the month (in May), we were all freaking out for him. And (on Thursday), Joe DeCarlo hit a grand slam after (Midland) intentionally walked Nick Zammarelli to get to him, and the guys’ reactions were just awesome. That tells you the guys all care about one another, and it’s unbelievable. We definitely have dreams of climbing the ladder together, and that just goes back to how close we are and how much we want to push each other — not only on the baseball field but to become better people, too. We have a big Bible study that we do at least once or twice a week, and we’re all growing in our faith as well. It’s just a really cool environment to be in, and I’m really thankful and really blessed to be here.

Q: Just in the past week, you guys have had two long bus rides around the Texas League (650 miles from North Little Rock to Corpus Christi, and then another 470 miles from Corpus Christi to Midland). How do you pass the time on those long trips?

A: I don’t think anyone wants to sit on a bus for seven to 10 hours, but when you’ve got a good group of guys with you it makes it better. We play Stickman Golf (on their phones) and compete against each other all the time. It’s fun, man. It makes the trips go by a little quicker. You’ve got guys telling stories and different card games being played.


Q: You and Kyle Lewis are roommates on road trips. As two former first-round draft picks, what has it been like to climb the ladder through the system with him?

A: We’ve been kind of going through the same things. Obviously, everyone’s journey is a little different, but we pick each other’s brain at the plate and talk a lot about the experience of coming up, and we push each other on and off the field. It goes back to those relationships with the entire team like I was talking about earlier, but it’s definitely great to have a guy like that on your side.

Q: You made a swing adjustment late last season. What was that process like, and how has that carried into this season?

A: It started last year. I wanted to get more consistent with my timing, and that’s translated this year. I had some rough patches to start, but I’m just trying to get back to being as consistent as possible with my timing, which allows me to get my “A” swing off as much as possible. It was more about the setup. People talk about “making a swing change.” It wasn’t a swing change. My swing itself hasn’t changed in years. It was more a setup change. It’s kind of evolved. Last year, it was with my hand placement. This year, the hand placement is pretty much the same (with a lower setup); it’s just being a little taller in the box and sinking into my right glute (muscle) and being more consistent with my backside.

Q: It’s obviously working for you lately. Are the results during this hitting streak indicative of how you’re feeling at the plate, too?

A: Yeah, I would say so. I’ve been able to battle a little bit and still put a barrel on the ball once in a while. Obviously, you’re just trying to get back to those swings where you’re feeling good. Baseball is a funny game. You can be feeling hot one second, and then the next day you’re wondering what in the world happened. But you’ve got to go up there and compete and do everything you can to get your “A” swing off again. My main goal is to hit the ball hard. You might hit three balls hard one night but go 0 for 4, and that’s just part of the game. Pitchers are going to make good pitches. But as long as you’re sticking to your approach and your timing is good, that’s really what it comes down to. If my timing is off, then I’m not going to be able to make nearly as good of a decision. So if a guy is throwing a tough cutter on the outside, I might chase it. But if my timing is good, then I can see it and lay off it and make him bring it closer to me. Stuff like that where you’re just trying to control what you can control.