With the minor league season now over for all of their affiliates, the Mariners announced their organizational minor league awards for the 2019 season. Several of the awards were renamed after former Mariners players a few years ago, something started by Andy McKay, the Mariners director of player development. All of the award winners will be honored in a pre-game ceremony on Friday, Sept. 27 when the Mariners play the Oakland A’s at T-Mobile Park.


Jarred Kelenic, outfielder (AA Arkansas/High-A Modesto/A West Virginia)

In his first season with the organization and first full season in professional baseball, Kelenic, 20, ascended from Low-A to High-A to Class AA and put up outstanding numbers along the way, becoming the consensus No. 1 prospect in the organization.

Acquired from the Mets in the seven-player trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York, Kelenic posted a combined .291/.364/.540 slash line with 80 runs scored, 31 doubles, five triples, 23 homers, 68 RBIs and 20 stolen bases in 117 games with the three affiliates. He led all Mariners minor leaguers in runs scored and doubles, while also hitting the second most home runs and totaling the third most hits. Kelenic was one of 10 minor league players this season to record at least 20 home runs and steal 20 bases. He’s the first Mariners prospect to accomplish this feat since outfielder Kalian Sams hit 24 home runs and stole 26 bases in 113 games combined between A Clinton and High-A High Desert in 2011.


Logan Gilbert, right-handed pitcher (AA Arkansas/High-A Modesto/A West Virginia)

Like Kelenic, Gilbert played at the same three levels this season, moving quicker than many expected, considering this was his first season of professional baseball. The Mariners selected Gilbert with the 14th overall pick of the 2018 MLB draft out of Stetson University. But he didn’t pitch last season due to his workload in college and case of mononucleosis. He made 26 combined starts in his three stops, posting a cumulative 10-5 record with a 2.13 ERA. In 135 innings pitched, he struck out 165 batters and walked 33. Opponents batted just .198 against him this season. Among all pitchers in the minor leagues with at least 125 innings pitched Gilbert ranked third in ERA, fifth in average against and seventh in strikeouts.


Joe Rizzo, infielder (High-A Modesto)

Rizzo, 22, earned the Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” Award for his “exemplary play and leadership skills both on and off the field this season.” A second-round pick in the 2017 draft, Rizzo spent the entire season with Modesto. He posted a .295/.354/.423 slash line with 30 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 63 RBIs. He had the most hits of Mariners’ minor leaguer  (153) while playing in the most games (129) and totaling the most at-bats (518).



Donnie Walton, infielder (AA Arkansas)

Walton, 25, was chosen for this award due to “his individual effort in the Little Rock community over the course of the season.” Per the Mariners press release, Walton participated in numerous community events, which included  youth baseball camps, speaking appearances and autograph sessions. He also made visits to the local Ronald McDonald House, Boy and Girls Clubs and visited elementary classrooms to read with children. He also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, helped organize food, toy and clothing drives and collected equipment to be sent to the Dominican Republic.

On the field, Walton was a team leader for the Travelers, helping lead them to the postseason and earning a big league call-up on Tuesday. He posted a .300/.390/.427 slash line with 22 doubles, three triples, 11 homers and 50 RBIs. He established career-highs in nearly every offensive category, including games (124), runs scored (72), hits (144) home runs (11), RBI (50) and walks (63). He was just one of five qualifying players in the Texas League to finish the season with a batting average .300 or over.


Connor Hoover, infielder  (AAA Tacoma/AA Arkansas/High-A Modesto/A West Virginia/Short-A Everett/Rookie AZL Mariners)

Hoover, 23, was given the Edgar Martinez “Rake Report” Award for best embodying the Mariners’ “Control the Zone” philosophy and “instilling a team approach at the plate instead of an individual approach.” Hoover played in 72 games with stops at every affiliate in the Mariners’ minor league system.  He batted .247 (60 for 243) but had a .367 on-base percentage with 44 runs scored, 15 doubles, five triples, nine home runs, 43 RBI, 45 walks and 16 stolen bases.

“60 ft. 6 in. CLUB” AWARD

Penn Murfee, right-handed pitcher (AAA Tacoma/AA Arkansas/High-A Modesto)

Murfee, 25, received the “60 ft. 6 in. Club” Award for being the pitcher that best embodies the “Control the Zone” philosophy. Murfee spent the majority of the season with High-A Modesto, but also appeared in a game with Arkansas and five games with Tacoma. He had a combined 6-5 record with a 3.57 ERA. In 113 1/3 innings pitched, he struck out 136 batters and walked just 31. Murfee was selected in the 33rd round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Vanderbilt.


Rob Marcello (Pitching Coach – High-A Modesto Nuts)

Modesto pitching coach Rob Marcello was named the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year. Hired this past offseason, Marcello “has been an integral member of the Player Development staff this season, making sure pitchers are prepared to succeed on a daily basis” per the press release. The Nuts ranked highly in nearly every pitching category in the California League. They led the league in innings pitched (1,222.1) and ranked second in ERA (3.36) and strikeouts (1,442), third in WHIP (1.30) and fourth in shutouts (9). The Nuts starters combined to go 38-41 with a 3.78 ERA (292, 695.2 IP), while the bullpen combined to 27-34 with 26 saves and a 3.58 ERA (224 ER, 563.2 IP).

Before being hired by the Mariners, Marcello was the director of operations and co-owner of Top Level Athletes in Orlando, FL. The company specializes in data influenced training.