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Mariners GM Dipoto shares philosophy on when to promote prospects

Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto has a lot of talented prospects to keep an eye on this year. (AP)

Unlike in past seasons, the Mariners have a lot of young talent in their farm system to look over this year. And a lot of their top prospects are off to strong starts at their respective levels.

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For example, there’s 19-year-old Jarred Kelenic, the outfield phenom acquired from the Mets in a blockbuster trade with the Mets last season who is torching opposing pitching in the South Atlantic League for the Class-A West Virginia Power. Or there’s big right-hander Logan Gilbert, who made his professional debut at the beginning of this season as Kelenic’s teammate and quickly was promoted to the Advanced-A Modesto Nuts after just four starts. And a few levels higher than that, shortstop J.P. Crawford is putting himself in the conversation for a return to the big leagues by playing well for Triple-A Tacoma.

So when players are performing in the minors, when is the right time to promote them to the next level?

On the latest edition of the Jerry Dipoto Show with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore, the Mariners general manager shared his philosophy on that exact issue.

“The first thing that you want to see is the player, I guess, dominate his level, and in Jarred’s case or in Logan’s case, those players are certainly doing that now,” Dipoto said. “The second element that you have to consider is that player’s social standing and where is he in terms of his maturity. If we take a 19 year old and push him to the next level where the average age is 22 or we push him two levels beyond and now the average age is 23 or 24, are you putting him with a social group that he’s just not ready to join?”

Dipoto had one player specifically in mind as he further explained his response.

“I think especially in the case of a guy like Jarred Kelenic, we are just getting to know the player,” Dipoto said, noting how little time the Mariners have had the Mets’ No. 1 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft in their organization. “You’re trying to get a read for what makes him tick, and I think we’re comfortable with who Jarred is – (he is) a very mature player – and I don’t think moving to the next level will be pushing him too fast. But you want to put him in a situation where he can succeed. Clearly he’s showing us that West Virginia, at least for a month, has not been a big problem for him, and eventually we’ll have to have a long discussion about when it’s the right time to challenge him – and we’re starting to have those conversations now.”

Dipoto added that the 24-year-old Crawford, a first-round draft pick of the Phillies in 2013 who has 72 games of MLB experience over the past two years, has shown the Mariners what they wanted to see in his time in Triple-A. But even though current Mariners shortstop Tim Beckham has struggled defensively and recently fell into a bit of a slump at the plate, that won’t cause Dipoto to rush Crawford any faster than he has planned.

“We asked (Crawford) to go down (to Tacoma) and work on certain elements in his game. He’s done that and he’s putting himself in the discussion for another shot at the major league level, which we think is where he will spend the long term. (But) we don’t want to push him too fast,” Dipoto said. “… You never want to go to a young player because you are frustrated with the recent performance of a veteran player. That’s the wrong reason to promote. You want to promote the young player because he’s achieved what you laid out for him.

“We don’t want J.P. to step in for Tim Beckham because we’re frustrated that Beck has made 11 errors or that he’s had a rough 10 days with the bat. Tim Beckham will hit; he’s always hit. At the end of the day we want to promote J.P. because we feel like it’s his time, and that when he steps in, he’s ready to take the job and run with it.”

You can listen to the full interview with Dipoto in the player embedded in this post or download a podcast version at this link.

For an in-depth breakdown of the Mariners’ top prospects and other notable players in the minors, click the story below.

Checking In: How the Mariners’ top players in the minor leagues are doing