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ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan shares observations of Mariners’ young core

J.P. Crawford has settled in as Seattle's starting shortstop and leadoff hitter. (Getty)

ESPN MLB reporter Jeff Passan has a been a regular guest on 710 ESPN Seattle to discuss the Mariners in recent years, something he’s continuing this season every other week on Bob, Dave and Moore.

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Passan joined the show Thursday afternoon and shared his observations on a few of the key young position players seeing regular time in the Mariners’ lineup, including center fielder Kyle Lewis and leadoff man J.P. Crawford.

Here’s a look at what Passan had to say.

Kyle Lewis

Entering Sunday, Lewis was tied for sixth in the American League with 25 hits. And while he’s slugged four home runs, only one of his remaining 21 hits has gone for extra bases.

“I think he’s probably been the brightest note on the team,” Passan said. “Offensively, he’s good. I don’t think he’s a .340 hitter ‘good’ because I worry that he punches out too much, but I’ve appreciated the patience, I’ve appreciated the power. I think he’s got a fantastic swing. I think there’s gonna be more extra-base hits. … I think there’s absolutely more there.”

J.P. Crawford

Crawford was a highly-touted prospect with the Phillies before the Mariners acquired him in a blockbuster trade between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and his stellar defense at shortstop and on-base skills have shone so far in 2020 as he has assumed Seattle’s leadoff role.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised, as I imagine you guys have been, with J.P. Crawford,” Passan said. “I think he’s finally starting to look like the guy who was a top 10 prospect. The thing about J.P. Crawford is he always could pick it and he didn’t strike out. He had those inverted strikeout-to-walk numbers as opposed to the 200 strikeouts to 50 walks guys we see in baseball these days, and I think he’s got more walks than strikeouts this year. He has been fun to watch.”

Evan White

Speaking of being able to pick it, Seattle’s rookie first baseman has made defensive highlights a regularity at a position where they are hard to come by. Instead it’s hits that have been hard to come by for White, though he did crush his second home run of the season over the center field wall at Houston’s Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

“Evan White, as my fantasy team will attest, needs to learn how to hit,” Passan quipped, “but I love watching him field. He makes first base beautiful and that’s a difficult thing to do because first base is a position that is not often identified with beauty.”

Austin Nola

Seattle’s No. 1 catcher with Tom Murphy on the injured list has made a fan out of Passan. The 30-year-old backstop showed following his MLB debut last season he can hit in the big leagues and play a multitude of positions, and Passan expects the brother of Phillies ace Aaron Nola to have a long-term role with the M’s.

“I’ve really liked him a lot since last year. I know that he’s extremely well-respected in the clubhouse and while he’s (30 years old), he’s someone you’d like to have around as the utility-type guy.”

Passan also discussed Kyle Seager, the younger members of the Mariners’ starting rotation and the overall state of baseball in his interview with Bob, Dave and Moore, which you can listen to in its entirety in this podcast.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Dave and Moore on Twitter.

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