A close look at Mariners prospects with Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser

Jan 17, 2023, 3:11 PM
Mariners Harry Ford...
Harry Ford of Great Britain reacts after a home run on Sept. 20 in Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
(Photo by Sebastian Widmann/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Baseball America released their top 10 Mariners prospects list this week, and one of the people behind that list, Kyle Glaser, was kind enough to join Seattle Sports 710 AM’s Bump and Stacy on Tuesday to discuss all things Mariners.

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So, let’s dive into a bit of what Glaser had to say about the state of Seattle’s farm system.

Who’s No. 1?

First off, who is the Mariners’ best current prospect? Well, that belongs to a recent first-round pick.

Harry Ford, who was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2021, ascended to No. 1,” Glaser said.

Part of that is because players like Julio Rodríguez and George Kirby “graduated” from prospect eligibility after the Mariners had Baseball America’s No. 1-ranked farm system at this time last year. Another part of it is that the Mariners dealt notable prospects Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo and Brandon Williamson in two separate trades with the Cincinnati Reds.

It also has to do with the fact that Ford, a super athletic catcher, is also a very good prospect in his own right.

Ford, the 12th overall pick in 2021, slashed .274/.425/.439 (.864 OPS) with 11 home runs, 65 RBIs, 23 stolen bases and 115 strikeouts to 88 walks in 104 games in Single-A Modesto as a 19 year old in 2022. He also shined for Great Britain in World Baseball Classic qualifiers.

“Harry Ford also had a very, very good first full season at Low-A Modesto,” Glaser said. “So when we look at this Mariners farm system right now, he was pretty clearly the No. 1 guy still remaining.”

Ford is currently a catcher but is one of the best athletes in the minor leagues. Due both to Ford’s athleticism and the emergence of Cal Raleigh at the big league level, there’s some thought that Ford will move positions. Glaser discussed that possibility on Tuesday.

“The big thing with Harry Ford is he has the athleticism to maybe play second base, maybe play some third and maybe play the outfield. His catching kind of has a long way to go. It’s not bad, but it has a long way to go,” Glaser said. “There has been a sense that he might end up having to move anyway, and especially with Cal Raleigh there, realistically the infield is probably where he will end up. But that’s totally fine. Having a really good second baseman who can hit for average and power and get on base, that’s a really good player to have.”

Anyone close to debuting?

The Mariners have had a number of impact players debut in recent years in Rodríguez, Kirby, Raleigh, Logan Gilbert and Matt Brash. Are there any high-end prospects close to joining those four at the big league level?

If so, Glaser thinks it’s likely to be an arm more so than a bat.

“That’s where the Mariners are operating from a position of strength. They don’t have a ton of hitters who would be ready to step into the lineup in case injuries hit, but they have a lot of arms,” he said.

The first arms that come to mind? Right-handers Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock and Taylor Dollard.

Miller, a 2021 fourth-round pick, is the Mariners’ best pitching prospect, according to Baseball America.

“He got to Double-A last year. Really, really good stuff,” Glaser said. “It would not be a surprise for him to start the year at Triple-A and make his way to the majors at some point.”

What about Hancock, the No. 6 overall pick in 2020?

“He has not lived up to the hopes of when he was drafted, but he’s still solid. He’s not a bad prospect,” Glaser said. “Again, got to Double-A, has some advanced feel for pitching. There’s no reason he can’t start in Triple-A and come up as needed.”

Glaser also expects Dollard to begin the year at Triple-A Tacoma.

“They have a lot of arms that were in Double-A last year and will start the year in Triple-A and should be ready if needed. So starting pitching depth and pitching depth in general is not an issue for the Mariners this year,” he said.

Ammo for a big trade?

Something that’s clear with this Mariners front office is they’re not afraid of pulling off a big trade. That was the case last year when they sent Marte, Arroyo and two other prospects to Cincinnati for Luis Castillo.

But with the Mariners’ farm not ranking as highly as it has in recent years, do they still have enough in the tank to pull off another splash trade?

“They still have some guys at the top where they could potentially make a move if they need to. Look, this farm system is not what it was last year when it was the No. 1 farm system in baseball, but again, for the right reasons,” Glaser said, referencing past trades as well as recent graduations. “… There’s not nearly the depth there was, and I don’t think they could make as many trades as we saw them make last year in terms of for impact players. But you look at Harry Ford, they have some good pitchers like Bryce Miller, Taylor Dollard, Emerson Hancock, and there’s always a need for pitching. So if they need to make a move, they can.”

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A close look at Mariners prospects with Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser