2 Mariners who MLB Network’s Morosi says could make big jumps

Jan 23, 2023, 9:40 AM

Mariners Matt Brash...

Mariners pitcher Matt Brash reacts in the 10th inning of ALDS Game 3 vs. Houston on Oct. 15, 2022. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Mariners wouldn’t have finished where they did in 2022 without some young players contributing more than anyone could have expected.

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On top of that list would be Julio Rodríguez, who had a star-making debut to win American League Rookie of the Year. Then there’s starting pitchers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby, who each provided the Mariners with stellar performances time and time again.

As Seattle goes into 2023 looking not just to return to the playoffs but make even more noise, who are the young players who could have similar breakouts?

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi was asked that question by Dave Wyman during the baseball insider’s weekly conversation on Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob, and he pointed to a pair of players who fans are already familiar with.

First, Morosi highlighted pitcher Matt Brash, who shook off a rough beginning to his MLB career as a starter by becoming a key contributor in Seattle’s bullpen by season’s end.

The possibility remains for the 24-year-old Brash to return to the rotation at some point, but he’ll be a reliever once again to start 2023 as that’s the role he will fill for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. Morosi believes a full season of Brash in the bullpen with a small bit of improvement could turn heads.

“If Brash takes that step forward and is in the zone just a little bit more with that elite stuff, you’re talking about an All-Star pitcher,” he said. “You look at… his strikeout to walk ratio as a reliever (2.69), I think he really showed a lot because early on he had a tremendous difficulty, as you know, locating the ball. And I think for him to be able to come back by the end and be in the zone with just electrifying stuff (was impressive).”

In 34 appearances as a reliever in 2022, Brash had a 2.35 ERA, 1.239 WHIP, 43 strikeouts, 16 walks and no home runs allowed over 30 2/3 innings. So when Morosi said a little improvement will go a long way with Brash, he means it.

“He’s someone that if he gets even 10% more consistent than he was down the stretch with his location – out of 10 pitches, really locates one of them better than he did before – you’re talking about a potential All-Star setup man. He’s that good.”

As for a hitter who could make a big jump this year, Morosi again went with a player who finished 2023 strong for Seattle.

“With (Cal) Raleigh, I just love the toughness that he showed. He got some big hits late when his body was basically on fumes,” he said.

Raleigh played through a thumb injury down the stretch, and the switch-hitting catcher still carried a big stick, hitting nine home runs in September and October (including playoffs).

While Raleigh is entering just his third MLB season and second full one, at 26 he should be starting his prime.

“He’s not like (24-year-old Orioles catcher) Adley Rutschman, he’s 26 years old so basically he should be starting to come into his prime,” Morosi said of Raleigh. “Prime for a catcher can sometimes be a bit later because they just have so much information to master and to handle the game and everything else that goes into it. So for me, he’s not a kid anymore. He should be that stalwart player, and I believe he is is going to be. I love his game, his confidence, what he brings. This is just gonna be a fun team to watch.”

You can listen to the full Wyman and Bob conversation with Morosi in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

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