Dipoto: State of Mariners’ prospect bats, Bryce Miller could have bullpen role

Feb 3, 2023, 1:30 PM
Mariners Bryce Miller...
Mariners prospect Bryce Miller pitches for the Arkansas Travelers on Sept. 11, 2022. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

The Mariners have had a number of high-profile prospects debut over the last two seasons.

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In 2021, Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert debuted in May, while Cal Raleigh played his first MLB game that July.

Last season saw Julio Rodríguez burst onto scene and win AL Rookie of the Year and make the All-Star Game. George Kirby and Matt Brash also made their MLB debuts in 2022.

With those youngsters all “graduating” from prospect status and with the Mariners trading two of their best prospects – Noelvi Marte and Edwin Arroyo – for Luis Castillo, Seattle’s farm system isn’t quite what it was. But there are obviously still prospects in the system that the Mariners are excited about.

During a Wednesday visit with Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports 710 AM, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto talked about the state of the farm system and when we may see certain guys debut.

It’s no secret that scoring runs has been an issue of sorts for the Mariners the last two years, so are there any hitters close to debuting? Dipoto said there’s really only one young bat who’s knocking on the MLB door.

“Of those who have not yet appeared in the major league game, Cade Marlowe is the closest, and it’s not even really close in that regard,” Dipoto said.

Marlowe, 25, was a 20th-round pick of the Mariners in 2019. All he’s done since then is hit, especially the last two seasons. Great production led to Marlowe being added to the Mariners’ postseason taxi squad despite never appearing in an MLB game.

In 106 games between A-ball and Triple-A in 2021, the lefty-swinging outfielder slashed .275/.368/.566 (.935 OPS) in 106 games (just one in Triple-A) and hit 26 home runs, drove in 107 runs and stole 24 bases.

In 2022, Marlowe slashed .287/.377/.487 (.864 OPS) with 23 home runs, 102 RBIs and 42 stolen bases in 133 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

“Cade does just about everything well on a baseball field. He plays all three (outfield) spots, he hits, he uses the field to hit, he’s got power, he can run. He’s been one of the best performers in the minor leagues, period, over the last two years, and he’s done it from A-Ball all the way to Triple-A and put himself on the doorstep,” Dipoto said. “He’s the guy that could break through (in 2023) and help.”

That being said, Dipoto thinks the Mariners are a year or so away from “another wave of offensive talent,” including some recent early draft picks.

“Guys like Harry Ford, Tyler Locklear, last year’s second-round pick – we’re really excited about (him) – Cole Young, who we think is going to fly (through the system),” he said.

Ford and Young were first-round picks out of high school in 2021 and 2022, respectively, while Locklear was selected in the second round out of VCU last summer.

There are other exciting young bats working through the farm as well, Dipoto said.

“And then we’ve got a group of young players down at our complex level, guys like Gabby Gonzalez, who reached (Single-A) Modesto by the end of the season this year, guys like Axel Sanchez, who came up to Modesto after the (Castillo) trade, and more recently, prospects like (international signing) Felnin Celesten, Michael Arroyo and (Lazaro) Montes, who have come through our (Dominican Republic) programs,” he said.

“We have a lot of talent … (but) we’re in a gap whereas in the last three years, we have had a steady flow of two or three or maybe four potential everyday or impact players arriving at the big leagues,” Dipoto added. “This year, I don’t think we’re going to see that on the position-player side. I do think we have a couple of pitchers who can provide that, led by Bryce Miller.”

Miller, a consensus top-100 prospect, is nearing his MLB debut. He posted a 3.16 ERA with 163 strikeouts to 46 walks in 133 2/3 innings between Single-A and Double-A in 2022.

Miller is someone Dipoto is “very excited” to see once spring training rolls around.

“Bryce was a fourth-round pick for us a couple years ago. What we thought was one of the 10 best players in the draft when his draft year began, he got off to an awesome start, and then struggled, and the struggle actually led him to falling to our pick a little later in the draft,” Dipoto said.

Miller has an arsenal of pitches that Dipoto raved about on Wednesday, led by an electric fastball.

“Since he’s been in our system, he’s got what we think is the highest impact fastball in the minor leagues, not just in the Mariners system. He throws between 97 and 101 mph, he rides it as well as anybody in baseball can ride it, he’s got a plus-plus slider now and a developing changeup,” he said.

Dipoto said that in “a normal scenario,” Miller would have a chance to compete as an MLB starter early in the 2023 season. But the Mariners have six MLB starters already on the roster, so that may not be in the cards unless injuries occur.

That doesn’t mean Miller can’t contribute to the Mariners in 2023, however.

“He might get a crack sooner than that in our bullpen, much like we did with Matt Brash (last year). Just give him an opportunity to make an impact on what we think is a good team, because if we feel like he is one of our best 13 arms, we’re going to keep our best 13 arms,” Dipoto said.

Listen to the entire interview at this link or in the player below.

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Dipoto: State of Mariners’ prospect bats, Bryce Miller could have bullpen role