Dipoto breaks down Mariners’ top farm talent, who could debut in ’24

Mar 2, 2024, 9:24 AM

Seattle Mariners prospects Cole Young...

Seattle Mariners 2022 first-round draft pick Cole Young on July 26, 2022. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

We know who the big-name players for the Seattle Mariners are, but who are some lesser-known guys turning heads at spring training? Team president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto dove into that on Thursday with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

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“I think the depth that we’ve been able to create going into the spring stands out the most,” Dipoto said (watch the full interview here). “It’s such a fun group. A lot of those guys in the bullpen that that are competing for spots guys like Jackson Kowar, Collin Snider, Carlos Vargas. Joey Krehbiel, Ty Buttrey, they’ve been excellent. That’s been a positive. Every day our pitching runs out there, I think ‘this should work.’ And I love the depth of the lineup and the way we see those guys start to assimilate – the Jorge Polancos, the Luke Raleys, (Luis) Urías, the guys who’ve come in and joined the group seem to have done so pretty seamlessly.”

Dipoto also said that 2020 first-round pick Emerson Hancock, who debuted last year in a brief stint in Seattle’s starting rotation, is another early standout.

“I would add to that Emerson Hancock, who I am certain someone has said to you guys so far, he looks fabulous this spring and it’s just a little different version of Emerson,” he said.

Around the Seattle Mariners’ farm system

The Mariners aren’t expected to have any rookies on the opening day roster, but plenty of prospects are turning heads.

“This year I think there is a group that is Cole Young, that is Tyler Locklear, guys who haven’t played in the big leagues yet who we think will have some impact,” Dipoto said.

Young, a middle infielder, was Seattle’s first-round pick in 2022 out of high school and reached High-A ball. Locklear, the Mariners’ second-round pick in 2022 out of VCU, is a slugging first baseman who reached Double-A last season. Young is the M’s top prospect per Baseball America and Locklear checks in at No. 5.

“They may get here as early as this season, but I don’t think that we’re currently planning on them being there on opening day,” Dipoto said.

Cole Young shows why he’s Seattle Mariners’ top prospect

Locklear looks the part of a future big league slugger, Dipoto said, but there’s more to his game than just hitting homers.

“I think people will be stunned when they see Tyler Locklear and his all-around ability. It’s not just thump,” Dipoto said. “He can hit, he’s got an approach, he plays good defense, he can throw. He is physical and looks like a future middle of the order bat for us.”

As for Young, the 20 year old has been “just as advertised” after a big 2023 season, hitting a double Monday and homering Thursday in big league spring games.

“It’s contact, it’s baseball feel, he’s got a lot of baseball IQ and he’s growing into his strength in such a way that the contact skill is going to translate to some power,” Dipoto said.

Those two are part of a big group of exciting hitting prospects the Mariners have right now.

“What we have happening right now at the low levels of our system is special,” Dipoto said.

In 2021 and 2022, the Mariners had a top-ranked farm system according to various publications. But now?

“We have more talent in our system now than we did then,” Dipoto said. “They’re all at A-ball, and I think as they start to matriculate through the system, we will rise in terms of that recognition. But there’s so much young talent, especially some of the bats.”

The Mariners will have a ton of top hitting prospects playing at Single-A Modesto and High-A Everett in 2024.

“It’s (Felnin) Celesten, it’s Colt Emerson, it’s Jonny Farmelo, it’s Tai Peete, it’s (Lazaro) Montes. There is such a group that’s coming through,” Dipoto said. “We feel like it’s maybe 10 deep with position players that have a chance to be impact major leaguers.”

Celesten, 18, joined the Mariners as an international free agent signing last winter for a team-record $4.7 million. The shortstop prospect didn’t play much in 2023 due to “unfortunate lower body injuries,” but he’s someone Dipoto and the M’s are very bullish on.

“We had very high hopes for Felnin when we signed him. He hits every box,” Dipoto said. “He can run, he can throw, he’s a switch-hitter, he has power, he looks like a guy.”

Between various games and whatnot over the winter, Celesten has done nothing but “rake,” Dipoto said.

“There’s a different sound off his bat. When you watch him take infield, you feel like you’re watching the way it should look, and special talent,” Dipoto said.

He also feels that way about Emerson, the 22nd overall pick last year who put up huge numbers with Modesto last year.

“Colt is a dude,” Dipoto said of the young infielder. “He put on maybe 25 pounds of muscle. He’s 215 (pounds). He looks fabulous.”

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Mitch Garver explains why he picked Mariners, adjusting to DH spot
• France’s adjustments could mean he gets hit less, Mariners 1B says
• Drayer: Mariners provide promising update on Matt Brash
• Mariners Notebook: Bryce Miller unleashes splitter; big day for bats
• Could Seattle Mariners’ next bullpen ‘find’ be Jackson Kowar?
• Why Dipoto likes Seattle Mariners’ situation at third base
• Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez details where his focus is for 2024

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Dipoto breaks down Mariners’ top farm talent, who could debut in ’24