Mariners farm system report: 7 early-season standouts

May 10, 2024, 8:59 AM | Updated: 9:32 am

Seattle Mariners Tyler Locklear 2024...

Seattle Mariners prospect Tyler Locklear poses during photo day at 2024 spring training. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

We’re a little over a month into the minor league season, which makes it a good time to take a glance at the Seattle Mariners’ farm system. Here’s a look at seven Mariners minor leaguers who are off to strong starts.

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OF Lazaro Montes (age 19, Low-A Modesto)

Montes, the No. 86 overall prospect in Baseball America’s Top 100, has long drawn comparisons to Houston Astros slugger and fellow Cuban native Yordan Álvarez. They both have massive frames, elite raw power and similar left-handed swings that were honed by the same hitting instructor.

The 6-foot-4 Montes is on an Álvarez-like tear right now, with five home runs in his past 11 games. He is slashing .327/.432/.564 in 27 games this season, with six homers, one triple, six doubles and a .995 OPS that ranks third in the California League. This comes on the heels of a strong stateside debut last year, when he hit 13 homers and posted a 1.001 OPS in 70 games between the Arizona Complex League and Modesto.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign? Montes’ strikeout rate continues to drop, even as he climbs the minor league ladder. After a concerning 33.2% strikeout rate during his 2022 pro debut in the Dominican Summer League, he cut it to 25.2% last season and just 14.4% so far this year.

1B Tyler Locklear (age 23, Double-A Arkansas)

Locklear, a 2022 second-round draft pick who set the single-season home-run record at Virginia Commonwealth, continues to steadily produce at the plate. The muscular 6-foot-2 right-handed slugger is slashing .298/.421/.500 with four homers and nine doubles in 28 games this season. His .921 OPS ranks seventh in the Texas League. He also had an impressive showing in major league spring training, hitting .320 with one homer and three doubles in 25 at-bats. In his three pro seasons, Locklear has posted a .902 OPS with 24 homers in 144 games. Just about the only thing that’s slowed him down was a hit by pitch last season that broke a bone in his hand and sidelined him for two months.

RHP Logan Evans (age 22, Double-A Arkansas)

Evans, a 12th-round draft pick out of the University of Pittsburgh last summer, might be the latest revelation in the Mariners’ pitching development pipeline. The 6-foot-4 right-hander had an underwhelming college career at Pitt, but has added significant velocity and morphed into one of Seattle’s top pitching prospects since entering the system. He was touching 99 mph in spring training and his six-pitch mix includes a nasty sweeper that has massive horizontal break. The results are showing in Arkansas, where he has posted a Texas League-leading 1.57 ERA with 23 strikeouts and 11 walks in 28 2/3 innings this season. In his latest start on May 4, he threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts and no walks.

LHP Jhonathan Díaz (age 27, Triple-A Tacoma)

Díaz signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in February after spending his previous eight pro seasons in the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels organizations. The 6-foot left-handed starter made his major league debut with the Angels in 2021 and pitched 35 1/3 innings at the MLB level with them over the past three seasons. He has a 2.37 ERA in 38 innings with Tacoma this season, while totaling 42 strikeouts and just eight walks in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. He is near the top of the PCL leaderboard in several categories, ranking second in ERA, second in WHIP (0.97), second in strikeout rate (27.1%) and first in walk rate (5.2%).

IF/OF Michael Chavis (age 28, Triple-A Tacoma)

Chavis, a 2014 first-round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox, made his major league debut in 2019 and has played in 357 MLB games with three teams over the past five seasons. He signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in January and is off to a strong start in Tacoma, slashing .303/.394/.532 with six homers, one triple, five doubles and a .926 OPS in 31 games. At the MLB level, he has a career .238/.283/.401 slash line and 42 homers. He spent last season with the Washington Nationals, hitting .242 with two homers in 48 games.

IF/OF Caleb Cali (age 23, Low-A Modesto)

Considering his name, it’s appropriate that Cali was the California League Player of the Month in April. A 16th-round draft pick out of Arkansas last summer, Cali is slashing .360/.473/.584 with two homers, two triples, 10 doubles and a 1.057 OPS in 23 games during a scorching full-season debut. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder leads the California League in batting average by 33 points, slugging percentage by 20 points and OPS by 53 points.

RHP Will Schomberg (age 23, Low-A Modesto)

Schomberg signed a minor league contract with the Mariners last summer as an undrafted free agent out of Davidson. The 5-foot-10 right-hander has burst onto the scene in his full-season debut, posting a 2.48 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 15 walks in 29 innings. Over his past two starts, he has pitched 11 scoreless innings and totaled 16 strikeouts while allowing just two hits and two walks. He leads the California League with a .158 opponents’ batting average and ranks fourth with a 30% strikeout rate.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• What’s the biggest problem ailing the Mariners’ offense?
• Rost: Mariners can’t waste World Series-caliber pitching
• Why Mariners should keep Josh Rojas in leadoff spot
• The Mariners who aren’t getting the credit they deserve
• Seattle Mariners place Saucedo on IL, option Hancock to Tacoma

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