Mariners make noise in latest prospect rankings update

May 20, 2024, 10:10 AM | Updated: 1:28 pm

seattle mariners prospect cole young...

Seattle Mariners prospect and 2022 first-round draft pick Cole Young takes batting practice. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

With a handful of players graduating past prospect status, MLB Pipeline recently updated its list of baseball’s top 100 prospects – and there’s plenty to note for the Seattle Mariners.

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An American League West-best four Mariners are featured in the new top 100. The organization had one of the biggest risers and one of eight new prospects to make the cut. A couple of former Mariners farmhands were also among the biggest droppers.

The new rankings reflect an eye-opening comment ESPN MLB insider Jeff Passan made May 14 during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“I think once the Orioles’ prospects graduate (past prospect status), and they still got a few of them left, there’s an argument to be made that the position-playing prospects in the Mariners organization are the best in Major League Baseball,” Passan said.

Related: Salk says there’s a clear trade route for M’s to capitalize on this year

Let’s a look at the Mariners’ prospects in the top 100 and a few more notes from the update.

Seattle Mariners in top 100

Shortstop/second baseman Cole Young is Seattle’s top-ranked prospect checking in at No. 26 overall. The Mariners selected the leftty-hitting middle infielder in the first round with the 21st pick of the 2020 MLB Draft. Young tore up rookie ball and Single-A in 2022 and had a strong 2023 between Single-A Modesto and High-A Everett. The 20 year old also created some buzz with a strong showing during spring training, batting .333 with two doubles, two home runs and six RBIs in 14 Cactus League games. However, the move up to Double-A Arkansas has provided Young with some challenges. He entered Monday hitting .248 with a .358 slugging percentage over 33 games.

• Catcher Harry Ford could pretty much be considered Mariners prospect 1-B as he comes in one spot behind Young at No. 27. The 2021 first-round pick is the fourth-highest rated catching prospect in baseball, and he’s displayed a great knowledge of the strike zone in the minors to go along with his supreme athleticism for the position. Ford led all minor leaguers with 103 walks while with High-A Everett in 2023. The 20 year old has also shown some power from the catching position with double-digit homers in his past two minor league seasons. He’s off to a solid start with Double-A Arkansas this season and entered Monday batting .267/.415/.458 for an .873 OPS in 35 games. He’s also struck out only eight more times than he’s walked (149 to 141) since 2023.

Shortstop/second baseman Colt Emerson is among the biggest risers on the list after torrid start to his young career. The 18 year old leapt 27 spots from No. 78 to 51. Only New York Mets pitcher Christian Scott and Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andy Pages made higher jumps, and both are set to graduate soon from prospect status after making their MLB debuts this season. The Mariners drafted Emerson in the first round last year, and he immediately made his presence felt while posting an absurd .536/.629/.786 slash line in eight Rookie ball games, then slashing .302/.436/.444 in 16 games with Modesto. Emerson hasn’t had quite the same start to 2024. He missed time early with an oblique injury and entered Monday with a .271 average in 19 games, though he has a .441 on-base percentage with 19 walks to just 13 strikeouts.

Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about Emerson:

Emerson already had helium entering the spring, and while he’s missed some time with an oblique issue for Single-A Modesto, his reputation as a potential plus hitter has only gotten stronger with good early plate discipline.

• Outfielder Lazaro Montes is one of eight newcomers to the top 100, making his debut at No. 81. The Mariners invested a $2.5 million signing bonus to ink Montes as an international free agent out of Cuba in 2022, and the imposing left-handed hitter has drawn comparisons to compatriot Yordan Álvarez of the Houston Astros. Montes slugged 1.000 and hit 13 home runs over 70 games between Rookie ball and Single-A in 2023. He’s continued to hit in Modesto in 2024, posting a .326/.432/.532 slash line with six home runs and 40 RBIs in 36 games entering Monday.

Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about Montes:

Montes has cut down on his strikeouts and continued to flash prodigious power as a 19 year old at Single-A, and while defense remains a concern, his bat could play anywhere.

New Seattle Mariners top 10

Here’s how MLB Pipeline orders Seattle’s 10 best prospects in its new rankings:

• Shortstop/second baseman Cole Young
• Catcher Harry Ford
• Shortstop/second baseman Colt Emerson
• Outfielder Lazaro Montes
• Shortstop Felnin Celesten
• Outfielder Jonny Farmelo
• Shortstop Tai Peete
• First baseman Tyler Locklear
• Infielder Michael Arroyo
Outfielder Jonatan Clase

Freefalling former M’s

A trio of former Mariners prospects were among the biggest fallers.

Outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez dropped from No. 70 to 86. Gonzalez was a part of the four-player package that was sent to Minnesota for second baseman Jorge Polanco.

Third baseman/shortstop Noelvi Marte tumbled out of the top 20 from No. 18 to 30. The 2018 international free agent signing was the headliner of the trade that netted ace Luis Castillo from Cincinnati in July of 2022. Marte actually made his major league debut for the Reds and was very good last season, hitting .316 with an .822 OPS in 35 games, but he hasn’t played this season due to serving an 80-game ban for violating the MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program.

Starting pitcher Connor Phillips appeared at No. 62 in the previous ranking but was the highest-rated player of five to completely fall of the list. He was also traded from Seattle to Cincinnati in 2022, but as the player to be named later in the deal that brought Eugenio Suárez and Jesse Winker to the M’s.

Rest of the West

As mentioned above, the Mariners’ four prospects in the top 100 is tops in the AL West. The Rangers feature two, the Astros and Athletics have one apiece and the Angels have none. Texas outfielder Wyatt Langford is the star of those prospects, ranked fourth overall. Langford should graduate from prospect status very soon, however, and he would have by now if he hadn’t gone on the injured list with a hamstring strain May 6. Oakland shortstop Jacob Wilson, the son of former Mariners shortstop Jack Wilson, is the next-highest AL West prospect on the list at No. 55. He’s currently in Triple-A.

Even better with Baseball America

Baseball America also released new rankings last week, and its top 100 features six Mariners prospects. In addition to Young, Ford, Emerson and Montes, the Baseball America list includes outfielder Jonny Farmelo, the No. 29 overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft, and first baseman Tyler Locklear, a second-round pick in the 2022 draft.

Farmelo, 19, is slashing .258/.408/.367 for a .775 OPS with three homers and 12 stolen bases in 32 games with Single-A Modesto this season.

Locklear, 23, has been turning heads with his power in Double-A. He has seven homers, 11 doubles and a triple for a .935 OPS in 36 games with Arkansas, slashing .290/.399/.536.

Related: What Brock Huard would rather M’s do before a Pete Alonso trade

Seattle Sports’ Brent Stecker contributed to this post.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Mariners Injury Updates: The latest on Polanco, Crawford
• Is Mariners’ Scott Servais a good manager? MLB insider explains
• Ranked: Five Seattle Mariners who need to step up
• Rost on M’s: What we’ve learned a quarter through the season
• Drayer: Rojas helping Julio an example of Seattle Mariners’ offense evolving

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