Is it time Mariners call up hot-hitting prospect from Double-A?

May 21, 2024, 1:38 PM | Updated: 1:43 pm

Seattle Mariners Scott Servais Jerry Dipoto...

Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto of the Seattle Mariners watch batting practice on July 18, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The discussion around bolstering the Seattle Mariners’ lineup has mostly centered on trading for a proven major league hitter, but could the team look to its farm system for help?

Mariners Farm System Report: Seven early-season standouts

One hitter in the upper levels of the Mariners’ system who continues to produce is Tyler Locklear, who was Seattle’s second-round pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. The 23-year-old first baseman is slashing .290/.399/.536 at Double-A Arkansas this season, with seven home runs, one triple and 11 doubles in 36 games. The muscular 6-foot-2 slugger ranks third in the Texas League with a .935 OPS and recently cracked Baseball America’s Top 100 as the No. 96 overall prospect in baseball.

During Monday’s edition of Brock and Salk on Seattle Sports, Brock Huard made the case for calling up Locklear.

“If Tyler Locklear keeps hitting the way he’s hitting, we need to see Tyler Locklear in the majors,” Huard said. “Unlike a lot of those other prospects that are in that top 100 that are very, very, very young, he’s not. I mean, he’s still very young, but he’s going to be 24. He’s not a high school kid. … If you are doing your job and you are commanding the strike zone and you are hitting with pop, like, ‘OK, we’ve seen this. Let’s go.'”

Locklear has a consistent track record of production at the plate over the years.

As a redshirt sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth in 2022, Locklear hit a school-record 20 homers and ranked fourth in NCAA Division I with a 1.342 OPS. After being drafted, he continued to produce at Low-A Modesto and High-A Everett, which earned him a promotion to Arkansas last August. Over his three pro seasons, he has a .288/.396/.511 slash line with 27 homers and a .906 OPS in 152 games. He also had an impressive showing in MLB spring training this March, hitting .320 with one homer and three doubles in 25 at-bats.

Just about the only thing that’s slowed Locklear down was being hit by a pitch last season that broke a bone in his hand and sidelined him for two months.

Mariners make noise in latest prospect rankings update

When could the M’s call up Tyler Locklear?

Huard pointed out that the Mariners’ schedule lightens up in June with series against the Angels, Athletics and White Sox, which could provide a good opportunity to ease Locklear into the majors. He also mentioned that MLB’s current wealth of young stars shows that players may not need to spend as much time in the minors as they once did.

“Just watching some of these other young players around baseball, like, if you’ve got it and you’re good, let’s get you going,” Huard said. “You don’t need you for four or five years in the minor leagues anymore. This game is getting younger and younger. I mean, just look at that Orioles team (the Mariners played last weekend). Just look at the young stars. Look at (Braves superstar) Ronald Acuña Jr., look at Julio (RodrĂ­guez). Look at these young guys that came up at 21 and 22.

“And if you can do it at 21 or 22, and goodness gracious, you’re 24, you’ve done it through college, you’ve done it at every level, and we were talking about you through the spring and you had a good spring, then, OK, let’s see what you got.”

Listen to the full conversation on Brock and Salk in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post. Tune in to Brock and Salk weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. or find the podcast on the Seattle Sports app.

More on the Seattle Mariners

• Lefko: Are Mariners’ chaotic comebacks their path back to October?
• Passan: What Mariners’ big comeback win shows the value of
• Does DeRosa have the explanation for why Julio isn’t hitting for power?
• Mariners Injury Updates: Sam Haggerty out for season; Crawford returns
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