Insider: Deep, young farm system gives Mariners ammo for deadline

Jul 9, 2024, 5:31 PM

Seattle Mariners prospect Cole Young...

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

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

There’s been plenty of frustration recently with the Seattle Mariners’ performance at the big-league level, but one shining bright spot throughout this season has been the continued to development of the organization’s talent-stocked farm system.

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Depending on the publication, the Mariners have as many as eight potential future major leaguers ranked as a top-100 prospect. Nearly all of those players are hitters, too, a welcomed sight for a franchise that’s long had offensive issues. However, if the team attempts to attain reinforcements for a push at the American League West crown, there is a good chance the upcoming July 30 MLB trade deadline changes the current outlook of Seattle’s minor-league system.

One of the many rankings that has several Mariners prospects in the top 100 is MLB Pipeline, which currently lists five. Jim Callis, a senior writer for Pipeline, recently joined host Curtis Rogers on Seattle Sports’ Extra Innings for a discussion about the Mariners’ farm system.

“I think the most interesting thing is, it’s a very talented farm system, but I think it’s hard for me to imagine there’s another farm system out there where their best prospects are all so young,” Callis said.

Ammunition to fire

As Callis pointed out, many of Seattle’s top prospects are still just teenagers. Second baseman/shortstop Colt Emerson (ranked No. 43 by Pipeline) and shortstop Felnin Celesten (No. 91) are both 18 years old, and outfielder Lazaro Montes (No. 52) is 19. Callis also highlighted 18-year-old shortstop Tai Peete, 19-year-old infielder Michael Arroyo and 19-year-old outfielder Jonny Farmelo. Peete is Seattle’s No. 7 prospect, according to Pipeline. Arroyo, who was recently promoted to High-A Everett, is No. 9 in the organization. Farmelo is out for the season with a torn ACL, but is rated as the Mariners’ No. 6 prospect by Pipeline and ranked in the top 100 overall by Baseball America.

Additionally, top prospects and 2024 All-Star Futures Game selections shortstop/second baseman Cole Young (No. 22 overall) and catcher Harry Ford (No. 23) are 20 and 21 years old, respectively, and in their first seasons playing at the Double-A level.

“It’s a pretty heavy position-player system right now,” Callis said. “(They) have obviously graduated a lot of pitchers to the big leagues, but in terms of the trade deadline, if they want to go out and make a big push for someone, they’ve got the ammunition to go ahead and do that.”

Is anyone untouchable?

With so much talent in the farm system and many prospects at least a year or more away from reaching a big-league squad that clearly needs offensive help, it seems inevitable that at least one, if not more, of the Mariners’ slew of offensives prospects will be traded in the coming weeks. Rogers asked Callis if any Seattle farmhand should be untouchable.

“You always fall in love with your prospects … but I don’t think anybody’s ever untouchable,” Callis said. “It would just depend on what the trade is. You could rationalize, ‘Hey, if we traded Cole Young, we still have Colt Emerson and Celestin and Tai Peete, all of whom are middle infielders, and Michael Arroyo, who’s also a teenager.”

“I’m not saying I’d look to trade Cole Young, but if it was the right deal, you could probably convince me to part with him,” he added.

Emerson and Montes are two players Callis specifically mentioned as being “on the rise” and ones he wouldn’t want to deal.

“But I don’t think any of those guys would necessarily be a deal-breaker,” Callis said. “You wouldn’t just give them away, but if you were talking trading for (Chicago White Sox starting pitcher) Garrett Crochet or (center fielder) Luis Robert or a guy of that ilk, you’re going to have to give up some good players, and I think you could justify it.”

What to make of recent decision

The Mariners made an interesting decision recently in ending the experiment of fast-rising starting pitching prospect Logan Evans, rated as a top-100 prospect by Baseball America, being used out of the bullpen. The move created speculation that Seattle could be looking to get Evans ready for a trade, or that he could be more insurance for Bryan Woo.

“I don’t read too much into it,” Callis said. “The roles are pretty interchangeable and it’s always easy to move the guy back, but I think at this point, we’re still talking about his first full pro season. I think getting him on the mound as much as possible and figuring out exactly what they have in him and, as you know as you mentioned too, it doesn’t necessarily hurt his trade value if he goes out here and throws three good starts before the trade deadline. That may convince people more, ‘Hey, this guy’s even more legit as a starter.’ Because he’s a fascinating story.”

Listen to the full conversation with MLB Pipeline senior writer Jim Callis at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. Tune in to Extra Innings from 7-9 p.m. on Mariners off days throughout the MLB season.

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Insider: Deep, young farm system gives Mariners ammo for deadline