As of Saturday evening, the Mariners-Mets deal that will send Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to Queens and a bevy of players to Seattle appears to be done, pending physicals. The trade is expected to be officially announced Monday, but the pieces are known. Below are scouting reports on the trio of prospects acquired by the Mariners, as well as thoughts on the new state of the Mariners system and their desired competitive timeline.
Jarred Kelenic, CF
Kelenic was ranked eighth on our 2018 pre-draft rankings, and 86th when we last updated our overall rankings. He (or Cardinals first rounder Nolan Gorman) was generally viewed as the top high school hitter available in the draft, and he was the first one taken at sixth overall.
Advanced bats don’t typically come out of Wisconsin, but Kelenic hit consistently throughout high school against the best pitchers in his peer group. Teams leaned heavily on their summer showcase looks at Kelenic because during the spring, he didn’t play high school baseball. Instead, he played for a travel ball team called Hitters, which played weekend double headers in Kenosha and Cedar Rapids against uneven competition.
Kelenic is a stocky, physically mature 19-year-old. He currently runs well enough and has sufficient instincts for center field, but it’s possible that he’s a better fit in a corner at some point, perhaps even in his early twenties. Even if he moves to a corner, he has enough hit/power to play every day, but Kelenic would probably have to develop a plus-plus bat to be a star away from center. Because his track record of hitting is so strong and he’s so technically proficient, he was considered one of the higher-probability bats from the 2018 class, though he also likely also comes with a narrower, relatively modest band of potential outcomes. He’s advanced enough in skill and age to begin 2019 in the South Atlantic League.
Justin Dunn, RHP
Dunn was a 45+ FV on The Board when the season wrapped and will likely be on our offseason top 100 as a 50 FV player. A college reliever until midway through his junior year at Boston College, Dunn’s repertoire has developed quickly and he now has four above-average pitches. Both of his breaking balls (a slider in the mid-80s and an upper-70s curve) work because he has terrific command of both, almost always locating them down and to his glove side in places that are enticing but unhittable. This wanes when he’s pitching from the stretch.
His fastball command is below average but he throws hard enough to get away with mistakes, sitting 92-95 and touching 97. His changuep came on late in the year and will flash plus. It’s firm, 85-88mph, but some of them have a lot of arm side movement and will still miss bats. Dunn finished 2018 at Double-A and has a shot to debut next year, but more likely sees Safeco in 2020.
Gerson Bautista, RHP
Acquired from the Red Sox in the Addison Reed deal, Bautista threw four big league innings in 2018, scattered through odd appearances in April, May and June, but he spent much of the year at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he struck out 54 hitters in 39.2 innings. He then went to the Arizona Fall League. Bautista sits 95-98 and will touch 100 with his fastball. He has a fringy breaking ball that had better depth later in the fall than it did when he arrived in Arizona. His changeup is below average. He profiles as a middle reliever.
So how much have the Mariners added to their farm system this offseason? We can look at that in a few different ways. Here is a list of the players Seattle has acquired so far, along with their approximate FV. Keep in mind that we haven’t written up the Mariners system yet, so these are subject to change this offseason, though those changes will likely be minor.
From a competitive timeline perspective, the Mariners have added two potential above-average starting pitchers who are likely to debut at some point over the next two years (Sheffield probably next year; Dunn possibly next year, but more likely in 2020) as well as near-ready backend starter type in Swanson, who has outperformed his stuff and may have some underlying trait that make him better than that. Kelenic’s skillset indicates he, too, might come pretty quickly. This tracks with the organization’s stated goal of re-entering competitive play in 2020 and 2021.
From an asset value standpoint, the Mariners had the least valuable farm system in baseball, based on the combination of our Mariners evaluations and Craig Edwards’ study on prospect values, coming in at $43 million. Based on Craig’s math here, Seattle has added $78 million in asset value to their farm system via these trades.
Of course, they’ve also parted with and acquired other talent. A lot of cash has moved around. But the farm system is not the worst in baseball any more and, based on the asset values of the players acquired and changes to our own evaluation of players in their system (I’m higher on Evan White now than we were in our last update, for example), the system is resting just shy of the big league median now. Here is what I think the top of the system looks like currently. It may be more instructive to look at these as tiers rather than firm rankings, as this list was not collaborative and the ordering may change as my thoughts and notes co-mingle with Kiley’s and the industry’s when we write up the Mariners system.
Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.