PITTSBURGH -- Mariners manager Scott Servais set a goal for himself this season: He was going to tune in to the organization’s farm system more intently than in years past.
“I think I’ve stayed true to my word,” Servais said.
The fourth-year Seattle skipper will get another chance to watch some of the club's prospect standouts starting Wednesday, as the Arizona Fall League kicks off its 2019 season.
The Mariners have eight representatives in this year’s class, including Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez, their top two prospects, per MLB Pipeline. The other participants are right-handers Sam Delaplane and Penn Murfee, left-handers Aaron Fletcher (No. 27) and Raymond Kerr and infielders Jose Caballero and Joe Rizzo (No. 20).
Kelenic’s first taste of the AFL will be delayed, as he’s expected to miss the first five games after undergoing surgery to remove his wisdom teeth, per MLB.com’s Greg Johns.
Murfee started for the Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday against the Salt River Rafters. Rodriguez and Caballero were in the starting lineup, playing center field and third base, respectively.
Servais still has 11 more games with the Major League club, but he’ll be keeping an eye on the club's AFL participants.
“Our players are looking forward to going," he said. “Like I said, it’s a good experience for them, and we’re probably going to get down there for a couple of days to lay eyes on them myself."
Servais got an early look at some of the Mariners’ young talent in Spring Training this season, especially Kelenic, 20, and Rodriguez, 18.
“The first time I got to see those guys and see how they handled Spring Training and that talent, watching what they’ve done throughout the season, see a video clip here, see a video clip there, see how they’re improving and making adjustments in their game, I’m not really surprised by any of [their success],” Servais said. “I’ll be honest, I’m not. They’re that talented.”
The Mariners went from having zero Top 100 prospects at the end of last season to five in this season’s final rankings: Kelenic (No. 14), Rodriguez (No. 26), Logan Gilbert (No. 49), Evan White (No. 59) and Justin Dunn (No. 71).
Servais said that after the July 31 Trade Deadline, he started to gain clarity on which prospects were here to stay -- those that would become part of the Seattle “family.”
“I think that’s an organizational mantra, is we want to create more stability and the guys feel good about being a Mariner,” Servais said. “They came up in our system, they understand what’s important to us and that transcends into winning more at the Major League level.”