Evans taking leaps through Mariners' system

April 12th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Daniel Kramer’s Mariners Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SEATTLE -- There were murmurs and raised eyebrows when fell to the Mariners in the 12th round in last year’s Draft. They grew louder when he impressed in three outings at Single-A Modesto last September, when he pitched during their run to the California League title. They were widespread within the organization by the time he arrived at Spring Training, after throwing harder than anyone at the club’s offseason “Shove Camp” for high performance.

And by this point, fans of Seattle’s farm system should get to know him after he leaped two Minor League levels and began the year at Double-A Arkansas.

Evans might not be the flashiest Seattle prospect in recent years -- he’s No. 20 in the Mariners’ rankings by MLB Pipeline -- but his trajectory makes him among the most fascinating to follow in 2024, particularly given the club’s well-chronicled successes of developing pitchers.

“I don't know how his season will develop; we're in no rush with Logan,” Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto said. “But we did want to put him in a place where we felt like it was both a challenge and it allowed him to put himself in the conversation when, over the course of the next 12 or 16 months, opportunities become available here.”

In the past 12 months, Evans went from being a Sunday starter at the University of Pittsburgh with pedestrian results (a 5.88 ERA in 49 innings) to an arm with six pitches (two- and four-seam fastballs, a new sweeper, curveball, cutter and changeup) that Dipoto said are each “well above-average, to in some cases, elite.”

Moreover, his fastball velocity has risen from the low-90s to as high as 99 mph. Evans cites much of the Mariners’ high-performance work for the uptick across his arsenal -- along with an experimentation with posture therapy that began in December.

“I would truly recommend it,” he said. “It helped me to get my body more in line. It helped my shoulders kind of roll back to help me get into scap load. My hips were in the posterior tail, so I'm trying to get [them] to be in a more neutral position.”

As for his secondary pitches, Evans always had the two-seamer, cutter, curveball and “flashes of” a changeup but without consistent command. The overall refinement came via the addition of the sweeper, which was birthed in a consultation with Mariners coaches during a post-Draft camp, and the addition of more depth to his curve, especially to lefties in deeper counts.

“One of the things I've been granted in my life is being able to pick up a ball and make it move where I want to go, which is completely God-given,” Evans said.

The results wowed when he arrived at “Shove Camp” in January.

“That was my offseason goal, to make my offspeeds better,” Evans said. “Distinguish the slider and the curveball so it's not like a blend. And then over the offseason they wanted me to make my cutter move more to my glove-side.”

Stories like Evans’ are captivating but not totally unique, and he’s also 22 years old and in the age range where late-blooming prospects can move quickly. Yet, the origins to his turnaround go back further, before he transferred from Penn State University after battling significant mechanical challenges.

“It was almost like a lack of trust in myself that I didn't really realize at the time,” Evans said. “Every time I would have a bad outing in college, I would try to do something new for the next week. Trying to find consistency when your routine is inconsistent, there's no way you can get good results.”

That’s what made the Mariners, he said, such an ideal fit -- one built on a reinforcement of what he does well.

Evans started Arkansas’ Opening Day, surrendering two hits, three walks and a hit-by-pitch to go with two strikeouts and one unearned run.

For a farm system that has transitioned from one defined by pitching to hitting, Evans could headline Seattle’s next wave of arms.

“He’s super attentive. He's easily coachable,” Dipoto said. “He buys into the things that are important to us and if you buy into those things, and you throw strike one and you win your 1-1 [counts] with the kind of stuff that he has, he's got a chance to move pretty quickly. And [promoting him] is evidence of that. We didn't feel like this was an absurd challenge based on what we were watching.”