The Bryan Woo era in Seattle is on the forefront, but it comes in light of another injury within the Mariners’ rotation.
Woo will be recalled from Double-A Arkansas and start Saturday’s game against the Rangers in place of Marco Gonzales, who is in the process of undergoing tests on his pitching forearm back in Seattle, manager Scott Servais told reporters prior to Friday's series opener at Globe Life Field.
It’s unclear how long Gonzales will be sidelined, but the Mariners will place the left-hander on the 15-day injured list on Saturday. Woo will also need to be added to the 40-man roster.
Woo, who on Thursday was named the Mariners’ Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May -- earning the honor for a second straight month -- has been arguably the best arm in the farm system, having compiled a 2.05 ERA in nine starts while holding 172 hitters to a slash line of .174/.256/.232 (.488 OPS) in 44 innings.
Woo has logged 59 strikeouts and has given up just two homers and 12 walks.
Woo, ranked as Seattle’s No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, joins Bryce Miller among the next wave of talent to reach the Majors from the Mariners’ pitching-heavy pipeline.
Miller was recalled from Double-A Arkansas last month and has thrived in six starts -- Monday’s eight-run showing against the Yankees notwithstanding. Both were taken by the Mariners in the 2021 MLB Draft.
Woo entered 2023 further behind in his development due to a lower workload, as he has just 101 pro innings since being selected in the sixth round in ‘21. He had been recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent while pitching at Cal Poly when he was drafted, and he didn’t make his Minors debut until June 6, 2022.
“His stuff has been great, his command has been there, and the most impressive thing is that it hasn’t just been one or two starts,” Mariners director of player development Justin Toole said.
“He’s continued to carry it from start to start throughout the first few months of the season. I think that’s helped his confidence.”
Like Miller, Woo possesses an elite four-seam fastball that sits at 95 mph. His release and slot have helped the heater play up, which scouts have suggested is a big driver in his incredibly high whiff rate of 29%, according to Synergy, which tracks Minor League data.
For context, Miller was at 24% when he was called up.
Woo has also introduced a promising two-seamer that’s generating “big movement,” according to one front-office official and it’s also sitting 95 mph. He’s opted more for a bigger shaped slider compared to the gyro look he had last year and has seen decent results.
Woo also throws a changeup, but it’s very occasional. Like with Miller, the fortification of his secondary pitches will be vital at the MLB level.
As for Gonzales, it’s a tough blow for the longest-tenured Mariner and one who has been mostly a beacon of health since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2016.
Gonzales suffered a strain to the same forearm in 2021, and he missed five weeks but returned strong.
The Mariners have already lost a rotation workhorse in Robbie Ray, who suffered a left flexor strain in his 2023 debut and underwent a procedure to repair the injury, as well as Tommy John surgery, last month. He’ll likely be sidelined well into next season.
MLB.com reporter/producer Jalyn Smoot also contributed to this story.