SEATTLE -- There’s still over a month to go until MLB Pipeline unveils the Mariners’ Top 30 prospect rankings for 2024, but the Top 100 overall rankings were out last week, and they included an interesting Seattle presence.
The Mariners have three players among that group -- Cole Young (No. 37 prospect), Harry Ford (No. 38) and Colt Emerson (No. 87) -- and they would’ve had a fourth in Gabriel Gonzalez (No. 79), but he was a key return in last week’s trade with Minnesota for Jorge Polanco. Pipeline also revealed that slugging outfielder Lazaro Montes -- who could be poised for a big leap year -- just missed the cut.
Notably, Seattle did not have a pitcher in the mix for the first time since 2018, just before the wave of arms that has come to define much of its Major League roster joined the organization. Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Matt Brash and Bryce Miller were graduates of the Top 100 in recent years.
The chunk of Seattle’s system has shifted far more on the position-player side, the best of whom are at the lower levels and probably at least another year away. Yet the Mariners still have plenty of intriguing arms that are also worth following this season.
Here are a few names to know (for the purposes of this exercise, pitchers who’ve already made their MLB debuts were not included, such as Emerson Hancock and Ty Adcock):
RHP Cole Phillips (Mariners’ No. 14 prospect): Acquired in December’s trade that sent Jarred Kelenic to Atlanta, Phillips should be fully healed from the right elbow Tommy John surgery he underwent just before the Braves selected him in the second round of the 2022 MLB Draft.
Part of what may have led to his injury is also what made him so enticing, which is the fastball’s elite velocity that flirts with triple digits. Phillips has drawn comparisons to Nathan Eovaldi, who also was high on Draft boards in 2008 as a Texas high schooler before suffering an elbow injury.
The focus for Phillips in 2024 will be to create a sound professional routine to allow his body to control everything that his elite arm can produce.
RHP Jeter Martinez (No. 24): Among the Mariners’ youngest pitching prospects, the 17-year-old Martinez is probably viewed with the most upside internally. With a 6-foot-4 frame and velocity that’s reached up to 97 mph, it’s easy to see why.
Martinez went deep into games in his first pro year last season, reaching five innings or more in six of his 11 starts in the Dominican Summer League, over which he carried a 1.72 ERA and held hitters to a slash line of .130/.246/.195 (.442 OPS), with a 30.2% strikeout percentage and 11.2% walk percentage.
RHP Brody Hopkins (No. 25): A two-way player at Winthrop University, Hopkins was an outfielder and starting pitcher, possessing enough stuff for the Mariners to select him in the sixth round of the 2023 Draft and sign him under slot value, at $225,000.
The club is bullish on the 6-foot-4 Hopkins’ athleticism helping his stuff play up as he transitions to the pros. He sits in the 93-96 mph range, but he can dial it up higher, while his low-80s slider flashes plus stuff at times. His command is still a work in progress, particularly after walking 7.3 batters per nine innings at Winthrop last season.
RHP Marcelo Perez (No. 28): An 11th-round pick out of TCU in 2022, Perez is on the older side of the prospect spectrum at age 24. But he showed enough of a pitch mix last year that the Mariners will still give him an opportunity to start.
Perez showed what one scout called “incredible slider command,” which should pair well with the fastball velocity that he’ll continue to grow into. He’s also working on a split-changeup that could be a weapon for him this season. Perez made 15 starts at Single-A Modesto last year before being promoted for three outings at High-A Everett.
RHP Logan Evans (unranked): A Sunday starter at the University of Pittsburgh, Evans flew under the radar last summer as a 12th-round pick who signed for $100,000. Now, most in the organization say he is the guy nobody is talking about enough.
Evans saw action with Modesto by season’s end while showing some higher velocity, but more so, he impressed with his education of pitch shapes and location strategy. No pitcher is throwing harder at the Mariners’ annual Pitching Camp that began last month in Arizona (formerly called “Gas Camp” and “Shove Camp”).