McKay talks Julio, prospects from fall camp

November 18th, 2020

SEATTLE -- The Mariners’ fall developmental league season ended a few days earlier than expected due to a COVID-19 scare, but Andy McKay -- the club’s player personnel director -- said the six-week program produced exactly what was needed in terms of extra playing time and progress for a number of young prospects who missed most of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Forty of the Mariners’ prospects worked out and played games at the team’s Peoria, Ariz., facility until two people tested positive and things were shut down last weekend. McKay said all the players have now returned to either their homes in the U.S. or to the Mariners’ Dominican Republic complex, though the Peoria facility has been cleared to re-open for rehabbing players and some others who live in the area and work out there in the offseason.

Here are McKay’s thoughts on some of the top prospects who took part:

Outfielder Julio Rodriguez (Mariners’ No. 2 prospect at just 19 years old): “Julio was Julio. There were moments when he defended better than I’ve ever seen him and ran the bases better than I’ve ever seen him. And he continued to hit the ball hard. But the defense and baserunning, and really the speed, hit me a little differently than they had in the past.”

Outfielder Taylor Trammell (No. 5 prospect, acquired from Padres in August): “Taylor continues to impress me in all facets of the game. This was an opportunity to be around our people and help him as he moves into our organization, trying to keep in mind he’s been in three organizations in a very short period of time. So, the more he’s able to get to know us and we get to know him, is very helpful.”

Shortstop Noelvi Marte (No. 7 prospect, also just 19): “Noelvi’s experience in Peoria was much more beneficial for him (compared to Major League camp in July) to be playing more age-appropriate competition, rather than taking him straight out of the Dominican Republic and getting live at-bats against Marco Gonzales in T-Mobile [Park], which I think was a bit of a mismatch. Noelvi really stood out. We were thrilled to have him in Seattle, but to get him back down to Peoria in a better competitive level, you really began to see what we knew we had in terms of the skills.”

Catcher Cal Raleigh: (No. 8 prospect): “Cal ended with eight or nine homers, and if you add up what he did in 2019 to what he did in the alternate [training] site, he might have had the best 2020 of anybody for being in the odd situation there. … He’s the one player we have who has always been a head scratcher for me industry-wise. He flies under everybody’s radar and I’m not sure why. He has proven the ability to hit home runs and he’s proven it over and over again. He’s a switch-hitting catcher who really knows how to lead. Our pitchers love throwing to him. I thought he had a fantastic year.”

Outfielder Zach DeLoach (No. 12 prospect, second-round Draft pick in June out of Texas A&M): “He continued to impress. DeLoach was the guy who came right out of the Draft and fit right in to Summer Camp 2.0, as he did also in Tacoma. Getting to see him continue putting together really consistent at-bats was great.”

Right-hander Juan Then (No. 14 prospect): “Getting to be with him every day and seeing the evolution of his slider, which really wasn’t much of a pitch in Seattle, but by the time we left Arizona, it was a plus pitch. And he was like 95-99 mph every time with a really good slider, so that was great to see.”

Right-hander Sam Carlson (No. 15 prospect who hasn’t pitched since Tommy John surgery in 2017): “I’m convinced he’s completely healthy and that he’s as tough a person as we have in our system. I’ve seen the velocity coming back, I’ve seen the breaking ball, I’ve seen the changeup, I’ve seen strikes. I haven’t necessarily seen it all in the same outing, but he’s still young. Sam has a wisdom about him that there’s no way you could give him without going through the experiences he’s gone through. I’m just as excited about Sam as I was the day we drafted him.”

Right-hander Wyatt Mills (No. 23 prospect): “After having not been in Summer Camp or the alternate site, he showed up to Peoria and looked the best he’s ever been, which is a huge testament to how he handled -- in his mind -- the setback of not being invited to Seattle. That was a highlight for me.”

Outfielder Jonatan Clase (Unranked 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic): “It was the first time we’ve seen him in the States. He was hurt most of the camp, but he was able to hit. The bat appears to be real, the power appears to be real and he’s the fastest runner in our system.”