Mariners honor top Minor League performers

September 29th, 2023

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 -- It’s award season for the Mariners’ farm system, as the club this week announced the year-end honors for its Minor League players.

“I like where our system is heading into the offseason,” Mariners director of player development Justin Toole said. “So many guys had great years and they continue to develop. We saw a lot of team success this past year, as well, which was a lot of fun to follow. That said, there’s still a lot of work to do, and we’re excited for our guys to continue to get after it as we head into the offseason.”

Below are the winners of each award and some of their contributions in 2023:

Lazaro Montes, OF, Ken Griffey Jr. Co-Hitter of the Year

At just 18 years old, the 6-foot-4, 256-pound Montes hit .321 with a .994 OPS, seven homers and 30 RBIs in 33 games after being promoted to Single-A Modesto in August. The Mariners’ No. 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline helped to lead Modesto to a California League Championship, ending the season on a 15-game on-base streak en route to the team’s sweep over Rancho Cucamonga in the championship round.

Jake Scheiner, INF, Ken Griffey Jr. Co-Hitter of the Year

Scheiner was tied for the Pacific Coast League lead in homers (30), second in RBIs (105) and seventh in slugging percentage (.509), and hit .252 with an .878 OPS. It was a career year for the 28-year-old.

Reid VanScoter, LHP, Jamie Moyer Pitcher of the Year

VanScoter went 10-6 with a 3.27 ERA over 143 1/3 innings, with 35 walks and 157 strikeouts in 25 starts with High-A Everett, 13 of which were quality starts. The headlining moment for the fifth-round pick in 2022 was a season-high 12 strikeouts on Sept. 4 at Eugene.

Cole Young, INF, Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” Award

Seattle’s No. 1 prospect, Young received the honor that the club bestows “for his exemplary play and leadership skills both on and off the field this season.” Young slashed .277/.399/.448 (.847 OPS) with 92 runs scored, 34 doubles, nine triples, 11 homers, 62 RBIs, 22 stolen bases and 88 walks between Single-A Modesto and High-A Everett. There’s an outside chance that, if he soars in 2024, he could play his way into the Majors by season’s end.

Harry Ford, C, Dan Wilson Community Service Award

One year after winning the “Mr. Mariner” Award, Ford was recognized by one of his most prominent mentors in the organization, Wilson, who has shared a charitable passion since the club’s No. 2 prospect joined the organization in 2021. Ford regularly contributed off the field during his season at Everett.

“Harry is the embodiment of community involvement. It’s who he is,” said Wilson, the Mariners’ Hall of Famer. “He’s eager to give back at community events and you can oftentimes find him engaging with fans on and off the field. He truly understands his baseball platform and he loves to humbly use that platform to inspire and help others. A well-deserved honor for a great player and person.”

Almost immediately at the end of Everett’s season, Ford trekked to the Czech Republic in an attempt to help Team Great Britain try to win the European Baseball Championship.

Brock Rodden, INF, Edgar Martinez “Dominate The Zone” Tournament Award (Hitter)

This specific award recognizes the hitter in the Mariners organization that best embodied the Dominate the Zone philosophy, “instilling a team approach at the plate instead of an individual approach.”

Rodden made a quick impact after being selected in the fifth round of the 2023 Draft, slashing .311/.366/.450 (.816 OPS) with 33 runs scored, 11 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 20 RBIs and 11 walks between the Arizona Complex League and Modesto. The switch-hitting infielder was selected out of Wichita State University.

Holden Laws, LHP, “Dominate The Zone” Tournament Award (Pitcher)

This is the same award as Rodden received, but among pitchers. Laws went 4-4 with a 5.19 ERA in 52 innings, with 13 walks and 66 strikeouts at Modesto, registering an 11.4 strikeouts-per-nine and a 5.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The southpaw was selected by the Mariners in the 16th round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of South Granville (N.C.).

Zach Vincej, MGR, Dave Henderson Staff Member of the Year

In his first year as manager at Modesto, Vincej led Modesto to the Cal League title after going 21-2 over its final games. In 2023, the Nuts led the Cal League in runs scored (795) and OPS (.773).