Mariners prospect Povse joins rotation mix

Right-hander enjoyed successful Arizona Fall League stint

January 2nd, 2018

SEATTLE -- Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto had success converting hard-throwing starters and to relief roles in the past two years, but he admits that a similar path with 6-foot-8 right-hander didn't pan out last season.
Which is why when Spring Training opens next month in Peoria, Ariz., Povse, ranked as the club's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, will compete for a rotation job in an organization that was strongly reminded last year of the need for starting depth after a season-long series of injuries.
Dipoto had visions of turning Povse into a versatile multi-inning reliever in the mold of Astros All-Star after acquiring Povse -- along with fellow right-hander -- from the Braves for former first-round pick last offseason.
But after going 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA in nine games (eight starts) with Double-A Arkansas, the lanky North Carolina native didn't flourish when promoted to Triple-A Tacoma and thrust into a relief role. Povse went 1-4 with a 7.39 ERA in 13 games (five starts) for the Rainiers, and he allowed nine hits and five runs (three earned) in 3 2/3 innings over three bullpen outings for Seattle in two short big league stints in June and July.
"It was unfair to put him in some of the situations we did last year in the big leagues," Dipoto said. "Our expectation was that like Altavilla and Diaz, we could dump him in the bullpen and instead of getting 92-95 [mph on the fastball], we might get upper 90s. That didn't really happen. We didn't see the uptick in the stuff that we thought we might."
So to get Povse back on track, the Mariners sent him to the Arizona Fall League as a starter once the regular season ended.
"He still has the pitches, he's still a strike thrower and he went to the Fall League and generally said, 'I'm still Max Povse,'" Dipoto said. "It took him a while to get over what I think was unfair development really not on our part, but on my part. I put him in a tough spot.
"Some of it was due to need, some of it due to curiosity. When we acquired him, we thought he might be that Devinski type of guy. It might just not be in his DNA and skillset. So we sent him to the Fall League, stretched him back out, and he had quite a good fall."
Povse posted a 4.56 ERA with 25 strikeouts and six walks in 25 2/3 innings over six starts for Peoria against many of the top prospects in baseball, including a 3.15 ERA in 20 frames over his final four outings.
"It's a really offensive-oriented league and he ran one of the better strikeout-to-walk ratios, and showed that same velocity and downhill plane and three-pitch mix that generally has served him well," Dipoto said. "If he can do those things as a starting pitcher, then we'll allow him to show us that he can maintain going multiple times through the lineup. And if not, there's still a place in the big leagues for Max Povse, just because his stuff is good."
In short, Povse is back with a chance now to pick up where he stood last spring, which was as an impressive-looking young prospect with an opportunity to establish himself as a Triple-A starter and a contender for a rotation role in the Majors down the road.
"He knows he's coming into spring to compete as a starter," Dipoto said. "There's always the ability to back him up as a reliever, but having acquired , with Tony Zych, and Altavilla, we are building up a nice reserve of young power arms that are all optionable.
"We certainly feel Max fills into that group favorably and the one separator he has from the other four guys is he can go out and start games. And right now, the starter value might be more valuable to us than the reliever value."