Pipeline Q&A: Mariners prospect Evan White

Seattle's top 2017 Draft pick discusses his defensive prowess

March 5th, 2018

As part of MLB Pipeline's visit to all 30 Spring Training facilities, we're sitting down with prospects and getting to know them a little better. At Mariners camp, it was Evan White.

Evan White was the Mariners' first-round pick of the 2017 Draft, taken No. 17 overall out of the University of Kentucky. He's No. 2 on the Mariners Top 30 Prospects list and No. 5 on the Top 10 1B list.

:: MLB Pipeline Spring Training reports ::

MLB Pipeline: You're attending your first Spring Training and because of some injuries, you've been able to get a decent amount of time in early big league games. You weren't expecting that, were you? How has that experience been?

White: It's been awesome. I had no idea what to expect. I thought I was just coming to mini-camp and didn't really know what to expect with that, either. I've learned a lot and hope I get some more time. It's tough to see guys go down, but I was happy to be able to get over there. It's been good, seeing those guys go about their business. This is my first Spring Training, seeing how they go about their mental and physical preparation, it's been a real blessing. Seeing how easy those guys make it look has been cool, too. I've been enjoying every second of it.

Pipeline's Mariners Spring Training report

MLB Pipeline: After you signed with the Mariners, you started your pro career in the short-season Northwest League and you promptly injured your quad, ending your summer. How hard was that to deal with?

White: It was definitely frustrating. I started off slow and wasn't seeing the ball great. As soon as I was catching up, seeing the ball and starting to put good swings on it, I got hurt. I tried to use it as a learning experience, like with everything, and take the good out of the bad. I worked to prepare my body for what I hope will be a long, healthy season.

MLB Pipeline: You have such a unique profile as a plus defensive first baseman with plus speed. With that kind of speed, how did you end up at first and no coach permanently made you a center fielder?

White: In middle school, I played shortstop most of the time, so I had an infield background and just a love for taking ground balls. I wanted to play shortstop in high school, but they never gave me innings over there. In high school, there was a senior the year before, but he graduated and we didn't have another first baseman. I was pretty good over there, so I stayed. I did play a decent amount of outfield in travel ball, maybe 50-50. Then in college my freshman year, there wasn't a true first baseman. Thomas Bernal moved over to third. It was a good situation. If there had been a first baseman there, maybe I'd be an everyday outfielder now.

The glove, the aspect I bring to first, being able to save outs and runs, I think I do a good job of that. I think it's a better way to help teams win. Even If I don't swing the bat one day, I can still help a team. The athleticism over there, I feel I can do more than a typical 1B as a result.

MLB Pipeline: Where does the pride in defense come from? Most young players tend to care so much more about the offensive side of the game.

White: It's definitely something I've had from the get-go. A lot of guys love to talk about hitting and I do too, I love to hit and put the work in. But I also love putting the work in on the defensive side of things, go out to the field, backyard, whatever it is. The main thing growing up, I didn't want to be a one-sided player. My family helped me out in that way. They did everything they could to help me be the best all-around player I could be.

MLB Pipeline: There's a certain offensive profile expected from a first baseman that includes power. Is that something you think is going to come?

White: I think it's going to come. Each year, I've grown and gotten stronger, my homers and doubles numbers have gone up. I don't think it's as important as some make it out to be, but I do have to drive in runs, have to get on base. If I'm not hitting 40 homers, I have to make up for it in other ways. The Mariners talk about controlling the zone. I think that's a big reason why my power numbers improved last year: better selection. It was the first year I was really more selective. My first two years at Kentucky, I swung a lot early on in counts. I want to maintain aggressiveness, but be smart about it. As I find that balance, I think my power numbers will continue to improve.

MLB Pipeline: You grew up a Reds fan, especially Joey Votto. Have you been able to interact with him yet and what do you like about him?

White: I haven't met him yet. That's something I hope for. That would be an awesome opportunity. I got to see and already, those are two of my favorite guys at first. I loved watching them. With Votto, I just like the way he approaches the game, making adjustments pitch by pitch, and he plays great defense at first, which obviously I admire. He's a great example of a well-rounded player.

MLB Pipeline: Being a Reds fan was a family thing, right?

White: On Father's Day, we'd go to the ballpark, the entire family -- cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, obviously. It was a family thing. That really drives my love for baseball. It's something I found growing up and the love grew every year. The family is a big reason why I'm where I am right now.