’20 40-Man Preview Extravaganza

Jay Yencich · November 9, 2020 at 6:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

As has been the case for *most* of the year, we’re in uncharted territory. Certain questions were resolved with in-season additions of good friends such as Ljay Newsome, Aaron Fletcher, and (way ahead of time) Joey Gerber, but this offseason provides more conundrums than are characteristic. How much will teams be ready to gamble on Rule 5 selections amidst limited alternate site data? If the market looks to be flush with relievers, then how do you weight your own potential in-house additions? And then there was last year’s fun where we signed Evan White to a long-term contract a season early, didn’t add anyone we needed to, but neither did we lose anyone at the major league level. Are we planning to use the Rule 5 to our own advantage again? When it comes to choosing between seemingly clear options, Jerry Dipoto has been a huge fan of selecting “what’s in the box,” particularly if the box has the potential of containing an upper-90s relief arm (hi, Yohan Ramirez!).

Conventional rulings on the matter would dictate that we are adding, or risking the loss of, college players from the 2017 draft and high school and July 2nd signings from 2016. At least two, maybe three of the additions seem to me to be rather obvious, but there are multiple relievers we have from the year’s college crop that qualify as intriguing. It’s just a question of how much 40-man space you want to devote to the bullpen, especially when it’s the strength of what looks to be a bone-chilling marketplace. For other teams, position scarcity might drive up the value of, say, starters, but we don’t have much to offer there either. Thus, what we’re looking at here are one guaranteed outfield addition, one in pitching (wherever he lands), and a few appealing bullpen arms. Lacking the usual numbers to crunch here, I’ll be supplying 2019 stats instead. We’re looking at a November 20th deadline.

OF Taylor Trammell, L/L, 6’2”, 215 lbs, 9/13/97, 1st round 2016 (Reds)
(AA) 126 G, 514 PA, 61 R, 102 H, 12 2B, 4 3B, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 20 SB, 8 CS, 122/67 K/BB, .234/.340/.349
Pros: No need to rush him, good at drawing walks, Player’s Tribune piece, Dad jokes
Cons: Still developing power, position of strength, Dad jokes

To be honest, I’m still absorbing the Trammell acquisition and figuring how it fits into our depth. He would easily be the jewel of any other system’s outfield rankings, but then most orgs don’t have two top ten overall prospects there already. Trammell was ranked as high as the teens last year before being overmatched, three years too young for his double-A competition. Athleticism isn’t the obstacle here, as Trammell was Georgia’s Offensive Player of the Year as a running back in addition to being a day-one pick on the diamond. Rather, it’s getting the speed to turn up in the outfield routing and the strength to show up in the launch distance, the conversion of those traits into repeatable skills. He’s also featured some odd little reverse splits at the last two levels that give me pause. Fortunately for us, the Mariners’ player development is as good as it’s ever been, and furthermore time is on his side here.

RHP Juan Then, 6’1”, 175 lbs, 2/7/2000, Dominican Republic 2016
(A) 1-2, 3 G (3 GS), 2.25 ERA in 16.0 IP, 7 H (HR), 4 R, 14/4 K/BB, 2 HB
(A-) 0-3, 7 G (6 GS), 3.56 ERA in 30.1 IP, 24 H (HR), 12 R, 32/9 K/BB, 2 WP
Pros: Premium velocity, made strides in developing slider this summer
Cons: Very limited experience at full-season level, surname pronounced “Ten”

Ah yes, the arm so nice they acquired him twice. The second time around was following a trade with the Yankees for Edwin Encarnacion, undoing half of the earlier Nick Rumbelow swap. At the time, Then was intriguing as a starting candidate who sat 92-3 and hit 96, but beginning in instructs last fall, he’s flashed 99 mph and elevated his average velocity by a couple miles. This garnered him an unexpected invite to the alternate site, where he continued to hold his own despite being the pitcher who had seen the least high-level competition. If his media guide measurements remain true (and to be frank, they rarely are at this point), then I’d be concerned with that kind of heat coming from that frame, but it’s perhaps a more minor point now with the limited wear-and-tear. Andy McKay noted in an MLB.com article “He’s even better than people understand. He’ll have to be protected this year, that’ll make people understand how we feel about him,” so I don’t know what the hold-up is.

RHP Wyatt Mills, 6’4”, 190 lbs, 1/25/1995, 3rd round 2017
(AA) 4-2, 41 G, 4.27 ERA in 52.2 IP, 43 H (2 HR), 26 R (25 ER), 66/17 K/BB, 4 HB, 3 WP
Pros: Local boy (Spokane / Gonzaga), sidewinder, groundball pitcher, added velo
Cons: Strictly bullpen, new bullpen rules, “Wyatt” is only his middle name

Back before (gestures) all this, Mills was a spring training invite who was not re-extended the invitation to the alternate site once games resumed in Tacoma. Whatever was the situation there, Mills didn’t take it sitting down and has seen his fastball climb to 93-97 mph in development league showings. It’s gotten him singled out as one of the players making an impression in Peoria. Still, he’s historically had some platoon splits, both allowing more hits to left-handers and more walks, and there haven’t been further updates on the development of his change-up as something to mitigate that. The new three-batter minimum has made it harder on gimmick pitchers, even ones with plus sliders and neat spin rates. Part of me agrees that mid-inning switches are awfully tedious, but I’m also a big fan of Fun in baseball and weird arm angles are among those Fun qualities that are still permissible.

RHP Jack Anderson, 6’3”, 210 lbs, 1/10/1994, 23rd round 2016
(AA) 4-2, 41 G, 1.50 ERA in 54.0 IP, 52 H (HR), 12 R (9 ER), 51/16 K/BB, 3 HB
Pros: Scrapes his knuckles when he pitches, limited splits last year, nicknamed “The Creature”
Cons: Bad velo (if you care about such things)

Another candidate with a high-Fun quotient is Anderson, who is about as extreme a submarine pitcher as one can get without bouncing it up there. You’d expect that such angle wonkiness might lead to poor command, but back in 2018, he actually won the “60 ft, 6 in Club Award” internally for most quality pitches within the strike zone. Last year’s limited data pointed to his splits trending positively, so he might not be a risk in the same way Mills formerly was. However, the development league box scores have pegged him solidly in the 80-84 mph range with his fastball. Perhaps this could also be why he’s not utilized for multiple innings, if hitters are adjusting their timing in extended showings. I’d also note that he’s “older” in relative terms, but the team has taken on plenty of waiver wire picks with less tread on the tires.

RHP Sam Delaplane, 5’11”, 175 lbs, 3/27/1995, 23rd round 2017
(A+) 3-2, 21 G, 4.26 ERA in 31.2 IP, 22 H (2 HR), 16 R (15 ER), 62/14 K/BB, HB, 5 WP
(AA) 3-1, 25 G, 0.49 ERA in 37.0 IP, 13 H (2 HR), 4 R (2 ER), 58/9 K/BB, HB
Pros: One of baseball’s best sliders, rare double-A improvement, Boeing-friendly Spoonerism
Cons: “Undersized,” Spoonerism may also offend those squeamish about bad language

Between Art Warren, Anderson, and Delaplane, the 23rd round has been weirdly “one to watch” for future bullpen arms. It’s weird enough to get a major leaguer that late once, let alone multiple times, but Delaplane may be the best of the lot. His slider, which he throws in the mid-to-upper 80s, has one of the best swinging strike rates in baseball. A mid-90s heater offsetting that ain’t bad either. The only blips I really notice are that he shifted into being a flyball pitcher in 2019, developed some splits against lefties. If you’re a traditional scouting type, then your concern might be that he’s not the tallest. Should he sustain the K-rate after further trials in the high minors, then he starts to look like a potential setup guy if not closer. However, even without that upper level experience, the team will probably want to protect him as those strikeouts are way too enticing.

LHP Raymond Kerr, 6’3”, 185 lbs, 9/10/1994, NDFA 2017
(A+) 3-7, 35 G (10 GS), 3.91 ERA in 89.2 IP, 85 H (HR), 54 R (39 ER), 93/51 K/BB, 8 HB, 8 WP
Pros: Scrapes triple-digits from the left-side, breaking ball not bad
Cons: Absent from alt-site and dev league, command sucks, hitter’s name

Being tabbed as a NDFA out of a California community college, Kerr is a pop-up guy among pop-up guys. Formerly a two-way player, the shift to the mound and a few tweaks unlocked high-90s heat. The rarity of that among southpaws is enough to throw him into consideration here. However, Kerr was a fringe candidate coming into 2020 and has only gotten fringier. He was not present at the alternate site in Tacoma, nor has he turned up in the more recent box scores out of Peoria. For all I know, he could be injured. It’s not unreasonable to think that a guy with who throws hard but with jerky, inconsistent mechanics might also get hurt if he doesn’t get that straightened out. The total absence of recent data here would make it harder to justify using the space for him.

3B/1B Joe Rizzo, L/R, 5’11”, 195 lbs, 3/31/97, 2nd round 2016
(A) 129 G, 570 PA, 77 R, 153 H, 30 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 63 RBI, 3 CS, 94/45 K/BB, .295/.354/.423
Pros: Bat was starting to come around, has had regular 100+ exit velos in Peoria
Cons: Possibly moving down the defensive spectrum

After a “meh” showing in the Midwest League in 2017, Rizzo got a promotion into the heart of Modesto’s playoff run and walked away with MVP honors for the finals, having gone 8-for-19 with a couple doubles and a dinger. Folks thought that this heralded the rise of Rizzo’s star as a prospect, but he managed a .624 OPS in that same league a year later. Rizzo answered some questions about his bat in the repeat tour, where he remained young for the level, but he also started to see increasing time at first. That trend has only continued in the development league, with a spot here and there at second. My perception of him, entirely unfairly, is colored by his draft predecessors: The many big-bodied young shortstops with range issues that were regular 2nd round picks by us in the early 2010s. Rizzo has undeniably proven more than any of them did, but I still struggle to see him as a difference-maker. I’d be totally cool with being wrong though.


3 Responses to “’20 40-Man Preview Extravaganza”

  1. Stevemotivateir on November 10th, 2020 6:47 am

    Good stuff, Jay. I had forgotten about Kerr.

    I wonder how likely Jerry is to make a Rule-5 selection. If they have a 6-man rotation and the roster is limited to 26, that would leave just 7 slots open for relievers. Not a great situation to carry an inexperienced arm they can’t option.

  2. bookbook on November 12th, 2020 2:45 pm

    I like Rizzo. The odds must be at least 50 to one against him ever having any major league impact. He’ll get his cups of coffee, I suppose.

  3. Westside guy on November 14th, 2020 6:38 pm

    With Jack Anderson, I would’ve added the con “always running off investigating government coverups” – but it’s likely no one would get that (plus someone might call me on the spelling).

    Also – dad jokes are the best! Not that I’m biased in that regard.

    Thank you Jay!

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