’22 40-Man Preview Extravaganza

Jay Yencich · November 4, 2022 at 6:00 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Baseball is generally regarded as slower to catch up with other sports in certain areas, but this season marks a particularly interesting phase-out before next year’s “new normal.” What I’m referring to here is that the 2019 draft, for which college players are now eligible for the Rule 5, was the last year of the draft going up to forty rounds. As we know, the pandemic limited the 2020 draft to five rounds, and thereafter, the new CBA has affirmed a twenty-round draft moving forward. The minor league contraction ensures that it will probably remain this. While I miss the all-day marathon drafts of yesteryear and lament on behalf of fun late-round draftees who made good, I’m also not sure if the unionization efforts at the minor league level would have been tolerated had the overall numbers not dropped. Besides, guys can still sign for six-figures as NDFAs.

As indicated, this year, we’re looking at college draft guys from 2019, of which there are a lot, and also high school draftees, U-19 international signings, and other holdovers from the 2018 class, with the caveat that there isn’t a whole lot there (Gilbert, Raleigh, and 33rd rounder Penn Murfee already headlining). Many of the qualifiers were traded away in the rebuild phase and Jerry likes to add guys early, but there’s still enough to warrant a good old-fashioned preview even if I’m not around for much else these days. The deadline is Friday, November 18th. I think.

I usually lead with omissions, so I’ll emphasize once more that I’m not saying these guys won’t ever make it, only that it doesn’t make sense to add them right now. The runners up are: Sam Carlson (repeated league w/out major improvement), Devin Sweet (ditto, although could be an unconventional R on L reliever), Joe Rizzo (more power but maybe not enough), Ty Adcock (multiple arm surgeries), Logan Rinehart (untested, just off TJ), Jorge Benitez (intriguing numbers against LHB but could be BABIP noise), Brayan Perez (maybe a reliever, didn’t rebound after demotion), Juan Mercedes (dinger issues, may not gain much from relief), Joseph Hernandez (smaller and less proven than Mercedes). The lost development year hurt some of these guys bad.

RHP Prelander Berroa, 5’11”, 170 lbs, 9/10/2000, Trade 2022
(A+) 2-2, 17 GS, 2.06 ERA in 65.2 IP, 34 H (2 HR), 16 R (15 ER), 97/38 K/BB, 2 HB, 4 WP
(AA) 2-1, 9 GS, 4.37 ERA in 35.0 IP, 20 H (3 HR), 17 R, 53/25 K/BB, 2 HB, WP, BK
Pros: High octane FB-slider combo, newfound GB tendencies after switching orgs
Cons: Major command issues, rarely allowed to go deep into games

At the cost of a redundant infield option in Donovan Walton, Berroa was a neat pick-up. There were numerous reports of him scraping 100 mph with his fastball and, when combined with his plus slider, he could be unhittable in his better outings. The .158 average against for the season attests to that, and despite a change-up that’s only workable, LHB fared worse against him. However, as one can see from the mismatch between starts and innings, he averaged under four innings per outing and only reached the fifth on four occasions. I wonder about the logic behind that, like whether they had a quick hook before he got tired to prioritize better reps, but I haven’t seen much from the org about it. His command, when bad, can also be quite bad, with 27 of his 63 walks coming in just six starts. Few outlets have committed to the idea of him as a long-term starter in the long run, leaving the potential to work in as a bridge piece, albeit a volatile one.

RHP Isaiah Campbell, 6’4”, 230 lbs, 8/15/1997, Comp B (2nd round) 2019
(A+) 1-0, 19 G (4 GS), 10 SV, 0.82 ERA in 33.0 IP, 18 H (2 HR), 4 R (3 ER), 35/10 K/BB, 2 WP
(AA) 0-4, 14 G, SV, 3.46 ERA in 13.0 IP, 13 H (2 HR), 6 R (5 ER), 24/2 K/BB, 2 WP
Pros: Starter’s repertoire, community leader, snazzy dresser
Cons: Moved to relief this year, long history of elbow issues

Laboring through 118.1 innings as Arkansas’ (SEC version) Friday night starter in 2019, Campbell since had various elbow issues which have required surgery. While none of them were presented as especially serious, it’s telling that the organization shifted him to the bullpen this season. There, he was pretty consistently a one-inning guy and only passed that threshold once for Arkansas (Texas League version). His mid-90s fastball plays up in relief and he’s shown good control numbers, whether as a FB-slider guy in the ‘pen or showing his whole arsenal of those plus a split-change and curve. Still, for all the organization awards he gets (Dominate the Zone! Community Service!) and the praise he receives from teammates, he’s under one hundred innings as a pro. This has contributed to his dropping off many a prospect list.

OF Cade Marlowe, L/R, 6’1”, 210 lbs, 6/24/97, 20th round 2019

(AA) 120 G, 518 PA, 75 R, 130 H, 18 2B, 4 3B, 20 HR, 86 RBI, 36 SB, 10 CS, 133/55 K/BB, 12 HBP, .291/.380/.483
(AAA) 13 G, 60 PA, 8 R, 13 H, 3 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB, 23/7 K/BB, HBP, .250/.350/.519
Pros: Complete player, now somewhat proven in the high-minors, “Marlovian” as an adjective
Cons: Some swing and miss to his game, older, not great against LHP

For many Mariners fans, the playoff taxi squad was the first time they heard of Marlowe (if they did at all). However, minor league aficionados had already been aware of him after a loud 2021 campaign saw him hit for an OPS above .900 across two levels of low-minors competition. While Marlowe was definitely old for the level at both those stops, this was less the case this season when he performed close to that well (.864 OPS overall) once more while playing half his games in an extreme pitcher’s park. Of some concern here is that his K-rate last season was 27% with a walk rate of 12.5%, but this past season, the walks dropped to 10.7%. Marlowe also has a 150-point OPS split against left-handers. Still, I view it as an organizational good to reward performance and the Mariners just removed Derek Hill from a similar depth spot on the 40-man.

OF Jonatan Clase, S/R, 5’9”, 180 lbs, 5/23/2002, Dominican Republic 2018

(A) 107 G, 499 PA, 91 R, 113 H, 22 2B, 11 3B, 13 HR, 49 RBI, 55 SB, 10 CS, 133/65 K/BB, 8 HBP, .267/.374/.463
Pros: Fast enough to hold down center, has bulked up in performance camp, Short King
Cons: Very much unproven, hamstring and quad strains have limited time on field

Clase was originally just an “elite speed” guy until he started doing time in the High-Performance Camp, where he has managed to bulk up without losing too much in the way of range, earning him the nickname “Tanquito.” Still, his defense right now is more about tools than skills. Where offense is concerned, he’s fairly new to switch hitting and it remains to be seen if he keeps it up, though his splits are below 100 points of OPS and not too worrisome. What may be concerning however is that his season could be divided into hot and cold, with a line of .230/.336/.373 over 283 appearances in his “cooler” months and .318/.421/.587 over 216 PAs (179 AB) in his warmer periods. Fourth outfielder stash candidates are less often taken in the Rule 5 these days but maybe…

1B Robert Perez, Jr., R/R, 6’1”, 170 lbs, 6/26/00, Venezuela 2016
(A+) 35 G, 153 PA, 22 R, 41 H, 6 2B, 3B, 7 HR, 27 RBI, SB, CS, 34/23 K/BB, 9 HBP, .342/.477/.583
(A) 92 G, 415 PA, 78 R, 93 H, 18 2B, 3B, 20 HR, 87 RBI, 5 SB, 108/48 K/BB, 12 HBP, .270/.369/.501
Pros: Major power potential, not easily intimidated, Dad played for us
Cons: Defensively limited, repeat of Cal League only yielded +.050 of SLG, lesser bloodlines

Good ol’ Bobby Bombs generates varied opinions, as you’d expect from his profile. I hesitate to call him “bat-first” because, hey, he was voted the best defensive 1B in the Cal League, but he’s only rarely played elsewhere and even that has tapered off. The power is elite though. Consider that Modesto’s park factor for HR was 52. Now consider that thirteen of Perez’ 27 home runs came there and he posted an ISO of .229, along with a home OPS of nearly one thousand. His only speedbump was a .617 OPS in June. A strong start in the Arizona Fall League has helped to answer some questions about how he fares against tougher competition, but the question remains as to whether you want to put yet another first baseman on the 40-man, especially when he may need all three option years before being ready.

RHP Travis Kuhn, 5’10”, 195 lbs, 5/20/1998, 19th round 2019
(AA) 3-3, 50 G, 3 SV 4.10 ERA in 59.1 IP, 43 H (3 HR), 31 R (27 ER), 71/35 K/BB, 8 HB, 3 WP, 2 BK
Pros: Heat approaching 100 mph, plus slider, aggressive approach
Cons: 100% a relief guy, command comes and goes

The more I thought about Kuhn, the more he resembled the type of guy organizations love to take fliers on. After missing the end of 2021 with a sports hernia, 2022 could be said to be his first full season. Kuhn is about as effective as you could hope from a two-pitch reliever, with an OPS against around .620 no matter which side of the plate the batter’s on. The one quirk is he walked right-handed hitters at a much higher rate (15.6%, compared to 10% vs. LHB). That’s the main issue, and to crunch the numbers as I did for Berroa, you can attribute ten of his walks to just three appearances, including one stint in August when he only got a single out while handing out three free passes. Still, guys make the jump from double-A all the time and Kuhn hasn’t had too much time to iron out his command.


7 Responses to “’22 40-Man Preview Extravaganza”

  1. bookbook on November 6th, 2022 4:27 pm

    I think we can stipulate that the M’s won’t add all 6 of these guys plus Joseph Hernandez (my favorite), and keep Alberto Rodriguez around. I hate losing players for nothing, though. I hope to see some adds in to trades among this list.

  2. Jay Yencich on November 7th, 2022 5:09 pm

    Right, it’s hard to say they’ll keep all six. Berroa, Campbell, and Kuhn all have near-ready if not ready value in relief and Marlowe and Clase could both be serviceable defensive replacements or fourth / fifth outfielders. My guess is that if there’s an odd man out, it’s Bobby Barrels for his defensive limitations, but I also wouldn’t rule out them taking a risk with Clase because he’s inexperienced and there may still be enough of a bias against short guys to not pick the 5’9 outfielder, even if it’s a perfectly acceptable height for an infielder.

  3. Jay Yencich on November 8th, 2022 8:09 am

    A couple of things I missed out on:

    Pipeline reminds us that 3B Milkar Perez is also eligible to be selected in Rule 5. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an oversight on my part, but I also don’t think that a corner infielder whose main calling cards are plate discipline and throwing arm is at high risk to be selected, especially when his launch angle is not conducive to power. Since the format changed, it’s been rare to see players with his level of success / experience picked. I look forward to maybe writing about him next year.

    Shannon Drayer also posted yesterday that the roster protection deadline is actually the 15th. If true, cool, I got mine out early anyway.

  4. Stevemotivateir on November 14th, 2022 4:05 pm

    Nice work, Jay!

    One thing I’ve thought about a lot (unnecessarily) are all the unproven lefty-swingin’ outfielders on the 40 with the numbers soon to swell: Rodriguez, Kelenic, Trammell, Marlowe, and Clase…

    Makes me wonder if one or two might get moved.

    Another thing I’ve thought about a lot (necessarily, I think), are all the young pitchers that will likely serve as depth. Kuhn, Campbell, Berroa, Woo, and starters such as Brash, Dollard, and Hancock.

    I can’t remember ever seeing so many (good) arms potentially available in a single season.

  5. Stevemotivateir on November 14th, 2022 4:54 pm

    Oh, and Bryce Miller.

  6. MKT on February 16th, 2023 10:53 pm

    Mariners related, albeit not for the upcoming season but for former Mariner John Jaso, who retired early because the wanted to buy a sailboat, learn how to sail it (he didn’t know how at the time), and sail around the Caribbean. And has been doing exactly that ever since.

  7. schwingy on March 12th, 2023 3:50 pm

    That was a great radio spot for Dave Cameron, great job, and congratulations!

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