The Mariners 25-man roster appears set in stone. However, injuries will play a major role in the team’s success this season. That is why Jerry Dipoto has relentlessly tried to fortify the team’s depth.
If any major league team is going to be successful, it will need to dip into its minor league system throughout the season. The 2017 Seattle Mariners will be no different.
While “prospects” like Mitch Haniger and Dan Vogelbach will inevitably play a major role in 2017, they will not be on this list. Here are the ground rules:
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The player cannot be projected to make the Opening Day Roster
Players like Tony Zych and Ben Gamel are not eligible. Basically, if the player has played in the Major Leagues, he is not on the list.
This list will not gauge “impact” as a trade chip. In other words, if Tyler O’Neill is on the list, it’s not because he could/will fetch a good starting pitcher at the deadline.
With all of that in mind, let’s quickly define “impact”. When we talk about a players potential impact, it can work both ways. If a player comes up and doesn’t perform, he has had a negative impact.
Nobody in the Mariners system will come up in mid-April and make the team dramatically better like Kris Bryant, Nomar Mazara, and Mike Trout did for their respective clubs. But, on this veteran-laden team, that type of major impact isn’t necessary.
Let’s begin our list with a prospect most fans have probably forgotten about.
5. Boog Powell
Powell was last season’s Mitch Haniger. The second player in the Miller-Karns trade, Powell was billed as an OBP machine who could play all three outfield spots and well.
Powell started slowly, but began to pick it up in June, and appeared primed for a call-up. But on June 22, he was suspended for 80 games for his second PED bust. For this, Powell must regain some of the trust he lost from the organization.
As a prospect, Powell is still interesting. He has no power but is a .301 hitter in the minors and a career OBP of .387 is still interesting. He has some speed but is not a great base-stealer (his success rate is around 60%).
The newest darling of Mariners Farm System, Vieira burst onto the scenes last season. The Brazilian-born pitcher has always had an electrifying fastball and has been clocked as high 103 MPH. But in 2016, he finally found the strike zone.
After stalling out in the low-minors for four years, Vieira dominated the Cal league, averaging 10.8 K/9. He cuts his BB/9 by two full walks over 2015 and added a solid slider to his repertoire.
Vieira will start the year in Double-A Modesto and could join Edwin Diaz and Dan Altavilla as relievers to jump from AA to the majors.
3. D.J. Peterson
The first round pick of the Mariners in 2012, Peterson has had a twisted road to this place in his career. A former fast track prospect, Peterson finally appears to be on the edge of making his Major League debut.
Peterson is the insurance policy at first base. If Danny Valencia and Vogelbach cannot get it done, Peterson will get the first crack at the job.
Peterson has shown the ability to draw a walk and has 20 homer pop. When at his best, he peppers the gaps with line drives and working counts.
The Mariners second round pick in 2015, Moore could fill a major hole at the back-end of the Mariners rotation by mid-season. The Mariners rotation has several major health concerns, mainly Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton.
Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly aren’t locks to stay healthy either. Rob Whalen probably get the first crack, but the team loves Andrew Moore‘s pitchability and competitiveness. He will start the year in Tacoma and should make his MLB debut in 2017.
In a perfect world, Gallardo, Smyly and the rest of staff all make 30 starts and Moore makes hi debut in the bullpen. But, in the likely scenario a starter is needed, Moore could fill that void.
1. Tyler O’Neill
Was there ever any doubt? Of course, Tyler O’Neill is the prospect who can make the biggest impact in 2017. The team would love to make Tyler O’Neill’s 2017 debut nothing more than a cup of coffee in September.
But if Haniger, Gamel, Heredia, and Powell are not getting the job done, O’Neill will need to be more than a September call-up.
Dipoto has done a terrific job of stacking up enough depth that even a struggling Mariners outfield can hold up until June.
O’Neill could bring 30 home run power to the Mariners lineup, as well as his gamer mentality. O’Neill is more than just a power bat (you can read the full report here) and if he is needed before September, he needs to be at least a two WAR player for the 2017 Mariners to make the playoffs.
Having just laid out five of some of the Mariners great young talent, one can only believe that the future is bright for this organization. The question is: how soon will we see all of these men playing in Safeco Field?