Nate Pearsall, Staff Writer
Seattle – As the City of Seattle and the baseball world watched Safeco Field become T-Mobile Park, James Paxton become a Yankee, and Robinson Canó and Edwin Diaz became Mets, Jerry Dipoto, General Manager of the Mariners stayed busy with his moves that will put the Mariners in complete tear-down mode.
While it is not quite a full rebuild, it is going to be a year where the peak interest comes from those who will be in an M’s jersey in the coming years. These are a few players to watch.
White has turned some heads in his two years in the minor league system of the M’s. Though known for his glove, his bat has developed into one of the most consistent in AA ball. An unorthodox first baseman, specializing in defense with quickness and a solid arm, White measures at 6’3” and 205 pounds, a lean body that could land him in all three outfield spots if need be.
While the power is on and off, White showed that his gap to gap and line to line capabilities are here to stay. In a full season at advanced-A ball in Modesto, he hit .303 with 11 home runs, and 66 RBI’s. He added an impressive 27 doubles and .833 OBPS.
After becoming the No. 2 first base prospect according to the MLB pipeline, White could make the major leagues come 2020. But, if he continues to impress and improve, don’t be surprised if he makes a small appearance with the September call-ups in 2019.
A Seattle favorite and University of Washington alumni, Braden Bishop finds himself moving up the ranks of the minor leagues. He was impressive in 2015/2016, where he hit a combined .297. Also known for his glove through college, Bishop has exciting potential if he were to roam centerfield at T-Mobile Park. Seven errors in his four seasons in the minors and none in 2018 in AA Arkansas has made him a top defender at every level.
Bishop, 25, is someone who won’t watch a lot of pitches go by. Through 84 games and 345 at bats, he struck out only 68 times and walked 37 times, adding a .284 average to his growing resumé.
We can expect to see Bishop at the major league camp come mid-February, and I would expect to see him start in AAA Tacoma this season. I would also estimate a 2019 arrival for him; nothing substantial, but if his bat continues to impress and his defense stays at the elite level it has been at, then we should see his name on the 40-man roster in September of 2019.
Joey Curletta is a unique choice for this list, but he has caught the attention of many as he climbs up the ranks for the Mariners. Curletta is yet to break the top 30 prospects list for the M’s, however, his talent and contributions have not gone unnoticed.
After coming over in a trade from the Dodgers in 2016, Curletta has seen time in advanced-A ball, and most recently, a full season in AA with the Arkansas Travelers. He did not let anyone down. Curletta produced an impressive slash, .282/.383/.482 with 23 home runs, 94 RBI’s, and 70 runs scored.
This stat line resulted in Curletta receiving the coveted Ken Griffey Junior award, granted by the Mariners organization to the best hitter in their minor league system. This is a big award for a young, talented player, but also one that carries a lot of weight in potential.
Curletta, 24 years old, is a first baseman like White, but will probably not see any time in the big leagues in the next few years. He will have time to make continuous jumps through the organization in his pursuit. The biggest question surrounding Curletta is going to be his competition between White. Will White take his skill set and possibly become a corner outfielder and Curletta take over first? Or will the Mariners look for a possible trade with his value on the rise?
Spring training will begin in February, and through the months of February and March, we will start to see where each of these guys will land.