The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Prospect watch: Seattle Mariners

Keeping tabs on the future of the Seattle M’s
The+Seattle+Mariners
GRACIE ROGERS
The Seattle Mariners

Historically, the Seattle Mariners have had plenty to watch for in the minor leagues because of a lack of big-league talent. In 2024, the Mariners may be a different team at the big league level, but there is still loads of talent on the farm.

From Low-A to Triple-A, prospects and journeymen are working their way toward their ultimate goal of the majors, and the fans have plenty to be excited about.

Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers

Jhonathan Diaz – Starting pitcher

Diaz was signed as a minor-league free agent this offseason to provide depth to the Mariners rotation and bullpen, and to this point he has yet to disappoint. So far in 2024 Diaz has allowed just one run across 18 innings, striking out 19 and walking only one.

Ryan Bliss – Shortstop

A huge piece of the Paul Sewald trade at last year’s trade deadline, the 24-year-old Bliss had been trying to find his swing at the Triple-A level a year ago and has so far in 2024. 

After a slow first few games, Bliss is hitting .300 with five extra base hits, 10 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases on 10 attempts in his last 12 games. With his versatility and the potential uncertainty of the Mariners infield, Bliss could rise to The Show as soon as this year.

Regardless of the level, Bliss is a prospect to watch like a hawk, as he continues his rise through the minors.

Double-A Arkansas Travelers

Juan Mercedes – Starting pitcher

Arkansas has been a pitching factory for the Mariners in recent years with arms being promoted skipping Triple-A like Bryce Miller, Bryan Woo and George Kirby. Most recently dominating for the Travelers is Mercedes, who has 2.00 ERA in nine innings.

He leads the team starting pitchers in ERA, strikeouts (10), walks plus hits per innings pitched (1.00) and has the least walks (1). At just 24 years old, Mercedes may not be the most highly touted prospect, but he’s improved and moved up a level each of the last three seasons and is off to a great start in 2024.

Tyler Locklear – First base

A second-round pick out of VCU in 2022, Locklear was on the fast track last year before breaking his hand. He eventually returned and made his way to Double-A in his first full professional season.

Now the 23-year-old slugger is picking up where he left off leading the team in batting average (.313) and sitting tied for first with a .500 slugging percentage and five RBI. 

Hitting in the Texas League is hard, but he is making it look easy. His bat plays, and if the Mariners keep struggling at the plate, perhaps there is a path for Mariner’s No. 9 ranked prospect to make the big leagues, similar to Kyle Lewis’ accent in 2019.

High-A Everett Aquasox

Jimmy Kingsbury – Right-handed pitcher

After cracking the Everett squad in 2022, Kingsbury has been unable to graduate since. He shifted to the bullpen mid-year last year, and so far in 2024, he has been excellent.

In his first three appearances this season, he has yet to allow a run. Add to that eight strikeouts over just 6.2 innings and you got yourself an elite long relief man. 

Now 25 years old, starting may be in Kingsbury’s past, but on the bright side the move to pen may have activated what he had not his first two pro seasons.

Ben Williamson – Third base

A story eerily similar to Locklear’s, Williamson was a second-round pick of the Mariners in 2023 from William & Mary. He, like Locklear, is off to a white-hot start to the 2024 season leading the team with a .333 average and five doubles. 

He is still searching for his first professional home run, but he has had gold in his glove so far to make up for it. 

A combination of gap-to-gap contact and excellent defense make the 23-year-old Williamson a candidate for a quick promotion, and if he can add home run power to the mix, a potential short road to the majors.

Low-A Modesto Nuts

Jack White – Right-handed pitcher

White has a tough path in front of him as a 2023 undrafted free agent from University of Michigan. In three appearances, however, White has looked like anything but someone who did not hear their name called on draft day.

He holds a 1.59 ERA with nine strikeouts over 5.2 innings and opponents are hitting just .200. At 24 years old, if White keeps pitching like this, he won’t be in Modesto long.

Luis Suisbel – First base 

There were certainly many names to choose from with the unreal level of talent on the defending champion Nuts, but only two players have an on-base plus slugging over 1.000 and only one of them is hitting over .400. 

Enter Suisbel, a 20-year-old who hit .290 in Modesto a season ago and is wasting no time in 2024 with a .414 average, 1.093 ops and five extra-base hits. The contact and slugging have been as consistent as you can ask for as he has moved from seventh in the lineup to third most recently.

After this start, Suisbel could very well be dawning the Everett aqua and green very soon. 

The Mariners turned things around a bit against Cincinnati Monday night in a night where 21-year-old Jonatan Clase made his MLB debut. It just goes to show that prospects matter, and they are not as far away as you think. So keep checking back in weekly, and they will keep rising.

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About the Contributors
LUKE WESTFALL, Evergreen sports co-editor
Luke Westfall is a junior in Broadcast News from Custer, WA. He is an avid fanatic of the many sports at many levels who spends all his available time indulging in them. Luke began working at the Evergreen in Spring 2022.
GRACIE ROGERS
GRACIE ROGERS, Evergreen Illustration editor
Gracie Rogers is a graphic illustrator for the Daily Evergreen. She is a senior Digital Technology & Culture major from Pullman, Washington. Gracie started working for the Daily Evergreen back in Spring 2022.