The 2024 Preseason Top 30 lists are built around the idea of certainty and future Role. Similar to industry projection systems such as Future Value (FV), Overall Future Potential (OFP) and Grade, Role is a way to describe to what degree a player will add value to his organization at peak.
Our scale is a bit more conservative than other grading systems. We take into account recent seasonal performance, proximity to impact, metric/data analysis and industry conversations to build a case for the most likely outcome for any given player.
It is important to note these Role labels are fluid and can change as a player moves up the developmental ladder. It is not uncommon for a player to change his role projection over the span of even one month. Players jump from a Role 35 to a Role 40 quite quickly.
Things like mechanical adjustments and physical maturation can alter a player’s projection seemingly overnight. Players change. Keep that in mind.
Below is our Role chart used to place future projection on players.
|No organizational value. Non-prospect.
|Organizational value, filler. Likely peaks at Triple-A or below.
|Potential up-and-down, Quad-A prospect. Has some tools. Development necessary to secure prolonged MLB role.
|Back-up at MLB level. No. 5 starter on non-competitive team. Depth.
|Potential starter on contender. Bench player for championship-level team.
|Starter on a championship-level team. Lacks star ceiling. Steady. Potential No. 4 starting pitcher.
|Potential all-star. Some impact. Above average big-league regular. Mid-rotation starter on a contender.
|All-star level player. Impact. Middle-of-the-order bat. No. 2 starter on good team.
|Perennial all-star. Will contend for seasonal awards. Potential MVP/Cy Young upside. No. 1 starting pitcher. Ace.
|Hall of Fame upside. Generational. MVP/Cy Young Favorite some years. Organizational pillar who can carry an entire franchise at times.
You will not find players with a sub-50 Role on our Top 100 Prospect List. You are also unlikely to find any sub-35 Role players on a Top 30 board. Generally, organizations will have at least 30 players with big-league projection.
All rankings and roles by Joe Doyle
Player notes by Jason A. Churchill
The Mariners have been building back their system toward the top of the league since the graduations of Julio Rodriguez, Cal Raleigh, Logan Gilbert, and George Kirby 2021-2022, but 2023 provided signs it was just that: back.
With several future big-league position players expected to see Double-A this season, Seattle has attacked its organizational weakness through the draft and international free agency, and the lack of pitching in the org is covered by its current rotation each being under club control for three seasons or more.
At this point, Seattle may not have the future star they did when Rodriguez was racing his way through the minors, but that narrarive may change in 2024 as their top talent gets a full year and the prospect with the highest ceiling finally steps on the field.
Emerson, the No. 22 overall pick in last year’s draft out of John Glenn High School in Ohio, looked like a polished college bat at Class-A Modesto for a month — two and a half weeks plus the California League playoffs — producing consistent solid contact and the best swing in the lower minors.
He’s probably not a shortstop long-term, but ruling it out isn’t wise at this juncture, nor is understimating Emerson’s ceiling.
Young‘s operation is incredibly efficient and he’s added strength and a swing adjustment, unlocking some pop that should carry him to the majors as an everyday player with solid-average tools across the board.
Celesten has yet to play a pro game, but may have the biggest upside of any prospect in the system. His pure shortstop skills come with a chance at above-average power, perhaps plus from the left side. Oh, yeah, he’s a switch hitter, too.
Montes is probably a first baseman and bat-only prospect, but he’s developed as a hitter quickly at age 18 and if he can maintain reasonable contact rates there’s some Ryan Howard vibes here.
Peete was one of three first-round picks by Seattle last July and already has drawn some Didi Gregorius comps, though the scouting lean is he’ll move off shortstop before reaching the big leagues. He’s just getting started and has work to do on controlling the zone, but the raw power is rather huge and at third or in the outfield his arm and athleticism should allow for above-average value.
Smith, another in the club’s most recent draft class, is a five-tool athlete who showed advanced plate skills and speed in 22 pro games last summer. There may be some centerfield in the glove, and if he can develop a swing more conducive to contact, he has at least a chance to be a regular.
McGraw is a three-pitch college arm with a chance to move quickly, but his spotty command and multiple UCL surgeries suggest it will be in a relief role, where he may sit in the mid-to-upper 90s with a plus slider.
Ford touched 97 mph as a prep star and flashed an above-average slider. He’s deceptive and has shown some feel for a traditional changeup. There’s effort in the delivery, however, and some reliever risk exsists as he fights through the lower minors.
Hunt is a solid Triple-A catcher with above-average defense and a chance to be a power-over-hit bat in the big leagues. After coming over from the Rays in a minor trade this winter, Hunt is the first in line for the big leagues should the Mariners need help behind the dish.
Phillips, picked up in the salry dump trade that sent Jarred Kelenic to Atlanta, was a first-round talent until he needed elbow surgery, but has yet to throw a professional pitch. Until he gets on the mound, his status is frozen, but pre-surgery he was mid-90s with a promising slider, future average changeup, and solid command.
Taylor was just picked up from the Kansas City Royals and has a chance to serve as valuable depth for the Mariners in 2024. He can really run and his outfield defense is just good enough to suggest a 26th-man role on a team that values speed and defensive versatility.
VanScoter is the quintessential command-and-feel southpaw, touching the low-90s but commanding everything, including two breaking balls. He won’t miss a lot of bats, but the fastball moves and he works all three pitches to both sides.
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