Friday is the deadline for the Mariners to set their 40-man major league roster, in order to protect players from being swiped in the Rule 5 Draft.
This is always an interesting decision process. Players who were drafted out of college in 2012 (or earlier) or high school/international signings from 2011 (or earlier) are the player pool we are looking at.
If a player who qualifies is not on the 40-man, he can be drafted by any of the other 29 teams as long as that team keeps him on its active major league 25-man roster for the entire 2016 season.
When looking at the list of players who would be eligible to be selected, the Mariners ask themselves two questions: 1) will this player help us in the majors in the near future, and 2) if we don’t protect this player, will other teams be tempted to draft him?
To my eyes the most interesting Rainiers player in this situation is outfielder Jabari Blash.
This is not Blash’s first time in this spot: he was available to be drafted in the Rule 5 last year, and nobody took him.
But that was before Blash’s remarkable 2015 season.
Blash tied for second in all of minor league baseball with 32 home runs in 2015. He did this while batting .271 with a .370 on-base percentage. Twenty-two of his 32 home runs came after a promotion to Triple-A in early June. He slugged .640 in Triple-A.
For those of you who came to the games, you probably saw him go deep – and when Blash goes deep, there is usually no question about it. He hits long ones. I wish we had some Home Run Tracker numbers with estimated distances of his homers, but we don’t have that technology in the minor leagues.
Jabari turned 26-years-old on July 4th, so he’s a bit of an older prospect. That’s part of the internal discussion when it comes to determining if the Mariners will protect him.
During any PCL season I speak with a lot of scouts for opposing teams, and it’s always interesting to get their opinions.
While Blash was launching all of those tape measure dingers last season, I asked quite a few different scouts what they thought of him. Opinions were all across the map, from “he’ll start for a few seasons in the big leagues,” to “will never get an MLB plate appearance,” to “he’s going to make a lot of Yen,” to “Triple-A lifer,” and even a few “I don’t knows.”
(It’s always rare when a scout says “I don’t know” since having an opinion is the very essence of their job)
So, will the Mariners protect Blash tomorrow?
It all depends on if the new front office thinks he may help the big league club in 2016. We’ll find out soon enough.
- John McGrath is learning from new Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto.
- The 2016 Triple-A National Championship Game will be played at Autozone Park in Memphis. A great ballpark – maybe we’ll be there?
- Keith Johnson is back as manager of the Salt Lake Bees in 2016.
Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young Awards. Arrieta made just seven PCL starts for Iowa in 2013, but one of them was a dominant outing at Cheney Stadium: five shutout innings of two-hit ball, with 11 strikeouts on August 4. Keuchel made 24 PCL starts for Oklahoma City but never faced Tacoma. Keuchel did have a classic PCL-style Triple-A debut: pitching in Las Vegas, he allowed 11 runs in 3.1 innings. Nice recovery, eh?