Major League Baseball’s offseason is underway, and that means everyone is thinking about the future. In most cities, that means next season; in some, though, it means the bigger picture, the next three to five years. You’re either selling wins or you’re selling hope, the old saying goes. We here at CBS Sports like to provide as much hope as we can around this time of the winter by evaluating each team’s farm system.
Of course, that doesn’t mean every team has an equally good farm system — some, as you’ll find out throughout this process, are lacking in that respect. It does mean, nevertheless, that CBS Sports will be spending the next couple of months examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define “prospects” as retaining their rookie eligibility for the 2024 season, so if a young player is missing that’s likely why.
These lists and evaluations are formed following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There’s also firsthand evaluation and bias thrown into the mix. Keep in mind that player evaluation is a hard task, and it’s fine if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and they have no real bearing on the future. You can check out our winter top 25 list by clicking here.
With that in mind, let’s get to it by dissecting the Seattle Mariners.
1. Harry Ford, C (21 years old)
- The short version: Potential two-way backstop.
- MLB ETA: Summer 2025
It’s been more than two decades since a prep catcher selected in the first round had a good career behind the plate. Ford, believe it or not, looks to have a real chance to end the drought. He’s a hyper-athletic backstop who has continued to improve behind the plate should have no trouble sticking there heading forward. On offense, he’s shown a good feel for contact and the zone alike. Ford has also continued to leverage his raw power, pulling nearly half of his batted balls last season en route to 15 home runs in 118 games. Factor in his youth (he was several years younger than his competition), and there’s more than enough reason to be optimistic about his future.
2. Cole Young, SS/2B (20 years old)
- The short version: Middle infielder who should provide value versus right-handed pitchers.
- MLB ETA: Spring 2025
Young, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2022, is a well-rounded infielder who held his own at High-A last season despite being three years younger than the average competition. Young both hits for contact and minds the strike zone, resulting in nearly as many walks as strikeouts. The power he has is almost entirely to his pull side, and he’s performed markedly better when he’s faced right-handed pitching. Scouts think he’s likely to end up at the keystone.
3. Colt Emerson, SS/2B (18 years old)
- The short version: Lefty infielder with above-average offensive projections.
- MLB ETA: Late 2026
The Mariners grabbed Emerson at No. 22 last July. Upon joining Seattle’s A-ball affiliate, he hit .302/.436/.444 in 16 games while facing competition that was on average four years his senior. Scouts have projected Emerson to develop above-average grades for his hit and power tools. Defensively, it’s to be seen where on the infield he ends up. The Mariners cross-trained him at second base and shortstop last year. Whatever the case, he should remain on the dirt and mature into a quality contributor.