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Last Saturday Perez Jr. won the AFL Home Run Derby, defeating Baltimore’s Heston Kjerstad. He hit 32 homers on the night across the three rounds of the derby, including 13 in the first round.
Video courtesy @SamDykstraMiLB
Perez Jr., 22, ranks as Jason A. Churchill’s No. 16 prospect in the Mariners farm system, and is coming off a season where he slashed .288/.398/.523 in 127 games with 27 home runs and 114 RBI. The first baseman was named the Mariners Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year.
Elsewhere in the Arizona Fall League
Bryan Woo, RHP
The 2021 6th round selection has been impressive in the AFL so far. He has allowed just 5 hits, 1 run, and 4 walks in 10.2 innings while striking out 16. Woo is coming off of a 2022 season where he struck out 84 batters in 57 innings. The Oakland native ended the year in High-A Everett, and should start there going into his age 23 season.
Alberto Rodriguez, OF
The 21 year old was acquired from Toronto in exchange for RHP Taijuan Walker in 2020, and did not pop in High-A Everett in 2022. The 5’11” outfielder from the Dominican Republic slashed just .261/.336/.396 and struck out over 130 times in 119 games. Now in Arizona, Rodriguez is hitting .243/.349/.351 in 10 games.
Rodriguez was added to the 40-man roster last winter, and may have a chance to reach AA next year at 22 with the big leagues on the horizon if he performs.
Adam Macko, LHP
Macko didn’t pitch much during the season due to a shoulder issue, limiting him to just 38.1 innings for Everett. He is now getting the chance to get more work under his belt in Arizona, and he has thrown 10.1 innings so far. He has allowed 9 runs on 12 hits while walking 13 and only striking out 9.
The 6′ southpaw will need to get back on track in 2023, and health will be a big part of that. The 2019 7th rounder has never pitched over 40 innings in the minors, and getting innings under his belt next year is likely an area of emphasis for him.
Spencer Packard, OF
Packard had a solid season in Everett this year, but only played in 69 games for the AquaSox. He is 12-36 with 5 extra base hits in 13 games so far in the AFL. The 25 year old has continued to have a high OBP in the desert, where he is getting on base at a .462 clip. The 2021 9th round selection should get a shot at AA Arkansas at some point next year, and he will have to keep hitting to get there.
Juan Then, RHP
The 6-foot-1 Dominican right-hander was thought by some to be the next Edwin Diaz in the Mariners system, potentially moving from the rotation to the bullpen. That change has at least appeared to happen now. During the regular season, Then did not start a game for AA-Arkansas. Now in the AFL, he is doing the same thing.
So far, Then has pitched 8 innings, allowed 2 runs on 6 hits with 11 strikeouts. He has finished every game he has pitched in, so the plan appears to be to have Then in the bullpen in 2023. If he is healthy and pitches well, he could find himself with a shot at the big league bullpen later in the year since he is already on the 40-man roster.
Jorge Benitez , LHP
Benitez is another reliever in the Mariners system. He pitched for Everett and Modesto last year, totaling nearly 50 innings out of the bullpen. This fall, he has allowed 3 runs on 9 hits in 13 innings. He has struck out 11 and walked 8.
Jose Caballero, IF
Caballero was the player the M’s got in return for Mike Leake several years ago from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Now 25, the infielder didn’t stand out in AA this year, but he did have a .440 on base percentage. For the Peoria Javelinas, the Panama native is slashing .225/.456/.325 in 15 games.
Ty Adcock, RHP
After being drafted in the 7th round of the 2019 draft, the 6’0″ righty out of Elon made his professional debut for the Mariners organization in 2022. He only pitched 8 innings, but is now getting his feet wet in the fall league. He has thrown 10.2 innings and struck out 12. He will turn 26 before next season starts, so he is not really a prospect.
Minor League Awards
The Mariners farm teams had some standout performances in 2022, and they have had multiple players recognized for their achievements. RHP Taylor Dollard was named the Texas League(AA) Pitcher of the Year, RHP Prelander Berroa was named the Northwest League(HIgh-A) Pitcher of the Year, and Joseph Hernandez was the Cal League(Low-A) Pitcher of the year. President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto has proven to develop pitchers at both the big league and minor league levels. These three pitchers are all a testament to the org’s ability to develop pitching talent.
The Athletic’s Corey Brock wrote about 5 prospects who impressed in 2022, and it is heavy on pitchers.
MLB.com’s Sam Dykstra wrote about Robert Perez Jr. winning the AFL Home Run Derby crown.
Curtis Christianson is the Athletic Director at Concordia Christian Academy. He also works in the Tacoma Rainiers clubhouse during the baseball season.