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 Modesto Nuts

Ford, Gonzalez Look to Bring Star Power to Seattle

March 30, 2023 - California League (CalL)
Modesto Nuts News Release


Each offseason, MiLB.com goes position by position across each organization and honors the players -- regardless of age or prospect status -- who had the best seasons in each farm system. Next up in our 2022 Organization All-Stars series are the Seattle Mariners.

2022 Organization Summary

Triple-A Tacoma: 72-78

Double-A Arkansas: 73-65

High-A Everett: 59-72

Single-A Modesto: 66-66

ACL Mariners: 26-29

DSL Mariners: 32-27

Overall record: 328-337 (.493 winning percentage, 18th among MLB organizations)

Mariners Organization All-Stars

Catcher: Harry Ford

The club's top-ranked prospect and winner of its Mr. Mariner Award -- earned by the Minor Leaguer who displays "exemplary play and leadership" -- showed off a well-rounded skill set in his first full season. Ford, the No. 12 overall selection in last year's Draft, led the organization with a .425 on-base percentage and 88 walks while batting .274 with an .863 OPS and 11 homers for Modesto.

"From roughly May 1 on, he put up a tremendous slash line," said Mariners director of player development Andy McKay. "Elite swing decision guy that really can recognize balls and strikes and can impact the baseball."

The 19-year-old is also very athletic for the position. With new rules encouraging stolen bases in the Cal League, Ford swiped 23 bases, which tied for second among all primary catchers in the Minors. Of course, he also had to deal with the other side of those new rules and proved to be up to the task. MLB Pipeline's No. 65 prospect threw out 21 of 78 would-be base stealers while committing just eight errors in 54 games behind the plate.

"[He is] a super athletic catcher who made visible strides in all areas," McKay said. "He can really throw, he can throw off a lot of arm angles, a lot of different slots. And whether it's just a straight stolen base or some blocked ball that he has to retrieve, he does these things very well."

First baseman: Robert Perez Jr.

The 22-year-old's greatest tool had long been his raw power. This season, Perez was able to translate that raw power on the field. The Mariners' No. 20 prospect led the organization with 27 homers, 114 RBIs and 100 runs scored between Modesto and Everett.

"That's the carrying tool is the power," McKay said. "We're banking on his ability to continue to do that in games. That's his path forward is to continue to impact the baseball."

Perez, who signed with Seattle out of Venezuela in 2016, batted .288 with a .921 OPS and really tore up Northwest League pitching in particular. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound slugger extended his season in the Arizona Fall League and won the circuit's Home Run Derby. He was left off the 40-man roster but went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft.

Second baseman: Kaden Polcovich

The 2020 third-rounder settled in nicely with Arkansas after an inauspicious debut in the Texas League last year. He finished the season batting .242 with a .731 OPS. While neither mark jumps off the page, they both represent a leap forward from his first 36 games at the level in 2021. Polcovich also swatted 12 homers and stole 18 bases, making him one of only seven Mariners prospects to reach those totals. The 23-year-old switch-hitter struggled in limited opportunities against southpaws but swung the bat well from the left side, posting a .263 average and .795 OPS against righties. Defensively, Polcovich played three different positions on the infield but mainly stuck at second base.

Third baseman: Joe Rizzo

The 24-year-old made the most of his second season in the Texas League. Rizzo, who the Mariners selected with the No. 50 overall pick in the 2016 Draft, reached career highs with 21 homers, 69 RBIs, 30 doubles and 84 runs scored. The New Jersey native batted .277 with an .810 OPS and 135 hits in his sixth pro season. The lefty swinger also held his own against southpaws and actually hit for a higher slugging percentage (.472) against them. Rizzo has repeated levels twice in the past four seasons -- he spent 2018 and 2019 in Modesto, a High-A club at the time -- and is currently a free agent.

Shortstop: Mason McCoy

The Mariners dealt a pair of talented shortstop prospects to the Reds in the Luis Castillo deal, but the 27-year-old McCoy earned this nod regardless with an excellent first season in the Seattle system. McCoy was one of only two Mariners prospects to enjoy a 20/20 season, bashing 21 homers and swiping 22 bases -- both career highs. The .805 OPS, 63 RBIs and 23 doubles for Tacoma were also personal bests. McCoy, who made some of the more impressive defensive plays in the system, mostly stayed at shortstop and committed just six errors in nearly 1,000 total chances at the position.

Outfield: Cade Marlowe

The other member of the Mariners' Minor League 20/20 club, Marlowe played his way onto the 40-man roster with an excellent season in Arkansas before finishing 2022 in Tacoma. The 25-year-old led the organization with 143 hits and 94 singles while batting .287/.377/.487 with 23 homers, 102 RBIs and 42 stolen bases across both levels. The club's No. 21 prospect had seven extra-base hits and 16 RBIs in his 13-game stint with the Rainiers.

"He can run, he can steal bases, he can hit. He does everything really," McKay said. "Another outfielder we are really excited about [who] earned everything based on his performance on the field over the past few years."

A 20th-round pick in the 2019 Draft, Marlowe split time among the three outfield positions last year but this season played almost exclusively in center field, registering seven assists.

Jonatan Clase

There's more to the 20-year-old's game than just his blazing speed, which gets a 70-grade from MLB Pipeline. In addition to leading the organization with 55 steals, Clase collected 46 extra-base hits, including 13 that left the yard, while batting .267 with an .836 OPS in his first full season for Modesto.

"Just a super athletic guy who combines power and speed," McKay said. "His ability to steal bases and impact the baseball is really hard to find."

His 11 triples were also the most in the organization, and his efforts were rewarded with a spot on the club's 40-man roster, where he is the youngest player by nearly 18 months. Seattle's No. 12 prospect had hit exclusively from the left side during in his first two Minor League seasons, but he re-learned the art of switch-hitting while rehabbing an injury that cut short his 2021 campaign. In 125 plate appearances from the right side, Clase hit .232 with three homers and a .750 OPS.

Gabriel Gonzalez

In his first year stateside, Gonzalez bashed his way out of Rookie ball and fit right in playing in the Cal League at 18 years old. The club's third-ranked prospect hit .286 with a .789 OPS over the final 32 games of the season with Modesto.

"We feel like we've got a potential star," McKay said. "Based on what he's doing and the way he's doing it, at his age, and at that level. There are no limits as to what this guy can do on the field. He's just a super exciting young player for us. We're really counting on him."

Gonzalez's .321 average overall was the highest among all hitters in the system with at least 200 plate appearances. Seattle inked the Venezuelan native to a $1.3 million deal last February, and he hit the ground running in the Dominican Summer League. In 121 games since turning pro, Gonzalez has a career .307/.393/.491 slash line with 14 homers and 70 RBIs.

Right-handed starting pitcher: Taylor Dollard

There's a stacked group of right-handed starters in the Mariners system. In addition to No. 2 prospect Emerson Hancock and impact rookie George Kirby, Seattle also had the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year (Prelander Berroa) and the Cal League Pitcher of the Year (Joseph Hernandez) finish the season in the system.

But it was Dollard, the Texas League Pitcher of the Year, who had the most impressive campaign.

"Taylor, his ability to pitch ... no one gets on base. No one scores when he pitches," McKay said. "What Taylor does is he impresses in every lens. Whether it's an analyst in an office that's never actually seen him pitch, whether it's a scout with 30 years of experience. Whether it's a pitching coach, it's all universal of, 'Hey, this guy can really pitch. He's got weapons, he's got elite makeup.' And again, when he pitches, people don't score."

Dollard went 16-2 with a 2.25 ERA over 27 starts in Arkansas, striking out 131 batters in 144 innings while holding opposing batters to a .203 average. His ERA was the lowest among qualified pitchers in the organization by nearly a run, and his 1.94 walks per nine innings was also tops in the system. The club's No. 7 prospect made 18 starts in which he allowed one or no runs.

Left-handed starting pitcher: Tommy Milone

The Mariners don't have a deep well of southpaw prospects, especially after trading Adam Macko this offseason, but 35-year-old Milone showed there's still something left in the tank. He pitched to a 2.68 ERA with 38 punchouts in 40 ⅓ innings over 11 Triple-A outings while holding opposing batters to a .208 average. He was recalled to the Majors for seven appearances in June and July, then was released as he missed all of August with a cervical muscle strain. Milone re-signed with the club after he got healthy and finished the year in Tacoma. He elected free agency again after the season but re-signed again with the Mariners on Thursday.

Reliever: Isaiah Campbell

The club's No. 24 prospect may be able to progress as a starter going forward, but he sparkled in 29 relief appearances between Everett and Modesto in 2022 after spending nearly six weeks on the injured list. Campbell, who lost significant time with an elbow injury last year, made four starts in April, allowing three runs over 18 total innings. Upon returning from the IL, he made just one appearance that lasted longer than an inning and was excellent. Campbell finished with a 1.57 ERA and 59 strikeouts over 46 innings and was added to the 40-man roster at the end of the year.

Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.


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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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