20.) Jonathan Aro – RHP
Date of Birth: 10/10/90
Height/Weight: 6’0/175 Pounds
Acquired: Trade with Boston Red Sox 2015
The Mariners bullpen has had a massive makeover lately. The great bullpen of 2014 has only player remaining, that being southpaw Charlie Furbush. Jonathan Aro is a veteran of prospect status, as he’s appeared in six MLB games posting a 6.97 ERA in 10.1 innings. The righty has a shot at making the team out of spring training, and will likely be competing with veterans Justin De Fratus and Evan Scribner. Aro spent most of his time in the minors last year, posting a 3.04 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 34 games between AA and AAA.
Aro primarily uses his fastball which will live around the low 90’s, occasionally pushing 94 or 95, with a little sinking action at times. He also utilizes a slider that has fairly good velocity, but not a ton of break. His changeup isn’t used often, mostly if the slider isn’t effective. Aro’s big issue while pitching in Boston was not that he couldn’t throw strikes, it was that he would catch too much of the plate with his pitches. He’s not considered a long relief man per-se but he can generally work 2-3 innings without much of an issue.
19.) Austin Cousino – OF
Date of Birth: 4/17/93
Height/Weight: 5’10/178 pounds
Acquired: Drafted 3rd round in 2014
Austin Cousino is a raw 22-year-old college outfielder out of the University of Kentucky taken by the Mariners in the third round of the 2014 MLB draft. His career started in 2014 where he slashed .266/.341/.402 for short season Everett. Last year, Cousino struggled offensively and a big reason for that was his plate discipline. While he hit the ball well in brief appearances at Rookie ball, Cousino hit an ugly .190/.253/.254 with 46 strikeouts in only 57 games. That presents the biggest issue as of now for Cousino as he struck out once nearly every five innings.
The biggest thing that Cousino brings to the table is great fielding and even better range in the outfield. The Mariners do hope that he can improve his ability to make contact, and especially improve his strikeout rate but they’re not expecting much in regards to power. In two seasons in the minor leagues, Cousino has eight outfield assists and an impressive range factor of 2.28. The Mariners don’t have a ton of outfielders both on their team and in their system, so it’s a possibility that Cousino’s speed and glove get him to big leagues in the next few years.
18.) Tyler Marlette – C
Date of Birth: 1/23/93
Height/Weight: 5’11/195 pounds
Acquired: Drafted 5th round in 2011
Tyler Marlette brings an interesting set of skills to the table for the Mariners. The young catcher is advertised to have a good amount of power, yet only had eight home runs last season after hitting 17 long balls in 2014. Last year Marlette split time between High-A and Double-A, hitting .239/.291/.380 in 89 total games. For a catcher Marlette doesn’t have horrible speed swiping only two bases last year, but nine in 2014 and 10 in 2013. One of the biggest things Marlette has to improve is his defense as he allowed a whopping 15 passed balls last season and committed six errors.
While his defense isn’t his great, he does have a fairly good arm and has thrown out 35 percent of runners who tried to steal on him. His numbers last year don’t reflect the raw power he possesses, it’s just a matter of making contact with the ball. The M’s catching pipeline is rather weak, as Mike Zunino has struggled to pan out and neither Steve Baron or Jesus Sucre appear to be MLB material. The Mariners’ obvious hope is that Zunino can turn it around, but even if he does, Marlette has the possibility of making the MLB as a backup.
17.) Tyler Smith – SS
Date of Birth: 7/1/91
Height/Weight: 6’0/195 pounds
Acquired: Drafted 8th round in 2013
Tyler Smith is a late bloomer kind of player who is starting to come into his own as he matures in the minors. Smith was a four-year starter at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the Mariners decided to take a run at the northwest kid in the eighth round in 2013. Smith was able to make it to AA this year where he hit well as he slashed .271/.361/.354. While Smith doesn’t hit home runs, he runs fairly well and does a magnificent job of getting on base.
On top of that, Smith has some versatility, so he can play at second base too, which could be beneficial with the Mariners’ depth in the middle infield. Smith’s glove is a work in progress, but he definitely has the potential to improve that area of his game. Smith doesn’t possess a wow factor necessarily, but he is a very steady player who could see the big leagues within two or three years.
16.) Rayder Ascanio – SS
Date of Birth: 3/17/96
Height/Weight: 5’11/155 pounds
Acquired: International Free Agency in 2012
One of the younger players in the Mariner system Rayder Ascanio has been in the Mariner system since he was just 16 years old, so the young shortstop is already entering his fourth year in the organization at 19 years old. Spending most of the year in High-A, Ascanio slashed a less than impressive .229/.274/.286. Ascanio doesn’t present great offensive tools, and doesn’t project to be much of a hitter at any level. He has zero power whatsoever, and won’t hit much better than .250 or .260 at any level.
What makes Ascanio intriguing though is his flashy glove. He’s by far the best defensive shortstop the Mariners have, and possibly one of the best defenders period. He is calm and confident with the glove, and has fantastic range, making tough plays for most look routine. Ascanio is still young and raw and hopefully can work on his tools with the bat enough to become at least a decent hitter. If he does that, he’s got a chance to make the MLB as a defensive shortstop despite the amount of other players at the same position in the Mariners farm.