Five minor league players in the past 30 years have had a season where they hit 20+ homers and stole 50+ bases. The Seattle Mariners had two of their prospects accomplish that feat this year.
Andruw Jones (1995) and Anthony Volpe (2022) had been the only players to reach those plateaus in the same minor league season in that time. This year, three players joined them – Reds prospect Blake Dunn and Mariners prospects Ryan Bliss and Jonatan Clase.
Unheralded prospects could be stars for Seattle Mariners
Neither Bliss nor Clase found their way onto any top 100 prospect lists to begin the season. Although both players were part of the 2023 Futures’ Game, neither is considered a highly ranked prospect. Clase ranks seventh in MLB.com’s top 30 Mariners’ prospects list while Bliss is 12th. Both players are also considered to have distinct flaws – Clase strikes out a lot and cannot get on top of high fastballs while Bliss is limited defensively and may not hit enough to be in the lineup as a regular.
At least, that is what the scouting reports say. Looking at the potential tools for a player, projecting a ceiling, and prognosticating what these players could become is extremely valuable as a guide. But that is all those rankings and reports are – a guide. Performance on the diamond will make more of a statement over time.
Bliss and Clase have done exactly that this season. They have made statements that they could be dynamic players despite their potential flaws and less than glowing scouting reports. While they did struggle after a promotion to the next level, there is still plenty of time. The Mariners could be quietly sitting on a pair of underrated prospects.
A 20+ homer, 50+ steal season in the minors is a rarity. Two unheralded Seattle Mariners prospects did that this season.