The Seattle Mariners have named Mitch Canham as the manager for the Modesto Nuts in 2017. Canham will be joined on the staff by pitching coach Pete Woodworth, hitting coach Joe Thurston, coach Jim Pankovits and performance coach Andy Lyon. With the coaching staff in place for the upcoming season, let's take a look at some players in the Mariners system that might wear a Nuts uniform in 2017.
All seven Mariners minor league teams made the playoffs and two of them (Class AA; AZL) finished as League Champions. If the momentum from the Mariners system from last year carries over, Nuts fans will have an exciting season at John Thurman Field.
The Clinton LumberKings, (Midwest League) yielded an exciting collection of players that have potential to earn a promotion to Modesto next season. Here's a look at the Clinton players listed on MLB.com's 2016 Prospect Watch.
Let's start with RHP Nick Neidert, No. 4 prospect in the Mariners Top 30.
Neidert, a second-round pick out of high school, is a potential candidate to earn a spot in the Modesto rotation next season. In 2016, he started 19 games for Clinton and posted a 7-3 record with a 2.57 ERA. MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jim Callis noted in a tweet that Neidert's fastball has been clocked as high as 96 mph with an advanced changeup for his age.
Neidert's teammate Luiz Gohara checks in as the Mariners 5th prospect.
Gohara signed with the M's at just 16-years old in 2013 and was masterful last year in Clinton-striking out batters at a rate of more than one per inning. He owned an ERA of just 1.81 with a 7-2 record in 69.2 frames pitched. Promotion or not, Gohara's breakout year has him sitting comfortably with the top 5 prospects in the organization and will be a player to keep an eye on in the years to come.
The LumberKings were also strong behind the bump with Braden Bishop in center field.
Bishop was ranked 11th overall by MiLB.com. His 2016 season started in Low A and finished in High A for a combined slash line of .273/.338/.326. Bishop can defend well and is a threat on the basepaths. As Bobby DeMuro describes in his article here Bishop is the scrappy, speedy guy that puts pressure on an opposing defense every time he hits the ball. He's quick, and although he hasn't racked up huge stolen base numbers yet in his career, that'll come. Drafted out of the University of Washington, Bishop could potentially be playing in that same Pacific Northwest backyard as a major leaguer one day. But first, maybe he'll cruise through Modesto?
Luis Liberato-ranked 19 in the organization's top 30-is a strong OF.
With reported above average bat speed and plus foot speed it's no surprise that Liberato had 19 doubles and 8 triples in Clinton last season. He's a threat on the bases with his speed, and likewise in the outfield.
The fifth and final prospect on the M's Top 30 from last season's Clinton LumberKings is LHP Nick Wells, ranked 24th.
Originally drafted out of high school by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, Wells joined the Mariners the following year as part of a trade for RHP Mark Lowe. His numbers from last season in Clinton (1-9, 5.55 ERA) do not reflect the potential he has as a lefty with his 6'5" frame. MLB.com claims his curveball has very good shape with hard, late movement and has the chance to be a swing and miss pitch for him in the future.
Although not on the M's Top 30 Prospects, INF Chris Mariscal was recognized as the second baseman for the 2016 Mariners Organization All-Stars. He had a strong year in 97 games for the LumberKings, and was the only player to represent Clinton out of the 12 players chosen across all MiLB levels. If promoted to play in Modesto, Mariscal would feel right at home in the Central Valley as his hometown of Fresno is just south of John Thurman Field. After three years at Fresno State, Mariscal was drafted in the 14th round by Seattle in 2014. He produced a .301/.372/.408 line last season and improved his batting average .65 points and his OPS .162 points compared to his 2015 season, also in Clinton.
Aside from the aforementioned individuals and their accompanied statistics, what's most exciting about the incoming players and Mariners farm system is their will to win. Erik Oas, voice of the Clinton LumberKings, shared his thoughts on the up and coming class of prospects.
"The Mariners are on the upswing," he said. "They've got talent top to bottom, don't be surprised when you see the players from the mid to upper levels at the big league level in 2018."