The Mariners plan to promote outfielder Jake Fraley from Triple-A Tacoma before their game against the Rays on Tuesday, Daniel Kramer of MLB.com reports. Fraley isn’t on the Mariners’ 40-man roster, but the team currently has three openings.
Fraley is in his first year with the Seattle organization, which acquired him from the club he’ll debut against – Tampa Bay – in a November trade centering on Mallex Smith and Mike Zunino. The addition of Fraley came amid an aggressive offseason in which Seattle greatly improved a once-barren farm system. Fraley, whom the Rays chose in the second round of the 2016 draft, was one of the Mariners’ prize pickups during an action-packed winter. The former LSU Tiger now ranks among the M’s 20 best prospects at MLB.com (No. 8), Baseball America (12) and FanGraphs (16).
The prevailing belief is that the 24-year-old Fraley is more likely to top out as a role player than a high-impact one in the majors. While Fraley pulverized High-A pitching a year ago, he was old for the level. Fraley then opened this season by manhandling Double-A hurlers, whom he teed off on for a .313/.386/.539 line (156 wRC+) with 11 home runs in 240 plate appearances, but he hasn’t been as successful since earning a promotion to Tacoma. In his first action in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Fraley has batted .276/.333/.553 (103 wRC+) and swatted eight homers over 168 PA.
When the Mariners officially call up Fraley, he’ll join an outfield which has underwhelmed this season because of subpar performances and injuries. Smith has taken steps backward in his first year in the organization; Domingo Santana has been sitting of late because of a weeks-long slump; Mitch Haniger and Braden Bishop have been out with injuries for multiple months; and the league slapped Tim Beckham with an 80-game PED suspension Aug. 6.
Thanks to their myriad issues, the Mariners have largely deployed the unspectacular group of Smith, Tim Lopes, Keon Broxton and Dylan Moore in the outfield in recent days. No one in that foursome has posted anything close to above-average offensive production this season, which could leave room for Fraley to grab a spot if he impresses from the get-go.