SEATTLE — Any lingering hope among local Seattle Mariners fans that first baseman Evan White might return to Everett Memorial Stadium were quashed last week by director of player development Andy McKay.
Seattle’s full-season Class A teams are Clinton(Mich.) of the Midwest League and Modesto (Calif.) of the advanced A California League. White is headed to one of those teams.
White, the Mariners’ 2017 first-round draft pick out of the University of Kentucky, played in just 14 games with the AquaSox last summer before a lingering quadriceps injury prematurely ended his season. He showed enough in those 14 games to warrant a promotion, McKay said last Thursday.
“He will definitely start with a full season club and (is) another one that when we signed he had kind of a lingering injury with the quad and we tried to manage it the best we could. It didn’t work,” McKay said. “We shut him down. He was involved in our high performance camp for six weeks where he blew through that program. He is one amazing athlete on top of an incredible person.”
White is a defensive wunderkind at first base who throws left and hits right. He also possesses the athletic ability to play center field should that need arise in his professional career. White slashed .277/.532/.877 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 47 at-bats with Everett last summer.
Kyle Lewis, Seattle’s first-round pick in 2016, figures to begin the season at Modesto or Class AA Little Rock (Ark.). Seattle’s top organizational prospect, Lewis slashed .299/.385/.530 with three homers, five triples and 26 RBI in 30 games with Everett in 2016 before tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in a home-plate collision.
McKay made it clear the Mariners will bring Lewis along slowly.
“It was a devastating injury,” McKay said. “I’ll let it emerge as it emerges. And when that knee is healthy he’ll be ready to go.”
In 38 games with Modesto last season Lewis slashed .255/.323/.403 with six home runs and 24 RBI. He then appeared in two games in the Arizona Fall League before lingering knee soreness prompted the M’s to shut him down again.
“He’s proven he can sit out for a year and walk into the Cal League and put numbers,” McKay said. “He’s proven he can sit out another six weeks and walk into the Arizona Fall League and put up numbers.
“I don’t have a crystal ball so I don’t know how this going to play out exactly. I would hope he gets to a position where he is playing consistently this year. I don’t even care what level it is. I just want him to play and feel like part of the team. He’s a tremendous talent and it will happen when it happens.”
McKay also addressed the future of outfielder Eric Filia, who earlier this month was given a 50-game suspension for testing positive for marijuana for a second time.
Filia won the Northwest League batting title and was the NWL most valuable player with Everett in 2016. He followed that up by slashing .326/.407/.434 with five homers, five triples and 65 RBI in 128 games at Modesto.
That earned Filia an invite to the AFL where he led the league by slashing .408/.483/.605 with nine extra-base hits, 13 RBI and 15 runs in 22 games.
”We still love (Filia), we still believe in him,” McKay said. “But full transparency, it’s not good. He made a bad choice and the rest of the industry knows that. I would think his industry value has taken a little bit of a hit, and he’ll have an opportunity to repair it, and we’ll be there to support him along the way with both love and discipline.”
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