Cole Young: Mariners 2023 Minor League Player Of The Year


In just over a year, shortstop Cole Young went from first-round high school pick to High-A standout.

The 20-year-old’s smooth, lefthanded swing, exceptional bat-to-ball skills and advanced plate discipline were on display during his first full pro season.

“We had lofty expectations for him,” Mariners farm director Justin Toole said, “and I think he’s done probably better than we even expected.”

Young opened the season with a strong first three months in Low-A Modesto, earning him a mid-July promotion to High-A Everett.

Young then put up even better numbers in Everett, batting .292/.404/.479 with six home runs in 48 games—despite being one of the youngest players in the Northwest League.

He closed the season on a .396 tear over his final 12 games, helping lead the AquaSox to the league championship series.

Across two Class A levels, Young batted .277/.399/.449 with 11 homers in 126 games. He was a steady defender at shortstop and saw time at second base.

“The game is so slow for him,” Everett hitting coach Mike Fransoso said. “If it’s a tie ballgame in the ninth inning, it looks exactly (like) his first plate appearance in a nothing-nothing game.

“He never gets too high, never gets too low. Just very even-keeled.”

It starts with Young’s approach, which fits the Mariners’ “control the zone” mantra. This season, he totaled 88 walks and just 90 strikeouts.

“Some of the pitches that he lays off, it’s quite incredible,” Fransoso said. “The zone discipline is just off the charts.”

Young pairs that with a quick and polished swing, which enables him to consistently hit line drives to all fields.

“It’s so simple,” Fransoso said. “It’s relaxed. Very compact. Really loose and whippy. Very adjustable. He can hit a lot of different pitches in a lot of different locations.”

Young is primarily a line-drive hitter, but the Mariners believe his power will increase as he gets stronger. 

“That power is in there,” Fransoso said. “As he gets older, as he matures and as he starts to understand when he can kind of go for a ball, it’ll start to come out more.”


Jonatan Clase became the first minor league player since at least 1961 to reach 20 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a season. The 21-year-old Dominican outfielder totaled 20 homers and 79 steals in 129 games across two levels, with seven homers and 17 steals at High-A Everett and then 13 homers and 62 steals at Double-A Arkansas.

— After a hit by pitch halted his strong first half in Everett and caused him to miss two months with a broken bone in his right hand, 22-year-old first baseman Tyler Locklear returned from the injured list on Aug. 5 and earned an Aug. 23 promotion to Double-A Arkansas. The 2022 second-rounder batted .288/.405/.502 with 13 homers in 85 games this season.

— After being sidelined for more than three months with a Grade 2 hamstring strain that has delayed his pro debut, touted 18-year-old Dominican shortstop Felnin Celesten returned on Sept. 12 to play in an Arizona “bridge league” that runs between the Arizona Complex League and instructional league. Celesten was the Mariners’ top international signee this past January.

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