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Sleeper Prospect: Braden Bishop, OF, Seattle Mariners

Versatile and strong between the ears

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-All Star Game Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Last October, ran a beautiful piece on Braden Bishop that had very little to do with baseball. Bishop, who has always possessed a philanthropic, outward thinking mindset that moves him forward on and off the field, is now at the center of his own cause.

In high school, he was there for a baseball teammate whose mother had breast cancer. He was the first person to support a classmate whose cousin came down with pediatric cancer.

When tragedy struck home —his mother Suzy was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2014— Bishop became another leader.

He started the 4MOM foundation and wears “4MOM” on his glove, stitched in purple, the official color of Alzheimer’s awareness. For more, read here.

The terrible reality of disease proved something about Braden Bishop: he’s got a remarkably strong head on his shoulders.

But can he play? Well yes, yes he can.

Originally scooped up out of high school in 2012’s 36th round by the Atlanta Braves, he trekked north from his California home to Washington, playing three years for the Huskies.

In his latter two years as a sophomore and junior, he slashed .300/.394/.400 and stole 36 bases on 44 attempts. In his junior year, he powered his four college home runs.

Come 2015, the local Seattle Mariners selected him in the third round of the MLB Draft. Seattle, Washington, home of the Huskies and of course the Mariners, was officially Bishop’s permanent residence.

Economic speed, a sharp batter’s eye and great discipline at the plate, in the field and outside the chalked diamond lines properly define Bishop’s best strengths. Seattle is visualizing a potential leadoff hitter for many years to come.

His career batting average and OBP in the minor leagues are a fantastic .296 and .368 respectively. In 2017, he produced 60 walks (to 80 strikeouts) in 119 games while stealing 22 bases, 16 in High-A Modesto and on the year scored 89 runs in 119 games.

Outside of a small blip on the radar in 2016 for the formerly affiliated and extinct Bakersfield Blaze, the 24-year old has proven a match for every MiLB level and hit the all-important Double-A stage of his career this past season.

But before the call-up, he participated in the California League All-Star Game, where he ho-hummed his way to the game’s MVP. He went 4-for-4 with a double, triple, two stolen bases and three runs scored.

At Double-A, in 31 games for the Arkansas Travelers, he was a hit machine. By the end of the year and his first run at Double-A, he hit .336 with a .417 OBP, six steals (caught only once) and walked as many times as he struck out, at 15. He also scored another 18 times, keeping in mind the small sample size of 31 games.

Bishop will be 24 for most of the 2018 regular season —he’ll turn 25 in late August— and is a non-roster MLB invite to Mariners Spring Training after receiving an Arizona Fall League invite months prior.

A return to Arkansas is likely to begin 2018 but after tearing the level up in 2017, he may not be long for a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. Then, he’ll try to wiggle into a Seattle outfield that now features the converted Dee Gordon as well as incumbents like Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia.