Peoria, Arizona —— It’s been a hell of a year for Art Warren.
The Seattle Mariners farmhand was an afterthought one year ago, coming off an underwhelming season spent predominantly as a starter with High-A Bakersfield who didn’t miss too many bats. Fast forward a few months, and Warren — who went through a rigorous strength, conditioning, and nutrition program over the winter — is now a high-profile relief prospect boasting a mid- to upper-90s fastball with an above-average curveball and slider, both of which missed bats at more than a strikeout-per-inning clip in 2017 with the Modesto Nuts.
That transition in and of itself has been a remarkable story to follow over the summer, and I’ve been tracking that across several different points throughout the long summer season, but now that Art Warren is out at the Arizona Fall League representing the Seattle Mariners as a member of the Peoria Javelinas, I figured this was the perfect time to get him on camera and bear down on what’s made him so successful coming out of the bullpen.
So, here it is — Warren was kind and insightful enough to spend more than 15 minutes on camera before a recent AFL game discussing pitching, pitch grips, and bullpen work at a high level. Hopefully you’ll find this discussion particularly illuminating as far as it relates to him throwing various pitches and some of the intricacies of relief pitching:
He and I mentioned it in the video, too, so how about we show you Art Warren working on his craft out at AFL from a behind-the-plate viewpoint, too? Below, this video from late October in Scottsdale will give you a good visual reference to see the movement and sequencing on all four of the pitches he’s discussing in that interview:
I’ve said this a few times before, but it bears repeating: more than anyone else I saw across more than 200 games in 2017, Art Warren is the breakout player of the year compared to where he was a season ago. He has an outside shot to see the big leagues in 2018, and beyond that he’s turned himself into a legitimate power relief prospect who, by virtue of incredibly hard work and a little bit patience, will almost assuredly enjoy a sizable big league career moving forward. To think this is the same guy I saw sitting 88-91 as a back-end rotation arm in Bakersfield just fourteen months ago still boggles my mind.
It’s truly a testament to Art Warren himself — and the Seattle Mariners, and their player development process — that he now finds himself in the conversation about future set-up/closer options at the big league level. Whether that’s with the Mariners themselves or another organization, we shall see in time, but the fact remains: this kid is a prospect, and there’s even more gas in the tank beyond his 94-96 mph working velocity to go along with command feel for two different power breaking balls immediately from pitch one out of the bullpen. It’s a cherry on top that he’s as humble and kind as he is, and makes for a daily highlight who’s always grinning ear to ear whenever I see him out on a baseball field.
All summed up, that’s a rare set of traits. If you haven’t yet, for the love of God, please: buy in to Art Warren. He’s a dude.
(By the way, if you liked how in-depth we got in this video interview with Art Warren, please click here and subscribe to the Baseball Census YouTube channel to show your support and let us know you’d like to see more.)
More on Art Warren and other Seattle Mariners prospects: