White grew up outside of Columbus, Ohio, and was a big Reds fan. He especially admired Joey Votto.
The All-Ohio player of the year in 2014, White comes by his athleticism naturally. Both his father and grandfather played minor league baseball, and his parents were both college basketball players.
Undrafted out of high school, White earned second team All-America honors as a Kentucky junior in 2017. A career .356 hitter for the Wildcats, he also played with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in the summer before his junior year.
Every Father's Day, Evan and his entire family would file into Great America Ballpark, nestled along the Ohio River in Cincinnati, and take in a Reds game. It was a tradition White relished more than any other.
His uncle, Brooks White, and his grandfather both once played in the Reds organization. His father, Joe, played baseball—as well as basketball and golf—in college, and there are countless home videos of a young Evan playing catch with him. As such, Father’s Day at the ballpark always felt natural.
“I’m all Cincinnati everything,” said White, who grew up in Gahanna, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. “Been through a lot of struggles down there, but I’m a loyal fan.”
At the ballpark, White would pay particularly close attention to Joey Votto. He admired the way Votto played the cat-and-mouse game at the plate—the way he’d choke up on his bat and widen his base with two strikes. As a first baseman at Kentucky, Evan wore No. 19 as an ode to Votto.
“I like the way he plays the game,” White said. “You can tell he makes adjustments at the plate all the time, and he’s a very good defensive player, as well. And it’s cool—you can see him go through his mental changes at the plate sometimes, and it’s something that I admire.” (Michael Lananna - Baseball America - 3/10/2017)
Evan has established himself as one of the premier first basemen in the country, winning a Gold Glove in 2016, playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer, and ranking No. 33 overall on the 2017 preseason College Top 100 draft prospects.
In 2018, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated White as the second-best prospect in the Mariners organization, behind only OF Kyle Lewis. He moved to the top, as the #1 Mariners' prospect in 2019. H was at #3 in the spring of 2020.
- Q & A
MLB Pipeline: After you signed with the Mariners, you started your pro career in the short-season Northwest League and you promptly injured your quad, ending your summer. How hard was that to deal with?
White: It was definitely frustrating. I started off slow and wasn't seeing the ball great. As soon as I was catching up, seeing the ball and starting to put good swings on it, I got hurt. I tried to use it as a learning experience, like with everything, and take the good out of the bad.
MLB Pipeline: You have such a unique profile as a plus defensive first baseman with plus speed. With that kind of speed, how did you end up at first and no coach permanently made you a center fielder?
White: In middle school, I played shortstop most of the time, so I had an infield background and just a love for taking ground balls. I wanted to play shortstop in high school, but they never gave me innings over there. In high school, there was a senior the year before, but he graduated and we didn't have another first baseman. I was pretty good over there, so I stayed. I did play a decent amount of outfield in travel ball, maybe 50-50. Then in college my freshman year, there wasn't a true first baseman. Thomas Bernal moved over to third. It was a good situation. If there had been a first baseman there, maybe I'd be an everyday outfielder now.
The glove, the aspect I bring to first, being able to save outs and runs, I think I do a good job of that. I think it's a better way to help teams win. Even If I don't swing the bat one day, I can still help a team. The athleticism over there, I feel I can do more than a typical first baseman.
MLB Pipeline: Where does the pride in defense come from? Most young players tend to care so much more about the offensive side of the game.
White: It's definitely something I've had from the get-go. A lot of guys love to talk about hitting and I do too, I love to hit and put the work in. But I also love putting the work in on the defensive side of things, go out to the field, backyard, whatever it is. The main thing growing up, I didn't want to be a one-sided player. My family helped me out in that way. They did everything they could to help me be the best all-around player I could be.
MLB Pipeline: There's a certain offensive profile expected from a first baseman that includes power. Is that something you think is going to come?
White: I think it's going to come. Each year, I've grown and gotten stronger, my homers and doubles numbers have gone up. I don't think it's as important as some make it out to be, but I do have to drive in runs, have to get on base. If I'm not hitting 40 homers, I have to make up for it in other ways. The Mariners talk about controlling the zone. I think that's a big reason why my power numbers improved last year: better selection. It was the first year I was really more selective. My first two years at Kentucky, I swung a lot early on in counts. I want to maintain aggressiveness, but be smart about it. As I find that balance, I think my power numbers will continue to improve.
MLB Pipeline: You grew up a Reds fan, especially Joey Votto. Have you been able to interact with him yet and what do you like about him?
White: I haven't met him yet. That's something I hope for. That would be an awesome opportunity. I got to see Eric Hosmer and Anthony Rizzo already, those are two of my favorite guys at first. I loved watching them. With Votto, I just like the way he approaches the game, making adjustments pitch by pitch, and he plays great defense at first, which obviously I admire. He's a great example of a well-rounded player.
MLB Pipeline: Being a Reds fan was a family thing, right?
White: On Father's Day, we'd go to the ballpark, the entire family—cousins, aunts, uncles, parents, obviously. It was a family thing. That really drives my love for baseball. It's something I found growing up and the love grew every year. The family is a big reason why I'm where I am right now. (Mayo - mlb.com - 3/5/18)
2018 Season: White was a force during the second half as he slashed .320/.400/.512 with 8 home runs, 16 doubles and 40 RBIs over his final 64 games in the California League. He's yet to hit for much power, but there's a lot to like in White's ability to hit for average and get on base in addition to his near-elite defense at first base.
The Mariners admire his off-the-field traits. “He’s a wonderful person and a tremendous athlete and a really good hitter,” Mariners farm director Andy McKay said. “We couldn’t be happier with what we have.”
July 2019: White represented the Mariners at the Futures All-Star Game.
2019 Season: Playing his home games in one of the country’s toughest parks for hitters (Arkansas Travelers), White tied for third in the Texas League in home runs (18), ranked fourth in OPS (.838) and ranked sixth in batting average (.293). He focused on getting the ball in the air more, and as a result his 18 home runs were more than he hit in 2017 (3) and 2018 (11) combined.
The learning curve for White figures to be steep this 2019 season, as the 23-year-old has the opportunity to make the jump from Double-A Arkansas straight to a starting job in the big leagues. To aid in that process, White was one of four Mariners prospects sent to Miami for the MLB/MLBPA Rookie Career Development Program, an annual event to help up-and-coming players deal with things they’ll face in their careers.
White attended sessions focusing on how to deal with the media, finances, clubhouse situations, drugs and other potential challenges. As part of the media training session in Miami, White took part in an interview session with MLB.com’s Jordan Shusterman.
MLB: What opposing players are you eager to see on the field?
White: “I’m looking forward to sharing the field with Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, which works out well because they’re both in the AL West now. Just hearing about the people they are and what they do on and off the field, is remarkable.”
MLB: Do you have any baseball superstitions?
White: “Growing up, I used to be really superstitious, eating-wise and stuff, before games. It was kind of weird. But now I don’t. You play so many games, I can’t be too superstitious. I can’t be eating the same thing over and over.”
MLB: What is your favorite baseball memory from Little League or all the way up to pro ball?
White: “My favorite baseball memory had to be in college my junior year, being part of the team at Kentucky on the first team that went to Super Regionals in school history. The atmosphere there, and the group we had and what we accomplished . . . it was pretty special.”
MLB: What do you do away from the baseball field?
White: “I just got a house in Arizona, so my wife and I have been kind of putting that together. That’s been taking up a lot of time. And now being in Arizona, I get to golf a little bit more, and that’s kind of my new hobby. I get to be out there a little more.”
MLB: Are you the handyman now around the house or is your wife taking care of things?
White: “Most of it’s been her, but I texted my dad the other day and was like, ‘I’m finally a man. I bought a ladder!’ So I own a ladder and have been doing some work in the house and stuff, and it’s pretty cool. It’s definitely a learning experience, but I’m enjoying it.”
MLB: Do you have a celebrity lookalike?
White: “I don’t think I do. My college hitting coach, Rick Eckstein, told me I look like Jim Carrey. I don’t see that at all. Not even a little bit. But that’s the only person I’ve ever really been told, and suggested I should dress like him for Halloween.” (G Johns - MLB.com - Jan 13, 2020) (Editor's note: In 2021, Eckstein was the hitting coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates.)
MLB debut (July 24, 2020): After a contract extension in the offseason, White had a pretty good idea that he'd be on the Mariners Opening Day roster and in the lineup. It took White a few at-bats to get his first hit, but he did manage to do so on Opening Day . . . a single in the ninth inning.
2020 Season: Evan began his season on a high note. It was obvious to fans and the Mariners personnel alike that the first base spot was his to lose. White had historically cashed in before even stepping foot on a Major League diamond, signing a 6-year/$24M guaranteed deal, with club options for 2026, 2027, and 2028.
He entered the 2020 Spring Training at age 23, and essentially as the unquestioned first baseman for the Mariners. White saw success when seeing a majority of MLB-quality arms for the very first time.
When Spring Training was abruptly put on hold, White was 8-for-24 with three double and three RBI’s. That added up to a .829 OPS as well. It seemed as if the jump from Arkansas was not going to come with many growing pains for Evan White, as he also was flashing serious leather.
Evan, however, struggled out of the gates. Like many players across the league, there simply were not enough games in 2020 for him to get settled in and turn his slow start around.
Overall, his rookie season was less than ideal, but there was an abundance of factors that potentially led to White’s subpar numbers, beginning with a pandemic that wiped out nearly two-thirds of the standard schedule size.
Through the storm, White flashed plenty of reasons for optimism heading into his sophomore campaign. Here are three reasons why Evan White’s rookie season will be an outlier when his playing days are over. (Jake Mitton - Jan. 6, 2021)
June 2017: White was the Mariners first round pick (17th overall), out of the University of Kentucky. He signed for a bonus of $3.1 million, via scout Jackson Laumann.
Nov. 25, 2019: The Mariners and White agreed on a 6-year, $24 million contract, with three additional club option years that could take the deal to as high as $55 million. At the time, White was No. 58 among MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects and No. 4 among Mariners prospects.
|Birth City:||Columbus, OH|
|Draft:||Mariners #1 - 2017 - Out of Univ. of Kentucky|
White hits for both average and power. He generates impressive exit velocities. He has a fluid, graceful swing from the right side of the plate. He posts good exit velocities. He is a plus hitter with advanced skills and a plan at the plate, White is a hit-over-power type of hitter who uses all fields and makes hard contact.
Evan is a plus 55 grade hitter with a solid, well-rounded approach at the plate. And he is an intelligent hitter.
At the plate White, has good feel for the barrel, excellent hand-eye coordination and keen strike-zone awareness. He lowered his hands to increase the loft in his swing and now shows 20-home run power.
Questions have been raised as to whether he will hit for enough power to profile as a starting first baseman, though his above-average raw power and good exit velocities hint at a chance to exceed his average power projections. White started answering doubts about his power in the second half of 2018 by lowering his hands, keeping his bat in the hitting zone longer and staying through the ball. The results showed when he hit 5 of his 11 Cal League home runs in August. He has a good swing and finds the barrel a lot, and he studies opposing pitchers’ tendencies. (Bill Mitchell - BA Prospect Handbook - Spring, 2019)
He should hit .280 or more with 15-20 homers per season.
Evan shows an excellent eye at the plate. And his aptitude for hitting impresses.
In 2018, Evan was named the MLB Pipeline Hitter of the Year for the Mariners.
Mariners' hitting coach Tim Laker said, "Evan hits the ball really hard. He’s a really strong kid. Smart. That’s the thing that stood out to me the most. He’s a really intelligent guy. His swing, I guess when you look at it compared to everybody else, it’s a little bit maybe unconventional, but I think he’s got an ability to find the barrel and hit the ball hard.” (Johns - mlb.com - 4/8/2020)
April 2020: There’s a reason the Mariners gave White a guaranteed six-year, $24 million contract before he even reached the Majors. In addition to his outstanding defense, the 23-year-old first baseman has excellent bat-to-ball skills, the ability to drive the ball to all fields and emerging power as he continues filling out his 6-foot-3 frame.
White is a rarity as he throws lefthanded but bats right. He was a consistent line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter when drafted in the first round out of Kentucky in 2017, then he began adding more power to his repertoire when he lowered his hands and made some swing adjustments in 2018. In 2019, he posted a .293/.350/.488 line with 18 homers and 55 RBIs in 92 games in a fairly tough hitting environment at Double-A Arkansas. –Greg Johns
Top rookie Statcast performers of 2020
Best barrel rate: Evan White, Mariners—14.1 percent.While it’s difficult to overlook the struggles that White endured as a rookie, his hard-hit rate and 14.1 percent barrel rate both speak to the quality of his contact when he does connect.
Evan is an elite defender at first base. Rawlings has probably started fashioning a few Gold Gloves to present to White when he gets to the Majors.
White gets 70 for his excellent defense at first base. And it's near-80! It is so effortless for Evan around the bag. And he has a 55 grade arm.
White’s footwork around the first base bag are so graceful that his movements there have been called ballet-like, earning plus-plus grades for his defense. He has very good instincts and soft hands.
Some scouts view White, who throws lefthanded and bats righthanded, as an outfielder at the next level. He played some outfield over the summer in 2016, and he said he’s content to play wherever his team needs him most. But White clearly has a first baseman’s heart.
Many players try to resist the move to first base, instead hoping to remain on an outfield corner or third base. White is just the opposite.
“It’s just something I’ve always played,” White said. “Growing up, I was always one of those guys who could catch. It’s something I’ve done for a really long time, and I’m pretty good at saving some outs over there. I feel like that’s kind of kept me over there.
“It’s something I take pride in and something I enjoy, working on picks, fielding ground balls. I love doing that. I could do that for days.” (Michael Lananna - Baseball America - 3/10/2017)
White picks balls out of the dirt so regularly that his fellow-infielders gain a very high comfort level. You throw the ball anywhere in the area and Evan is going to catch it—every time.
White could be a Gold Glove first baseman or an everyday outfielder. He has more range than most first basemen, excels at digging errant throws out of the dirt and one scout said he's the best defensive first baseman to come out of college since Nick Swisher. White also has plus speed and solid arm strength, so he's potentially capable of handling all three outfield spots.
Evan is graceful and light on his feet around the first base bag. And he turns a perfect double play.
In 2017, White was named the best defensive first baseman in Minor League Baseball by MLB Pipeline.
October 8, 2018: White's defensive prowess at first base was recognized again as he won a Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove. He was the first Seattle minor leaguer to win the award since it was reinstituted in 2011.
White committed just four errors in his 124 games, posting a .996 fielding percentage in 972 total chances. The 22-year-old was both a midseason and postseason All-Star selection in the California League.
In 2018, White was named the MLB Pipeline All-Defensive team's first baseman.
In 2019, Evan was voted the best defensive first baseman in the Texas League and widely considered the best defensive first baseman in the minors.
It's rare to have a first baseman mentioned as a contender for best overall defender, but White's name did come up in conversations. He is athletic with outstanding footwork, a plus arm and speed that allows him to have plus range at the position.
"It's game-changing defense at first," one AL scouting executive said. "He makes every defensive player on the field better."
Evan is so graceful with sure hands, smooth footwork and a plus arm.
Jan. 13, 2020: White was named to the MLB Pipeline’s All-Defense Team.
In 2019, White was at Double-A Arkansas. But he’s penciled in as Seattle’s starting first baseman in 2020 after signing a six-year, $24 million Major League deal in despite having yet to play in the big leagues. (May 22, 2020)
- 2020 Season: White, who appeared in 54 of the Mariners’ 60 games, led all AL first basemen in defensive runs saved (seven), scoops (seven) and out of zone plays (11).
The 24-year-old was one of six first basemen to record only one error this season, and one of three from the AL, joining Houston’s Yuli Gurriel and Oakland’s Matt Olson. He posted a .998 fielding percentage, and ended the season with 49 consecutive games without making an error, converting each of his 363 chances during that span.
White also ranked second among AL first basemen with a 2.2 Ultimate Zone Rating, per FanGraphs, trailing only Olson (2.5). He was nominated for a Gold Glove award. (Lauren Smith - October 22, 2020)
Nov 3, 2020: Gold Glove Awards have been few and far between in recent years for the Mariners, but Evan White and J.P. Crawford reversed that trend.
The two young infielders each received their first Rawlings Gold Glove honors, the most in one year for the Mariners since outfielders Ichiro Suzuki and Franklin Gutierrez both took home the awards in 2010.
White, a 24-year-old rookie, unseated two-time winner Matt Olson of the Athletics with an outstanding season at first base. Crawford, a 25-year-old in his first full season as a starter, provided a new face at shortstop after Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Andrelton Simmons of the Angels had won the last four AL Gold Gloves at that position.
“It’s definitely awesome, definitely a dream come true,” White said. “Defense is something I take a lot of pride in, so to be able to see that rewarded is really special. Also seeing J.P. and all the work he’s put in and be rewarded as well was incredible. It’s really cool for us to be able to share our first one together.” (G Johns - MLB.com - Nov 3, 2020)
In 2020, White led AL first basemen in defensive runs saved (7), scoops (7) and out of zone plays (11), and tied for the most runs prevented (2) in the abbreviated 2020 season. He also ranked second among AL first basemen in ultimate zone rating (2.2) and fielding percentage (.998).
White is the first rookie first baseman to win the Gold Glove award since it was created in 1957. And he is only the second Mariners rookie to ever win the honor, joining Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
- Evan is an above-average 60 grade runner.
2016: White battled some minor hip flexor soreness at the beginning of the college season.
July 2017: A quad injury cut his pro debut short after 14 games at short-season Everett.
April 4-13, 2018: White began the year on the DL with a groin strain.
April 12-24, 2019: Evan is on the injured list with a mild hip flexor strain.
July 30-Aug. 6, 2019: White was on the IL.