We continue our weekly pre-season series on the positional battles to make the Tacoma opening day roster with a look at corner infielders.
Tacoma manager Daren Brown is going to have a group with Triple-A experience manning the corners. He’ll also occasionally slip one of his third basemen into left field, or use one to fill the DH slot in the lineup.
Mike Jacobs: A veteran of both Triple-A and Major League Baseball, Jacobs was signed by the Mariners as a minor league free agent. Jacobs hit .279 with 18 homers and 60 RBI for Reno last year, and was a September call-up to Arizona. He’s 32 years old and has had a 30-homer season in the big leagues. He’ll probably fill the Luis Jimenez role for Tacoma, playing first base and DH while hitting in the middle of the lineup.
Alex Liddi: The forgotten man in Mariners spring raining camp right now, Liddi seems likely to be in the Rainiers opening day lineup. Liddi is the best defensive option at third base, but don’t be surprised if he moves around from third to first to left field. Offensively, Liddi worked hard to cut down his strikeouts last year, but it came at the expense of power. It will be interesting to see how he does this year – I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he put up some big numbers in the PCL this year.
Vinnie Catricala: Vinnie will return to the Rainiers in 2013 and looks to have a strong campaign after never really getting on track in 2012. Triple-A proved difficult for Catricala, as he hit .229 with ten homers in 122 games. This came right after being named the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year in 2011. Catricala played mostly third base last year, but also saw time in left field. The 2013 season is an important one for Catricala; he needs a bounce-back year.
Stefen Romero? Romero has a question mark because his defensive position seems to be, well, a question. He played second base last year – first at Advanced-A High Desert, and then at Double-A Jackson. However, the Mariners seem intent on moving him to a different defensive position. Player Development Director Chris Gwynn said he’s going to play second base, third base, and outfield. Hopefully he’ll find a home defensively, because apparently he can hit: Romero batted .357-11-51 in 60 games at High Desert, and .347-12-50 in 56 games at Jackson last year. His season was very similar to Catricala’s 2011 campaign.
Rich Poythress: The Jackson first baseman for the last two seasons, Poythress may be looking at another assignment to Tennessee come April. Last year he batted .304 with six homers in 86 games. My hunch is that the Mariners would like to see a little more power from Poythress; he’s hit 17 homers in 208 Double-A games the last two years. However, he doesn’t strike out much and draws a lot of walks – and that is something that has been sorely missing from the Tacoma lineup the last few seasons.
Nate Tenbrink: Tenbrink has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons, but he’s worthy of a mention here. Tenbrink played 31 games at third base for Jackson last year, and he hit .283 with eight homers and a .539 slugging percentage. I’m not sure if there is room for him on the Rainiers roster come April, but he’s certainly someone to keep an eye on if he starts the year down at Jackson.
In case you missed it the other day, Ryan Divish reported that the man who logged the most games for Jackson at third base last year – Francisco Martinez – has been moved to center field. We’ll get to him in the outfield group.
Next Wednesday, we’ll look at the middle infielders.
Mike Carp was traded to the Boston Red Sox for the good old Player To Be Named Later.
Carp made a real impact on the Tacoma career statistical leaders. He ranks second on the all-time home run list, with 67 – just five behind Tacoma home run king Rick Renick. He drove in 221 runs for Tacoma, which ranks him ninth on the all-time list. He also appears on the lists for hits (15th), runs (11th), doubles (16th), and total bases (9th).
We wish him the best with the Red Sox; hopefully he’ll make the big league roster.
- Mike Zunino got the Larry Stone treatment.
- Here’s a blog post from Geoff Baker on Mike Carp getting traded.
- Todd Dybas has a good piece on potential Rainiers starter Taijuan Walker.
- For Baseball America subscribers, an article on Kentwood High School’s Reese McGuire, who has a shot at being a high draft pick this June.