Rainiers Middle Infield Appears Set

For this week’s 2015 Tacoma Rainiers position preview post, we look at the shortstops and second basemen.

The recent signing of former Salt Lake Bees all-star Shawn O’Malley solidified the Tacoma Rainiers 2015 middle infield situation – to a point in which we can almost name the starters, right now.

There is one little hitch, though: what is going to happen to the loser of the Mariners spring training shortstop battle?

Seattle is going to make a decision on their major league starter in Peoria – it will be either Brad Miller or Chris Taylor. Both players have plenty of minor league options left and can be sent to Tacoma if they don’t win the job.

But, the Mariners might keep both players in the big leagues and work out a job share of some sort. So we don’t know if one of these guys will be in Tacoma in April.

What we do know is this: Ketel Marte will break camp with the Rainiers. He’ll be one of the top prospects on the team, and he’s going to play every day at either shortstop or second base.

The 21-year-old Marte hit .302 in 109 games for Double-A Jackson last year prior to a late-season promotion to Tacoma.

In just 19 games for the Rainiers, Marte hit .313 and even hit two home runs (which is not considered to be a big part of his game at this point). In that three-week stretch with the Rainiers, Marte looked every bit the part of a top shortstop prospect.

Marte will be paired with O’Malley, who has experience on both sides of the keystone. O’Malley was a .330 hitter for Salt Lake last year and earned his first MLB call-up to the Angels in September. He was designated for assignment after the season and the Mariners swooped in and signed him to a minor league deal.

We’re looking at Marte and O’Malley up the middle, with a possibility of Taylor or Miller.

As for the back-up, Leury Bonilla is back and of course he can play anywhere at anytime. Bonilla appeared in 90 games for the Rainiers last year, seeing time at every position except catcher. He’s a valuable part of a Triple-A roster.

Looking down below, it appears that shortstop Tyler Smith is moving towards a Triple-A assignment at some point soon – possibly late in the 2015 season, like Marte last year. Smith was the Mariners 8th round draft pick in 2013 out of Oregon State, and he was promoted to Double-A late last year.

Next Wednesday we look at the outfielders.

Links:

  • The Mariners officially announced the signing of outfielders Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez to minor league contracts. Both have a strong chance of making the Rainiers opening day roster – although there seems to be opportunity for one to perhaps crack the Mariners out of spring training.
  • There are lots of reports out there that the Mariners have signed veteran catcher John Baker to a minor league deal. He has spent all or parts of seven years in the majors, usually as a back-up catcher. Baker has six years of PCL experience with Sacramento and Albuquerque. He’s a leading candidate to share catching duties in Tacoma with John Hicks.
  • In case you missed it: Ichiro signed with the Miami Marlins where he will be a reserve outfielder. He needs 156 hits to reach 3,000 in the Unites States.
  • Mill Creek product Travis Snider was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.
  • Former Albuquerque Isotopes broadcaster Bob Socci is getting ready to call the Super Bowl. In my time in the PCL he’s the only broadcaster to land a major league radio gig in a different sport!

Our next blog update will be on Friday.

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