Marte Moves To Center

We had an interesting day on the player development front, when Tacoma infielder Ketel Marte played center field last night for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old Marte had never played any position other than shortstop or second base, so this was a big move – but not a total surprise.

Second base is blocked in Seattle for years to come. Scouts who I talk to around the PCL doubt Marte’s ability to handle shortstop on a daily basis in the majors, due to throwing arm concerns. By learning to play center field, Marte gives himself another way to crack the big league roster.

Marte certainly has the speed for it. During that twilight time when fielders often lose the ball in the baseball-colored sky, Salt Lake’s Efren Navarro hit a deep liner toward left-center. Marte started going after it, then briefly put up his arms indicating he had lost sight of the ball. Suddenly he picked it up again, and he took off at high speed and made the catch while crossing onto the warning track. It was an impressive burst of speed.

Tacoma hitting coach Cory Snyder serves as the outfield coach, and he said before the game that Marte shouldn’t have difficulty getting good jumps on the ball, since that is something he’s already accustomed to from playing in the infield. Snyder thinks Marte will take to it quickly.

It’s not a permanent move – Marte will still get games in the infield. Mariners Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn talked more about this with the Seattle Times (link is down below).

The homestand continues tonight, with first-place Fresno arriving in town for a four-game series.

The Grizzlies have been treading water since the all-star break, going 4-4. However, they have maintained an 11-game lead over Tacoma and Reno, who are tied in second place.

If you like watching prospects, try to come out for Saturday’s game. Fresno is scheduled to start RHP Mark Appel, who was the first player chosen in the 2013 draft. He was recently moved up to Triple-A.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Salt Lake scored four runs in the second inning and cruised to a 9-2 win over Tacoma, taking the series three games to one. Ketel Marte and Leury Bonilla homered for Tacoma.

Roster Move: Backup infielder Rafael Fernandez was sent to the Arizona Rookie League, and reliever Tony Zych is back from Double-A Jackson.

Today: Fresno (57-42) at Tacoma (46-53), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 7-5.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Dan Straily (7-6, 3.93) at LHP James Gillheeney (1-1, 6.97).

Hot Rainiers: Stefen Romero and Zach Shank each have four-game hitting streaks.

Look Out For: Joe Sclafani has hit safely in nine straight games for Fresno, with a pair of three-hit games during the streak. Matt Duffy has reached base safely in 20 straight games; he’s also homered twice during a five-game hitting streak.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 (Pacific) on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

Fireworks after the game tonight!

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