The Mariners held their annual Pre Spring Training Media Luncheon yesterday at Safeco Field. Lots of major league news came out of the event and it’s all covered in the links down below, but for this post we’ll focus on the news involving the Tacoma Rainiers.
Because I’m feeling like a lazy writer today, let’s do this bullet-points style.
- The injury to projected Rainiers catcher Jesus Sucre is more serious than originally thought: fractured right fibula, sprained right ankle, out for six months. Don’t be surprised if the Mariners add another veteran catcher to the Triple-A mix via free agency.
- Mariners front office staff made it very clear that Mike Zunino will start the season with Tacoma, with General Manager Jerry Dipoto saying “the goal is to have Zunino open in Tacoma and watch him develop.”
- The team officially announced the signing of veteran first baseman Gaby Sanchez to a minor league contract. He, Jesus Montero, and Stefen Romero were mentioned as candidates to be the right-hand side of the first base platoon with Adam Lind.
- Despite all of the media reports, it doesn’t appear that the Mariners and Federal Way native Travis Ishikawa are going to come to terms.
- Improved communication throughout the organization was a major theme of the day, and it includes the minor leagues. The new front office has been in contact with many of the minor league players.
- One of the few holdovers from Zduriencik’s staff, Assistant GM Jeff Kingston had some interesting remarks about how communication breakdowns and mixed messages had a negative impact on players, particularly Zunino and Chris Taylor.
- The newly publicized but longtime organizational philosophy of “controlling the strike zone” impacted the major league spring training invitations: Kingston said that Double-A shortstop Tyler Smith and outfielder Dario Pizzano were rewarded with invitations to big league camp because of their excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios last year.
- Kingston lauded starter Adrian Sampson and reliever Paul Fry for controlling the strike zone from the mound. Both were invited to big league camp, and I have both penciled onto the Rainiers opening day roster for now.
- While some in the media are fascinated by new farm director Andy McKay‘s sports psychology background, my takeaway from his session was that he does not want to rush prospects through the minor league system. At one point he said “hopefully you have enough talent in the system, so you don’t have to rush prospects based on need.”
- VP of Player Personnel Tom Allison said that the Mariners have increased their scouting force. To wit, he mentioned that the team signed likely Rainiers pitcher Casey Coleman after scouts saw him work in an international tournament in Japan.
For the major league tidbits from the event, hit the links.
- General Manager Jerry Dipoto said that the Mariners are “well suited” to compete in the American League West.
- The Mariners new regime is all about communication and culture, Ryan Divish wrote.
- Divish has a notebook which leads with a section on the signing of Gaby Sanchez and one of the Mariners upcoming spring training positional battles.
- Bob Dutton’s Mariners Notebook includes an injury update and an item on Dipoto reaching out to D.J. Peterson.
- Larry Stone has a column on new farm director Andy McKay and his mental-skills coach background. John McGrath’s column is on the same subject.
- The Mariners invited 41 players to a minor league mini-camp prior to the start of spring training.
- Baseball Prospectus posted its Top 101 Prospects for 2016 and only one Mariners player made the list: outfielder Alex Jackson, at No. 94.
- The Hutch Award presentation was at Safeco on Wednesday, with Adam Wainwright the honoree.
- Former Rainiers pitcher Doug Fister signed a one-year contract with the Houston Astros.
- Big news for PCL broadcasters, centerfielders, and Reno fans: the Aces are making improvements to the worst stadium sound system in the history of stadium sound systems.
Have a nice weekend. When our next post goes up on Monday, we’ll be less than three weeks from spring training!