The Seattle Mariners hosted their annual Pre-Spring Training Media Event late last week, and there was quite a bit of chatter about the prospects in the organization. The trades that the M’s made during the winter have brought a lot of talent into the minor leagues.
Much of the specific talk about prospects centered around the Double-A club. Director of Player Development Andy McKay said that top first base prospect Evan White will open the season with Arkansas, and without saying so directly he made it sound like oft-injured outfield prospect Kyle Lewis will start there, also.
There was no talk about specific players being assigned to Tacoma to open the season – which makes a lot of sense. The upper-level players acquired in the offseason will come to major league spring training, and Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais will see them in action for their first time. New additions like J.P. Crawford, Justus Sheffield, and Erik Swanson (and many more) will get a chance to earn major league roster spots.
The combination of open major league roster spots and an influx of upper-level minor league talent is going to make this an extra-interesting spring training. When asked about the upcoming camp, Dipoto said he is “looking for progress from young players.” The youth movement is on.
The team released its list of non-roster invitees to major league spring training, and as usual there are a couple of minor league free agent signings that were not previously reported. Two relief pitchers signed to minor league deals with spring training invites are now in the mix for Tacoma roster spots.
Robin Leyer is a right-hander form the Dominican Republic who pitched last year for the Cincinnati Reds Double-A affiliate in Pensacola. The 25-year-old posted a 2.59 ERA in 42 games out of the bullpen, with 65 strikeouts and 28 walks in 59 innings pitched. He must throw a good sinker or something, because he has maintained a low home runs allowed rate throughout his career.
The M’s have also signed a 24-year-old right-hander from Venezuela named Jorgan Cavanerio. He may be ticketed for Double-A, but his numbers from last year in the Marlins system are intriguing: a 2.54 ERA as a multiple-inning reliever at Advanced Class-A, where he walked just five batters in 46 innings with 42 strikeouts. He pitched in 13 more games for Double-A Jacksonville later in the season.
One player we won’t be seeing in Tacoma is infielder Kaleb Cowart. The Mariners hoped he would clear waivers and that they could develop him as a two-way player in the minors, but he was claimed by the Detroit Tigers. So much for that plan.
We’ll start our annual position-by-position look at the players who could be on the Tacoma roster this coming Thursday, with the catchers as the first group.
- The Seattle Times has a round-up of the major league news that came out of the Seattle Mariners Pre-Spring Training Media Event.
- Mallex Smith was one of the players introduced at the Mariners event on Thursday, and his personality shined.
- The News Tribune’s story on the event serves as a reminder that the players sure don’t look at the coming season and think it’s a “step-back year.”
- Edgar Martinez met the other new Hall of Famers, and it was story time. << this is a good one.
- The Mariners signed high-pressure reliever Hunter Strickland to boost the bullpen – and potentially be the closer. And just like that, the M’s are out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.
- From Baseball America’s latest Minor League Transactions, we learn that Gordon Beckham has signed a minor league deal with the Detroit Tigers. Beckham spent the last two seasons with Tacoma, earning a few call-ups to Seattle. We wish him the best with Detroit.
- In the PCL, the Sacramento River Cats announced their coaching staff with ex-Rainiers coach Dave Brundage returning as manager.
- The Houston Astros named Mickey Storey as the new manager of the Round Rock Express.
- Rick Sweet will be the first manager in the Triple-A era of the San Antonio Missions.