More Notes From Spring Training, Vol. 2

Friday was a long day of baseball as there was a Double-A game on the Peoria Sports Complex back fields, then the main game in the big ballpark at night.

The Double-A game was against the Padres, and it was being played on their side of the complex (the Mariners and Padres use the same complex in Peoria with each team having 6-7 fields and its own office and clubhouse, but they share the main Cactus League park). It’s a bit of a walk but eventually I found the game.

The goal was to see the Mariners recently optioned-to-Tacoma players who are on the 40-man roster, and as discussed yesterday are prevented from playing in official Cactus League games. Specifically, I was looking for Joey Curletta, J.P. Crawford, and Shed Long. I went 2-for-3.

Curletta is a big guy with a powerful swing. I saw him take just one at-bat, against a hard-throwing Padres pitching prospect named Pedro Avila. Crawford fouled off a couple of knee-high fastballs before eventually taking a breaking ball for strike three. He played first base in the game.

Long was starting at shortstop. A left-handed hitter, Long stands very close to the plate and doesn’t flinch on inside pitches. He walked on five pitches in the plate appearance I saw. At shortstop, he made one nice play ranging to his left while I was watching.

There was no sign of Crawford, but in positive news for the Mariners injured outfielder Mallex Smith took several at-bats as he hopes to be ready for the home opener on Thursday.

There were other players of note in this game. The Mariners starter was Ljay Newsome, the right-hander who made one emergency fill-in start at Cheney last year but spent the season with Modesto. I’d guess he’s heading to Arkansas next week.

Two former Rainiers appeared in the game, now playing for the Padres. Boog Powell signed a minor league deal and is probably going to El Paso, and the same can be said for reliever Tyler Higgins. I still can’t believe the Mariners didn’t re-sign Higgins after finding him in an independent league and watching him have success last year.

The Double-A game was only interesting for a few innings. The starters were pulled and some very young players came in, so I retired for a couple of hours to watch the UW hoops game (nice job Huskies!).

Then it was time for the Mariners final official Cactus League game of the spring, against an Angels split squad. There was a nice crowd for this game – over 8,000 – and I hope nobody was disappointed that there were only two major league players in it. The Mariners had none, of course, and the Angels only brought two: Zack Cozart and David Fletcher.

  1. Ian Miller – LF
  2. Tim Lopes – 2B
  3. Evan White – 1B
  4. Kyle Lewis – DH
  5. Jake Fraley – RF
  6. Tito Polo – CF
  7. Austin Nola – C
  8. Chris Mariscal – SS
  9. Adam Law – 3B

Found some Rainiers here – we’ve got five or six members of our opening day roster in this lineup. This group played the first five innings before manager Daren Brown started going to the bench.

The highlights here came from the speed players Ian Miller and Tito Polo.

Miller played all nine innings, continuing his Hardest Working Man of the Winter storyline (after the PCL ended last September he played in the Arizona Fall League, and when that ended he played in the Mexican Winter League, and when that ended he went to Spring Training. Not sure if he ever went home to Pennsylvania). Miller reached base three times (1-for-3 with a walk and a HBP), stole two bases, and scored three runs. Both of his stolen bases were parts of double steals – which might be something to look for this year, because Miller pairs with Polo in a true speed threat.

Polo only played five innings, but he made a big impact. He singled in the fourth inning and aggressively took second base with some smart baserunning when the Angels were a little lazy getting the ball back in from the outfield. Then he made a terrific catch in center field the next inning, laying out in a dive to steal an extra-base hit.

Double steals set up four of the Mariners runs in an 8-7 win. Brown may have to resort to speed tactics in a power hitter’s league, because it appears that Curletta may be the only true power hitter in the Rainiers lineup at the start of the season – and he’s a Triple-A rookie, so we don’t really know what to expect from him.

The starting pitcher was Tyler Danish, who is being groomed for the Tacoma rotation. He went four innings, allowing one run on four hits, and gave the appearance of being a fast working strike thrower.

Reliever Jorgan Cavanerio had a rough outing, giving up two home runs (including one tape measure shot) to Salt Lake Bees slugger Jared Walsh. He was hit for five runs in 1.1 innings.

At this point I was sitting in the stands with my uncle, and stepped away for a minute as the P.A announcer named new pitcher Sam Delaplane for the Mariners. By the time I get back to my seat just a couple of minutes later, my uncle says Delaplane struck out the side reaching 93 on the scoreboard gun. Delaplane had a great year for Low-A Clinton last year so this was interesting news.

“Delaplane” set down the side in order in both the eighth and the ninth, for three prefect innings to close out the game… and then afterwards, the Mariners PR staffer on hand said the pitcher was actually 26-year-old right-hander Zac Grotz, who was misidentified when he entered the game. This can happen when players from minor league camp come over and the jersey numbers don’t match (or are even double-numbered at times).

So nice job, Zac Grotz. Grotz was signed out of an independent league by the Mets last season, played Low-A ball in their system, and then came to the M’s as a free agent back in November.

Today we have a Triple-A game at noon, and hopefully we’ll see something approaching the Rainiers starting lineup in this game because everyone is eligible to play.

Links:

  • Prospective Rainiers outfielder Eric Filia is out, since he got suspended 100 games for his third positive test for “drugs of abuse.” One more and he gets a lifetime ban.
  • The News Tribune has information on Mariners Fanfest this weekend and the upcoming exhibition games at T-Mobile Park.
  • No link, but I saw on the tweet box this morning that former Rainiers infielder Gordon Beckham has made the Detroit Tigers opening day roster. Congrats, Beck!
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