The Rainiers Have A New Pitching Coach

We knew Tacoma would have a new pitching coach in 2020, once Lance Painter and the Mariners parted ways after four years in Tacoma.

Class-A Modesto pitching coach Rob Marcello has earned a two-level promotion in the farm system, and will be joining Tacoma for 2020. Marcello made the announcement on his twitter account.

Marcello won the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year award for his work at Modesto this year, with his pitching staff ranking second in the California League in ERA (3.36) and strikeouts (1442 in just 1222.1 innings). Modesto broke the California League record for most strikeouts in a season – but so did Rancho Cucamonga, which finished a few K’s ahead of Modesto.

The 29-year-old was in his first season as a professional pitching coach this year, after the Mariners hired him out of a pitching academy in Orlando, Florida. He’s an example of the new trend in player development that many teams are now following, in which instructors without the traditional background (eg: ex-players) are hired because of their knowledge of the latest technologies and ability to translate the numbers into effective teaching. His former academy – Top Level Athletes, or TLA – presents itself as a destination for “data influenced training.”

Marcello did briefly pitch professionally. He was drafted in 2013, as a 17th round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he spent one season with their Williamsport affiliate in the New York-Penn League. He then moved into coaching, with the academy and at a couple of small colleges, before being hired by Seattle.

He had a very successful season in 2019 with the Modesto group. Triple-A will be a different challenge for Marcello, with the revolving-door pitching staff made up of guys who are new to the organization and often older than him. Hopefully he can help generate some strong results, and bring Tacoma back to being one of the better pitching clubs in the PCL as we have traditionally been.

With the World Series over – congrats to the Nats, thanks for beating the Astros, and thanks for making my Sure-To-Be-Wrong Predictions wrong once again after that embarrassment in 2018 – it’s now roster change season in baseball.

The Mariners have already made a handful of moves, “cleaning up” the 40-man roster, activating players who were on the injured list and deciding what to do with them. They even claimed a pitcher off waivers who might be a Rainiers starter next year. These moves are detailed in the links below.

We’ll follow the player moves and any PCL news all winter, so be sure to check in every once in a while.


  • The Times has a story on Felix Hernandez becoming a free agent, and the article includes a list of all of this year’s free agents. Wade LeBlanc is added to the list since the Mariners opted out of his 2020 contract.
  • The Mariners outrighted three players off the major league roster to Tacoma, in Ryon Healy, Chasen Bradford and Connor Sadzek. All three are dealing with serious injuries and it is not clear if any of them will be able to play in 2020. Healy has elected to become a free agent. The M’s also let a couple of relief pitchers go via waiver claims.
  • The M’s claimed RHP Phillips Valdez off waivers, and he looks like a potential Tacoma pitcher for 2020, or a possible up-and-down guy. He spent most of the 2019 season with Nashville, but also made his MLB debut with Texas..
  • The News Tribune has a Mariners roster tracker to follow the offseason moves.
  • USS Mariner looks at minor league players the M’s might consider adding to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. It’s a brief list, since most of the players that fall into this category were already added to the 40-man roster during the September call-ups.
  • Ron Fairly passed away at age 81. He spent 50 years in the game as a player and broadcaster. Larry Stone has several great stories about Fairly in this remembrance. Shannon Drayer remembers her first time meeting Fairly.
  • Former Rainiers outfielder Michael Saunders announced he is retiring from pro baseball (but still suiting up for Team Canada) and has been hired to manage an Atlanta Braves rookie-level affiliate.
  • Baseball America posted a Q&A with out-of-nowhere Mariners pitching prospect Penn Murfee, who secured a spot on the Team USA roster.

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