News and Notes From Mariners Pre-Spring Training Media Event
The Seattle Mariners held their formerly annual and now annual Pre-Spring Training Media Event on Wednesday. They hadn’t held the event since 2020 due to Covid in 2021 and the owner lockout in 2022. It’s like we’re back to normal this year.
As always, most of the news from the event pertains to the Major League roster, but there are always a few interesting pointers for us Tacoma Rainiers fans. Here are a few:
There was plenty of praise for outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who was praised throughout the winter for his work ethic and dedication. General manager Justin Hollander said Kelenic’s offseason “couldn’t have gone better.”
Kelenic had a strong campaign for Tacoma last year (.296/.366/.557) but is still hoping for continued success in the major leagues. From what Hollander and Mariners President Jerry Dipoto said, it sounds like they’d like either Kelenic or Taylor Trammell to be the left side of a left-wing campaign with newly acquired veteran outfielder AJ Pollock. They brought up Trammell’s name unasked and told him he’d put in a lot of work this season too. A real spring training battle could ensue between the two young outfield players. Each player has one more option year left, so Tacoma is a possibility for one of them — though neither of them have anything left to prove in Triple-A.
In some surprisingly positive injury news, it was reported that potential Rainiers first baseman Evan White is already a full participant in baseball activities, and Dipoto said he “will come into spring training healthier than he has been in years.” That’s huge as White could really be a good player for the Rainiers while getting his career back on track after two seasons of injuries.
Similarly, reliever Casey Sadler is reportedly 100% healthy and already hosting bullpen sessions. Sadler had a .67 ERA in 42 major league games for the Mariners in 2021 but missed all of 2022 after shoulder surgery. Sadler is back this year on a minor league contract, so he’ll be fighting for a big league job during spring training but could end up with the Rainiers depending on how things go.
Finally, I had a chance to ask Andy McKay how the organization got John Russell to run Tacoma. A former major league manager and longtime big league bench coach, Russell doesn’t fit the profile of recent Rainiers skippers. McKay said Russell kind of fell into their laps – Dipoto got an email from Russell’s agent, forwarded it to McKay, McKay opened a dialogue, and here we are. The Dipoto-McKay-Servais trio had no prior connection with Russell.
Tacoma’s bullpen received a potential boost with news that the Mariners are bringing back right-hander Taylor Williams on a minor league contract. Williams, who lives in Vancouver, WA and is a graduate of Camas High School, was great for the Rainiers in the second half of last season. After he was released from Sacramento midseason, the Rainiers brought him up and watched him post a 1.14 ERA in 23 appearances.
The Mariners added another player with local connections, demanding left-handed pitcher Tayler Saucedo from waivers from the New York Mets. Recently acquired helper JB Bukauskas was assigned to the field to free up space on the list.
Saucedo grew up in Maple Valley and attended Tahoma High School. After graduating, he spent two years taking classes and playing baseball for Coach Ryan Mummert at Tacoma Community College. He appeared as a freshman in 2012 before becoming a redshirt in 2013. He transferred to a small four-year college — Tennessee Wesleyan — before being drafted by the Toronto Bluejays.
He reached the majors in 2021, appeared in 29 games for Toronto and appeared in four more big league games last year. The Mariners are a little prickly about left-handed relief pitchers, and Saucedo addresses that.
Just this morning, the team also added right-hander Kyle Tucker for a minor league deal. Splitting the 2022 season between the Giants and Padres organizations, he hopped around the waiver wire a bit.
The organization has announced the coaching batons for all minor league members and the Class-A Modesto Nuts are the team we’ll be cheering on the most.
Former Rainiers players Zach Vincej and Seth Mejias-Brean will headline the show in California’s Central Valley. Vincej has been appointed as the club’s manager and Mejias-Brean will be the batting coach.
Both served as coaches for Tacoma last year, in their first player development assignments after retiring from their playing careers. Their new jobs are definitely promotions, with greater responsibility despite being at a lower level in the farm system.
Veteran prospect analyst Keith Law released his annual top 100 prospect list, and two mariners emerge. Law has catcher Harry Ford in 65th overall, with starting pitcher Bryce Miller not far behind in 75th.
Miller has a chance to play for Tacoma sometime this season while Ford is a year or two away from making Triple-A.
Subscribers to The Athletic can read Law’s entire Top 100 with player descriptions right here.
We’ll wrap things up with the best news of the offseason: Longtime Sacramento River Cats broadcaster Johnny Doskow has been hired to join the Oakland A broadcast team. The River Cats will have a new announcer this year.
Kudos to the Oakland A’s for the attitude. It’s refreshing that a major league team hires a fully qualified, experienced broadcaster from the underage who has dedicated his life to the work.
Johnny has been a good friend for over 25 years. He is a unique personality and character of the game. We’ll miss him a lot in the PCL but are absolutely over the moon that he’s getting this chance.
Seattle Times coverage of yesterday’s Mariners media event: Larry Stone writes that the team’s goals have changed, refreshed and healthy CalRaleigh carries the injury updates, and everyone is happy about it Luis Castillo will not be serving at the World Baseball Classic.
The Mariners announced the players who received off-list invitations to major league spring training. Here are many of the players who will make the Rainiers Opening Day roster.
Seattle gave Utilityman Dylan Moore a three-year contract extension.
We have team press releases on the Mariners’ other minor league coaches, from Double-A Arkansas, Advanced-A Everett, and Low-A Modesto. Many former Rainiers players are now training in the farm system.
The Seattle Times continued its position preview of the Mariners. Eugenio Suarez the starter stays at third base, and here’s a look at Ty France and first base. Julio Rodriguez has locked midfield and Cal Raleigh is leading the catchers.
Jantzen Witte, one of the stars of the Rainiers 2021 championship squad, has signed a minor league contract with the San Diego Padres and could play for Triple-A El Paso this season. Witte played in Japan last year.
We’re going to be getting tons of international baseball in the next two months. The Caribbean Series starts today and ESPN is streaming the games on their streaming platform, and then next month’s World Baseball Classic will get a lot of attention.