The Mariners are one of the later teams to announce their full non-roster invitee list to Spring Training, but considering the turnover they’ve had it’s hardly surprising they’d take their time. Today we received the full list of 26 players Seattle will bring to Major League camp beyond their 40-man roster. In some ways this is only a ceremonial distinction. Players in the minor league section of camp can be - and are - called up at any time to fill out rosters for Spring Training games. The distinction can be significant, however, for the minor leaguers brought on. In addition to increased exposure and visibility from the team’s higher-ups, players in the Major League camp are paid for the duration of their time there, whereas players in the minor league camp are unpaid beyond their room and board until the season begins. For these 26 players, then, it’s a significant designation, and we’ll also be seeing much more of them before (and after) Seattle debuts in Tokyo against the Athletics.
The list breaks down to two sections: minor league free agents and existing prospects. In the minors free agent group we have several recognizable names, including two players returning to the Mariners after being traded away. The prospects include nearly every player Seattle has acquired this offseason.
To the full list! Minor League FAs are listed in italics:
C: José Lobáton (34), Austin Nola (29), Joe DeCarlo (25), Cal Raleigh (22), Dean Nevarez (22)
A veteran in Lobáton and the brother of Aaron Nola, both minors FA catchers are likely to land a spot in Tacoma, but converted infielder Joey Deeks will give them a run for their money after a decent season in Arkansas and a respectable showing in the Arizona Fall League. Lower in the system, Cal Raleigh is universally viewed as the top catching prospect in the system, and an aggressive invite to big league camp seems to indicate high expectations and a desire for Raleigh to familiarize himself with the big league staff. As the winner of the Edgar Martinez PTPA Award in the Mariners farm system, Dean Nevarez fills out the group, though his profile and age suggest he may offer a greater leadership role than on-field.
1B: Evan White (22)
The lone non-roster 1B, White was likely an invitee even if he hadn’t won the Alvin Davis “Mr. Mariner” award, exemplifying the ethos of leadership, work ethic, and humility of the M’s first star. We got a taste of White in Spring last year, but with a remixed swing we’ll get a taste of what Seattle hopes is the future of the infield early and (hopefully) often.
2B/SS/3B: Dustin Ackley (30), Tim Lopes (24), Orlando Calixte (26)
The UTIL crew features two former Mariners and the lone active player in the entire Mariners organization (by my appraisal) with a World Series ring. Ackley is likely competing for a mixture of 2B and OF work in Tacoma, and the acquisition of Shed Long shrinks his potential playing time further still. Lopes occupies a similar role, although his youth and ability to play every infield position gives him a great chance to secure a spot. Despite looking at least 36-years-old, Calixte’s 3 PAs for the 2015 Royals earned him a ring, and his ability to play infield and outfield gives him a shot at an AAA role in 2019 as well.
OF: Ichiro Suzuki (45), Tito Polo (24), Eric Filia (26), Kyle Lewis (23), Jake Fraley (23), Dom Thompson-Williams (23)
Ichiro’s age is equal to Kyle Lewis and Evan White’s total time on earth combined, and yet all three will begin the spring in the Mariners’ camp. Tito Polo’s prospect shine has dulled, but he’ll have a good chance to snag a 4th OF spot in a packed Arkansas outfield, all of which is represented here with Lewis, Fraley, and DTW. The clock is ticking rapidly for Eric Filia, who may see work at 1B as well, but he’ll have a chance to show if his contact skill plays against high-level competition.
RHP: Jorgan Cavanerio (24), Nabil Crismatt (24), Tyler Danish (24), Robinson Leyer (25), Tayler Scott (26), Ryan Garton (29), David McKay (23), Jack Anderson (25), Justin Dunn (23)
The pile grows! Cavanerio, Leyer, and Scott will join all three Mariners returners as bullpen workers competing for roles in AA and AAA. Crismatt and Danish have been starters thus far, though Danish shifted to a bullpen role partway through last year, but both could fill out rotations for the Travelers and Rainiers that have received infusions of talent at the top but remain thin. Dunn, of course, is one of the jewels of the Stepback™ and will get a shot to take his first crack at AAA.
LHP: Tommy Milone (31), Matt Tenuta (25)
Milone has managed to start games in both the majors and minors every year since 2011 besides 2012, and fits the Wade LeBlanc/Christian Bergman role as a veteran command hurler. Tenuta, along with David McKay, was acquired from the Royals last spring for cash (likely $1) to help Seattle fill out their roster, yet he turned in a brilliant season in Arkansas and will hope to make a better impression in spring and in AAA.