The kids are alright.
Seattle’s youth movement isn’t going unnoticed by national media. Hell, the talented chillens seem to be captivating pundits invested in baseball’s future.
Ooooooh ...— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 15, 2020
Six of the #Mariners' Top 30 prospects -- headlined by No. 1 Jarred Kelenic, No. 2 Julio Rodriguez & No. 6 Noelvi Marte -- are in the lineups for today's intrasqaud game at 5:35 ET.
Here's a look at the @Mariners' Top 30: https://t.co/kFLEyiCcaO pic.twitter.com/G0swlykcYW
Indeed, the kids were front and center for the Mariners short 3-inning intra-squad contest on Wednesday. It was primarily lineups headed by minor league players, showcased by outfielders Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez anchoring their respective squads. Kelenic batted 3rd for the Pilots while Rodriguez hit clean up the Steelheads.
Joining the two headliners were fellow Top 30 prospects Noelvi Marte, Zach DeLoach, Austin Shenton and Donnie Walton.
Right off the bat we have a lineup change, with Tim Lopes stepping in for Dee Gordon’s place in the batting order. I guess they just skipped Dee? He flies out to DeLoach, and then Andy McKay rings up Vogey looking on the most questionable of called third strikes off a full count. Julio works his way to a 2-2 count and chops out to Kaden Polcovich at second, but is sent to second base anyway for a situational drill.
In the bottom of the inning, Sam Haggerty gets things going right away with a blooper that Walton maybe could have reached if he’d not lost it in the sun. He recovers and fires to second, but while it looked like Tim Lopes tags Haggerty out, Andy McKay calls him safe, earning a long rueful grin from Lopes. Let’s throw it to Shannon Drayer for an in-game report:
Just announced No. 92 in left field, Boyd. Who? Yep. Mariners have got a coach in left for the 3-inning intrasquad. Dee Gordon in the original lineup, not sure what's up there.— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) July 15, 2020
It’s incredible how this is even more strange than a late-innings spring training game. What a world. By the way, as compared to yesterday’s low-grade Ira and the Douche imitation on parts of the broadcast, please take notes on how effortlessly Rick Rizzs mixes in stories about James Paxton’s no-hitter into the downtime. Don’t take it for granted. Nola grounds out, moving Haggerty to third, and it’s time for the J.K. Kid. Kelenic just continued to do what he’s done all week with a first inning bloop single to CF, scoring Sam Haggerty from second.
Kelenic with a little bloop single to CF for another RBI.— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) July 15, 2020
When you're hot, you're hot. pic.twitter.com/Fcw9REOkTu
Kelenic tries to steal second, but is thwarted by a foul ball and then a ball that grazes Jose Marmolejos. Patrick Wisdom strikes out [sigh] and the team moves to situational routines with two outs, sending DeLoach out to bunt. He drops down a nice one on Shenton and beats it out to first for a would-be single, but we move on to the second anyway. By the way, Kendall Graveman? He might have something in the tank. We had heard he was 94-96 in Peoria, which was a surprise in and of itself. Graveman has lived ~93 mph for his entire career. If he’s pumping 95-97 mph sinkers in 2020, it would be a pretty significant development — especially for a guy coming back from serious injury.
Kendall Graveman with an easy 1-2-3 inning. His last fastball to Julio Rodriguez, which was tapped to the right side, hit 97 mph on the stadium radar gun— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) July 15, 2020
Aaron Fletcher steps in for the second inning, and DeLoach is given another opportunity to actually hit and bangs a chopper to short that flies wide of Vogey on the throw, earning him a spot on second base. Probably a base hit, if we’re being fair.
Mariners 2nd Rd Pick Zach DeLoach with a Baltimore Chop that Austin Shenton can't make the play on. Probably a single + error. pic.twitter.com/ZXIZy4AvvQ— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) July 15, 2020
Kaden Polcovich flies out gently to Julio, and it’s Noelvi time, who earns four balls not especially close to the plate. Fletcher continues to struggle to find the strike zone against Haggerty, eventually yielding a grounder just inside third base that feels like it could have been plucked by Kyle Seager. Instead it’s a double to left for Haggerty that results in Noelvi Marte scoring from first (!) on a ball hit to left field (!). Except remember, there’s a coach out there (!!). [ed: Kate says, and it’s only fair to note, that said coach is Louis Boyd, who played a full season across two minor league levels as recently as 2018. Still!]
Fletcher has fully recovered, it seems, and strikes out Kelenic on a slider that fools him badly. Jarred teaches me a new word very loudly on the live mic.
Graveman enters the third looking for a never-before-done achievement: a 3 inning perfect game! Unfortunately after a strikeout of Shenton, he’s undone. Marte shows triple Derek Jeter’s range to his left on a slapper by Tim Lopes, but spins and fires just wide to first, and the perfect game is over. A really nice play by Noelvi to get to that ball—with time and work with Perry Hill, you figure the throwing will come along soon. There’s more than enough arm there.
Noelvi Marte with some slick fielding but can't quit nab Tim Lopes, a good runner.— Joe (@JoeDoyleMiLB) July 15, 2020
Kid might be able to stick on the dirt after all. pic.twitter.com/y1KGgGMiQ2
Vogey keeps things alive with a walk which means more JULIO content for your eyes and ears. And what is that content? A CLOBBERED double to straightaway center over the head of Haggerty (hush).
Graveman recovers, getting Walton and ending his day on a swinging K of Braden Bishop. Worth noting two things: he sat 94-96 today, and Scott Servais has noted that Graveman got pretty sick in the spring and gained bunch of weight back, which explains his new look, which is roughly “two artillery shells hidden under his jersey.” It’s frustrating they likely won’t be able to flip him for much at all if he performs, but the great news is they can option him for just 3.5mm in 2021. If he’s healthy, I’d bet heavily on that option to be picked up.
Zac Grotz steps out to finish the day off, despite the fact that the Pilots have clenched a 4-1 win. He yields a walk to Wisdom, and a liner from Lopes nearly taking off Andy McKay’s head. He dodges, thankfully, avoiding another rebuilding setback. He is also the Social Distancing Sheriff, nudging Brian O’Keefe backwards during a mound conference. Fortunately, Grotz seems to need extra pitches, so we get to watch Noelvi again—and he’s rewarded by working a very nice full count and getting drilled in the back. He plainly wanted to stay in and keep hitting but is pulled to allow Kelenic to take his place and run. A bunt drill yields a popout in foul territory, and that’s all she wrote.
- This marks the 6th intra-squad game of Summer Camp for the Mariners, though we are yet to see 4th round selection Tyler Keenan, a third baseman, join either lineup for the team. He’s been out there for BP since camp began but we’re yet to see him in a game.
- I just want to note that on February 24th, Tim Cantu said in a recap: “The Mariners make a variety of mistakes, including a TOOTBLAN. It is difficult to see how they win more than 10, 15 games tops in 2020.” I am a genius. Sorry about that, everyone.
- One thing worth mentioning, Kelenic played in his 5th intra-squad contest today. He’s manned RF three times and LF twice. He’s yet to appear in centerfield, his supposed true home. It’s likely far, far too early to draw any conclusions, but when guys like Haggerty are garnering playing time at the position before Kelenic, it’s worth monitoring. In all likelihood, it’s probably Scott Servais figuring out his 40-man versatility prior to the regular season kicking off. Kelenic is a big, strong, bulked-up 6-foot powder-keg, and in a perfect world, won’t need to see a corner outfield spot until the latter half of his 20s.
The Mariners will be back at it tomorrow with a longer, 6-inning affair with several of the regulars presumably back in. It was a necessary off-day for guys like Kyle Lewis, Evan White and Kyle Seager. The game, as always, will air at 2:45 pm on YouTube and Twitch.