First of all, we know it’s technically called “Summer Camp” and that we’re probably screwing up our own SEO by not putting that in the title of this article, but there’s just something about the term “Summer Camp”—sponsored by Camping WorldTM—that feels a little flippant, a little jejune, and a lot corporate synergy, so I plan on avoiding it wherever possible. Secondly, yes this is Day 2 (July 6) of camp, and we didn’t do it for Day 1 because it was Sunday of a holiday weekend and also I forgot.
Like everything else in this farpotshket season, the experience of covering a training camp remotely is a new and weird one. It’s part pure spring training, which is great for those of you who love to watch drills, and instead of sweating it out on an Arizona backfield you can watch from the safety and comfort of your home or office or tucked away in a linen cupboard where no one can find you. It’s even conveniently archived on the Mariners’ YouTube channel, so you don’t have to miss a minute of action just because everyone else in your party would rather eat the hotel breakfast rather than hustle over to the field as soon as the gate opens. NOT speaking from personal spring training experience there, obviously.
The tradeoff for that convenience is the experience is curated for you based on where the camera happens to be at any given time. So if you happen to be someone who really loves watching drills, you often won’t have the luxury of watching an entire set start to finish, which can be a great way to develop your scouting eye in seeing how different players operate doing the same drill. This is tricky because, again, you’re confined to a particular camera angle, and the press box one is especially rough for seeing anything other than tracking ball flight and carry, if you’re lucky enough to know the players on the field to begin with.
And, despite the convenience, that’s one of the bummer parts about watching these feeds. One of the best things about being on the backfields at spring training is sitting with others and trying to figure out who’s who and chatting about particular players. There’s no guide on these feeds, no helpful graphics so you can tell who’s at bat, no nice retiree named Maury who will share his snacks with you and tell you about the games he saw back in the Kingdome. The best policy if you’re watching live is honestly to—deep breath—enable the YouTube chat, where there are plenty of people willing to answer “who’s that” or just chat about the Mariners with fellow fans who care enough about the team to watch a live feed of players taking fungoes in the middle of the workday.
So here, then, is a little guide for those of you who weren’t able to watch live yesterday, with time markers and links so you can get a Cliff’s Notes version of the highlights of yesterday’s workouts. We hope this helps replicate the spring training experience for those of you who missed out this year, and for those who have never been, consider this an introductory course so you’re all ready for next year.
(Hint: open this video in another tab, keep this one open as a reference point, and then you won’t have to constantly scroll up and scroll down as you jump to specific points in the video.)
0 - 15:00: Live BP (meaning a batter swinging in the box) with Marco Gonzales pitching to Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager. Marco looks pretty Marco-y, although he definitely has some quarantine fuzz coming out of the back of his cap. Marco was caught by new catcher from the Rule 5 draft Brian O’Keefe, who is also a proponent of the one-knee-down school of catching that’s the trend currently.
15:00 - 25:00: More live BP, this time from Nestor Cortes, the man of many arm slots. Cortes pitched to Kyle Lewis, who hit a tank to right center off him (17:45) and Jake Fraley (wearing a helmet with an earflap). Both Seager and Lewis wore masks throughout their at-bats.
25:00 - 40:00: Taylor Williams throws the final live BP of the morning session. In case you forgot who Taylor Williams is, here’s a handy reminder courtesy of moi; the tl;dr version is: claimed off waivers from the Brewers the night before Spring Training, power arm who once drew Craig Kimbrel comps but was plagued by injuries, control issues but a wipeout slider. Williams wears his socks high and his hair like Taylor Guilbeau, which will not help you differentiate him in a crowd. Williams faced Vogelbach and struck him out on said nasty slider to the tune of Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” which is perhaps a nod to Williams’s Northwest roots. Williams dispatched Braden Bishop with equal ease. He looked...nasty, and seemed to be hitting his spots well. Williams grew up as a huge Mariners fan, going to the Kingdome and Safeco, so I imagine pitching here must have been a pretty special experience.
40:00 - 1:15: Milling around, re-setting the field, pitchers doing long toss, nothing really to see here.
1:15 - 1:29:48: Infield practice. This is all shot from the overhead angle so it’s essentially impossible to tell who’s who on the field or get a good look at what’s happening footwork wise or anything more granular. That’s Seager at third, and his arm looks as Kyle Seager-y as ever, and that’s all we know, and all we need to know, although you could also peep Evan White making picks over at first base (he’s the tall and left-handed one, he’s not too hard to pick out)—there’s an especially rangy and balletic play White makes in the field at 1:22:27.
1:29:49 - 1:38: Smash cut to the bullpen! It’s Kendall Graveman finishing up his pen, and did you know Graveman is so swole? He has a chest like a stevedore, or maybe like some of the crates a stevedore would throw around on the dock:
The angle of the bullpen camera is unfortunately unsuited for doing anything other than gauging players’ swoleness, as you cannot see the catcher so it’s difficult to read pitch movement. Next up was Brandon Brennan, who we recognized because of his very distinctive toe point in his delivery.
BB gun looked good? Probably? Again it’s just impossible to tell much with that angle.
1:38-1:54: More milling. Some kind of pitcher drill shot from the ‘pen camera making it look like a drill for ants. Pitcher fielding drills are interesting, I don’t know why they always get such short shrift. At spring training the Mariners shunt the pitchers off on some super back field that’s all obscured from view for their drills, which doesn’t seem to help the old “pitchers aren’t athletes” argument. The angle changes to an equally useless press box view partly through but don’t worry, you won’t be able to tell what’s happening either way. Then more milling and re-setting of the field before the next round of BP.
1:54 - 2:08:30: Back to the good stuff with BP. First up is Kyle Lewis, who is dressed like he is going to go do a little light alpine climbing later. Embrace the Northwest summer, Kyle! Embrace not walking around feeling like you’re trapped in a giant armpit! Kyle Seager is also in this group, masked up and gloriously chrome domed, as is Dee Gordon, who is also wearing his mask. Since Gordon’s little brother Nick was just diagnosed as being positive for COVID and Dee has a little baby at home, I’m not surprised to see him being extra careful. Seager puts a ball over the fence in dead center right about at the 2:00:00 mark, and another one shortly after that, and it might be projecting, but we feel the father of three very small children is happy to be back to work. He also hustles around picking up stray baseballs after the end of the session, because he’s just that kind of guy, Kyle Seager.
2:08:30-2:24: The second BP group begins with Evan White, who still has the low hands/minimal load stance he’s adopted since joining the organization. I’m really interested to see how his swing does at T-Mobile Park. He’s followed by a masked fellow we think, by process of lefty batter elimination, is Jake Fraley, although without his glorious Lord Fauntleroy mane and beard it’s hard to tell, and another, smaller, unmasked fellow who switch-hits and therefore we think is utility infielder Sam Haggerty. White looks to get into one pretty good at 2:17:20, and again at 2:20:10.
2:24:00 - end: The third BP group of the morning session is a best friends club with Braden Bishop and Tim Lopes, with who we think is Jose Marmolejos in the middle of a best friend sandwich (Marmo is a little bigger/beefier than Fraley, which is why we think that’s him; his swing is also much more level than Fraley’s violent uppercut). A wild Vogelbach, unmasked and headbanded, appears partway through this hitting group. At 2:30:40 you can see him hit a tank to dead center. Tim Lopes also gets into a couple, exhibiting that soon-to-be-dad strength.
Pro tip: you can skip the first 18 minutes of this video, unless you are into ASMR, but like visual, and for players running around and stretching. Also if you pop in at 1:51, you can catch a brief eyeful of Logan Gilbert. We haven’t seen much of Gilbert yet, but I’d recognize those gangles anywhere.
Right about at the 18-minute mark we jump to the bullpen, where an exciting thing is happening! This afternoon session is going to be way heavier on the prospect side, so if you can only watch one, make it this one. The exciting thing here is gigantic lefty and 2019 draftee Brandon Williamson throwing a pen. Again, you can’t see anything from the catcher POV and there’s no radar gun, but Williamson certainly looks imposing, with his enormous stature and downhill plane and whippy arm. I have only watched BWill throw one pen at ST, but in both that and this pen I’ve noticed he’s very chatty and into making real-time adjustments and breaking down the mechanics as things are happening. You can see him throw his curve at 18:53 (the signal for a curveball: a pitcher sort of flops their glove over in an arc, mimicking the action of a curve, to let the catcher know what pitch to expect) and again, although we can’t see it finish, it can be assumed to be quite nasty.
From here you can skip ahead to about the 32:00 mark for infield practice; this is notable mostly because it’s the first looks most people will get of Noelvi Marte at shortstop (he’s the one with high socks). You can also see 2019 draftee and somewhat surprising taxi squad add Austin Shenton taking reps at 3B; he’s the one in the darker shirt without as much green on the front. Both Shenton and Marte’s arms looked strong with plenty of carry and good accuracy in their throws to first, and that’s about all we can tell from the press box view. Shenton does make a pretty nice play on a slow roller at 35:15, and another nice play on a tricky hop at 37:20.
More infield follows, and then around the 54:00 minute mark there’s some drill with pitchers again from the impossible press box view, and then the afternoon BP session starts, and the helpful on-field angle for that starts at 1:08:43 or so. First up in this group is Austin Shenton and the sound actually starts coming through here as well so you can hear some satisfying crack of the bat. Shenton is followed by Austin Nola, who I definitely could recognize on sight and did not forget the existence of over the past four months, followed by J.P. Crawford, sporting no mask but a ski goggles/ballerina bun head situation. It’s called fashion? Speaking of fashion, Shed Long and his sport 1950s Barbie glasses are in this group as well. It’s a fun group, and Shenton appeared to be hitting some tanks (as did Nola! I’m sorry I forgot about you Austin), so you should watch it.
The next BP group is up at the 1:28:00 mark and if you thought we were having fun before, this group is really fun. It starts with Cal Raleigh, who continues to look enormous, followed by Jarred Kelenic and his very lovely swing, followed by Zach DeLoach, who also has a very nice swing path that stays in the hitting zone for a long time and produced a great many loud noises. DeLoach is followed by fellow 2020 draftee Kaden Polcovich, who looks like if you open up the Jarred Kelenic matroyshka doll and then go a couple sizes down.
The final group of the day comes on at about the 1:47:00 mark and starts off with a bang with Noelvi Marte and his giant leg kick. He’s followed by blonde and uncapped 2020 draftee Tyler Keenan, who wastes no time in making loud noises with his bat, then someone with a helmet flap we think is Joe Hudson by process of elimination (it could be the other catcher, O’Keefe, but he is beefier so we think this one is Hudson), and another smol infielder type that we think is Donovan (The Artist Formerly Known as Donnie) Walton. But with no disrespect to these gentlemen, you should be watching this group for Noelvi, the Mariners #6 prospect who is making the jump straight out of the DR and definitely showed up to BP wanting to prove a little something.
Here’s 18-year old SS prospect Noelvi Marte taking BP ... pic.twitter.com/cMPPgK1dqs— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 7, 2020
Things start up again today at 9 AM so tune in if you can; we’ll try to provide another (much more condensed) version of events tomorrow. There are still exciting prospects yet to get eyefuls of—Isaiah Campbell, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Juan Then, Emerson Hancock, and wow that’s a lot of pitchers, but also Juliooooooo awaits in the wings—in addition to our old familiar faithfuls. Here’s hoping we will continue to see lots of mask-wearing and good hygienic practices and that everyone remains safe and healthy.