In lieu of the Arizona Fall League and the traditional minor league season, MLB clubs are scrambling to find ways to get their prospects safe game reps and encourage development beyond the weight room. The result, for the Mariners, is an adjusted version of the Fall League and winter instructional league, and they released their full roster today.
Seattle’s prospects will play at the club’s spring training complex, logically squaring off against their facility-mates, the Padres, as well as another shared complex duo in the nearby Rangers and Royals at their Surprise, AZ park. Other organizations are orchestrating similar pocket leagues, to try and minimize exposure externally. There are a few rules on these leagues, helpfully collected by Baseball America, and some details on who is allowed to participate.
- Activities can begin no earlier than September 18th.
- Use of a team’s “alternate site” is only permitted if the facility is no longer in use for the big league club. (While this is true for Tacoma and Seattle, the M’s are understandably electing a Peoria, AZ fall over one in the PNW)
- Any camp can only begin after the club has submitted and gotten approved a plan including health and safety protocols, the full player list, food and housing allowances, and a minimum of twice-weekly COVID-19 testing for players.
- Players CANNOT be on the 40-man roster unless specifically granted an exception by MLB.
- The potential for pro scouting in attendance (scouts are allowed, however teams may choose to bar them, in which case they are barred from sending them to other games)
- Games will not be open to media or fans.
Seattle’s camp will begin Thursday, October 1 and go for six weeks, concluding a 24-game schedule on Sunday, November 11. The roster itself is made up of predominantly player who would have spent their seasons in the lower parts of the minor leagues, with just a couple names that might have pushed into AAA or even the majors in a full, normal season.
This is a youth-led group, with the eldest statesmen of reliever Jack Anderson coming in at 26. He’s joined in the somewhat-seasoned bullpen group by RHP Wyatt Mills as AA vets, but only two other pitchers, RHP Dayeison Arias and RHP Devin Sweet, have pitched even in High-A. The rest of the group seems well split between intriguing relievers - Arias, RHP Jarod Bayless, RHP Logan Rinehart, RHP Tim Elliott, and RHP Brendan McGuigan - top draftees - RHP Emerson Hancock, RHP Sam Carlson, RHP Connor Phillips, RHP Taylor Dollard, RHP Levi Stoudt, RHP Michael Limoncelli, and LHP Adam Macko - as well as a fleet of young Latin arms - RHP Elvis Alvarado, RHP Kristian Cardozo, LHP Jose Corniell, RHP Luis Curvello, RHP Josias De Los Santos, RHP Nataneal Garabitos, and RHP Juan Then. The M’s also will bring in RHP Matt Brash, a 2019 4th rounder who was Seattle’s return for Taylor Williams from the Padres earlier this month. Only Brash, Then, Hancock, and Dollard were at the alternate site in Tacoma, so it will be the first full exposure to club work for most of the players since March. It’s also a fabulous chance to see Carlson, Stoudt, and Limoncelli throw for the first time in something closer to real games in quite some time, as all three have concluded rehabbing their arms from Tommy John surgery.
The catcher group is an unsurprising one. Cal Raleigh is hopefully the future of the M’s org behind the dish, so getting him more time working with pitchers he will handle one day is a no-brainer. Carter Bins is the next most prominent name on the list, as a Fresno State product who fell into Seattle’s lap in the 11th round. His toolkit (plus bat speed, some swing and miss, great arm, reasonable athleticism) fits the Tom Murphy starter pack, but he’s not been challenged offensively yet as a pro. Jake Anchia has a great defensive reputation, and some excellent college numbers, but he’s not made nearly enough contact to get to his strength-based power so far. Lastly, Matt Scheffler is a local kid, whose bat is a question mark but should get some appropriate looks and a chance to make a case in a catching-thin system.
Half of this group was already in Tacoma, with Noelvi Marte, Kaden Polcovich, and Tyler Keenan filling out intrasquads alongside Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert. This should be a more appropriate day-in/day-out challenge for them, facing an array of post-college pitching and precocious 18-to-20 year olds. Marte is the lone true shortstop in this group, but we should see some of Polcovich there, as well as slight surprise inclusion Patrick Frick. The 2019 14th round pick absolutely dominated Everett in 2019, with a 183 DRC+ in 267 PAs, though college draftees typically should handle short season ball with some aplomb. Frick’s main position has been SS, though a lack of power is a limiting factor on his future prospects unless he makes some strides. Also on the scene is 18 year old 3B Milkar Perez, whose debut season in the DR in 2019 went solidly, and his arm strength should keep him at third so long as his bat plays. On the other end of the spectrum, after a snub from the alternate site, Joe Rizzo will have a chance to show how he’s fueled himself this summer. He’ll likely split time between 3B, 2B, and 1B with Keenan, as there is no true 1B in this group.
Probably the most recognizable group, the only question will be how game reps get split among these seven. Taylor Trammell is the most experienced player in this crew in the high minors, albeit not the eldest, with Dom Thompson-Williams getting to make up for a bit of lost time after his season was cut short by a torn Achilles. Williams might take a few reps at 1B, though his main concern will be getting his bat back in order as he returns to game speed. If Seattle sees any adjustments for Trammell, this is an ideal time for implementation, as he’ll likely be facing favorable competition. More appropriately challenged should be Julio Rodriguez, who missed most of the alternate site intrasquads with a hand injury but is back at full bore by this point. He’ll be joined by 2020 second rounder Zach DeLoach, as well as 19 year old Alberto Rodriguez, who was the return in the Taijuan Walker trade but has yet to face competition above rookie ball. Rounding out the group are the youngest position players listed, 18 year old Jonatan Clase and just-turned-18 year old George Feliz. This would’ve likely been Clase’s first season stateside, somewhere between the AZL and Short Season Everett, plying his blazing speed with a bulked up frame. Feliz, conversely, would have normally spent his first season in the Dominican Summer League, having signed as part of the 2019 International Free Agent class. Where Trammell is likely overqualified for this group, Feliz will most likely be facing the steepest learning curve. Still, a glimpse of how far you need to go is a valuable lesson if the Mariners can provide him with opportunities to struggle and then improve.
With no media allowed, it’s unlikely there will be video coverage, though if we can find scouting clips and reports that aren’t purely from within the organization we will do our best to get that info out.