Although Triple-A has been underway for about a week now (shoutout to the Tacoma Rainiers, currently 3-2 but with a run differential of +17 on the young season), the rest of the minor leagues kick off either tonight or this Friday. Here’s a guide to how to follow all the action on the farm, how to watch the games if you’re inclined, and some names to watch for each affiliate.
Accounts you should follow:
We’ll post weekly, big-picture updates on the farm here on LL, but for day-to-day action you’ll want to follow @MiLBMariners and @MsPlayerDev on Twitter and Instagram for highlights. The prospects themselves are generally pretty good about posting their highlights to Instagram, and for the guys in the complex leagues, that’s about all you’ll be able to see of them.
How to watch/listen to the affiliates:
Start by downloading the MiLB app to your phone. You can listen to any minor-league game live for free over the app, or the team’s site, or through the radio if you happen to live in the broadcast area of a team (for the Rainiers, you can hear the dulcet tones of Mike Curto on KNKX 88.5; the great Pat Dillon is available on KRKO in Everett at 1380 AM or 95.3 FM).
If you don’t live near an affiliate team, MiLB TV is your best way to watch the players on the farm in action, with no blackouts no matter where you live. All Tacoma Rainiers games are available on MiLB TV, as are all Arkansas Travelers games. Below AA, it’s a mixed bag: rarely are Everett AquaSox (A+) games televised, but many Modesto Nuts (A) games are. For the complex leagues, you’ll need to show up in person to watch the games, but only accredited members of the media are allowed in the DSL (Dominican Republic); the games at the Arizona Complex Leagues are fair game for all fans, if you can figure out when and where they are. Sign up for MiLB TV here; if you have an MLB TV subscription, you should be able to bundle it for a cheaper price.
Triple-A, Pacific Coast League
The Rainiers are already underway, and just had their home opener on Tuesday. They’re currently on a homestand that lasts through Sunday, and then will have home games every other week, with Mondays being off-days.
MiLB TV: Available for all games
Returning friends: You might recognize Darren McCaughan and his shock of blonde hair from opening Tacoma’s season last year. He and Tommy Milone anchor Tacoma’s rotation and serve as break-glass-emergency options if the Mariners rotations befalls disaster. Lefty Justus Sheffield also returns, as does behind-the-plate stalwart Brian O’Keefe and infielder Mike Ford, for what feels like his billionth trip through the Mariners organization. Mason McCoy, who had a strong spring, is back for his second year with the Rainiers.
New signees include infielder Nick Solak, at one time dangled in trade by the Rays for a return of Edwin Encarnacion and a young unheralded catcher named Cal Raleigh; thank goodness. Longtime Ranger Delino DeShields also joins the group, and will hopefully bring his WNBA star sister Diamond along to the stands at some point. Redbearded Colin Moran joins the club, most recently of the Reds and the Pirates, as does longtime Rockies/Orioles infielder Pat Valaika. Kolten Wong’s brother Kean also joins the club.
Internal promotions include power hitter Jake Scheiner, utility infielder Jose Caballero, 2020 second-rounder Zach DeLoach, and Texas League Pitcher of the Year Taylor Dollard.
The strength of this Rainiers team is definitely the pow-pow in their bats, with Scheiner, Ford, and O’Keefe, especially, all presenting significant power threats. The pitching staff is also a little more interesting than your standard Triple-A roster; we’ve already seen lefty Gabe Speier be summoned to the big-league club, but there are several other arms in this group that we’ll likely see in Seattle before the summer is out.
Double-A, Texas League
The Travelers open their season tonight against the Astros affiliate, the Corpus Christi Hooks. Bryce Miller will take the mound as the Travs’ frontline starter.
MiLB TV: For all games
Returning friends: Emerson Hancock takes another go at the level, backed up by his batterymates Jake Anchía and Josh Morgan. Much of the Travs’ 2022 pitching staff returns, continuing a strength from last season.
New faces: It’s a pitching party. Bryce Miller, Prelander Berroa, and Bryan Woo all caught a lot of sizzle in camp, and will test their mettle against the advanced hitters of the Texas League. Slugger Robert Perez Jr. finally makes his double-A debut; as a righty power hitter, he’s got a challenge ahead in Dickey-Stephens Park, but should punish the rest of the league. The other exciting offensive addition for the Travs is lefty slugger Spencer Packard; the former Campbell Camel has raked in the lower minors, and will now get a chance to challenge himself in Double-A.
High-A, Northwest League
The AquaSox don’t kick off their season until tomorrow night, but will be opening at Funko Field in Everett with a most-useful blanket giveaway (and it’s fireworks night!).
MiLB TV: Only for games in Eugene, Hillsboro and Vancouver
The AquaSox might be the most loaded affiliate, prospect-wise, with an outfield of Alberto Rodríguez and Jonatan Clase, an infield of Axel Sánchez and current helium prospect Tyler Locklear, and top-rated Harry Ford behind the dish. 2022 draftee Hogan Windish also makes his High-A debut after smashing up the California League in his professional debut. The pitching staff might not have big names, but don’t sleep on the likes of Juan Mercedes and lefty Jorge Benitez, who possess legit strikeout stuff, along with Sam Carlson and Ty Adcock, two pitchers who have battled injuries in their young careers and are now attempting to climb into the upper minors.
Single-A, California League
The Nuts open up their season tonight, Thursday, on the road. Unfortunately they’re playing against against Stockton, meaning you’ll have to wait until the team returns home to Modesto to actually see them on MiLB TV.
MiLB TV: Yes for all home games; yes for most away games (affiliates without MiLB TV: Stockton (OAK), Rancho Cucamonga (LAD))
The most significant piece returning to Modesto is catcher Freuddy Batista, who will get a larger share of the catching pie with Harry Ford moved up to Everett. Milkar Perez also returns after a down year in his first taste of stateside action. Michael Morales, who pitched much better than his line last year indicated, also returns to Modesto. 2022 first-rounder Cole Young played in Modesto a bit last year but returns this year now that he won’t have to share the shortstop position with Axel Sanchez, now in Everett. Other than Young, the top-ranked prospect in this group is outfielder Gabby “El Dron” Gonzalez; he moved up with Young from the complex last year to get a taste of full-season ball, and will try to continue to build on the promise he showed then.
We don’t have finalized rosters yet for the complex leagues, as they don’t typically begin until about June. These are typically the toughest leagues to follow, with no broadcast of any kind and very little Gameday information, and one has to rely solely on box scores and highlights posted to social media. That’s a bummer because of course every Mariners fan wants to get an eyeful of top international signing Felnin Celesten, who will likely be playing in the DSL this summer. (Celesten is pretty good about posting highlights to his Instagram, @felnincelesten).
In the ACL, power-hitting Lázaro Montes should make his stateside debut, and 2022 third-rounder, prep pitcher Walter “The Vanilla Missile” Ford, will also get his first taste of full-season action. Fellow prep pitcher Ashton Izzi will also be at the complex. Outfielder George Feliz returns to the ACL to try to battle his way up to Modesto after a disappointing first year stateside, as will a new-look Starlin Aguilar, who has gotten very lean and muscular and improved his defense at third base.