By Shannon Drayer
Update: As mentioned below, the deadline to place players on the 40-man roster in order to protect them in the Rule 5 draft was midnight. The Mariners did so with Logan Bawcom, Stefen Romero, Ji-Man Choi and James Jones. The roster is now at 38.
A quick look at how some of the Mariners are faring in winter ball:
I am often asked about the future of Jesus Montero and the answer for me is simple. If he can hit lefties and hit them well, we will see him in Seattle. His catching days are over. He is getting some work at first base but the majority of his work in the Venezuelan Winter League has been as a designated hitter.
After a slow start his bat heated up, but he has been sidelined for over a week now after requiring two stitches to repair a lacerated knuckle suffered in a minor car accident. Before the accident he was hitting .293 with a .731 OPS. In his 82 at-bats for Lara he has struck out 23 times and walked six times.
Also of interest from the Lara team: Erasmo Ramirez will get a little work after pitching just 126 innings this season. In his first and only outing so far he allowed no runs in five innings.
In the Dominican League, Abraham Almonte is off to a good start, hitting .313 in six games with four walks and six strikeouts. On the flip side, Nate Tenbrink is having a rough go early with just two hits in 25 at-bats. He could be dealing with some of the adjustments Logan Bawcom talked about in one of his recent blog posts on 710Sports.com.
A little closer to home, Arizona Fall League play came to an end Nov. 16. Dominic Leone, who led the league in saves, was the Mariner who had the most success, surrendering just four earned runs in 12 innings while striking out 15 and allowing just one walk. Brandon Maurer was a different story, giving up 13 earned in 19.2 innings while walking 12 and striking out 17.
As for the offense, Double-A shortstop Chris Taylor â€“ who is known for his glove work â€“ put up a nice .294/.351/.426/.778 line while Stefen Romero struggled, hitting just .212 with four extra-base hits. He struck out 19 times in 66 at-bats.
A couple of other notes: We will have roster news Wednesday as the deadline to protect players in the Rule 5 draft is 9 p.m. The Mariners currently have six open spots on the 40-man roster.
Finally, general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Lloyd McClendon are getting closer to naming the full coaching staff. Names I have heard that McClendon could be interested in bringing to Seattle include former Tigers coaches Rafael Belliard and Andy Van Slyke, Tigers Triple-A hitting coach Leon Durham and Double-A hitting coach (and former Mariners hitting coach) Gerald Perry.