Mariners Notebook: Fall League underway, Iwakuma calls it a career
Here is some news and notes of interest from the weekend regarding the Mariners.
• The Mariners Player Development Fall League 24-game schedule is underway in Arizona and while fans and media are not permitted to attend the games, box scores and weekly stats will be provided to the media who in turn have been tweeting (@shannondrayer) them out.
Good stuff from the young M's in Az today. pic.twitter.com/uzrySlt7p5
— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) October 18, 2020
Of note with the box score, which gives a little insight into what the Mariners value, velocities are given on both the pitching and hitting side, but runs are not. RBIs and ERAs not prime measures.
Games will be played on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
A refresher on just what the PDFL is can be found here.
• MLB award dates have yet to be announced, but the Sporting News has come out with their awards as voted by players, managers and executives, and All Stars as selected by a panel of league executives.
Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis has picked up his first honors, taking the AL Rookie of the Year award and receiving votes behind AL outfielder winners Mike Trout, Teoscar Hernandez and George Springer.
• It’s not an award but it is a huge honor.
The 2021 Prospect Handbook is available for pre-order 😍
This year, in addition to 900 full scouting reports for prospects in all 30 organizations, we're highlighting additional names to know + more fun stuff in store 👀
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) October 14, 2020
A few have asked on Twitter and the answer is no, Baseball America does not put out regional covers. Others who have been featured on the annual publication’s cover:
2011: Bryce Harper
2012: Mike Trout
2013: Jurickson Profar
2014: Miguel Sano
2015: Kris Bryant
2016: Corey Seager
2017: Yoan Moncada
2018: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
2019: Fernando Tatis Jr.
2020: Wander Franco/MacKenzie Gore
It was also formally announced this weekend that the Mariners have given Rodriguez permission to play for Escogido in the Dominican Winter League which should help make up for missed at bats with no minor league season this year.
• Last, but hardly least, in Japan, former Mariner Hisashi Iwakuma has announced that he would retire at the end of the season.
Iwakuma, 39, never fully made it back from shoulder surgery that followed a season of rehab work in 2017. He signed a minor league contract with the Mariners in 2018 but pitched just three innings at Everett that season. He signed with the Yomiuri Giants the following year and has thrown just two innings in a NPB game since.
With the Mariners, Kuma posted a 63-39 record that was punctuated with a third-place finish in the Cy Young Award balloting in 2013 and the no-hitter thrown on Aug. 12, 2015. In six seasons with the Mariners he posted a 3.42 ERA, recording an ERA over 4.00 just once in his five full seasons. His 16.9 career bWAR is good for 20th all-time on the Mariners, just 1/10 of a percentage behind Nelson Cruz.
On a personal note, I enjoyed watching Kuma both on and off the mound in his time in Seattle. There was a language barrier, but after his first season it wasn’t hard to pick up that even though he was pitching behind Felix Hernandez in the rotation, he had a No. 1/ace mentality. That’s what he was in Japan, that’s what he expected from himself on the MLB fields. Away from baseball it was family first with a second focus being developing athletes of all ages and different sports at his performance center, the IWA Academy in Tokyo.