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Taylor Trammell, standout of Mariners spring training so far, may steal LF job

All four of Taylor Trammell's hit in Cactus League play have gone for extra bases. (Getty)

By the time 2019 Mariners spring training rolled around, the hype around former first-round pick Kyle Lewis had died down. After a terrible knee injury ended his first professional season just 30 games in and continued to impact him over the next two years, people seemed to stop pinning their hopes on him becoming a superstar for Seattle.

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Well, that spring he used his bat to remind people why the Mariners made him the first draft choice of the general manager Jerry Dipoto’s tenure, and he took the league by storm months later as a September call-up and went on to earn the American League Rookie of the Year in 2020.

This spring, Taylor Trammell seems to be following one of the bigger parts of that playbook.

Though Trammell was the centerpiece of the Mariners’ return in a blockbuster trade with the San Diego Padres last year, he has been a bit under the radar in Seattle’s farm system.

A big part of that is that while he is ranked as a top 100 prospect in baseball, he’s only the third-ranked outfielder in Seattle’s organization, falling under Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez. His numbers from 2019, the last time a minor league season was held, also play a role, as he hit just .234 with a .689 OPS between stints with both San Diego and Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliates.

That all has just allowed what Trammell has done early on this spring to be all the more head-turning.

With a double to deep left-center Monday, Trammell registered his fourth hit of Cactus League play, all of which have gone for extra bases. And just as impressive, he’s shown an ability to go the other way with power, as evidenced by that double or the impressive home run he hit against the Cubs last week in a game televised on ESPN.

While Trammell’s spring is reminiscent of Lewis’ in 2019, there’s a key difference – Trammell just might play himself into an opening day role for Seattle. While Jake Fraley was the front-runner for the Mariners’ starting left field position and all eyes were on Kelenic as the prospect who would challenge him, Fraley is struggling at the plate and Kelenic is sidelined with a knee strain. Meanwhile, Trammell just may be in the right place at the right time.

“I think that this is a prospect that is definitely getting some bigger looks right now,” Shannon Drayer, Mariners insider for 710 ESPN Seattle, said from Arizona in an interview with Wyman and Bob on Monday. “It’s to the point where you know left field is open, Jake Fraley has struggled tremendously down here, and that door I think is open for Taylor Trammell right now.”

It’s not just the fact that the Mariners have an open spot that Trammell could fill but that the 23 year old is looking very much like someone ready to make the leap to the big leagues.

“You watch him play, you watch him interact, and you realize, wait, this guy’s closer than I think we thought he was,” Drayer said. “When he was acquired last year, it looked like he was at least a year away because of the numbers that you saw from the previous year, but I think he’s making up for lost time really quickly. I think he has rebounded from changes that were made (in 2019)… When you talk to hitting coaches about him, he’s always had a good eye at the plate and it seems like he can put things together really quickly.”

While the 6-foot-2, 213-pound Trammell is showing he has pop this spring, he also appears to be a well-rounded hitter when he’s in the box. Drayer said that was on display with his double on Monday.

“What I really liked is you saw the power, but you also saw the two-strike hitting going the other way, hitting it to left-center and there he is with a double, not trying to do too much,” she said. “He’s got good presence at the plate. I think he’s got a lot of potential.”

Trammell, who was a first-round pick in the same 2016 MLB Draft as Lewis, is endearing himself to those that follow the Mariners with more than his performance, however.

“He’s got a really, really infectious personality and smile, and he can play, it appears,” Bob Stelton said during the segment with Drayer. “He seems like if he’s a guy who can produce, Mariners fans are going to fall in love with him.”

Drayer thinks that personality also fits well with the other players the Mariners are building around.

“You got the feeling (after seeing Trammell’s social media presence) that he would very much fit into the group that they’re bringing up,” she noted.

You can hear Drayer’s full discussion with Wyman and Bob on Trammell and the rest of what’s going on at Mariners spring training in the podcast at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

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