Jerry Dipoto Show: What Taylor Trammell’s hot start, Jarred Kelenic’s injury means for Mariners’ LF job
Mar 11, 2021, 11:47 AM
Entering spring training, it seemed like Jake Fraley and Jarred Kelenic were the two guys fighting it out to be the Mariners’ opening day left fielder. But another top prospect has put himself in contention after a hot start down in Arizona.
Taylor Trammell, a 2016 first-round pick who the Mariners acquired at the trade deadline last season, has been one of Seattle’s best players in the Cactus League thus far. Entering Thursday, Trammell has a .308/.400/.769 slash line, and all of his hits have been for extra bases.
The only Mariner swinging a better bat right now is Ty France, who was part of the same trade with the Padres that sent Trammell to Seattle.
Fraley hasn’t done much at the plate thus far and Kelenic is on the shelf with a knee injury, and all the while Trammell is looking like a top-100 prospect, which he is according to MLB Pipeline’s rankings.
“Taylor Trammell is having a wonderful spring training. He really couldn’t do anything more than he’s done,” Dipoto said. “He’s played good defense both in center and left field, he’s run the bases well, he’s shown athleticism.”
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) March 6, 2021
Trammell’s stat line at the plate may be great, but according to Dipoto, his bat in general has been one of the best the Mariners have seen in some time when it comes to the organization’s in-house grading.
“What he’s doing with the bat, we have a system we’ve created over the years that measures our offensive ability or contributions day to day – we call it our ‘rake report,'” Dipoto said. “And he is among the best rake reports we’ve had in a spring training period in the six years we’ve been here.
“Again, it’s through 10 days, but his underlying process is what’s being assessed up there and it’s really been fantastic – his pitch selection, his quality contact, the way he’s using the field. And I think Taylor, in addition to exercising a process that works and leads us to believe it’s sustainable, he’s showing a great deal of maturity and humility in the environment, which is also a positive.”
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) March 3, 2021
Trammell reached Double-A in 2019, splitting time between the Reds and Padres organizations, and he struggled, slashing .234/.340/.349. The Mariners didn’t have a lot of chances to see him last year after they acquired him due to the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season, and despite being a bit older, it was expected that Trammell would debut after Kelenic as well as after pitcher Logan Gilbert and catcher Cal Raleigh. His hot start to the spring is tough to ignore, though.
“Of course … you can’t help but not notice what he’s doing,” Dipoto said when asked if Trammell may be speeding up his MLB debut with his spring performance. “We came in not really knowing what we had in Taylor Trammell. We got a very brief look at him at last year’s (alternate training site). His time with us was disrupted by fires and smoke and shutdowns and COVID scares. And then we had him in instructional league where he was working on a swing change, and now we’re seeing the results of that and it’s been phenomenal.”
Could those changes and results cause us to see Trammell on the opening day roster?
“He’s certainly put himself in the mix for an opportunity to start the season in Seattle,” Dipoto said.
Injury updates for Jarred Kelenic and Shed Long
Speaking of Kelenic, the 21-year-old top prospect is dealing with a strained adductor muscle he suffered last week running the bases in a game against the Chicago White Sox.
Kelenic, who is well-known for his work ethic, is recovering “quickly,” Dipoto said.
“He’s very intense and he’s working his butt off. He thought he was ready to go from the moment somebody said ‘you’re hurt,'” Dipoto said. “He’s young, he bounces back quickly, he’s been working his tail off, which has been consistent with the way he’s always done in the batting cages and on the field … We did expect that this is going to take a couple of weeks to resolve and it seems like he is on the faster track, so to speak, in getting back to the field, and that’s encouraging.”
Even though things are trending upward as far as Kelenic returning to action, Dipoto said the Mariners will play it safe with their top prospect.
“We want to make sure that by the time he steps out there, we’re not putting him at risk,” he said. “And we won’t really allow that to happen, but I know he’s pushing and wants to get back out there. He too was off to a great start, and he’s going to be out there again. My guess is sooner than later, but we’ll see how this goes.”
Dipoto also provided an update on Shed Long Jr., who was the Mariners’ starting second baseman last season. Long battled a shin injury in 2020 and struggled at the plate to the tune of a .171/.242/.291 slash line. He had offseason surgery for the injury and is working his way back to action.
“A little concerned,” Dipoto said of Long’s injury and recovery. “But his status is that we’re taking it easy on him and trying to make sure that he takes the time to allow this to heal … We want to make sure that (all of our players)… when they step on the field they are as close to 100% as they can be that day.”
Dipoto said Long “is not there right now” as he recovers from the surgery, and that he’s been working closely with the Mariners’ training staff as he rehabs.
The second base position looks to be filled by Dylan Moore, at least for the time being, but despite the injury and the rough 2020 showing, Dipoto says the Mariners still hold Long in high regard.
“We do believe in Shed’s bat and believe he’s going to play a part in what we do,” he said. “We saw him make progress defensively last year despite an injury. And being fair to Shed and really being fair to the Mariners, we want to make sure he is as close to full go before we put him on a field as he can be.”
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