SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners’ top 3 OF prospects have all opened eyes, but what’s in store for their seasons?

Mar 25, 2021, 12:10 PM | Updated: 12:24 pm

With just four games remaining on the Mariners’ spring training schedule, the final roster picture is becoming clearer and clearer by the day.

Haniger is back in form, and he’s leading M’s not just by example

Looking at the lineups the Mariners are running out go a long way in connecting the dots as this time of the spring as priority is placed on those who will be playing at T-Mobile Park on April 1. On his weekly show with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed Thursday morning that most decisions have been made.

“At this point we are pretty confident we have a direction with our roster,” Dipoto said. “It’s been an interesting camp. We came in needing some certainly at positions like second base, left field, the bullpen, maybe that sixth starter, and we feel like we’ve answered most of those questions. They have been really good in-camp battles where not only have we had our eyes open to what some of these players are capable of but on the readiness of others. It’s been really fun to watch.”

One of those players who has been locked in battle this spring is Taylor Trammell, whose performance in competing for the left field job has been “eye-opening,” according to Dipoto.

“He’s done a terrific job,” Dipoto said. “He’s always had a good idea where the strike zone is and he’s always had untapped power, and now we are seeing him get to that power. I think his swing looks outstanding.

“I really can’t say enough about the work he has put in. His swing has been consistent throughout and we have started to see him access that power and he has always been willing to take his walk and get on base. He is a really good base runner, and for a guy who was a multi-sport star in high school, he has a really good sense for the nuance of baseball. It’s a natural for him. I’m excited to see what he will do with opportunity because he certainly has put himself in position to get some.”

Of course the question that follows is what has been the No. 1 question throughout spring training: Where does Jarred Kelenic land? The writing is on the wall with Kelenic’s name appearing in just three starting lineups since his return from the adductor strain.

“Option 1 is we just want to make sure he is fully developed and prepared for the major league opportunity. That is going to come,” said Dipoto. “He has the potential to be a star in this league. We know that, Jarred knows that. We have had a lot of frank discussions.”

Dipoto asserted twice in his answer that he wasn’t sure Kelenic “could have done anything in camp to be more impressive than he has been on the field,” running down the 21 year old’s attributes before pointing to what was left to be done and where that would happen.

“We feel there are a couple of things left to finish off, but there are options, be it starting here in Arizona (at minor league spring training) and gaining more at-bats, starting at a minor league affiliate when that starts, or a major league opportunity when that arrives. Anything is in play with Jarred. His talent is so high. We’ve sat with him, we’ve shared what we would like to see and I think we are on the same page.”

Player plan meetings have been held throughout the spring, and while most are with the manager and/or coaches, the meeting with Kelenic likely had higher involvement. On the same page or not, any result other than seeing his name on the final 26-man roster is no doubt a bitter pill for Kelenic to swallow. So what next? With the minor league season not starting for another month, has Kelenic’s arrival been pushed back to mid-May at the earliest? Perhaps not.

Taking a closer look at the options laid out by Dipoto, it appears there was room left to allow Kelenic to possibly progress to the majors without accumulating any minor league at-bats when he listed the option of starting in Arizona, where minor league camp will begin once the major leaguers leave for Seattle. Games won’t begin for at least two weeks, but other clubs are in the same boat and there has been talk of clubs setting up their own games, much like B-games, for those who don’t make MLB rosters until the official minor league spring games begin.

Because of time missed to the injury, Kelenic hasn’t had the same ramp up the big leaguers have had this spring. Will stopgap games followed by minor league spring games be enough to show Dipoto what he needs to see? One also has to wonder after Dipoto’s comments if Kelenic would be the first called up if the need were to arise. One way or another, he’s close.

“His play was remarkable and we feel like he is 100 percent healthy. He’s running hard,” Dipoto said. “I enjoy watching Jarred play and I think we are going to see it for a long time.”

The youngest member of Mariners’ top three OF prospects

Dipoto also spoke of Julio Rodríguez, who is in the lineup for Thursday’s 1:05 p.m. game against Oakland (airing live on 710 ESPN Seattle), and eyes have clearly been opened on that front. Despite Rodríguez having just one year playing stateside under is belt, it would appear Dipoto is ready to let him set his own path.

“I think anything is in play with Julio,” he said of the 20 year old. “Not too dissimilar in a lot of ways from Jarred, their levels of talent are so high. Those guys tend to move very quickly especially when they are in the red zone on finishing their development. Tough to put a timeline on Julio, he’s a young 20, but there are young 20 year olds who can go out there and do a lot of good things at the major league level.

“It’s really exciting. Those are the players, like Kelenic back in 2019, that have a chance to move two and three levels in a season, and I would not put that outside Julio’s ability.”

Lineup!

Dylan Moore, 2B
Jarred Kelenic, CF
José Marmolejos, 1B
Tom Murphy, C
Cal Raleigh, DH
Sam Haggerty, 3B
Julio Rodríguez, RF
Braden Bishop, LF
Jack Reinheimer, SS

Nick Margevicius, SP

Mariners notes

• Kyle Lewis is out of the lineup for a third straight day after banging his knee on the wall in a game last Saturday against the Rangers. Manager Scott Servais stressed that they are just giving him extra time now because they can and that the move was entirely his call.

• Pitching probables for the final four Cactus League games:

Thursday at Oakland – Nick Margevicius
Friday at San Diego – Marco Gonzales (Yusei Kikuchi scheduled to throw a sim game)
Saturday vs. San Francisco – TBD (This is James Paxton’s day to throw, but with his first regular season start to come against the Giants next week, he most likely will throw a sim game.)
Mon at Cincinnati – Chris Flexen

• The Mariners announced Wednesday that unlike last year when Tacoma’s Cheney Stadium hosted their alternate site, this year it will be at T-Mobile Park. The alternate site is scheduled to run only until minor league games begin.

The Mariners are the only team that will host their alternate site at their own ballpark, which will present challenges as both squads cannot be in the building at the same time due to COVID-19 restrictions. So why the change? The answer, pretty simple: the weather. With the Mariners already at a disadvantage with their alt site players not being able to schedule games with other alt sites in the vicinity, they weren’t taking chance on April workout rainouts. They will use the roof.

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Understanding Kelenic: Drayer details interview with prospect

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