Jerry Dipoto Show: Is Cal Raleigh nearing his Mariners call-up? Plus thoughts on Kelenic, Gilbert

May 26, 2021, 11:56 AM

Mariners Cal Raleigh...

Mariners prospect Cal Raleigh has an eight-game hitting streak in Triple-A. (Getty)


It’s been a few weeks since the Mariners called two of their top four prospects up to the big leagues, but there’s another highly-touted young player who should be close behind.

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That would be Cal Raleigh, a switch-hitting catcher the Mariners selected in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

Ranked No. 8 in Seattle’s farm system by MLB Pipeline, the 24-year-old Florida State product is enjoying a good start to his Triple-A career with the Tacoma Rainiers. On Tuesday night, he extended his current hitting streak to eight games, going 1 for 3 to improve his slash line to .311/.366/.574 in 15 games. He also has two homers, eight doubles, a triple and five walks in 71 plate appearances.

On a special Wednesday edition of The Jerry Dipoto Show, the weekly visit with the Mariners general manager on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant, Dipoto shared what he’s looking for out of Raleigh before he calls him up to join fellow 2018 draft picks Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert on Seattle’s active roster.

“Just to see it over a sustained period,” Dipoto said, noting that Raleigh needed about a week’s worth of games this season to really get going at the plate with the Rainiers. “He started what I would say as slow-ish and then here lately for the last seven or 10 days he’s been on fire. He looks great.”

Raleigh is one of many Mariners prospects who were done no favors by the minor league season being canceled in 2020, and for that reason Dipoto said the timeline for his MLB arrival was slowed down some.

“We are very confident in Cal’s maturity, but, again, he’s another player who was really disrupted by the short season in 2020,” Dipoto said. “What we’re seeing here over a seven- to 10-day stretch is what we think Cal’s capable of. We would like to see it for a little more time, frankly. … I don’t want to see him do anything more than he’s doing. He looks great. We just want to see him maintain that for a period of time.”

As for how those two other players Raleigh is expected to join in Seattle at some point this season are doing now in the majors, let’s look at what Dipoto had to say about them.

What does Jarred Kelenic’s start to MLB career say?

Kelenic, the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect on MLB Pipeline, has been in Seattle’s lineup as the leadoff hitter in all but one game since he was promoted from Triple-A on May 13. And even though he went 2 for 5 in Tuesday’s 4-3 M’s win over Oakland to give him hits in back-to-back games for the first time, his numbers (.174/.240/.588 slash line) indicate that he hasn’t exactly hit the ground running with the Mariners.

Dipoto stops short of saying Kelenic is struggling, though.

“Hard to say it’s a slump because it’s so quick. His first day it was fast for him, his second day he was the best player on the field,” Dipoto said, “and then the five or six days after, he looked like a young player trying to find his way. And along the way, you know what he was doing was putting the ball in play. That is encouraging and if I look at the body of work over his first 45 or 50 plate appearances, it’s probably not too far off what great players do when they’re breaking into the league, and I do think that Jarred has a chance to be one of them.”

Logan Gilbert’s step forward

Gilbert made his third start on the mound for the Mariners on Tuesday, and while he didn’t pitch the five innings required to qualify for a win, he had his best outing to date, holding the A’s to two runs on four hits and no walks over four frames. For Dipoto, he was happy to see an improvement with Gilbert’s secondary pitches and especially the use of his changeup.

“Last night, I had literally a party at ‘Chez Dipoto’ when I saw him break out his changeup,” Dipoto quipped. “Three starts in, we know Logan is always going to be in that 94-97 mph zone with his fastball. He throws strikes, he’s got ride at the top of the zone. He’d been having some difficulty landing his curveball and slider, last night we saw a step forward with that, especially in his ability to land the curveball or at least make it look like a strike for longer.”

The use of the changeup is something Dipoto thinks will go a long way for the lanky right-hander.

“The one weapon that he has had that he has worked so hard to develop and we think is a really good pitch is his changeup, and I think the frustration of giving up contact, particularly hard contact in the first couple innings… really teed him up. He needs to show his changeup and ultimately he did to their better hitters, and I think it made a world of difference. The last two innings were so much easier for him than the second (inning) and even the first half of the third inning.”

The Jerry Dipoto Show airs weekly on 710 ESPN Seattle, usually at its regular time of 8:30 a.m. Thursdays during the baseball season. You can hear this week’s full episode at this link or in the player below.

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Jerry Dipoto Show: Is Cal Raleigh nearing his Mariners call-up? Plus thoughts on Kelenic, Gilbert