Blowers: Mariners’ Cal Raleigh seeing results because of one difference

Jun 22, 2022, 4:13 PM

Mariners Cal Raleigh...

Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh swings against the Los Angeles Angels on June 16. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners are seeing positive developments from several young, homegrown players this season, and Cal Raleigh is among those on that list.

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The switch-hitting, 25-year-old catcher started the season off slow, which was concerning as his first taste of the big leagues was rough in 2021, as well. But since returning from a short stint with Triple-A Tacoma in early May, the 2018 third-round MLB Draft pick has looked more like the player he was during a fast rise through the minors.

Over his last 27 games, Raleigh has seven home runs, five doubles, nine walks and 17 RBIs for Seattle. And while his .227 average and .303 on-base percentage over that same time aren’t necessarily anything to write home about, his .523 slugging and .826 OPS is. And it’s all certainly a lot better than the .065/.194/.161 slash line and .356 OPS he had in the 14 games prior.

What’s been the difference for Raleigh? That’s the question Mariners analyst Mike Blowers of ROOT Sports was asked Wednesday during his weekly conversation with Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob. For Blowers, a former MLB third baseman who had 23 homers and 96 RBIs for the M’s in 1996, it comes down to “being on time” against big league fastballs.

“I think the first thing for any hitter is you have to be on time, and you have to be on time for the heater. It’s especially true in today’s game with the velocity that these guys are dealing with,” Blowers said. “And I think for Cal, he got himself to a point to where he had to get himself on time to the fastball first and foremost, and he figured that out. That is to get your foot down a little bit earlier, have your hands in a position to where you’re ready to fire, and then make a decision immediately because how much time you have is next to nothing. And then when you fire, trust it.”

Blowers explained the effect that one simple thing can have on a hitter.

“I think that once you kind of make those adjustments and you get some results that are positive, and he’s definitely seen that, all of a sudden you start to be able to take advantage of other things – the hanging breaking ball, the bad changeup. When big league pitchers make their pitch where they want to, it’s difficult for any hitter to do well, but I think for him more than anything else, he’s on time with the fastball.”

Blowers said he saw a swing from Raleigh in Tuesday’s 8-2 Mariners win at Oakland that was a good sign even though it didn’t put the ball in play.

“He had a swing last night on a fastball that was 95 or 96 mph on the inside corner, but it was above the top of the zone,” Blowers recalled. “He had two strikes, he was protecting the plate, and he fouled it back – I think he fouled it right back to me (in the broadcast booth). And to me that was a positive. That was like, OK, he is on time because normally he would not get to that pitch. And I know that he didn’t hit it (in play), but he kept himself alive on a pitch that was borderline to eventually move that (plate appearance) along. And when you start to see things like that, when the pitcher makes a pitch and you’re able to get a piece of it – especially a legitimate fastball at the top of the zone – that just lets me know that they’re in a good place.”

Raleigh is in the lineup for the Mariners on Wednesday night as they continue their series against the Oakland A’s on Seattle Sports. The pregame show starts at 5:30 p.m, with first pitch set for 6:40. For information on how to stream Mariners games on the Seattle Sports app or at SeattleSports.com, click here.

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