Fann: 5 Mariners takeaways from Jerry Dipoto with Wyman & Bob
The Seattle Mariners held their annual pre-spring training media day on Wednesday, which meant everyone from players to coaches to front office execs were made available. Among the varied appearances was president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto joining Wyman and Bob on Seattle Sports.
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Be sure to check out the entire interview, but I’ve put together a rundown of my biggest takeaways from the interview.
1. Ballin’ on a budget
Dipoto reiterated that Seattle, just like every club, operates within the confines of a budget. That much wasn’t a surprise, but I did think that his wording was interesting.
“We get a number, typically before the holiday season starts, sometime in October or early November we’re going to get a budget number like every other team does,” Dipoto said. “What we’ve generally learned through the years is that there is flexibility. If we have the ability to maximize an opportunity or go out and make a difference-making move that puts us over that budget number, we’ve never been told ‘no’ on that.”
It’s good to know that a hard line is never drawn in the sand budget wise, but Dipoto was vague enough to where we don’t know for sure who they would deem worthy of surplus spending.
2. “La Piedra”
Luis Castillo was sensational upon his arrival in Seattle last season with a 3.17 ERA and a 10.6 K/9 rate in 11 regular season starts. He was also lights out in his pair of postseason starts.
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I enjoyed hearing Dipoto discuss how the vibe in the clubhouse shifted following Castillo’s dominant Mariners debut against the Yankees.
“I think when Castillo walked in the door, there was a belief that, ‘Alright, everyone’s with us. The organization’s with us. This is a championship-quality team.’ And then they played that way,” Dipoto said.
3. Matt Brash to the WBC
The Mariners planned on adding Brash to the competition to be Seattle’s No. 5 starter in 2023. However, Brash is playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, a decision that ensured he’d spend another year in the bullpen.
“We were bringing him to camp stretched out to go compete for a spot at the back of the rotation, like he did a year ago,” Dipoto said. “If it didn’t work out then we’d back him up to the bullpen role and allow him to continue to make an impact there.”
According to Dipoto, Brash knew he was fighting an uphill in order to earn a starting role as Marco Gonzales (or Chris Flexen) is the expected No. 5 starter.
4. The curious case of Kelenic
Jarred Kelenic is an all-world talent who has dominated every level of baseball up until reaching MLB. His struggles have been noteworthy and well-documented with a -2.0 WAR, 21 home runs, an average of just .168 and an on-base percentage of .251 over his first 500 career at-bats.
But Dipoto hasn’t lost faith in the former prized outfield prospect, noting that there’s still plenty of time for maturation and development at just 23 years old.
“He’s still a very young player by the standards of even prospects in our league,” Dipoto said. “We will have prospects lining up in Class-A ball, that we really like, who are older that Jarred Kelenic.”
Kelenic is likely to be Seattle’s opening day left fielder, but the team brought in veterans AJ Pollock and Tommy La Stella as insurance if he continues to falter. Sam Haggerty, Taylor Trammell and potentially Cade Marlow cold potentially figure into that rotation as well.
Dipoto praised Kelenic’s work ethic and said it matches anyone else on the roster. And while the struggles have provided a challenging mental hurdle, Dipoto said Kelenic still has the belief that he’ll reach stardom like fellow top prospect Julio Rodríguez.
“In JK’s case, I think he’s saying ‘That will be me. I know I have that in me.’ And he’ll go out and work to make that happen,” Dipoto said.
5. Another flamethrower on the way
Dipoto didn’t hesitate to throw out Bryce Miller’s name when asked which player he’s most eager to see this spring. Miller has been an ascending name in Seattle’s farm system since the franchise drafted him in the fourth round of the 2021 MLB Draft.
Dipoto noted that the Mariners viewed Miller as one of the 10 best players in his draft class when they began the scouting process. He got off to a hot start that season at Texas A&M before faltering.
“The struggle allowed him to fall to our pick later in the draft,” Dipoto said. “Since he’s been in our system, he’s got what we believe is the highest-impact fastball in the minor leagues, not just in the Mariners system. He throws between 97 and 101 miles per hour. He rides it as well as anybody in baseball can ride it. He’s got a plus, plus slider now and a developing changeup. His command has come a long way in just the short time he’s been in our minor league system. He ran through to Double-A last year.”
In 10 Double-A appearance in 2022, Miller accumulated a 3.38 ERA with a 10.84 K/9 rate. Dipoto noted that Miller could end up being in Seattle’s bullpen at some point this season.
The potential to crack Seattle’s bullpen this season in a similar Matt Brash style. Potentially one of the best 13 arms and wouldn’t leave that in the minors. The 24-year-old righty could wind up being one of the 13 best arms in the entire organization in 2023, and Dipoto made it clear he wouldn’t be left in the minors if that ended up being the case.
“Bryce is going to excite some people this spring,” Dipoto said.
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