BROCK AND SALK

Dipoto: Value of Hummel to the Mariners, Gilbert’s splitter ‘a real thing’

Mar 18, 2023, 9:37 AM

Mariners Cooper Hummel...

Cooper Hummel swings during a Diamondbacks game at Colorado on Aug. 12, 2022. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The Mariners begin regular season play in less than two weeks, which means they’ll soon have some tough roster decisions to make.

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Someone who has certainly made a strong case for cracking the opening day roster is Cooper Hummel, a catcher and outfielder who Seattle acquired from Arizona during the offseason.

Hummel has slugged three home runs and has one of the highest OPS marks in all of baseball this spring, and his positional flexibility is certainly intriguing.

During his Thursday visit with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk, Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto discussed the potential value of Hummel making the roster.

“I think for all things being equal and all players being healthy, Cal Raleigh and Tom Murphy are going to break camp on our club and they will get the reps behind home plate in 99% of the circumstances based on the general layout now,” he said. “That said, I will specifically speak to Cooper Hummel, who has been one of the most impressive players we’ve had in camp this year.”

Dipoto said Hummel has a “super approach” at the plate, where he’s a switch-hitter with “power from both sides.”

“He hits the ball hard, he runs well, and he happens to catch,” Dipoto said. “He has a multi-position profile. He’s played the outfield, he has played some infield … but primarily he’s a catcher and outfielder.”

Hummel being an option for the big league club opens a lot of doors for the Mariners.

“What that allows you to do if he winds up making our club – and right now, he’s put himself in position to be a heavy consideration – if that happens, you either have Cooper as a potential DH, as a potential move around the field guy who has the ability to match up against either handed pitcher … it also allows you to use Cal Raleigh or Tom Murphy on a given day as a DH when the other is catching,” Dipoto said. “And why that is an advantage is because as we know, Cal is also a switch-hitter who is an above-average offensive player against both-handed pitchers, and Tom Murphy is effectively like having another AJ Pollock against left-handed pitching. Tom has a fantastic history against lefties. That gives us a real way to weaponize all of the players in our lineup in a way that brings out their best traits and allows them the best chance for success.

“It’s definitely a consideration for us,” Dipoto added of Hummel making the team. “The wonky thing becomes how to manage those bench roles. You need to have backup at a variety of positions defensively, and that’s where it becomes a little bit more, I guess, abstract. But just for sheer lineup balance and what it could do 1-9 in our lineup, there’s a very strong case to be made that the third catcher is one of the smartest things we could do.”

Logan Gilbert’s new toy

The Mariners had a number of pitchers show up to spring training with a new pitch in their arsenal. According to Dipoto, one new pitch stands out above the rest.

“Logan’s split is a real thing. It was never more evident than in his last outing,” he said. ” … He’s throwing that split 86-88 miles an hour, it’s got real vertical drop. Couldn’t be more impressed with how much he put into it … His fastball was 95 to 97 (mph) the other day and that split is coming in something in the neighborhood of 10 mph below his fastball and just drops off the plane. Logan has great fastball extension and carry, and if he has a weapon that creates that kind of vertical strike zone, that has a chance to really change his profile as well. So that’s been by far the most exciting of what has been an exciting group of pitch development.”

Listen to the full interview with Dipoto at this link or in the player below.

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Dipoto: Value of Hummel to the Mariners, Gilbert’s splitter ‘a real thing’