Drayer: Jake Fraley won’t be the only Mariners prospect you’ll see this week
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – New Mariners outfielder Jake Fraley was not in the starting lineup Tuesday night as he did not arrive at the ballpark until about 90 minutes before first pitch. When he does make his debut following his promotion from Triple-A Tacoma, he will become the 63rd player to play for the Mariners this season, just one fewer than the MLB record set in 2014 by the Texas Rangers.
Fraley was close to being called up before a couple of times this season before being sidelined with injuries. Now up with the big club, expect to see a lot of Fraley, who has opened eyes in the organization from spring training on.
“It’s a good skill set, I’m anxious to see how it plays out,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We will give him an opportunity. We’ve got to let him get comfortable. I think the biggest thing with young players when you bring them up is to let them show you who they are before you start making a ton of changes. Get them acclimated to the program here with us, the big league routine and then go from there.”
Fraley will not be the only young prospect to take the field for the Mariners this week. Before his complete game shutout in Toronto, Yusei Kikuchi was told that the Mariners planned to skip his next turn in the rotation in order to limit the number of innings and starts he throws in his first MLB season. Taking his place on Friday will be Justus Sheffield, who has thrived since being sent down to Double-A Arkansas after a rocky start to his season in Tacoma.
“It was good for him, the right move to send him down there and try and get him back on track,” Servais said of Sheffield. “It’s been power stuff, the velocity is 93-94 (mph). He’s calmed down, he’s having fun, he’s just playing baseball. I don’t know if he is trying to live up to expectations and things like that, I know he’s really hit it off with his teammates so he’s in a very good comfort zone. That’s what we have got to do with him is get him as comfortable as quick as we can and hopefully he pitches the same way.”
Servais is not concerned that Sheffield will be bypassing a return to Tacoma and making the jump straight from Arkansas. With the Pacific Coast League already known to be tough on pitchers before this year, the addition of the MLB baseball in 2019 has made the environment even worse. It’s an environment a number of organizations are choosing to keep some of their pitching prospects away from.
“The one thing about pitching is you control it, the ball is in your hands,” Servais pointed out, noting that for hitters it was different. “Control what you can control, the ball is in your hands. Try to keep it simple, keep him aggressive and hopefully it works out.”
Félix is ready
Saturday will mark the return of Félix Hernández, who threw three innings in Tacoma on Monday night. The hope had been to get him through five innings – more specifically five ups and downs – but his pitch count limited him to three. Regardless, he was deemed good enough to go after over three months on the injured list.
“The intensity level was very good, curveball was good,” Servais said of the report he received of Félix’s outing. “The command of the fastball as expected, not as pinpoint as he would like, but he felt healthy. He will slide into our rotation.”
Marco Gonzales will start Sunday. It is unclear which spot Kikuchi will return to but when he does the Mariners will be in a six-man rotation, something Servais previously suggested they could go with in September.