Seattle Mariners Showing Signs Of Life At Spring Training

This morning, as I was standing in the freezing cold, scraping a thin layer of ice off my windshield, I couldn’t stop my mind from drifting to next week. In just a few short days, I’ll be sitting under the Peoria Arizona sunshine, watching the Seattle Mariners play spring training baseball.

And I can’t wait.

For years I’ve dreamed about escaping the PNW chill and heading south to watch baseball at spring training. And now that it’s about to be finally realized, I’ve started thinking about what I hope to see while I’m there.

Specifically, as we enter year two of the team’s top-to-bottom rebuild, I want to see how the M’s top prospects look on the mound, at the plate, and in the field. They aren’t going to contend for the AL West this year, but if 2019 was about flipping old players for young talent, 2020 is about putting those pieces into place—to see what you actually have and get them the big-league experience they need.

With that in mind, let’s look at a few of the top up-and-coming Mariners players and examine how they’re fairing so far in the Cactus League.

Prospect 4: Evan White – First Baseman

Many of us have been hearing the name Evan White as an exciting Mariners prospect for years. He’s a first baseman known for his defensive skills and seems ready to assume the everyday role for the ballclub this season. Last November, White signed an unusual long-term extension for a prospect.

At that time, Mariners general manager, Jerry Dipoto said, “It’s about us wanting to lay the foundation and create stability for a future roster, and it made him a critical part – and not just because we think he’s an excellent player,” before adding “It’s a combination of what he does on the field and who he is away from it. Choosing Evan as the guy that we wanted to be at the center of it? I can’t say enough about the kind of person we are dealing with on this.”

Sounds like the M’s view White in a similar light to Marco Gonzalez: a good fit for the team on the field, but maybe even more as a good example of the team culture they want to promote in the clubhouse.

Prospect 3: Logan Gilbert – Starting Pitcher

A first-round draft pick in 2018, right-handed pitcher Logan Gilbert will likely make his way to the majors this season, but probably not right away. Gilbert showed off his talents at the AA, A+, and A levels in his first pro season for the Mariners in 2019, but the 22-year-old feels ready for more.

After facing the San Francisco Giants, Gilbert said “There are some good hitters over there like any team we are going to face,” then added “I feel like I have the stuff to compete with them. I’m really confident in my stuff and I feel that I can go toe to toe with anybody. That’s how I feel.”

Gilbert’s confidence aside, he must have felt good because in the first inning of that outing facing the top of the Giants lineup, he threw a 1-2-3 inning.

Prospect 2: Julio Rodriguez – Outfielder

At just 19 years old, Juilo Rodriguez has shown a lot of potential in the outfield for the Mariners, but it’s been his size that everyone’s talking about around Peoria. And with reports putting him as tall as 6-foot-4, it’s easy to understand why. However, he’ll spend most of 2020 in the minors, working his way up the ladder towards a potential September call-up.

When asked about him, Dipoto said “He shows really growing leadership traits and he’s still so young,” then added “There’s a lot in front of him, but he’s a big dude with big strengths and we feel like he’s got a chance to be a star in this league.”

So, less developed than the others, but plenty to get excited about for the rest of spring training and certainly a player to watch moving forward.

Prospect 1: Jarred Kelenic – Outfielder

A little over a year into his stint with the Mariners, Jarred Kelenic looks every bit the top-prospect that he should. The 20-year-old centerfielder has shown speed, power, defensive skills and good plate discipline, all helping make the case to see him get called up this season, although, probably not immediately. He rose quickly up the minor league ladder in 2019, so his play this season may well vault him all the way. Even if he doesn’t make his debut until 2021, he’s shown enough to feel good about the future of the Mariners defense in deep center.

Director of player development for the Mariners, Andy McKay said “Jarred brought a lot to the table when he walked in and he has not disappointed. In fact, he’s probably surpassed all of our expectations.”

His spring training highlight so far was demolishing a fastball well over the 385-foot fence in right center. His first in a Mariners uniform, but certainly not his last.

The future looks bright for the Seattle Mariners. Maybe not super bright in 2020, but the rebuild appears to be well underway, with plenty of exciting players to imagine roaming T-Mobile Park in 2021 and beyond.

I can’t wait to see live baseball again. But getting to watch spring training ball under the clear Arizona sky is a dream come true.

Go Mariners!

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About Jon Aiken 80 Articles
Born and raised in Seattle, Jon developed a deep love for the Mariners and Seahawks and continues to watch, analyze, and discuss them on a daily basis. As a professional advertising copywriter, the blending of these two loves (sports/words) seemed like a natural creative evolution. He recently moved south to Tacoma, fully embracing his new hometeam, the Rainers.