Chris Taylor playing at University of Virginia

Mariners Invite 15 To 2014 Spring Training


On January 14th the Mariners officially announced the 15 non-roster invitees that will be joining the 40-man Major League roster in Peoria, Arizona for the start of Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report for physicals February 12th. I cannot believe that’s less than a month away.

Most notable of the non-roster invitees is shortstop Chris Taylor, who was awarded the Mariner’s Minor League Player of the Year award in 2013.

Let’s first break down the 15 by position and Spring Training experience so that you can skim if you really just want the laundry list:

 

Catcher:

Mike Dowd (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

John Hicks (second Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

 

Infield:

Ty Kelly (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Gabriel Noriega (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Nate Tenbrick (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

 

Left-handed Pitching:

Roenis Elias (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

James Gillheeny (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Nick Hill (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Right-handed Pitching:

Stephen Kohlscheen (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Dominic Leone (first Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Jonathan Arias (second Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Andrew Carraway (second Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Chance Ruffin (second Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

Carson Smith (second Major League Spring Training Camp invite)

 

On top of the fifteen youngsters invited to camp there will also be four veterans the M’s signed to Minor League deals with Spring Training invites. Those are catcher Humberto Quintero (who you will remember was with the M’s last season), RHPs Ramon Ramirez and Matt Palmer, and outfielder Cole Gillespie.

Every season MLB.com maintains their list of Top 20 prospects for each major league team. Two of those Top 20 (Chris Taylor and Carson Smith) are non-roster invitees. The other eighteen on the list are either on the 40-man roster (like Taijuan Walker and Danny Hultzen) or they were not invited to Spring Training for various reasons.

Taylor is number 5 on the Top 20 M’s list. He is 23 and was drafted out of the University of Virginia in the fifth-round of the 2012 first year draft. Last season he hit .314 with 60 RBIs, 100 runs, 38 stolen bases, 8 HRs, 28 doubles, and 11 triples in 134 games split between Double-A Jackson and Class A Advanced High Desert.

Carson Smith is number 13 on the list and lauded Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year honors in 2013 within the M’s organization. Last year he recorded 15 saves with a 1.80 ERA in 44 appearances with Double-A Jackson. He has a shot at finding his way in the 2014 Mariners bullpen, which as of today is a wide-open competition.

RHP Stephen Kohlscheen went 7-3 with a 2.30 ERA in 41 appearances for Double-A Jackson last season. The big guy, standing at 6’6″, struck out 85 batters over 66 and 2/3 innings with 25 free passes handed out. He was a 45th-round First Year Draft pick back in 2010 from Auburn University. It looks like last year was a bit of an emergence for him, and he could very well end up in Triple-A Tacoma to start the year.

Second baseman/Infielder Ty Kelly was the guy the M’s got when they traded Eric Thames to the Baltimore Orioles last season. He is 25. In his 54 games with Triple-A Tacoma he hit .320 with 17 RBIs, 3 HRs, 6 doubles, 1 triple, and an impressive .456 OBP. With the very crowded infield situation in Seattle, Kelly will either end up back in Tacoma or, either with injuries or trades yet unmade, find his way into a backup infield role.

Even though most of these 15 guys don’t stand much of a chance to make it to the majors come Opening Day, 2014 Spring Training will provide them with great MLB competition and experience. Many of them will either be in Jackson or Tacoma, waiting in the wings for the opportunity to play in Safeco.

But let’s hope that the guys who start in the minors will stay in the minors, because that would mean there is no need for changes at the Major League level. Meaning the Mariners are staying healthy and competing and winning baseball games.

Hey, we all can hope.

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