Mariners Spring Training Preview: The Minor Leaguers

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May 22, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher John Buck (44) appeals for a third strike against Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart (2) during the ninth inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Around the infield

Starting behind the plate, the Mariners signed veteran John Buck this offseason, presumably to help mentor Mike Zunino, give him days off and possibly DH from time to time. I expect him to make the club.

So that leaves Jesus Sucre and Jesus Montero. But Montero is being moved to 1st base so that really just leaves Sucre from the 40-man roster. He will start the season in Triple-A Tacoma.

The Mariners also have four non-roster invitees to Spring Training behind the plate. Michael Dowd, John Hicks and Manuel Pena, if they stick with the organization, will most likely start in Double-A Jackson. If Humberto Quintero sticks through camp, he most likely starts in Tacoma.

Around the horn, we pretty much know that Robinson Cano, Brad Miller and Kyle Seager will be starting at 2B, SS and 3B respectively. We also can assume, for now, that Corey Hart and Justin Smoak will share duties at 1B, with Willie Bloomquist as the utility fill-in guy.

What about Nick Franklin? The subject of trade talks since the Cano signing, there simply is no room for him on the roster if the M’s sign Cruz and don’t trade someone like Smoak. So let’s assume for now that Franklin will be traded.

Of the remaining infielders on the current 40-man, I see Carlos Triunfel and Ji-Man Choi starting the year in Tacoma.

There are also four non-roster invitees I see all going to Tacoma, barring any setbacks in camp. They are Chris Taylor, Ty Kelly, Gabriel Noriega and Nate Tenbrink.

Taylor – the Mariners organization Minor League player of the Year, would get time in Seattle if the 25-man wasn’t so crowded. If an injury befalls Seager or Miller, I expect Taylor to be one of the first to be called up.

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