When pitchers and catchers– including young RHP Erasmo Ramirez– report for the Seattle Mariners in Peoria, Arizona today for Spring Training, they’ll be energized and excited for what should amount to a big season for the M’s.
They’ll be in good spirits, and ready to sharpen their pitch location for the pitchers and pitch framing for the catchers.
But it won’t be entirely hunky dorey. There will be a competition for backup catcher, which will interesting enough as it is.
More importantly, though, the Mariners have a considerable list of potential starters in the rotation for the 2015 campaign.
Those guys are, in no particular order:
Ok, so I lied. These 7 pitchers are generally ordered in where I think they will end up on Opening Day of the 2015 season.
I’m the crazy one who thinks pocket rocket Erasmo Ramirez will be the Mariners 5th starter to start the season.
Before I get into my logic, though, I am all but assuming those first four pitchers are locks to be in the rotation barring any major injuries. The ordering leaves room for finagling though, as Paxton could pitch third and Happ fifth; but at this point that is all semantics.
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The biggest reason I expect Ramirez to be the Mariners 5th starter is a simple one: he is out of minor league options. That means that if the Mariners choose not to keep him on their 25-man roster, they have to expose him to waivers before they can outright him to the minor leagues.
Ramirez has shown promise in his time with the Mariners, but time and time again injuries or command had him sent to the minor leagues. In parts of three seasons with the Mariners (2012-2014), Ramirez has totaled a 4.62 ERA with 31 home runs allowed, 72 walks and 165 strikeouts in 206.2 innings pitched.
Those numbers are by no means impressive, but he has shown flashes of promise and this shred of hope that he can be a consistently effective pitcher.
If you had to guess how old Erasmo Ramirez is, what would you say?
Jun 24, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Erasmo Ramirez (50) is relieved by Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon (23) during the fifth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
I know if you asked me– and I hadn’t just looked it up– I likely wouldn’t have said he was only 24. That’s right, a guy who has played in parts of 3 seasons with the M’s, with just over a year of service time, is still only 24 years old.
Ramirez has room to grow and develop into a back-end of the rotation pitcher. If he shows something out of Spring Training, it makes sense for the Mariners to give him the five-spot. If he struggles early, the team can pull up one of the promising young guys from Triple-A Tacoma– Elias or Walker– and be done with Ramirez for good.
If he pitches well, the M’s can ride him out and call up a young guy when an injury inevitably occurs. This flexibility allows the Mariners to delay the service-time clock on two pitchers who could be around for years to come.
And if Elias sucks in Spring Training? The M’s will expose him to waivers and be none the wiser.
But the rational, long-term minded quadrant of my brain says he sticks, and hard enough to start 2015 on the Mariners 25-man roster.