Mariners Putting Faith In Young Starters Haniger and Vogelbach
The Mariners are hoping that young rookies Mitch Haniger and Dan Vogelbach will prove worthy of their starting positions of right field and first base respectively come spring training.
Haniger and Vogelbach have been given the nod to start for the Mariners spring training squad. Furthermore, if they play well enough, that means their starting spots for the regular season are theirs to lose this March.
Before the M’s brought in Jarrod Dyson, it was looking like there would be a third rookie starter in 2017 -either Ben Gamel or Guillermo Heredia in left- but now those guys will be fighting each other to be an outfield backup.
Both Haniger and Vogelbach have some experience at the big league level.
Vogelbach played in eight games in 2016 and managed to record his first career hit.
Haniger was more productive in his 34 games last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He smashed two home runs and legged out three more extra-base hits. He also drove in 17 runs and scored nine runs.
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Getting snubbed from the World Baseball Classic could add motivation for these men to want to excel in the Cactus League while many of their Mariners teammates are taking part in the international competition.
Both players, though, are really pseudo-starters because there is the expectation that Nelson Cruz will play a bunch of games at right when he’s not at DH and Gamel may get some licks as well. Vogelbach was always planned to platoon at first with Danny Valencia.
So if either of them have shaky springs it shouldn’t greatly impact their playing time anyway.
And while the Mariners are in “win-now” mode, Haniger and Vogelbach are also part of the M’s future squads, if they aren’t used as pieces come deadline time or in later off-seasons.
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Whatever happens this spring, GM Jerry Dipoto has had the backs of Mitch Haniger and Dan Vogelbach and hopes the two can become keys pieces to the Mariners winning recipe.