To make an early, not so ridiculous spring prediction, Guillermo Heredia will be the Mariners fourth outfielder for the Opening Day roster.
Hot take or not, the Mariners 26-year-old, Heredia, has already opened a lot of eyes within the first week of spring training games. In seven matches so far he is 7-for-13, good for a .538 batting average with four doubles and a triple.
The Cuban native has struck out only one time with a walk, snagged a stolen base and has seven RBIs.
Yes, not only is it early, but it is against spring training competition. The point is, he is on fire and this is what we want to be seeing out of him. He’s seeing the ball well and getting on base.
Heredia leads the team this spring in batting average, runs scored and RBI. He is absolutely dominating the pitching he has seen to this point.
It is important to take spring ball with a grain of salt as the competition isn’t what it will be in the regular season, but his early start is surely a good sign.
His success hasn’t only been with the bat either. Heredia’s athleticism in the outfield has been impressive and certainly fits in with the defensively elite outfield. I mean just look at this…
It’s possible this is just a wave of hot hitting off of sub-par pitching, but maybe the young stud is showing signs of development. Either way, he is certainly the front runner to be the Mariners fourth outfielder to start the 2017 season.
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His spring competition, Ben Gamel, hasn’t had a bad start to the spring, going 5-for-17 (.294) in seven games with two walks and five strikeouts. The 24-year-old who came over from the Yankees late last season will likely provide outfield depth to the club, starting 2017 in AAA Tacoma.
The major league is a whole different monster. It is certainly possible that once the season starts, Heredia’s bat runs cold, prompting Gamel to take his place.
Last season, Heredia hit .250 in 47 games with the big league club, adding 12 RBIs and an OBP of .349. Gamel hit .188 in 33 games last season in time split between the Yankees and M’s.
Everything thus far points to Heredia earning the spot, but plenty can change with 28 spring games still remaining.
Props to Jerry Dipoto, both Heredia and Gamel are wonderfully athletic outfielders providing depth to this organization. But Heredia has the more dynamic skill set between the two with his speed and ability to get on base.
Look for him to not only start the season as the fourth outfielder but to eventually take a full-time corner outfield position in the next couple years.