Seattle Mariners: Spring Training Invitees to Get Excited About

PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 10: General view of action between the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs during the spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 10, 2016 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 10: General view of action between the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs during the spring training game at Peoria Stadium on March 10, 2016 in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Among the many noteworthy things that happened at Seattle Mariners Media Day, something may have fallen under the radar. One such topic was the release of the “non-roster invitees” to Major League Spring Training.

This years list includes 26 names so far. The Mariners are highly likely to add more names with the addition of veterans who sign a minor league contract. If you are unaware of what a “non-roster invitee” is, it is just a player who is not on the 40 man roster who will participate in big league camp, as opposed to minor league camp which begins later in the spring.

The biggest name to enter Spring Training as an NRI is obviously Ichiro Suzuki. The Mariners have been quite clear that they plan on having Ichiro on their 28-man roster (special rule for international travel) when the team officially kicks off the regular season in Japan. Whether or not he plays after that remains to be seen.

Aside from Ichiro, a few other notable veteran names have been added to the list of NRI’s. Dustin Ackley will be the most familiar to Mariners fans, as he will try to secure a spot on the Tacoma Rainiers in hopes of salvaging an MLB career.

Mariners fans may also recognize Tommy Milone. The 32-year-old LHP was a fixture of the A’s and Twins rotation from 2012-2015, posting a 3.98 ERA and a 4.26 FIP in 101 starts. Injuries and ineffectiveness have derailed his career of late, as he will hope to get on track to crack the Rainiers starting rotation, or possibly find his way into the Mariners rotation.

Ryan Garton, Jose Lobaton, and Aaron Nola will also compete for spots in the M’s bullpen and backup catcher spot respectively.

As for the “exciting group” of NRI’s, fans will not have to look hard to see some of the biggest prospects in the Mariners system. Cal Raleigh snagged an invite and may see some brief action in split-squad games, but will likely be among the first group of players sent to minor league camp.

Evan White, who had a meteoric rise up prospect ranks after a breakout 2018 will also get a look with the big league club. White will have an opportunity to play in some big league games but will start the season in AA Jackson.

The real fun for the Mariners may be in the outfield. While Jake Fraley and Dom Thompson-Williams maybe short-term at the big league camp, their first impressions can go a long way to determining their status in the organization. Both figure to start the year at AA Jackson.

Kyle Lewis and Eric Filia have the best chance to get an extended look in big league camp. Filia has the “control the zone” profile the Mariners want and now needs to show he can hit big league pitching to avoid the dreaded AAAA label.

For Lewis, it is about showing the big club he is healthy and ready to return to top prospect status. A 2019 call-up would be aggressive, but not out of the question.

Like Lewis, Justin Dunn could be called up in 2019 and will get a long look at big league camp. Seattle will have an opportunity to see his conditioning and work out regiment before they make the ultimate decision between a high-leverage reliever and mid-rotation starter on Dunn.

Those are just a few of the bigger names coming to Peoria with the club. For a full list, click here. With a 28-man roster to start the season, there is some opportunity for a surprise or two to make the Opening Day roster. However, aside from the backup catcher spot and perhaps a bullpen spot or two, not much is up for grabs in Seattle.

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This spring training will be about getting a glimpse of the future, as opposed to seeing guys who will immediately help in 2019.