Right now the Seattle Mariners’ retooling not only has to do with the major league club but the prospects in the minor leagues. Most of the top prospects are at double-A Arkansas or the high-A Modesto club, but we’re going to look at the players with the Tacoma Rainiers who are closer to the major leagues.
The Tacoma Rainiers are not having a great season. Going into the All-Star break, the Rainiers are in third place of the Pacific division with a record of 43-47. They are one game below .500 at home while three games under on the road.
The Rainiers issues are similar to the major league club where they lack in the pitching department. They have had several pitchers that have been called up to the big club. Dan Altavilla, Matt Carasiti, Matt Festa, and Tommy Milone all spent time in Tacoma. Altavilla, Carasiti, and Festa could be part of the team in two years; however, we know the bullpen can change so fast.
In fact it did this last weekend when Austin Adams and Dan Altavilla were put on the ten-day injured. The Mariners recalled Parker Markel and David McKay in their place. Markel recently was named to the triple-A All-Star team; however, since he was recalled to Seattle he can’t participate. Outfielder Ian Miller will take his spot on the all-star roster since Markel was the Rainiers’ lone representative.
Gerson Bautista, Andrew Moore, and Erik Swanson, who all have spent time in Seattle, are currently on the Rainiers squad well as the 40-man roster.
Bautista, who showed the Mariners that he can get the ball into the high 90s, is the most likely one to pitch out of the bullpen on a full-time basis. He was sent to Tacoma to get his pitching under control. Moore, who was reacquired by the Mariners, and Swanson could be part of the Mariners rotation next year or be two pitchers that add depth in case of injuries.
Shed Long, who the Mariners acquired from the New York Yankees during spring training after they picked him up from the Cincinnati Reds, is the only position player at Tacoma who is on Mariners 40-man roster. He is 23-years old and the youngest player on the Rainiers. He is a month younger than Jake Fraley, who recently was promoted to Tacoma from double-A Arkansas. We should see both players in September if not before then. This all could depend on who the Mariners trade before the end of July when the trading deadline ends. Would not be surprised to see Fraley in the Mariners outfield next year as a starter or a fourth outfielder.
Ian Miller is having another fine season at Tacoma. It is his second full-season playing triple-A ball for the Rainiers. It is hard to know whether the Mariners plan to move him up to Seattle or not. He can play all three outfield positions and he has stolen 22 bases so far this year after having 33 last season. His batting average is at .289 right now. At this point he looks like added depth for the outfield if needed. I am not sure what his future looks like in Seattle.
Also, in the Rainiers outfield is John Andreoli, who the Mariners have reacquired for the second time over the last couple years. He has spent limited action in the major leagues including with the Mariners last year. He has played six years in triple-A without breaking into the major leagues as a regular. He is with the Rainiers for depth as well.
The Rainiers have another veteran triple-A outfielder in Jaycob Brugman and former major leaguer Eric Young Jr. They both look to be on the roster the rest of this year but could be released with prospects from double-A Arkansas moving up in the farm system after this season.
Outside of Long, the Rainiers’ infield is bleak. Right now none of them seem to be worthy to take Dylan Moore’s spot. The Mariners could be trading Tim Beckham before the deadline on July 31 so lLong will likely be brought up, though he is currently on the seven-day injured list. One of the other guys could come up instead if Dee Gordon is traded as well. This would depend on Long’s health.
Tim Lopes, who the Mariners signed as a minor league free agent, has played most of his time at second base, though he has played some third base, and is having a good season for the Rainiers. He previously played in the Mariners system last at double-A Jackson in 2016. After the season he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Lopes has not played any higher than triple-A; however, he is only 25 years old so he could be considered part of the Mariners’ retooling. This season he is currently hitting .286 with six home runs and 42 RBI’s. Also, he has hit 25 doubles and stole 21 bases.
Chris Mariscal, who’s listed as a second baseman, has played mostly at third base and shortstop with the Rainiers. He started the season at double-A Arkansas. He was drafted in the 14th round by the Mariners in 2014 after his junior season at Fresno State. This is his first year at the triple-A level, hitting .250 with four home runs and 17 RBI’s in 34 games. He will have to play well for the Rainiers to have a chance to play for the Mariners.
The other infielders for the Rainiers are veteran triple-A players who don’t look likely to be called up anytime soon. Kristopher Negron, who was in the battle for the utility spot but lost out to Dylan Moore, is 33 years old so he only looks to be a stop gap. He looked good last year when he played for the Mariners last September. He is hitting .301 for the Rainiers so the Mariners could bring him up needing an experience infielder but that likely won’t happen.
So, as you can see, outside of a few players, no one looks to make the jump to the majors from the Rainiers for the long term anyway. Outside of Long and Fraley, the other position players could be used as a trading chip by the Mariners as part of a multi-player swap.