The Tacoma Rainiers Roster Could be Loaded in 2022
The Mariners have one of the best farm systems in baseball, if not the best. They had a really stacked Everett Aqua Sox team with Julio Rodriguez, George Kirby, Emerson Hancock, Zach DeLoach, and others. Then, they all were promoted at various times to AA Arkansas. There they were good together too. Neither of those teams made the playoffs, but there was one team in the Mariners organization that won a championship in 2021 that could be even better next year.
In 2021, the Tacoma Rainiers won the Triple-A West championship. They were a good team that won a lot of games in the second half of the season. Now, winning is not the most important thing for a minor league team, but it sure doesn’t hurt. The Rainiers were very hot for the later parts of the summer and had some consistency in their lineup which helps. Jose Marmolejos was an absolute wrecking crew that demolished AAA West pitching. He had an OPS of 1.111 in 84 games.
The Tacoma Rainiers could be even better in 2022
The biggest unsung hero of the team was utility man Jantzen Witte. He is a career minor leaguer who had a great year for the Rainiers. His second half of the season was absolutely ridiculous. He was hitting over .300 for most of the year and finished at .299. However, he was a guy that came through in the clutch so often. He is also an incredible leader, one of the best leaders I have ever seen. He is always positive and is always leading the dugout supporting who is up to bat.
The Tacoma Rainiers had a great season, and they could have an even better team in 2022. The team could be headlined by star prospect Julio Rodriguez. Rodriguez is arguably the best prospect in baseball. He could start in Arkansas, but it should be expected for him to see Tacoma before his leap to the big leagues. Rodriguez could be joined by other top prospects on the mound. George Kirby, Emerson Hancock, and Brandon Williamson should all see Tacoma earlier than later.
If those three pitching prospects start in Tacoma, the Rainiers could have one of the best rotations in minor league baseball. They could join Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield in the Tacoma rotation if the Mariners decide to use those two as depth starters. They could also join Darren McCaughan who is a very solid performer in AAA for the last few years. They could also see Matt Brash and Levi Stoudt there too if the Mariners want to use them there as well.
To go along with a potentially loaded rotation, the Tacoma Rainiers could have some more good bats to go along with Julio Rodriguez. It is expected that first baseman Evan White will be getting lots of reps in Tacoma as the backup first baseman to see if he can regain his value and start to hit well again. White is coming off of a serious injury and needs more development time. He could also see some time in left field though as the Mariners have Ty France at first base.
The rest of the infield could have Donovan Walton, who performed well in his extended time in AAA. If Kevin Padlo stays on the 40 man roster through the offseason, he could be the Rainiers third baseman after being claimed off waivers at the end of the season. Padlo hit lots of homers in Tacoma and Pitching Coach Rob Marcello called him the Padlo cheat code and would shout it whenever Padlo went yard. Padlo hit 8 HRs in 26 games and had 4 straight games with a homer.
In the outfield, Taylor Trammell should still be there as he continues to develop. Don’t forget, Trammell is only 24. He was able to be himself more in Tacoma and started to put things together at the end of the season. Another young outfielder who could be in Tacoma is Zach DeLoach, who jumped to AA last year. He might get to Tacoma by the summer if he is hitting well. A sneaky name to watch is Cade Marlowe. He played one game in Tacoma and wowed with his strong physique. Keep an eye on him in 2022.
The Tacoma Rainiers overall could have one of the very best and most talented teams in the minors in 2022. Manager Kristopher Negron will be back with the Rainiers for his second season and was named the AAA West Manager of the year last year. He was a great manager and will only get better. The Mariners should be excited about where the future of the team is going and should be willing to push their best prospects to see what they can do together.
Be ready to get out to Tacoma early in the season in 2022 to see Julio Rodriguez if he is there because he might not be there for long. He is a special player and could be joined by some of the Mariners top pitching prospects. The Rainiers should be a very fun and competitive team to watch in 2022.