The calendar turned to February this week; the hot stove is cooling off, so we have a little more than three weeks until the Mariners take the Cactus League Fields. While the first slate of games starts on February 24th, there are a few more important dates to mark on your calendars.
First, pitchers and catchers report on Thursday, February 15th. Barring an unforeseen free agent signing (Blake Snell anyone?) or trade, the starting rotation of Luis Castillo, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Bryce Miller, and Bryan Woo is intact from last season. The real battles will be in the bullpen, where there are as many as four spots up for grabs. Additionally, we'll get our first look at the newly acquired catcher, Blake Hunt, who slots in as the 28th-rank prospect in the Mariner's farm system.
Second, position players report on Tuesday, February 20th. While some players are already in Peoria working out and going through their offseason routines, the prospects and veterans should all be in place that day for the first full-squad workout. The first few days are usually filled with physicals and meetings. However, the excitement of a transformed roster should create good vibes, especially with ready-built relationships between Mitch Garver, Luke Raley, and Jorge Polanco due to their time with the Twins.
Lastly, it would help if you circled March 15th for the first-ever Major League Baseball Spring Breakout on your calendar. The inaugural event pits the top prospects from the Mariners and Padres battling it out for bragging rights. Both systems are stocked with some high-upside prospects from the Padres' Ethan Salas and Robert Hassell to the Mariner's Cole Young, Harry Ford, and Lazaro Montes. The top 25 prospects in each system will make up the rosters for this exciting showcase.
For those fans who like to follow the roster battles, remember March 24th. That's when manager Scott Servais should have the final 26-man roster ready as the team wraps up the last game in Peoria and heads to San Diego for a two-game set against the Padres.
Spring training is just around the corner, and I don't know about you, but I'm more than ready to get the sights and sounds of big league camp underway.