Emerson Hancock vying for Mariners' rotation bid out of Spring Training

Former first round pick Emerson Hancock hopes to kick injury bug and break camp with Mariners.

San Diego Padres v Seattle Mariners
San Diego Padres v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Spring training always has a couple of wild cards and storylines worth following, whether through the box scores or tuning into the broadcast. We often hear 'best shape of his life' thrown out in general conversation or things like 'they had a great offseason.' 24-year-old starter Emerson Hancock has both, as evidenced by a stellar first start this week.

Emerson Hancock is eyeing a spot on the Mariners roster out of Spring Training

Hancock fired two innings of shutout ball, striking out three with a good mix of an elite two-seamer and a new cutter-slider hybrid he developed over the offseason. While the new pitch aligns with the Mariner mantra of continually getting better, the real story is the often-injured righty is flashing the velocity that resulted in the Mariners drafting him 6th overall in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft.

MLB reporter Daniel Kramer sat down with the former University of Georgia star and uncovered some interesting nuggets about Hancock's main goal this spring: to break camp with the Mariners. However, his manager commented on what looks like a lofty goal, with Bryan Woo having spent most of the 2023 season with the big league club.

"I love that's where he's at right now... Because competition is a really good thing. And I'm curious to see what it looks like... He was very adamant to make that comment to me, and I really liked it. I think he was afraid of how I would take that. And I said, "Man, I love that. Go do it. Go show us""

Scott Servais on Emerson Hancock

Hancock has had various injuries over the past few years, including a couple of shoulder strains and a lat strain last season. A revamped delivery and an offseason spent strengthing those areas have added as much as five miles per hour on his fastball. Catcher and clubhouse leader Cal Raleigh noted the difference in the first days of camp on the Seattle Sports 710 morning show.

It's an uphill battle for Hancock to unseat Woo for the fifth starter role, but anything is possible if the latter continues to struggle against lefties.