Mariners Minor Leagues: 2023 Tacoma Rainiers Preview

Arkansas Travelers v Amarillo Sod Poodles
Arkansas Travelers v Amarillo Sod Poodles / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

The Mariners have this propensity to shield their top pitching prospects from the bandbox stadiums of the Pacific Coast League. Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, and Edwin Diaz jumped right from Dickey Stephens Park in Arkansas to the bump in Seattle. There is a good chance Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock, Prelander Berroa, and Bryan Woo follow suit. What does this mean for your 2023 Tacoma Rainiers? 

This year’s starting staff is meh. However, mariner's Minor League Pitcher of the Year Taylor Dollard headlines a group that includes Easton McGee, J.B. Bukauskas, Tommy Milone, and Darren McCaughan. The latter is slated to start the 2023 lid lifter tonight in Oklahoma City against a Dodger minor league squad with some serious talent. 

The position player portion of the roster took significant hits this spring due to injuries to Cade Marlowe, Kaden Pocovich, and Jack Larsen. That is a considerable amount of offensive talent. There are two storylines for MiLB fans to keep an eye on early. 

Mariners Minor Leagues: Can Evan White tap into his power in Tacoma?

The oft-injured Evan White now drives the Rainiers opening-day roster. According to the President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto, the former Gold Glover will be on a mission to accumulate at-bats while handling first base and leftfield. White has always had tremendous raw power, and he started to tap into it last season until rehab setbacks derailed him. 

If, and that's a BIG if, White turns a corner, look for him to make an appearance in Seattle later this year. 

Will Zach Deloach benefit from the offense-friendly PCL?

As for Deloach, some of the prospect shine is off, but he still has a quality skillset. He controls the zone, provides ‘enough’ power, and defends the corners well. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old faced a lot of tough pitchers in Double AA last year, resulting in an underwhelming stat line (.258/.369/.778). The excellent news is PCL parks and teams following the Mariner model of keeping their promising starters in AA means Deloach should get plenty of meatballs to hammer. 

Look no further than the recently released Kole Calhoun as his comp. He is probably a fourth outfielder on a September expanded roster. 

Look out for the Rainier’s bullpen, which includes Justin Topa, Riley O'Brien, Tayler Saucedo, and Gabe Speier. That stable of late-inning arms could be the strength of a team that might be outmanned offensively. Then again, speed-power threat Mason McCoy, base-on-ball machine Jose Caballero, and veterans Colin Moran, Delino Deshields Jr, and Mike Ford round out a lineup that might have to scratch out some runs to repeat as PCL West Division Champs.