A record 76 players are donning the Mariner uniform this spring in Peoria. There are plenty of exciting camp arms, non-roster invites, and the regular cast of characters in camp. So we're starting a new series called "3 Up, 3 Down." This weekly series will give you, the fans, a snapshot of the week that was, top performers, and who is losing ground in the few roster spot battles. Yes, we are only three games into the Cactus League slate, but we must start somewhere. So let's kick things off with our less-than-stellar performers.
Mariners Spring Training Report: 3 Down
Marco Gonzales is in a battle for the last spot in the rotation with the ever-dependable Chris Flexen and, to a lesser extent, Top 100 prospect Bryce Miller. Unfortunately, Gonzales had a rough go in the Spring Training lid lifter, giving up four runs on five hits over two innings. In addition, the changeup was up in the zone, and the fastball wasn't sharp as usual, which we expected because it was his first spring appearance. Either way, it wasn't the best outcome for the 31-year-old control artist.
Tommy La Stella has yet to play, but that doesn't mean his chances of making the team didn't take a hit. Scott Servais held the veteran utility man out of the first three games due to a sore arm, and reports say he will be out for a week. La Stella is coming off two extensive injury-plagued seasons, but the Mariners were banking on a healthy 2023 to balance the lineup. The best skill is availability; if he is going to make the team, he needs to get fit and perform.
Travis Kuhn never had a shot at making the roster out of camp, but he is an interesting arm. Kuhn served as a high-leverage reliever for the Arkansas Travelers last year, getting into 50 games and amassing 71 strikeouts. Manager Scott Servais called on 24-year-old flamethrower to hold a one-run lead against the Royals. Kuhn threw one inning, giving up three hits, a walk, and three runs.
Mariners Spring Training Report: 3 Up
It's Jarred Kelenic season, or at least the Royals bring out the best in the 23-year-old outfielder. Kelenic hit the ball hard all day (EV 113, 107, and 107), launching two long homers. But what stood out to me was his second at-bat. You could sense the count was speeding up on him, and he took his one timeout to catch his breath. The result was a clear mind and this absolute rocket to the right-center field (438 ft).
This team prefers a lefthanded bat who could spell Ty France and Eugenio Suarez. Coming into Spring Training, the thought was Tommy La Stella's job to lose, with Colin Moran having an outside chance of breaking camp. Well, Moran is raking with La Stella out of the lineup. He had four hits over the past two games, including a ringing double to the left field yesterday. Of course, statistics aren't the best indicator of spring training performance, but if Moran keeps this up, La Stella might not have a chance to make up any ground.
Prelander Berroa is sometimes the forgotten member of the robust Arkansas Traveler's rotation, but that is changing. After flashing his plus-plus slider in live BP against major leaguers J.P. Crawford and Tom Murphy, he followed that up with a dominant performance against San Diego's version of "Murderers Row." Berroa fired two shutout innings, including three strikeouts (Boegarts, Cruz). The 22-year-old Dominican has an excellent chance to debut in a bullpen role later this year.
The first weekend in Peoria was eventful and full of good vibes. Look for more this week as Luis Castillo and Cal Raleigh will make their spring debuts Tuesday against the Reds.