Curto, Tacoma Rainiers

News and Notes From Mariners Pre-Spring Training Media Event

The Seattle Mariners hosted their formerly annual, and now back to annual Pre-Spring Training Media event on Wednesday. They had not held the event since 2020, due to Covid in 2021, and the owner’s lockout in 2022. It’s like we are back to normal this year.

As is always the case, the majority of the news to come out of the event involves the major league squad, but there are always a couple of interesting notes for us Tacoma Rainiers fans. Here are a few:

Much praise was heaped upon outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who was lauded for his work ethic and dedication throughout the winter. General Manager Justin Hollander said that Kelenic’s offseason “couldn’t have gone any better.”

Kelenic had a strong campaign for Tacoma last year (.296/.366/.557), but is still looking to have extended success in the major leagues. From what Hollander and Mariners President Jerry Dipoto were saying, it sounds like they would like either Kelenic or Taylor Trammell to be the left-handed side of a left field platoon with newly acquired veteran outfielder A.J. Pollock. They brought up Trammell’s name without being asked, saying he that he has also put in a lot of work this season. There could be a real spring training battle between the two young outfielders. Each player has another option year left, so Tacoma is a possibility for one of them – although neither has anything left to prove in Triple-A.

In some surprising positive injury news, potential Rainiers first baseman Evan White was reported as already being a full participant in baseball activities, and Dipoto said that he will “come into spring training healthier than he has been in years.” That’s huge, as White could really be a good player for the Rainiers while he gets his career back on track after two seasons full of injuries.

In a similar vein, reliever Casey Sadler is reportedly 100% healthy and already throwing bullpen sessions. Sadler had a 0.67 ERA in 42 major league games for the Mariners in 2021, but missed all of 2022 after having shoulder surgery. Sadler is back this year on a minor league contract, so he’ll vie for a big league job during spring training but could end up with the Rainiers, depending on how it all works out.

Finally, I had a chance to ask Andy McKay how the organization landed John Russell to manage Tacoma. A former major league manager and longtime big league bench coach, Russell does not fit the profile of recent Rainiers skippers. McKay said that Russell kind of fell into their lap – Dipoto received an email from Russell’s agent, passed it on to McKay, McKay opened up a dialogue, and here we are. The Dipoto-McKay-Servais trio had no previous connection to Russell.

Tacoma’s bullpen received a potential boost with the news that the Mariners are bringing back right-hander Taylor Williams on a minor league contract. Williams, who lives in Vancouver, WA and is a graduate of Camas High School, was terrific for the Rainiers in the second half of last season. After being let go mid-season by Sacramento, the Rainiers scooped him up and watched him post a 1.14 ERA in 23 appearances.

The Mariners added another player with local ties, claiming left-handed pitcher Tayler Saucedo off waivers from the New York Mets. Recently acquired reliever J.B. Bukauskas was designated for assignment to make room on the roster.

Saucedo grew up in Maple Valley and attended Tahoma High School. After graduating he spent two years taking classes and playing baseball for coach Ryan Mummert at Tacoma Community College, pitching as a freshman in 2012 before redshirting in 2013. He transferred to a small four-year college – Tennessee Wesleyan – before getting drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays.

He reached the majors in 2021, appearing in 29 games for Toronto, and appeared in four more big league games last year. The Mariners are a little light on left-handed relief pitchers, and Saucedo addresses that.

Just in this morning, the team has also added right-handed reliever Kyle Taylor on a minor league deal. He split the 2022 season between the Giants and Padres organizations, bouncing around the waiver wire a bit.

The organization finished announcing the coaching staffs for all of the minor league affiliates, and the Class-A Modesto Nuts are the team we’ll be rooting for the most.

Former Rainiers players Zach Vincej and Seth Mejias-Brean will be running the show in California’s central valley. Vincej was tabbed the manager of the club, and Mejias-Brean will be the hitting coach.

Both served as coaches for Tacoma last year, in their first player development assignments after wrapping up their playing careers. Their new jobs are definitely promotions, with bigger responsibility despite being at a lower level in the farm system.

Veteran prospect analyst Keith Law released his annual Top 100 Prospects list, and two Mariners appear. Law has catcher Harry Ford ranked at No. 65 overall, with starting pitcher Bryce Miller not far behind at No. 75.

Miller has a chance to pitch for Tacoma at some point this season, while Ford is still a year or two away from reaching Triple-A.

Subscribers to The Athletic can read Law’s entire Top 100 with write-ups on all of the players right here.

We’ll wrap things up with the best news of the offseason: longtime Sacramento River Cats broadcaster Johnny Doskow has been hired to join the Oakland A’s broadcast team. The River Cats will have a new announcer this year.

Kudos to the Oakland A’s for making the hire. It’s refreshing to have a major league team hire a fully qualified, experienced broadcaster from the minors who has dedicated his life to the work.

Johnny has been a good friend for over 25 years. He’s a one-of-a-kind personality and a character of the game. We’ll miss him dearly in the PCL, but are absolutely overjoyed that he’s getting this opportunity.


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