A Look at the Tacoma Rainiers

Thursday the Seattle Mariners have off after playing for twenty straight days so again I figured to look again at the Tacoma Rainiers the Mariners Triple A team. We are familiar with a few of their players because they have spent some of the time with the Mariners this season. The Rainiers begin their longest and final series of the season where they play eleven games in twelve days starting Thursday night. The Rainiers do have a losing record however they could still end up with a winning record especially if they do well on this home stand. They have a record of 59-62 and are in third place of the Pacific Coast League northern division. They are two-and a half games behind the second place Reno. Of the eleven games at home the first four are against Fresno who leads the northern division  ten and a half games ahead of the Rainiers. They are followed with three games against Reno and they end the homestand with four against El Paso. The final road trip will be three in Las Vegas, then El Paso for three that ends the season on September 3. The Mariners will be able to recall any players they want on September 1 when the rosters expand to forty.

Gordon Beckham who spent a little time on the Mariner roster when Dee Gordon went on the disabled list leads the Rainiers in batting with an average of .311. First baseman/designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach leads the Rainiers in home runs with nineteen and rbi’s with 58. The odds are pretty good that Vogelbach will have more than twenty home runs and sixty rbi’s on the season for the Rainiers. Another name that might not be as familiar to some Mariner fans is Ian Miller. Last year he had the Ken Griffey Award as the best player in the Mariners minor league system. He played part of last year in double-A well as Tacoma. This season he has been with the Rainiers the full season he leads the team in runs with 56 while stealing 26 stolen bases. Where he stands and how the Mariners look at him to be on the big club next season or in the future at that matter is hard to know at this point. It would not surprise me he is involved in a trade during the off-season if he isn’t figured part of their future. Right now the Mariners have at least five  outfielders in front of him in Denard Span, Guillermo Heredia, Mitch Haniger, Cameron Maybin (who will be a free agent when the season is over) and Ben Gamel.

Looking at the other two players Gordon Beckham and Daniel Vogelbach will likely be brought up when the PCL season is over. Likely neither one will see much action in September especially with Robinson Cano back on the team. Beckham I am sure will be a free agent at the end of the season. The Mariners may re-sign him to either add depth to the infield or take the place of Andrew Romine as the utility player. This is up in the air because no one knows at this time where Dee Gordon and Robinson Cano will play for the Mariners next season. I am sure Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais may have an idea. I could see Dee Gordon returning to center field next season and Robinson Cano taking his spot again at second base. This is the case than you will see Ben Gamel in left and Mitch Haniger in right with Heredia as the fourth outfielder. The Mariners could decide to keep Denard Span who could be a free agent if the Mariners buy out his contract for around $4 million. If he plays for the Mariners his contract will be around $12 million. The Mariners could look at trading Gamel as well. Gamel will be another who will be recalled at the beginning of September if not before hand.

Another outfielder that might see action again with the Mariners next season is John Andreoli who was called up a couple times to the Mariners but only batted five times. With the Rainiers he is batting .285 but has only three home runs so he is a similar outfielder to Ian Miller or for that matter Ben Gamel and Denard Span but bats right handed instead of left like they do. His chances on the Mariners next year would be as a fourth outfielder. This again would depend on what Dipoto decides to do during the off-season. He might be called up in September as well but might only limited duty.

Looking at the infield besides Beckham the other choice at this time is Zach Vincej who was called up when Kyle Seager went on paternity leave and did a find job for a little bit of time he was in there. He and Vogelbach are the only ones to be on the 40-man roster at this time. Three other infielders on the Tacoma rosters are second baseman Adam Law, Seth Mejias-Bean and Danny Muno who are all under thirty years of age. Although they don’t look to be starters for the Mariners in the future could be utility players or be involved in a trade. Zach doesn’t have a high batting at .238 but his on-base percentage is over three hundred and he has only six home runs. Adam Law has spent half his season at double A and then the other half with the Rainiers. He is batting .280 with the Rainiers with three home runs. His father Vance and grandfather Vernon both played in the major league. I remember having his grandfather’s baseball card when I was a young kid. Mejias-Bean has had an average season with the Rainiers but not much power either with seven homer runs Muno has been hurt since the end of June and he has average below two hundred with only one home run. So all these guys don’t look to be regulars in the major leagues at this point anyway.

Catchers position right now is occupied by Dan Freitas who has spent some of the season with the Mariners as the second catcher. He is batting .351 with the Rainiers in twenty-six games while with the Mariners he is batting under two hundred in twenty-nine game. He has had a solid minor league career so he could be a solid number two catcher whether with the Rainiers or elsewhere. He looks to me like he could have some power however he hasn’t shown it in his career so far.  Cameron Rupp the Mariners signed recently on a minor league deal only has played in twenty games for the Rainier with an average just above one hundred. He hasn’t had an oppressive career far as at the plate. Hard to know whether he will return next season. A third catcher is Garrett Kennedy who is like Rupp hasn’t shown himself to have a high batting average or power either.

When it comes to pitching not a lot to talk about there. They do have three pitchers who have seven victories that tie for the lead. They are Christian Bergman who recently was brought up to the Mariners when James Paxton went on the disabled list, Casey Lawrence who recently sent down by the Mariners and Rob Whalen who pitched earlier for the Mariners as well.  Lawrence has the lowest era of 2.75 far as starters go. Both Bergman and Whalen haven’t been as impressive being over five earn runs per game. Shawn Armstrong led the Rainiers in saves with twelve and an era of 1.93. Ryan Cook, Mike Morin and Nick Rumbelow  all have had success in the Rainiers bullpen before and after spending some time with the Mariners. Ryan Garton who had some success with the Mariners last September has had a fine season in Tacoma with an era of 3.22 in twenty-nine games. Not a lot to look at with Tacoma far as a future with the Mariners. Dan Altavilla spent a little time with Tacoma just like Seattle but has been hurt for a good period of the year. He still may have a solid career in the major leagues ahead of him. He is now starting a rehab assignment with the Rainiers so we could possibly see him in a Mariner uniform come September. Besides these guys not a lot of other good pitchers for the Mariners to pick from on the Rainier staff. I will do a rap up on the Rainiers when their season is over. I expect not to add much then what I have mentioned here. Look forward to see a few of them this September for the Mariners. Those in the bullpen will get the bulk of the work out of those players when opportunities arise.

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