The final day of my spring training trip featured the Rainiers playing Round Rock (Texas Rangers) on one of the backfields of the Peoria Sports Complex. Let’s cover this one bullet-points style.
- Easton McGee drew the start for Tacoma, and went four innings. An off-season waiver claim from the Red Sox who has pitched in one career big league game, McGee is a tall right-hander who is being stretched out for the Rainiers starting rotation. He did not achieve good results on Friday, getting knocked around a bit, particularly by Rangers hitting prospect Dustin Harris. Harris connected for a two-run homer in the first inning and a two-run double in the third.
- Catching McGee was Jacob Nottingham, who had been transferred to minor league camp just 24 hours prior. He appeared to be in good spirits while playing in the first six innings of the game, he threw out a base stealer, and at the plate he walked twice and drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.
- Some notable hard hit balls from Rainiers hitters: Pat Valaika absolutely scalded a line drive single to center, despite getting slightly jammed Evan White muscled a ball deep the other way to the right field corner for a double, and both Leo Rivas and Robert Perez Jr connected for solid singles.
- Taylor Williams pitched two innings from the Rainiers bullpen, walking two in his first frame before looking very sharp while retiring the side in his second inning.
- Justus Sheffield is now a reliever. He told me this is his first time as a full-time reliever, and he likes it so far. He pitched through some traffic to get a scoreless inning, without allowing any hard hit balls.
- We have a new player in the mix. Outfielder Isaiah Gilliam has been signed, and he showed some speed by drawing a walk and stealing second base before scoring on a sac fly. Gilliam split the 2022 season between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville in the Cincinnati Reds organization. He had an .807 OPS in 53 games for Louisville.
- The recent signings of Valaika and Gilliam are due to injuries suffered by expected first-year Rainiers Jack Larsen and Kaden Polcovich. I don’t have any exact information on what their injuries are, but apparently both players are going to be out for a while.
- There was a Double-A game going on at a neighboring field, and there was a large contingent of scouts watching that one. I wandered over to see what the fuss was all about, and it was because the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft was on the mound for the Rangers affiliate. That would be right-hander Jack Leiter, son of longtime big leaguer Al Leiter. I watched him use what looked like a mid-90s fastball to whiff M’s catching prospect Charlie Welch.
I flew home Friday evening and now begin the final preparations for the season opener on Friday at Oklahoma City (5:05 Pacific). The team arrives in Tacoma this week and hopes that the weather is good enough for a couple workouts at Cheney Stadium before flying to OKC on Thursday. That means a roster and starting rotation should be arriving soon, and I’ll get that info to you as soon as possible.
- It’s the final stretch before Opening Day, and now players are just trying to survive the last week healthy. J.P. Crawford has an injury scare.
- Seattle Times writer Ryan Divish has one of his Mariners Q&A’s.
- MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer has an article on Mariners who stood out during spring training.