The 2022 Tacoma Rainiers will gather for their first time tomorrow, as the Seattle Mariners minor league spring training camp opens. Many Mariners prospects have been working out in Peoria for the last few weeks, but on March 4th everyone on a minor league contract will report to camp. Only players on the Mariners 40-man major league roster will be absent, because they are locked out of camp by the owners.
Tacoma’s season starts on April 5th, and we’ll have a game at Cheney Stadium that night against Salt Lake. The minor leagues are going to play on, regardless of the status of the ongoing lockout.
While the games will be played for sure, the makeup of the Rainiers roster will be impacted by the lockout: players on the Mariners 40-man roster will not be available to appear in the minor leagues. Typically, a Triple-A team has eight-to-twelve players who are on the major league 40-man roster. Often these are relief pitchers who shuttle back-and-forth, a catcher, at least one starting pitcher, a multi-position infielder, and maybe a young prospect or two who had to be protected on the roster.
Key players who we expect to see with the Rainiers this season but are on the 40-man roster include top outfield prospect Julio Rodriguez, pitching prospect Matt Brash, catcher Jose Godoy, and infielders Donovan Walton and Kevin Padlo. The organization will have to decide how they are going to make up for these players if they are still locked out by the owners on April 5. All 30 organizations will have this conundrum: do you sign a bunch of older guys from independent leagues, or do you push up younger players who shouldn’t be in Triple-A?
Perhaps with that in mind, the Mariners recently added a couple of minor league free agents who profile as Triple-A players.
The M’s re-signed free agent starting pitchers Asher Wojciechowski and Ian McKinney, both contributors to Tacoma’s Triple-A West championship season last year.
Left-handed reliever Danny Young was inked to a minor league deal. He pitched for Columbus – the Cleveland Guardians affiliate – in 2021. Tall righty Patrick Weigel has also been signed, he pitched in three big league games for Milwaukee last year while spending most of the season with Nashville.
Riley Unroe, and infielder who has a loads of Double-A experience but only a little bit of Triple-A time, was also brought to camp.
These players will compete to beef up a Tacoma Rainiers roster that figures to be fairly young.
The Rainiers put individual game tickets on sale earlier this week, and they also announced the 2022 promotional calendar. Make sure to check it out if you haven’t yet – in particular, the renderings of the Throwback Weekend giveaway items look really cool.
- Seattle Times writer Ryan Divish got into it while writing his first story from Mariners training camp, describing minor league mini camp while the majors leaguers are locked out. Not sure how much more coverage he’ll be able to provide, since he got kicked out of a minor league scrimmage yesterday.
- Julio Cruz – one of the Mariners earliest stars, and the team’s Spanish language broadcaster for many years – passed away. Larry Stone has a column on him.