We are now less than 40 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to the Mariners Spring Training Complex in Peoria, Arizona and we can’t wait! With that in mind, The Hot Stove show returns tonight from the 710 ESPN Radio studios from 7-9 pm.
Mariners broadcasters Rick Rizzs, Shannon Drayer & Bill Krueger will co-host the evenings show and will be joined by Mariners pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr., Mariners VP of Marketing Kevin Martinez and from the Caravan; Stefen Romero and Shawn O’Malley. ESPN.com’s Dave Shoenfield will also join the show.
As you’re all well aware, Ken Griffey Jr. was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame last week. Rick Rizzs was able to sit down with The Kid himself for an exclusive one-on-one interview that looks back at his fabulous career. The full interview will air tonight on the Hot Stove Show.
Be sure to tune in on the radio on 710 ESPN Seattle and online at MyNorthwest.com.
Late last night the Mariners added four players to the 40-man roster, bringing the roster total to 38 players:
- RHP Logan Bawcom selected to Major League roster
- 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi selected to Major League roster
- OF James Jones selected to Major League roster
- OF Stefen Romero selected to Major League roster
These players were added to the 40-man roster to meet the MLB deadline for being protected from the Rule 5 Draft (held Dec. 12 in Orlando, FL at the Winter Meetings).
Here are short write-up on each of the four players:
Bawcom, 25, led all Mariners minor leaguers with 21 saves, ranking 5th in the Pacific Coast League. The right-handed pitcher went 1-4 with a 2.91 ERA (21 ER, 65.0 IP) in 51 appearances, and recorded 64 strikeouts (8.86 K/9.0 IP). Over the last two seasons Bawcom has recorded 47 saves, second-most among all minor leaguers (Jose Valdez, Detroit, 48 saves). Bawcom was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers along with OF Leon Landry on July 30, 2012 in exchange for relief pitcher Brandon League. He was originally selected by the Dodgers in the 17th round of the 2010 June Draft out of the University of Texas-Arlington.
Choi, 22, combined to bat .295 (125×424) with 36 doubles, 6 triples, 18 home runs and 85 RBI in 122 games with High-A High Desert (48 games), AA Jackson (61 games) and AAA Tacoma (13 games). Choi played primarily first base and designated hitter during the season. At the plate he was one of only 20 minor league players to record at least 60 extra base hits during the 2013 season. Choi was selected as a midseason California League All-Star and played for the World squad in the All-Star Futures Game at Citi Field in New York. The native of Incheon, South Korea, was originally signed by Seattle as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2009. In 238 career minor league games Choi is a .309 hitter (261×844) with a .922 OPS (.411 OBP, .511 SLG) and 28 home runs.
Jones, 25, spent a majority of the 2013 with AA Jackson batting .275 (100×363) with 44 runs scored, 14 doubles, 10 triples, 6 home runs, 45 RBI and 28 stolen bases in 101 games. He also appeared in 4 games with AAA Tacoma. Jones led the Southern League with 10 triples and was named a Southern League All-Star. In five seasons in the Mariners minor league system Jones has combined to bat .281 (512×1822) with 96 doubles, 38 triples, 40 home runs and 94 stolen bases. He was selected by Seattle in the 4th round of the 2009 June draft out of Long Island University where he was both a pitcher and outfielder.
Romero, 25, batted .277 (104×375) with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs and 74 RBI in 93 games with AAA Tacoma. He also set a Tacoma franchise record with three grand slams. He concluded the season playing for the Peoria Javelinas in the Arizona Fall League where he hit a pair of home runs in the annual Rising Stars Game. Romero was the Mariners 2012 Minor League Player of the Year, and over the last two seasons ranks 10th among all minor leaguers with 177 RBI. He was originally selected by the Mariners in the 12th round of the 2010 June Draft out of Oregon State University. He has hit .306 (396×1296) with 50 home runs in 330 games at the minor league level.
Here is the news release that went out to the media, with the updated 40-man roster:
Mariners outfield prospect Stefen Romero wasn’t in the starting lineup for the West squad in the 2013 Arizona Fall League All-Star game, but that didn’t stop him from having a great performance. Romero entered the game in the 6th inning and went 2-for-2 with 2 home runs (both to the opposite field) with 3 RBI.
In a story by MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Romero talked about his big performance.
“I was just trying square the ball up,” said Romero, who helped the West beat the East, 9-2. “Coming in, I knew we were up early. I felt like they were going to try to get ahead of me early. Luckily, my first at-bat, I jumped on a fastball right away up in the zone. Luckily, it went out, a wall-scraper. Second at-bat, I just wanted to be a little more patient. Fortunately, he got a slider up and I did the same thing.”
Here is a video from MLB.com of Romero’s home runs:
The eighth annual Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game will take place tomorrow at 5 p.m. PT and can be viewed on MLB Network and MLB.com. The game formerly known as the Rising Stars Game, will be played at Surprise Stadium.
A pair of Mariners off the Peoria Javelinas roster were selected to play in the game, outfielder Stefen Romero and right-handed relief pitcher Carson Smith. Due to hitting his innings limit for the season, Smith will not participate in the game and will be shut down for the remainder of the winter.
Romero, 25, hit .277 (104×375) with 23 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs and 74 RBI in 93 games with the AAA Tacoma Rainiers last season. The former Oregon State Beaver was the Mariners 2012 Minor League Player of the Year.
Smith, 24, went 1-3 with 15 saves and a 1.80 ERA (10 ER, 50.0 IP) in 44 relief appearances with AA Jackson.
The annual exhibition game brings the best of an already talented league together on the field for one game — the AFL’s version of the Futures Game. And if history is any indication, a large number of the prospects on the field will see time in the big leagues in 2014. In 2011 Mariners infielder Nick Franklin was named the game MVP going 4-for-5 with a home run, 2 doubles and 4 RBI. Last fall catcher Mike Zunino, left-handed pitcher James Paxton and Franklin played in the Rising Stars Game.
Be sure to tune in to the MLB Network or MLB.com to watch the game!
Throughout the season, Mariners broadcaster Aaron Goldsmith will provide content on From the Corner of Edgar & Dave, giving a behind-the-scenes look at the Mariners players and organization. Here is his first installment for the 2013 season talking about minor league prospect Stefen Romero moving to the outfield.
After spending virtually all of his career at second base, Stefen Romero is now making the switch to left field. With the Mariners surplus of infielders at both the Major League and Minor League levels, the decision to move Romero to the outfield seems like a wise way to get his bat to Seattle sooner.
The Mariners reigning Minor League Player of the Year is off to a nice start to the season. Romero is hitting a combined .288 with 1 home run and 8 RBI between Single-A High Desert and Triple-A Tacoma, following an oblique injury in Spring Training. During his breakout 2012 campaign, Romero hit .352 with 23 homers and 101 RBI in 116 games between High Desert and Double-A Jackson.
“Stefen is very receptive and coachable,” said new new Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator, Brant Brown. “We’re working on not doing too much and allowing the play and his abilities to dictate what occurs.”
Brown, a former Major League outfielder with the Cubs, Pirates, and Marlins, has been in Tacoma recently working with Romero as he transitions to the outfield.
“Things are progressing well,” Brown went on to say. “I’m talking him through the basics of playing the outfield. How to set up, reads, angles to the ball, and ball security.”
I spent two years with “Brownie” in Frisco, Texas when he served as the hitting coach for the Texas Rangers Double-A affiliate. In addition to being a Major League veteran and an all-around great guy, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another coach actually teach the game of baseball with more precision and clearer communication than Brownie.
Romero actually played 17 games in the outfield for Single-A Clinton in 2011 (his first professional season). A lifetime .316 hitter in the minors, and someone Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik once told me “can flat out hit,” Romero’s bat promises to make an impact in Seattle whenever it arrives.
Thursday, March 7, 2013 / 25 Days ‘til Opening Night (April 1 at Oakland) / 32 Days ‘til Opening Night in Seattle (April 8 vs. Houston)
Mariners Go 1-1 in Split-Squad Action:
Stefen Romero went 4-for-5 with two home runs and seven RBI to lead the Seattle Mariners to a 12-2 split-squad victory over the Kansas City Royals Thursday afternoon at Surprise Stadium. Across the valley in Phoenix, the other half of the Mariners were defeated 7-3 by the A’s in Cactus League play.
Home Run Derby:
With four more home runs today (Romero-2, Wells vs. KC & Andino vs. OAK) the Mariners have combined to hit 30 home runs in 14 games, surpassing spring totals from 2012 (28 HR in 26 G), 2011 (27 HR in 31 G) and 2010 (23 HR in 32 G). 18 different players have accounted for the 30 home runs, which lead all MLB teams in the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues. Here are some video highlights of the game vs. the Royals, including the home runs hit by Stefen Romero and Casper Wells:
Romero’s Big Day:
Stefen Romero, who was the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year in 2012, fell a triple short of the cycle and had 11 total bases recording 2 home runs (including a grand slam), a double, a single and 7 RBI vs. the Royals.
Felix Hernandez made his Cactus League debut against the Royals. King Felix allowed 2 hits (both in the 2nd inning) and one run, while striking out a pair. He threw 33 pitches (19 strikes) and told the media “he felt great” and that “it was about time he got out on the mound.”
Bonderman & Iwakuma Look Solid:
Their totals may get lost in the box score, but the strong outings were turned in by normal starters Hisashi Iwakuma (3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 10 batters face at KC) and Jeremy Bonderman (3.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 10 batters faced at OAK).
Dan the Man:
Dan Wilson arrived in camp and was in uniform today (and made the trip to the game vs. the A’s). He’ll work with the Major and Minor League catchers over the next few days, and his presence will be a great asset to the club. As many know, they don’t come much nicer than Dan the Man! That makes three Mariners legends currently in camp (Ken Griffey Jr., Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson). We’ll try to get a fun picture with the three of them together for the blog.
Big Win for Italy:
Team Italy, with Mariners infielder Alex Liddi batting cleanup, pulled a bit of a stunner this afternoon earning a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Mexico in Pool D play of the World Baseball Classic. Liddi went 2-for-3 with a walk and RBI in the win.
Bad Weather on the Way?:
It was a nice, but overcast, day here in the Valley of the Sun with temperatures in the mid 70’s. There is a good chance of rain and a lot of wind in the forecast for tomorrow. Hopefully we can get tomorrow’s 1:05 pm game in against the A’s without any weather delays.
On Tap Tomorrow (Friday, March 8):
The Mariners (11-3) return to Cactus League play tomorrow with a home game against the Oakland Athletics (6-6) at Peoria Stadium (12:05 PT/1:05 MT). Right-hander Hector Noesi (0-1, 14.73) is scheduled to make his second spring start (4th appearance) against A’s right-hander A.J. Griffin (1-0, 1.80). The game will be broadcast live on ESPN 710 Seattle and Mariners.com (for subscribers to MLB.tv). The team will also hold its normal morning workout, taking the field for stretch at 9:30 am (Fields 1&2) and batting practice from 10:15-11:15 am.
The Mariners nine minor league affiliates wrapped up the 2012 season putting together one of the best season in club history, combining for a 496-406 (.550) record. The organization led all Major League farm systems in wins and winning percentage, while setting a new record for most wins in a single season. This has led to optimism in the Mariners pipeline, as Seattle has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Baseball America unveiled their annual Top 10 Prospects list ranking the top Mariners in the minor leagues.
Baseball America’s Top 10 Mariners Prospects:
1. Mike Zunino, c
2. Taijuan Walker, rhp
3. Danny Hultzen, lhp
4. James Paxton, lhp
5. Nick Franklin, ss/2b
6. Brandon Maurer, rhp
7. Carter Capps, rhp
8. Stefen Romero, 2b
9. Brad Miller, ss
10. Victor Sanchez, rhp
Catcher Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners with the third overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player draft, quickly established himself as an offensive and defensive force and was ranked by Baseball America as the Mariners No. 1 prospect. In his first professional season, Zunino hit .360 (58×151) with 35 runs scored, 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 44 combined between Short-A Everett and AA Jackson.
The Mariners had six pitchers ranked in the top 10, including five of the top seven prospects. For the second straight year, right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker (#2) was tabbed as the Mariners top pitching prospect. In only his third professional season, Walker, 20, was one of the youngest pitchers in the Southern League and was also named to the North Division All-Star Team. Left-handed pitchers Danny Hultzen (#3) and James Paxton (#4), joined right-handed pitchers Brandon Maurer (#6), Carter Capps (#7) and Victor Sanchez (#10) to round out the Mariners top pitching prospects. After being in the minor leagues less than a year, Capps made his Major League debut on Aug. 3, 2012 and became only the third player from the 2011 First-Year Players draft to make his ML debut. Hultzen, Maurer and Paxton each ranked amongst the Mariners organization leaders in wins, ERA and strikeouts, while Sanchez at age 17 was the youngest player in the top 10.
While the Mariners are known for their top pitching prospects, it was their offensive numbers that really stood out in 2012. Amongst all full-season minor league clubs, the Mariners affiliates finished in the top 5 in nearly every offensive category, including ranking first in hits, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Infielders Nick Franklin (#5), Stefen Romero (#8) and Brad Miller (#9) joined Zunino as the Mariners position players in the organizations top 10 rankings. Romero was named the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year after batting .352 (167×474) with 85 runs scored, 64 extra-base hits and 101 RBI in 116 games combined between High-A High Desert and AA Jackson. Franklin was recently named to the Arizona Fall League Top Prospect Team, while Miller ranked second amongst all Minor Leaguers with 186 hits.