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Seattle Mariners 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Seattle Mariners 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

Seattle Mariners 2021: Scouting, Projected Lineup, Season Prediction

The Mariners enter Year Three of a rebuilding plan that general manager Jerry Dipoto labeled "a stepback." But will the 60-game season in 2020 and the canceled minor league season slow or sidetrack the timeline to success? The Mariners' plan to use last season as a developmental year with the actual win-loss results secondary to the goal of getting MLB experience was hindered by the COVID-19 shutdown and the 60-game season. After finishing 27–33 in 2020, the Mariners go into this season with an increased focus on the daily game results over developmental growth. Both Dipoto and manager Scott Servais believe that given the young talent and athleticism, competing for a playoff spot, particularly if MLB uses an expanded playoff format again, should be an expectation.

Opposing Scouts Size Up the Mariners

"They've got a bunch of guys who do one thing great but have a lot of parts missing to their game. Like Evan White — he's a Gold Glover at first, but he can't really hit yet. Same story with J.P. Crawford — Gold Glove at short, but he'll never make much of an impact with his bat. Mitch Haniger's a complete player, but he's basically missed two years with injuries. So they've got a lot of maybes there. For now I have Justus Sheffield as a mid-rotation guy, but he's got a lot of weapons and for a couple of stretches like that, he looked like he could be an ace. Marco Gonzales is a winner — maybe a little bit of a low ceiling, but you've got to love a durable, reliable lefty signed to a team-friendly deal. Yusei Kikuchi has been a bust so far; I really like him for three innings, then he'll get whacked around like the hitters know what's coming. Kenyan Middleton and Rafael Montero were solid additions to the bullpen, and I'll keep a close eye on Kendall Graveman; he impressed me down the stretch with a nice uptick in velocity."

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Beyond the Box Score

All-time Mariner With Seager's time with the Mariners expected to end after the 2020 season, he will leave as one of the most productive players in franchise history. In the limited 2020 season, he still moved his way up the club's record books and reaching career milestones, including his 200th homer, his 700th RBI, and his 500th extra-base hit. He is just the fourth player in Mariners history to reach those marks while with the team, joining Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr. (417 HR, 1,216 RBI, 788 XBH) and Edgar Martinez (309 HR, 1,261 RBI, 838 XBH) and fan favorite Jay Buhner (307 HR, 951 RBI, 557 XBH).

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Getting creative 

With the minor league season canceled, the team's facility in Arizona restricted to either rehabbing players or players on the 40-man roster and a limit on players at the alternate training site, the Mariners decided to get creative to keep some of their young pitching prospects active and throwing. Seattle set up a pitching camp near Elon University in North Carolina, where minor league pitching coach Sean McGrath worked previously, and invited 10 pitchers to the camp for a two-month period. Pitchers worked through throwing programs that grew into simulated games and live batting practice against college and minor league hitters. 


Drawing a crowd After 32 months of waiting for his elbow to feel normal, including a failed rehab attempt with a platelet-rich plasma shot and Tommy John surgery, former top prospect Sam Carlson stepped on a mound during spring training to face hitters in a live batting practice session. It drew a crowd of onlookers, including Jerry Dipoto, several MLB coaches, most of the player development staff, and several Mariners farmhands. Carlson participated in the team's pitching camp in North Carolina and in the fall Arizona instructional league, hitting 95 mph with his fastball. 


Leading the fight With 10 African-American players on their 40-man roster to start the season — the most in baseball — the Mariners became one of the leading teams in MLB in the movement for social justice. While veteran Dee Strange-Gordon often took the lead, J.P. Crawford, Kyle Lewis, Justin Dunn, and Shed Long Jr. actively participated in panels and discussions, often led by Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Sims. Scott Servais made it a point to have open discussions about race and social issues on a near-daily basis during summer camp while also putting together an organization-wide campaign to get all the players registered to vote and pushing the need for civic participation.

Projected Lineup

LINEUP

SS    J.P. Crawford (L)

RF    Mitch Haniger (R)

3B    Kyle Seager (L)

CF    Kyle Lewis (R)

C     Tom Murphy (R)

DH   Ty France (R)

LF    Jarred Kelenic (L)

1B    Evan White (R)

2B    Dylan Moore (R)

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BENCH

INF   Shed Long Jr. (L)

C      Luis Torrens (R)

UT    Sam Haggerty (S)

OF    Jake Fraley (L)

ROTATION

LHP    Marco Gonzales

LHP    James Paxton

LHP    Yusei Kikuchi

LHP    Justus Sheffield

RHP    Chris Flexen

RHP    Justin Dunn

BULLPEN

RHP    Rafael Montero (C)

RHP    Keynan Middleton

RHP    Kendall Graveman

RHP    Brandon Brennan

RHP    Erik Swanson

RHP    Yohan Ramirez

RHP    Anthony Misiewicz

2021 Prediction: 4th in AL West

(Kyle Lewis photo courtesy of @Jumpman23)