Mitch Haniger comes to the Mariners ready to prove he’s MLB quality after being traded to Seattle last month for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte.
Jean Segura was the marquee player in Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto‘s swap of Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte with the Arizona Diamondbacks last month. But the Mariners also managed to make off with outfielder Mitch Haniger, who, according to Baseball America, is the fifth-best prospect in their farm system.
Coming away with a promising young outfielder is never a bad thing in a trade, but Dipoto specifically asked for Haniger. After the trade, he said: “For us, Haniger became a critical element of the trade. We like the player. We like the upside. We like his physicality.” Dipoto and company targeted Mitch Haniger because they thought he could contribute to the Mariner’s outfield situation almost immediately.
With platoon outfielder Seth Smith on the trade block, Mitch Haniger could see action in a corner outfield spot earlier in the year than you might expect. There’s already talk of him possibly being the Opening Day starter in right field 2017.
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Mitch Haniger destroyed minor league pitching last season in the Diamondbacks organization. Between AA Mobile and AAA Reno (in the PCL with the Tacoma Rainiers), Haniger slashed .321/.418/.581. For those who hate addition, that’s a .999 OPS. He hit 25 home runs, drove in 94 RBIs, and tossed in 12 steals for good measure. He also walked 69 times against 99 strikeouts. He’s demonstrated patience and power at the plate, and most within the Mariners organization believe he’s proven all he can in the minors.
Dipoto called him “an excellent defender” after the trade. Haniger, at age 26, is a bit of a late bloomer, but his recent adjustments in his swing during the 2015 season caught the eye of Dipoto and Mariners brass. With Haniger, fellow rookie outfielder Ben Gamel, and first baseman Dan Vogelbach (acquired in the Mike Montgomery trade), the Mariners are trying to inject some youth into their aging roster. Spring Training will be more interesting than normal this season with Gamel, Vogelbach, and Haniger all figuring to get every chance to make the major league club. Those of you who make the pilgrimage to Peoria every year, take note.