The Tacoma Rainers, the Mariners AAA affiliate, is loaded with rising prospects thanks to Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto. We’ll check in with Tacoma periodically to monitor their progress.
Throughout the season, we will be heading down to Cheney Stadium to check out the Tacoma Rainiers, the Mariners‘ Triple-A affiliate. The Rainiers are coming off of an impressive season in which they finished 81-62. They made the playoffs and lost to eventual Pacific Coast League champion El Paso.
This season, Tyler O’Neill, the Mariners #2 prospect, makes his Triple-A debut. The outfield should be a strong point with O’Neill, Ben Gamel (prospect #18) and the eventual return of the enigmatic Boog Powell (#24) from suspension.
The Rainiers started slow but have broken out in a big way with five straight wins and are currently 7-5. They won all but one of their games during the first homestand of the 2017 season. Here are some players to watch as the Triple-A season starts to heat up.
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I know I am not the only one constantly comparing Vogelbach’s numbers to that of current Mariners first baseman Danny Valencia. Valencia has been, frankly, bad so far this year. He is hitting a lowly .154 and has almost twice as many strikeouts as hits. Another maddening statistic is that he is 0 for 3 with two strikeouts with the bases loaded.
Vogelbach on the other hand has held his own with the bat down in Tacoma. He is hitting .293 with 5 RBI and drove in the go-ahead run in Saturday’s win againt Albuquerque. It may be due to his defense that he finds himself in Tacoma and not at Safeco Field. He has played six error-free games at first base since joining the Rainiers.
It is doubtful the leash is tight on Valencia but it sure is frustrating to see him come up short time and time again with run-scoring opportunities.
The prized prospect from the third round of the 2013 draft is making a good first impression in Tacoma. The British Colombia native has two home runs and five total extra base hits in his first 11 games in Triple-A. His average has dipped to .200 with 12 strikeouts, however. He obviously has some work to do but with the Mariners outfield set for 2017, he has plenty of time to figure things out. He is a fun player to watch and he should only get better.
Overton was sent back down to Tacoma after Tony Zych came back from the disabled list. The Mariners want him in the rotation down there. He pitched in two games at the big league level and got roughed up a bit. The former second-round pick would do well to develop as a starting pitcher in Triple-A. In 20 starts for Tripe-A Nashville last season, he had 13 wins and a 3.25 ERA.
In his first game since his demotion, he pitched three solid innings with four strikeouts and no runs allowed.
Lowe is with the Mariners organization for a third separate stint. The 33-year-old pitched for the Detroit Tigers last season. He started this season in Triple-A and has struggled a bit. He has allowed five runs (three earned) in 3 1/3 innings of work in four games. Batters are currently hitting .444 off of Lowe so there is definitely room for improvement if he wants to break into the bullpen up in Seattle anytime soon.
At this point, Lowe is a nice insurance piece with experience in the bullpen. As long as the current Mariners bullpen produces and stays healthy, Lowe will be in Tacoma for the time being.