Players to watch and some expectations for Mariners 2023 spring training 

Players that will make the team out of camp; impact of WBC key storylines



For the first time in over 20 years, the Seattle Mariners went to the playoffs in 2022.

BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor

Pitchers and catchers have already reported to camp and spring training festivities are soon to be in full swing. The Seattle Mariners’ Twitter account has come alive with coverage of new and familiar faces and fans are excited to see their team back in action.

There are several things to look out for with spring training. This year specifically will be different, seeing as the World Baseball Classic runs alongside spring training. Several players on the Mariners are playing for their home countries, and those who are not will get ample reps in traditional spring training. 

Mariners competing in the WBC include Matt Brash (Canada), Diego Castillo, Julio Rodríguez, Teoscar Hernández (Dominican Republic), Harry Ford (Great Britain), Matt Festa (Italy) and Eugenio Suárez (Venezuela). 

Ford will be a key player to look out for, as he has a lot of positional versatility and is just 20 years old. He is currently the No. 1 prospect in the team’s farm system. It is expected to be about a year or two out from the majors, but big showings in spring training and the WBC could expedite that process. 

The trio competing for the Dominican Republic will also see much playing time, coming in as one of just a few countries with serious potential to win the tournament. Even more so, Rodríguez is the best player for the Mariners and getting to see him play is always a treat. The new addition of Hernández will also be fun to watch in his first action while in the Mariners organization.

Hernández is not the only new face that fans must become accustomed to. Kolten Wong, Tommy La Stella, A.J. Pollock and Cooper Hummel are all new additions that are either going to be everyday starters or have the potential to make major impacts throughout the entire season. 

Wong and Hernández are the two biggest additions over the offseason, slotting into two starting positions in the 2023 Mariners lineup. Wong is a two-time Gold Glove second-baseman who put up a 118 OPS+ in 2022. 

Hernández has a career 121 OPS+ over seven seasons with two Silver Slugger Awards under his belt and an All-Star appearance as recent as 2021. Over the past three seasons, his worst OPS has been .807, which happened last season. In 2023, his production will hopefully bounce back closer to .900, but anything over .800 will have a positive impact on the team. 

La Stella and Pollock will maintain platoon roles and fill in the gaps when other players inevitably need rest days over the year. La Stella has a career OPS of .749 against right-handed pitchers and Pollock has a career OPS of .868 against lefties, both being some of the better platoon options in the entire MLB. 

There are several internal players to keep an eye out for during spring training as well. Two former top-five prospects in the Mariners system are looking to regain their potential and become extremely productive hitters at the big league level. 

Those two are Evan White and Jarred Kelenic. White has battled injuries on top of poor production in the majors. Despite not showing much promise at the plate in 306 at-bats, he won a Gold Glove at first base in the shortened 2020 season.

In the coverage of his live at-bats at spring training, White has looked improved on his bat path and swing consistently, signs that he may finally find his form for the big league club. 

Kelenic, on the other hand, is a sensitive subject among the fan base. Some fans are already calling for the team to give up on the 23-year-old, while others believe he can unlock his potential in the MLB. 

In his MLB career, he has a 66 OPS+, but at the AAA level, he is one of the best hitters in the minors. If he can even balance that production out, he will become an average to above-average hitter and plus-defender in the outfield. 

Kelenic’s role in 2023 will likely be that of a platoon with the previously mentioned Pollock. But his spring training is also vital to look out for as he is locked in a potential position battle for that platoon. 

His competition comes from Taylor Trammell and No. 21 prospect Cade Marlowe — if he shows out over spring. Trammell is currently out for multiple months due to surgery to repair a broken hamate bone in his hand. 

Trammell will start the season in the minor leagues so he can prepare himself and rehab after returning from the injury, making the position battle less interesting. Marlowe is a hit or miss as he was the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year for 2021. He will likely start the season on the bench at least and will step in if Kelenic struggles in his platoon role.

The final key to spring training is the young arms in the Mariners’ pitching staff. Brash has major league experience and Emerson Hancock, Bryce Miller, Taylor Dollard and Bryan Woo are all fighting for a spot on the MLB club. 

Brash’s slider has looked elite in limited action and pitching for Canada in the WBC will be a vital experience as he prepares for the season. Hancock was the sixth overall pick in 2020 and put up a 3.75 ERA in AA last season.

Miller, Dollard and Woo all possess high ceilings if they can put everything together. All three may see times at the MLB level depending on how workload and injuries develop over the season. 

Spring training is always fun and even more so for the Mariners this season. The future is bright and the talent is young, and every day we get closer and closer to the beginning of the long haul toward the 2023 World Series.