Minor league baseball is back, baby!
Rejoice, minor-league nerds, for the 2021 season is upon us, and that means it’s roster time!
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) April 30, 2021
You can see more detailed rosters on the websites for each club: the Rainiers one is here, the Travelers one is here, the AquaSox is here, and the Nuts roster is here. (Not all rosters have been fully updated on the websites, but should be shortly.) All of these rosters are subject to change, of course, due to injuries, trades, and other unforeseen circumstances, and the Rainiers one, especially, will likely be in flux as players are shuffled from the taxi squad to the big-league club and back.
The minor-league season kicks off on May 4 for most clubs; the Rainiers will start their season May 6 at home. You can find ticketing info for the Rainiers here (ticket sales open day of the game at 10 AM; season ticket holders get priority access). The Everett AquaSox start their season on the road and will return to Funko Field on May 11. There are limited tickets left for Opening Night at the time of this writing, but that Friday’s game is already sold out. You can purchase tickets to AquaSox games here.
We’ll have an in-depth breakdown of each of the levels with our season previews for each affiliate, which will run next week, but in the meantime, some notable things from each roster:
- Obviously the big headline is the J-Rod Show is coming to Everett. For those of you who haven’t had an opportunity to get down to Spring Training to see Julio Rodríguez in person, now is your chance—and you should act fast before he’s promoted to Arkansas.
- Speaking of Everett, it’s déjà vu all over again for many players who started their careers at Everett in Low-A ball and now will return as members of the High-A club. Jarod Bayless, Patrick Frick, Ben Onyshko, Austin Shenton, and many other members of the 2018 and ‘19 draft classes will return to their old stomping grounds in Everett.
- Also, Everett’s pitching staff is going to be filthy. The five-punch of Kirby-Hancock-Williamson-Campbell-Then will get a lot of the attention, but there are some dark horse breakout candidates here, too; Levi Stoudt, Kyle Hill, Tim Elliott, Jarod Bayless, and Matt Brash are all names to watch, among others.
- Those of you in Cali or with a hankering to travel the Pacific Coast Highway (road trip, anyone?) can see two of Seattle’s most mysterious talents in person: Noelvi Marte and Sam Carlson will both be with Modesto. If you’re not near Cali, never fear, because neither projects to stay in A-ball for long, and both should be making their way to Everett at some point during the season. In the meantime, though, this is a great time to sign up for MiLB.TV.
- Everett’s Deathstar Rotation will hoover up a lot of the attention, but don’t sleep on Modesto’s, which has wild upside even if it doesn’t have a ton of household names. Lefty Adam Macko has quietly attracted the attention of scouts and evaluators, and 2020 draftee Connor Phillips has received an aggressive assignment to full-season ball without a lengthy college track record nor any professional experience, suggesting the team places quite a bit of faith in the young righty. There are some injury rehab/TJ warriors in this crew who haven’t been seen in a while like Nolan Hoffman and Max Roberts who could pop, and Travis Ray Kuhn spent his quaran-time molding himself into a power reliever who throws upper 90s. This group of arms has the potential to cause a power outage all over the Central Valley.
- I would not put a ton of stock in Arkansas’ pitching staff remaining what it is for long. Anderson, Haberer, Gillies, and McCaughan, at least, are all Triple-A quality arms, some with significant Triple-A experience. Murfee and McKinney are both older players with other experience—Murfee in pitching for Team USA in 2019 and McKinney has Double-A experience—who should be knocking on the door of Triple-A shortly after.
- Bookending the excitement that is the J-Rod Show in Everett, Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert have been assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. I wouldn’t get myself too attached to the idea of either of them there, though, and would be especially surprised if Kelenic plays any significant amount of time as a Rainier. It feels more like Tacoma is a holding chamber, with several prospects I’d have expected to see at Triple-A (the pitchers listed above, Jordan Cowan, Dom Thompson-Williams) instead re-assigned to Arkansas. I’m expecting we see some significant movement after the draft when new players are installed into the system—remember there’s no short-A level to send college players to anymore, so it’s Modesto or the AZL—that should render those two levels unrecognizable to the rosters we have here.