Seattle’s closest affiliate is well worth a visit this summer
It’s that time of year where we bring you an overlook of every Mariners MiLB affiliate for the upcoming season. In previous years we’ve started at the lowest levels of the system and worked our way up, but this year we’ll be starting at the top, with the Tacoma Rainiers, and working our way down. The reason for this is twofold: first of all, MiLB Opening Day for Triple-A is Tuesday, April 5, as in tomorrow, so we want to have this preview in your hot little hands before Opening Day. All other leagues open this Friday, April 8, so all this week we’ll be gradually shedding A’s until we wind up in the DSL/AZL. Secondly, because of the owners’ lockout throwing off the timing of everything this off-season, we don’t yet have a firm roster for who will be assigned to which level. We’ll be making our best guesses based on current rosters and general patterns noted through watching who was assigned where during minor-league camp, and will update each roster accordingly when we have the correct info.
If you’ve been reading the FanPosts you’ll have seen that Ian Wiltamuth did a roster preview for each level based on some observations with specific info on each of the players; we won’t be going as in-depth on every player as Ian did, so definitely give his articles a look. We’ll link to the relevant one in each preview.
2022 Tacoma Rainiers
2021 Season in Review:
Seattle’s closest affiliate was also their most successful, with the Rainiers capturing the first-ever “Triple-A West” championship (due to the pandemic, there was no playoff between the two Triple-A leagues). With all leagues reverting to their historic names—meaning, thankfully, the Rainiers play in the good old Pacific Coast League (PCL) again and not “Triple-A West – West”—the Rainiers will hopefully be the only ever Triple-A West champions.
This year the Rainiers begin play on Tuesday, April 5 and will close out the season on September 28th at Reno. The final home game will be on September 25th vs Round Rock (TEX). Off days are on Mondays, and the team will play six-game series alternating between home and away, beginning at home on April 5th against Salt Lake (LAA). The All-Star Break will be between July 18-21st. The complete Rainiers schedule can be found here, and ticketing info is here. Like their parent club, the Rainiers also have some special nights scheduled: a throwback hat and pennant giveaway (April 23-24), the “K9 innings” for your four-legged fans in the family (June 12), and the return of Copa de La Diversíon nights, among other special events. Follow @RainiersLand on Twitter for all the updates.
We covered the new-look Tacoma staff, headed by manager Tim Federowicz, a first-year coach fresh off his playing career, with freshly-promoted pitching coach Alon Leichman and new (and exciting!) hitting coach Brad Marcelino here.
You can view the current Tacoma Rainiers roster here. This is the lineup we have/are best able to predict, although things are complicated this year by the fact that spring training will still be going on due to the owners’ lockout pushing back the timeline while the minor leagues will open on time. The names in bold are confirmed members of the Rainiers’ Opening Day Roster; the names in italics are anticipated members of the Rainiers’ roster. An asterisk (*) indicates a player on the 40-man roster.
Zach Green, Sam Haggerty, Kevin Padlo*, Donovan Walton*, Mike Ford, Erick Mejia
You already know Donovan-not-Donnie Walton, but here’s his 40 in 25 in case you forgot. We didn’t write one for Sam Haggerty, aka Ham Swaggerty, aka the Swaggy Ham, but we wish we would have, because he is the best and we love him. That’s all you need to know.
Green is a light-hitting veteran third baseman who has spent time with the Phillies, Giants, and Brewers; he made his MLB debut with the Giants in 2019. Mejia is a light-hitting veteran shortstop who was originally drafted by Seattle back in 2012, and traded to the Dodgers for Joe Wieland in 2016. Like Green, Mejia also made his debut in 2019, with the Royals. Padlo also recently made his MLB debut, in 2021 with the Rays; the Mariners claimed him off waivers from Tampa Bay. Unlike his fellow infielders, Padlo actually has some pop, but it has come with a prohibitively high strikeout rate in the upper minors. Speaking of pop, you might remember Mike Ford from his brief time as a Mariners’ Rule 5 claim back in 2017, and this summarily horrifying photoshop Tee made of him.
Ford 2.0 has turned positively Vogelbachian in stature since departing the organization and will bring some thump to a fairly hit-over-power Tacoma lineup.
Taylor Trammell*, Forrest Wall, Marcus Wilson, Billy Hamilton, Tanner Kirwer, Steven Souza Jr.
This is the group that has the most question marks and likely fluidity in the organization. Wall, Wilson, and Kirwer all figure to settle in long-term at Tacoma; Wall and Wilson are post-hype prospects from the Blue Jays and Red Sox, respectively, who ooze athleticism but need to translate that into consistent at-bats. Trammell is a former top prospect and breakout candidate, as Anders talked about in his 40 in 25, who led Tacoma on their championship run last season. Souza and Hamilton, however, both have extensive MLB experience, and will likely be the first summoned if it appears the youth-led outfield in Seattle needs a breather. Souza is far better offensively, but Hamilton brings speed and defense (which might be sorely lacking in Seattle’s outfield, depending on how things shake out).
Josh Morgan, Joe Odom, Brian O’Keefe
Joe Odom returns to the Mariners organization after spending 2021 with the Tampa Bay Rays, with whom he made his major league debut (getting a grand total of two plate appearances, which is still more plate appearances in MLB than I or 99% of the people reading this have ever gotten). While not producing much at the plate, Odom is revered by his pitching staffs as both a defensive catcher and a game caller. Josh Morgan, a converted infielder who the Mariners seem to be developing as a super-super utility player, was signed as a free agent in 2020 from Texas and spent last year in Arkansas, where you might remember him hitting one or two monster bombs. O’Keefe, presuming he isn’t released when Spring Training ends, returns to the Rainiers having finally fought his way out of Double-A last year and slashing a respectable .253/.347/.465 for the championship Rainiers. Cal Raleigh could join this group too if he’s scuffling when big-league rosters contract in May.
Darren McCaughan, LHP Ian McKinney, Matt Koch, LHP Nick Margevicius*, Penn Murfee, Asher Wojciechowski
Starting pitching vs. reliever roles can be pretty fluid in Tacoma—see 2021 Opening Day Rainiers starter Paul Sewald—but you can ink in Darren McCaughan, who will be Tacoma’s Opening Day starter, followed by lefty Ian McKinney. Koch and Murfee both bring swing ability and can start or pitch out of the bullpen, although Koch will likely follow the first two in the Rainiers’ opening series. Wojciechowski will likely round out the rotation for now. Nick Margevicius is still working his way back from the TOS surgery that ended his season last year and will build innings slowly as he works back.
LHP Kyle Bird, Sal Romano, LHP Danny Young, Patrick Weigel, Matt Festa, Braden Shipley
We didn’t get to see a ton out of most of these pitchers before they were re-assigned to minors camp, but Festa, Bird, Weigel, and Young all got writeups in the NRI preview. Of note, Young is a lefty who taught himself to throw sidearm and Connor’s new favorite pitcher, and a finally-healthy Festa is a dark horse to snag the 40th roster spot out of camp; he’s looked sharp this spring. Medford, OR native Braden Shipley has pitched multiple years in the pitcher’s non-paradise of Reno and will probably enjoy Cheney Stadium, and Sal Romano is a multi-year veteran of the Reds system who has somehow been in pro baseball a decade now and yet is still a couple years short of 30.
Injured list: LHP Roenis Elías, Joey Gerber*
After working back from a microdisectomy that wiped out his 2021, Gerber was shut down at the end of March with a mild forearm strain, and his timetable to return is unclear. We still love him the most, though. Although we also love the most longtime organizational fave Roenis Elías, who will be working his way back from TJ surgery in Tacoma; Elías is already throwing bullpens and if all goes well, should be back to his full workload (and perhaps a promotion to Seattle) in couple of months.
? list: Seth Mejias-Brean, Terry McClure
Terry McClure is listed on Tacoma’s roster, having signed a professional contract back in February, but according to McClure’s Twitter, he’ll be working in the player development department this year. I’m putting Seth Mejias-Brean in here because he hasn’t played since August of 2021 when the Bowie Baysox relieased him and I don’t remember seeing him get worked out at all this spring, and also because anyone who has ever met SMB can tell you he was absolutely destined to be a coach one day.