The Mariners have always had a large contingent of their Latin players compete in the Venezuelan Winter League. The club's affiliate is Cardenales de Lara, which will once again be managed by the Mariners Director of Minor League Operations Pedro Grifol this season. Grifol arrived in Venezuela on Friday morning and immediately made it to the field and threw batting practice to many of the players that he keeps an eye on during the regular season for Seattle.
Grifol said that even when he was a scout, he would always make it down to the academies and the Winter League in Venezuela. "I like the atmosphere and the fans," he says.
Those fans will have plenty of Mariners players to watch this season. Grifol's Cardenales will have no fewer than 16 players from the Seattle organization and four more will see action with other clubs. There is a nice mix of young prospects, more advanced prospects and even some MLB names on the roster (below).
One player that will not be on the team is major league outfielder Casper Wells. The right-handed hitter was initially slated to join the team, but he is still experiencing issues with his balance and while he may join the club later in the season, he is taking the early part of this offseason to rest and get his health under control. For now, Wells has been replaced on the roster by Nate Tenbrink.
The team plays its home games in Estadio Antonio Herrera Gutierrez in Barquisimeto. The single-level stadium which was built in 1969 seats 20,450 fans.
Mariners participating in the VWL:
Luis Antonio Jimenez
Johan Limonta - HAVING PASSPORT PROBLEMS
Scott Patterson - CURRENTLY WITH TEAM USA
* = Not with Cardenales de Lara