Here are brief capsules on the 2013 Tacoma Rainiers active Opening Day roster, announced this afternoon. Rankings are from the latest SeattleClubhouse Top-50 prospects in the Seattle Mariners system.
* = On 40-man roster, ^ = projected starter
Logan Bawcom (No. 24 prospect on our Top-50): RHP, 24 years old
This is a logical placement for Bawcom, who came to Seattle last year in the Brandon League trade. He's got middle inning big league ability, just needs to refine his command a bit.
^Jeremy Bonderman: RHP, 30 years old
The veteran accepted an assignment to the minor leagues to open the 2013 season when the club decided to go with Brandon Maurer in the rotation, but he almost certainly won't stay down all year and probably has a drop-dead opt-out date if he isn't on the MLB roster.
^Andrew Carraway (No. 38 prospect on our Top-50): RHP, 26 years old
Carraway is a nice pitcher that can dominate in the minors at times. Probably the least likely arm in the starting rotation to get a big league call in 2013, but he can pitch.
Danny Farquhar: RHP, 26 years old
Ichiro trade piece number one on this list. Lasted the entire big league camp and performed admirably. Undersized right-hander that succeeds on tough arm angle and movement.
Steven Hensley: RHP, 26 years old
Had home run issues in spurts last season but threw some quality high leverage innings for both Jackson and Tacoma (53 2/3 of 70 2/3 IP were from 7th inning on) last year. Good slider.
*^Danny Hultzen (No. 3 prospect on our Top-50): LHP, 23 years old
Hultzen figures to be the number one starter to open the season for Tacoma (meaning he'll start tomorrow in Fresno). Maurer may have reached the big leagues first, but that doesn't mean that Hultzen won't see the major leagues during the season's first half this year. He'll determine how quickly he is pushed by his performance.
*Bobby LaFromboise: LHP, 26 years old
Off-season add to the 40-man roster, sidewinding lefty that can work multiple innings, but right-handers can hit him.
*Yoervis Medina (No. 40 prospect on our Top-50): RHP, 24 years old
Had a strong 2012 after move to the bullpen, good velocity, good slider, command/control issues at times.
*^D.J. Mitchell: RHP, 25 years old
The other trade piece that came back from New York for Ichiro. Ground ball pitcher that pitched very well as a starter for Tacoma last year (2.96 ERA, .223 OppAVG in 8 starts). Best suited for long relief in MLB.
Brian Moran: LHP, 24 years old
He and LaFromboise are the bullpen left-handers. 2.96 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 151 career MiLB games and had 12.9 SO/9 last year in Tacoma. Needs to stay away from the long ball.
Jhonny Nunez: RHP, 27 years old
First season in the organization, the Mariners are Nunez's sixth organization. He's pitched parts of four seasons in Triple-A, but this will be his first year in the PCL. The minor league veteran appeared in 7 games in relief for the Chicago White Sox back in 2009.
^James Paxton (No. 7 prospect on our Top-50): LHP, 24 years old
Getting his first taste of Triple-A to open 2013, Paxton can be dominant when his command is on. A mid-90s fastball and a big curve can both generate swinging strikes. Struggled late in the AFL and in big league camp with command and decreased velocity. Delivery is very Andy Pettitte-ish.
Brian Sweeney: RHP, 38 years old
Journeyman reliever has pitched off and on for Tacoma all the way back to 1999. 274 of his 495 career pro baseball appearances have been in Triple-A or the Majors.
Jesus Sucre: C, 24 years old
Southern League All-Star catcher in 2012, came to Mariners organization in mid-2011 after spending six seasons in minor leagues for the Atlanta Braves. Strong defender and game caller with 42.6% career caught stealing percentage.
^Mike Zunino (No. 2 prospect on our Top-50): C, 22 years old
Top hitting prospect in the Mariners organization, the 2012 draftee slugged at two levels last season and impressed in the AFL, too. True extra base power to all fields, good plate discipline, natural leader. Will not be in Tacoma for the full year.
^Nick Franklin (No. 6 prospect on our Top-50): 2B/SS,
Franklin had some struggles with Tacoma last season, but he still had a very good year overall and added some needed weight and muscle over the offseason.
*^Alex Liddi: 3B/1B/OF, 24 years old
Liddi is noticeably slimmer this year, probably in anticipation of seeing a little more time at third and in the outfield. His bat remains his ticket, and that means more contact.
^Rich Poythress (No. 43 prospect on our Top-50): 1B, 25 years old
Poythress had more walks than strikeouts last year and hit for a good average but he needs to show more of the power he displayed a few years ago to get back on the prospect radar.
Scott Savastano: IF/OF, 26 years old
Savastano will be the super sub to start the season and he's able to handle and experienced at all four corner positions and second base.
Nate Tenbrink: 3B/1B, 26 years old
Tenbrink has battled injuries throughout his minor league career but has a good bat, natural leadership and solid defensive skills.
*^Carlos Triunfel (No. 22 on our Top-50): SS/2B, 23 years old
Triunfel was voted the Rainiers' best defender in 2012 to the amazement of some, but he still has the best arm in the system. More patience would be nice to see.
^Denny Almonte (No. 26 on our Top-50): CF, 24 years old
Almonte started off on fire last season but tailed off as the year went along. Switch-hitter with a lot of tools including power, speed and good center field defense. Much improved plate discipline in 2012.
Endy Chavez: OF, 35 years old
Late spring addition that has played etensively at the big league level, including with Mariners. Professional hitter, good defender at all three outfield spots with good speed.
*^Carlos Peguero: LF/RF, 26 years old
Light tower power and huge strikeout numbers. More athletic than you'd think by looking at him. Ceiling depends on his ability to command the strike zone.
*^Eric Thames: RF/LF, 26 years old
Big league experience for the Blue Jays and Mariners, Thames is a strong and athletic left-handed hitter that is on his last option year.
. . . . . . .
Also on the roster for Tacoma but on the disabled list to start the year are right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, reigning Mariners Minor League Player of the Year Stefen Romero (No. 9 prospect on our Top-50), lefty Anthony Vasquez (returning from brain surgery) and outfielder/designated hitter Joe Dunigan. As I stated in the story teaser, this is among the most talented Tacoma teams in recent memory with a lot of familiar names in the prospect world. If you have the ability to make it down to Tacoma this season, don't miss out.
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