Thursday, January 17, 2008

M's Issue Non-Roster Invites

The Seattle Mariners announced their first 18 Spring Training invites today.

Pitchers (11): Arthur Rhodes, Chris Reitsma, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, Phillipe Aumont, Robert Rohrbaugh, Philip Barzilla, Jake Woods, Roy Corcoran, Brodie Downs, Stephen Kahn

Infielders (3): Matt Tuiasosopo, Mark Kiger, Tug Hulett

Outfielders (1): Bronson Sardinha

Catchers (3): Adam Moore, Jair Fernandez, Brant Ust

Pitchers: Chris Reitsma and Arthur Rhodes you know. They are both veterans of the game, both successful in the past, both made Seattle's Opening Day roster last season and both missed substantial time on the disabled list. The Mariner bullpen would receive a nice boost if either of these two can bounce back from their injuries and pitch like they did in the days of yesteryear. I think Reitsma has the best chance to bounce back. He should be fully recovered and still has some innings left in his arm, while Rhodes missed all of last season and may be running out of time. While he had a great year for Cleveland in 2005, Rhodes hasn't pitched successfully in back-to-back seasons since his last stint with Seattle.

Mariners fans will get their first look at first round pick Phillipe Aumont. He has yet to make his professional debut, however, and should be cut fairly early. Chris Tillman, as good as he could become, probably won't last long either in his first big league Spring Training.

Jake Woods is another familiar face, but I think he blew his chance at a regular role with this team and is now below several pitchers on the organizational depth chart. Don't expect much out of Stephen Kahn either. He has pitched well during his brief Mariner career, but he'll likely start the year back in AA. Brodie Downs hasn't taken the typical path to the majors. He was drafted out of Junior College at age 27 last year, and combined for a 2.49 ERA between rookie ball, AA and AAA in his first season. He could be an interesting story to follow.

The young pitchers with the best chance to crack this years Opening Day roster would have to be Kameron Mickolio and Robert Rohrbaugh. Mickolio was in the same draft as Brandon Morrow, and is a hulk of a man that delivers some serious heat. Rohrbaugh may be in the same boat as Jake Woods. He's a lefty starter type that will probably end up in AAA instead of in the bullpen or fifth spot, but he is just about major league ready. More on Rohrbaugh here. Philip Barzilla and Roy Corcoran could surprise some people as well. Barzilla has pitched fairly well over the last seven seasons in the Houston organization, but has only logged a third of a major league inning. Being left handed is an advantage, and he would definitely benefit from a George Sherrill departure, though there appear to be better pitchers in front of him. Corcoran, most recently of the Marlins organization, has also pitched in seven minor league seasons with a very nice 3.11 ERA and 9.39 K/9, but has been unable to put it together in his 16 appearances at the major league level.

I was rather surprised that neither Austin Bibens-Dirkx nor Doug Fister were able to get an invite. ABD also came out of the same draft class as Morrow and Mickolio, and might be more advanced at this point in his career had it not been for some injuries slowing him down. He should be up before season's end, though Fister might be another year or so away.

If I had to pick one non-roster pitcher to make the 25-man, besides Reitsma and Rhodes, I would have to pick Kam Mickolio. The guy has shot through the organization and finished 2007 with 10.5 K/9 in AAA.

I'll write at length about all the pitchers competing for jobs once Spring Training rolls around.

Infielders: Seattle's first pick of the 2004 draft (3rd round), Matt Tuiasosopo has been a bit of a disappointment so far. He has yet to develop the power most scouts thought he had, and will not be granted a 25-man roster spot anytime soon. Tug Hulett, who was acquired in the Ben Broussard trade, along with Mark Kiger give the Mariners even more depth among utility men. Neither of them are better options than Willie Bloomquist or the recently signed Miguel Cairo, so this is no more than a tryout for next year. Bloomquist and Cairo will both be free agents after this season, and the Mariners will have to find new utility guys for the bench.

Catchers: The Mariners are going to have a very nice group of catchers working with the pitchers this Spring Training. Kenji Johjima, Jaime Burke, Jeff Clement and Rob Johnson will be joined by up-and-comer Adam Moore this Spring. He is projecting to be a very solid major league catcher, a Michael Barrett type, and he is reportedly very good with the pitchers. I wrote much more about him here. Joining Moore will be Jair Fernandez and Brant Ust, and neither are much to write home about. Ust has been playing pro ball since 1999 but has yet to make his major league debut. Like Fernandez, he is weak with the stick but does have some value. Ust is a rare breed of utility players that can play catcher. Last season in AAA Tacoma he logged innings at catcher, first base, second base and third base.

Outfielder Bronson Sardinha is a former first round pick by the New York Yankees (2001). I doubt the 24 year old will compete with the likes of Jeremy Reed, Charlton Jimerson and others for the fourth outfielder spot, and he is probably just auditioning for another AAA job. If anything he can entertain us with his totally awesome middle name: Kiheimahanaomauiakeo. I wonder how long it took him to learn how to spell that.

This seems like a pretty good bunch of players. I don't see any of the position players making the team however. There should be a few more invites dished out in the coming weeks.


topher said...

seems about what I thought. Anyone not on there that you expected

Dustin Shires said...

Michael Saunders

Anonymous said...

Dustin: we have enough outfield depth as it is. he's still a couple years away.