Tacoma Rainiers season 2014 preview: Breaking down the roster

Staff writerApril 2, 2014 

A position-by-position breakdown of the Tacoma Rainiers opening day 2014 roster:

ROTATION

No. Name, B-T, Ht., Wt, Age

18 Chance Ruffin, R-R, 6-0, 210, 25

  • 2013: 1-2 3.94 ERA (AAA Tacoma); 4-4, 3.90 (AA Jackson)

29 James Gillheeney, R-R, 6-1, 205, 26

  • 2013: 2-2, 4.50 ERA (AAA Tacoma).

32 Anthony Fernandez, L-L, 6-4, 215, 23

  • 2013: 9-8, 4.43 ERA (AA Jackson).

49 Blake Beavan, R-R, 6-7, 245, 25

  • 2013: 0-2, 6.13 ERA (M’s); 6-6, 5.55 ERA (AAA Tacoma)

About the rotation: Because of the injuries to Taijuan Walker and Hisashi Iwakuma, and the late release of veterans Randy Wolf and Scott Baker in Spring Training – needless to say, this is a group short on numbers. And the Rainiers might stay with these four starting pitchers, at least in the early going. Beavan, once a heralded prospect in the Texas Rangers’ organization, has started 43 games in the minor leagues. He did get two starts in Seattle last season – and will get the Opening Day assignment Thursday against Albuquerque. After that, the pitching order has not been determined. None in this quartet is going to light up the radar gun. Brandon Maurer could later join the rotation, but because of a lingering back injury in Spring Training, he will begin in long relief for the Rainiers to build innings.

BULLPEN

No. Name, B-T, Ht., Wt, Age

16 Logan Kensing, R-R, 6-1, 190, 31

  • 2013: 0-0, 0.00 ERA (Rockies); 2-5, 3.05 ERA, 15 saves (AAA Colorado Springs).

24 Lucas Luetge, L-L, 6-4, 205, 27

  • 2013: 2013: 1-3, 4.86 ERA (M’s); 0-0, 4.35 ERA (AAA Tacoma).

25 Dominic Leone, R-R, 5-11, 210, 22

  • 2013: 1-2, 3.50 ERA (AA Jackson); 0-1, 2.15 ERA, 12 saves (A Clinton/High Desert).

27 Logan Bawcom, R-R, 6-2, 220, 25

  • 2013: 1-4, 2.91 ERA, 21 saves (AAA Tacoma).

31 Carson Smith, R-R, 6-6, 215, 24

  • 2013: 1-3, 1.80 ERA, 15 saves (AA Jackson).

37 Brandon Maurer, R-R, 6-5, 220, 23

  • 2013: 5-8, 6.30 ERA (M’s); 3-4, 5.21 ERA (AAA Tacoma).

38 Zach Miner, R-R, 6-4, 225, 32

  • 2013: 0-2. 4.40 ERA (Phillies); 5-6, 3.90 ERA (AAA Lehigh Valley).

39 Nick Hill, L-L, 6-0, 195, 29

  • 2013: 1-0, 3.00 ERA (AAA Tacoma); 2-3. 2.17 ERA (AA Jackson).

52 Ramon Ramirez, R-R, 5-11, 200, 32

  • 2013: 0-0, 11.12 ERA (Giants); 3-1, 3.33 ERA (AAA Fresno/Charlotte/Durham).

N/A Clay Rapada, R-L, 6-5, 180, 33

  • 2013: 0-0, 0.00 ERA (Indians); 1-0, 2.17 ERA (AAA Scranton/Columbus).

About the bullpen: Six relievers saw major-league time last season. As far as who will serve as closer, Rainiers pitching coach Jaime Navarro said he will go by committee early on, then likely settle on one later in the season. Bawcom, Smith and Leone all saved games within the organization last season, and should be part of the late-inning cattle call.

CATCHERS

No. Name, B-T, Ht., Wt, Age

11 Humberto Quintero, R-R, 5-9, 214, 34

  • 2013: .224 BA, 2 HR, 4 RBI (M’s); .250 BA, 2 HR, 9 RBI (Phillies).

21 Jesus Sucre, R-R, 6-0, 225, 26

  • 2010: .192 BA, 0 HR, 8 RBI (M’s); .299 BA, 0 HR, 8 RBI (AAA Tacoma).

About the catchers: With no prospect needing grooming, playing time will be close to evenly split between Sucre – who is on the Mariners’ 40-man roster – and Quintero. Neither will carry a lineup with his bat – Quintero is a career .276 hitter in the minors; Sucre is at .254. Both are great communicators who know how to handle a pitching staff, which is always a priority in Triple-A. Manager Roy Howell said he would see this shaping up as a “60-40” playing time split – with whoever wields the hotter bat seeing more action.

INFIELDERS

No. Name, B-T, Ht., Wt, Age

3 Chris Taylor, R-R, 6-1, 190, 23

  • 2013: 293 BA, 18 SB (AA Jackson); .335 BA, 20 SB (A High Desert).

6 Nick Franklin, S-R, 6-1, 190, 23

  • 2013: .225 BA, 12 HR, 45 RBI (M’s); .324 BA, 4 HR, 20 RBI (AAA Tacoma).

9 Nate Tenbrink, L-R, 6-2, 200, 27

  • 2013: .267 BA, 15 HR, 60 RBI (AAA Tacoma).

12 Gabriel Noriega, R-R, 6-2, 180, 23

  • 2013: .256 BA, 2 HR, 30 RBI (AA Jackson).

14 Ty Kelly, S-R, 6-0, 185, 25

  • 2013: .320 BA, 3 HR, 17 RBI (AAA Tacoma).

17 Ji-Man Choi, L-R, 6-1, 225, 22

  • 2013: .244 BA, 2 HR, 6 RBI (AAA Tacoma); 18 HR, 85 RBI total in minors.

20 Jesus Montero, R-R, 6-3, 235, 24

  • 2013: .208 BA, 3 HR, 9 RBI (M’s); .247 BA, 1 HR, 9 RBI (AAA Tacoma).

About the infield: Easily the deepest group, both in talent and versatility. Most eyes will focus on two middle infielders – Franklin and Taylor, the Mariners’ minor league player of the year in 2013. In the early going, Taylor will start at shortstop and Franklin will be at second base. But Franklin will shift over to shortstop, too, and likely play some third base and both corner outfield positions. ... Choi and Montero – both drafted as catchers – will likely split duties at first base and see plenty of time at designated hitter and batting in the middle of the order. As Howell put it, “you’ve got to be able to dance (at first base), and we will make them dance ... and use their feet.” ... The underrated Tenbrink shared the team lead with plate appearances (505), and was second in home runs (15) last season.

OUTFIELDERS

No. Name, B-T, Ht., Wt, Age

5 Endy Chavez, L-L, 5-11, 170, 36

  • 2013: .267 BA, 2 HR, 14 RBI (M’s); .429 BA, 1 RBI (AAA Tacoma).

8 Cole Gillespie, R-R, 6-2, 202, 29

  • 2013: .240 BA, 0 HR, 4 RBI (Cubs); .277 BA, 9 HR, 31 RBI (AAA Fresno).

10 James Jones, L-L, 6-4, 200, 25

  • 2013: .333 BA, 0 HR, 1 RBI (AAA Tacoma); .275 BA, 6 HR, 45 RBI (AA Jackson).

N/A Xavier Avery, L-L, 5-11, 180, 24

  • 2013: .240 BA, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 18 SB (AAA Tacoma/Norfolk).

About the outfield: The starting configuration is set – Jones will be in right field, Gillespie is in left field and Chavez will be man center field. Seen as major-league insurance, Chavez – who has played more than 1,600 games between the majors and minors for his career – won’t play full-time in Tacoma. On days he is out, Jones will likely play that spot, allowing infielders Nick Franklin and Ty Kelly opportunities to get outfield work. Gillespie, who has played for Arizona, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs, is a career .289 hitter in the minors.

COACHES

No. Name, Title

13 Roy Howell, Manager

28 Cory Snyder, Batting coach

54 Jaime Navarro, Pitching coach

B.J. Downie, Athletic trainer

Tom Newberg, Athletic trainer

todd.milles@thenewstribune.com

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