ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA — The Mariners had their only open date Thursday in a 37-day span, so attention focused on the MLB Draft, where they spent their first two selections of what they view as impact hitters.
We tasked Christian Caple and John McGrath to provides the details and insight. Christian offers this look at their first-round pick: Alex Jackson, a high school catcher from San Diego. Christian also filed this Q&A session from general manager Jack Zduriencik on Jackson.
The Mariners are planning to shift Jackson to the outfield, and John McGrath explains why.
Signing Robinson Cano as a free agent last December meant the Mariners didn't have a second-round pick, but they did have a competitive-balance round selection, No. 74 overall, and they used it to select Gareth Morgan, a high school outfielder from Toronto.
The draft continues today with rounds three through 10 before concluding Saturday with rounds 11 through 40.
The Mariners are facing a decision in their rotation after watching Erasmo Ramirez and Taijuan Walker struggle on Tuesday night. The solution could be — emphasize could be — a "bullpen day" with reliever Tom Wilhelmsen drawing a start.
That possibility is addressed in our latest twitter Q-and-A exchange.
For what it's worth, I think it's more likely the club promotes veteran Matt Palmer from Triple-A Tacoma. (He was pulled Thursday after three innings and 48 pitches, which could position him to start in Monday's series finale at Tampa Bay.)
What seems unlikely is that Ramirez, after lasting just three innings in Atlanta, will get another start. The Mariners also seem inclined to have Walker make at least one more rehab start in his recovery from a sore shoulder after watching him labor through 56 pitches in two innings on Tuesday for Tacoma.
Our Q&A exchange also revisits the Mariners' long-term interest in Kansas City designated hitter Billy Butler, who is believed to be available. It's not close to happening yet, but it's worth keeping an eye on.
Once the draft concludes, former Mariners DH/1B Kendrys Morales is expected to sign somewhere because that signing will no longer require a club to surrender a draft pick as compensation.
Many news reports continue to list the Mariners as a possibility, and that's certainly possible — the Mariners need a bat. But I've heard nothing in conversations with club officials to suggest it's likely. Still, like the Butler rumor, it's something to keep an eye on.
Around the farms
***Triple-A Tacoma didn't put on much of a show in a 6-0 loss to Albuquerque (Dodgers) in a game shown on the CBS Sports Network. We had Andy Bixler there, but my limited tech skills in a St. Petersburg hotel room can't locate the file online. Here's a box.
***Double-A Jackson got eight strong innings from Tyler Olson and held on for a 4-3 victory at Birmingham (White Sox). From the Jackson Sun.
***Hi-A High Desert suffered a 4-1 loss at San Jose (Giants) and fell back to .500 at 31-31. From the Victorville Daily Press.
***Lo-A Clinton squandered another early lead in a 7-3 loss at Kane County (Cubs). From the LumberKings' web site.