Jake Fraley hadn’t been in Tacoma long enough to get his last name of the back of his jersey Friday night, instead going out to center field wearing a red No. 9 uniform with nothing on the back.
By the end of the night, everyone in the stadium knew who the newest (and best-bearded) Rainier was.
“(We were) excited to get here and get him in the lineup,” Rainiers manager Daren Brown said before Saturday evening’s game. “He had a big first game.”
Fraley went 2-for-3, smacking a three-run home run in his second plate appearance of the night, hitting an RBI-single in his third, and walking in his fourth before coming around to score the go-ahead run in a 6-5 win.
“I felt good,” Fraley said. “Healthy, and I was able to stick to my preparation routine. It’s the same game as Double-A.”
He added a stolen base in the fifth inning and would have had another in the seventh if Jose Lobatón hadn’t swung on the pitch and lined it to the gap to score him from first base.
All in all, it was a nice start for the outfielder in Tacoma. Or maybe it was a nice continuation. Fraley came to Triple-A ball after leading Double-A Arkansas with a .313 batting average, 11 home runs, 47 RBIs, and 16 stolen bases in 66 games.
“I expect we’ll see him run up quality at-bats, consistent at-bats,” Brown said. “He’s done a nice job in Double-A, and I expect to see pretty much the same thing here.”
Fraley, drafted out of LSU in 2016, hit just .229 in his first two years in the Tampa Bay Rays organization.
He bounced back in high-Single-A ball last season, before getting lumped in the package Seattle received for Mike Zunino. After getting an invite to the Mariner’s major league spring training — where he played with a handful of his new teammates in Tacoma — he was sent to tear up the Texas League.
Now, he’s one step away from the big leagues.
“This season is actually really flying by,” Fraley said. “I can’t even believe that we’re almost a week into the second half already. I’m just trying to take it all in and trying to learn from the guys, especially now.”
Swanson ramping up
Erik Swanson made his first home outing since hurting his hamstring three weeks ago as an opener Friday, throwing 33 pitches in 1.2 innings of work. He allowed three hits but no runs, throwing 15 strikes and 18 balls.
“I thought he was good,” Brown said. “Probably a little rusty, not as many strikes as we’d like to see, but it’s only the second time after taking three weeks off, so that’s probably normal to see that. I have no doubt the next time out he’ll be a little better.”
Swanson began his rehab with an 18-pitch inning out of the bullpen in Round Rock on Tuesday.