No. 6 prospect Raleigh gets big league call

July 12th, 2021

SEATTLE -- has made the Major League leap. Seattle called up its switch-hitting catcher, ranked as the club’s No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, for Sunday’s series finale against the Angels, the final game before the All-Star break.

Raleigh started at catcher, batted sixth and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, but each at-bat was competitive. Raleigh saw 24 pitches and swung and missed at just four; two of those resulted in punchouts.

Raleigh also had the challenge of catching seven pitchers as part of a bullpen game in Seattle’s 7-1 loss. He handled the challenge smoothly, especially given that he has relationships with each, having caught them in either Spring Training or at Triple-A Tacoma this season.

“It’s going to be a process,” Raleigh said. “I’m not going to know everybody, and I'm not going to know their stuff and know what they do well and don't do well in my first game. It's going to be a process, and I’ll take a few days off here, try to reevaluate, talk with everybody and try to get on the same page and start building relationships with these guys like I did down in Spring Training. And hopefully I can build it as quick as possible. But these things take time, and it's something I'm willing to do.”

The Mariners also recalled infielder Donovan Walton from Triple-A Tacoma, optioned outfielder Taylor Trammell to Tacoma and placed Yusei Kikuchi on the injured list due to COVID-related issues, two days before he is scheduled to pitch in the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

Kikuchi is fully vaccinated. He tested negative on Saturday, according to a source, and he must produce an additional negative test to be cleared to pitch in the Midsummer Classic.

“I can't get into a whole lot of details there for a number of different reasons, but I’m not that concerned with where he's at, and I still think he's planning on heading over to the All-Star Game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.

Because Kikuchi is on the COVID-19 IL, the Mariners are able to replace his 40-man roster spot, which is why the club did not have to designate any player for assignment to clear space for Raleigh.

Raleigh, 24, was selected from Tacoma, where he’s been arguably the Mariners’ top offensive player in the Minors this season, hitting .324/.377/.608 with 21 doubles, nine homers and 36 RBIs in 44 games, including a 23-game hit streak that lasted more than one month. He’s struck out in just 12.6% of his 199 plate appearances and walked 7% of the time, a sign of far improved plate discipline that fits right into Seattle’s mantra of “dominating the zone.”

“Credit to him, and when he gets in good counts we've seen him before, he has power from both sides of the plate,” Servais said. “So it should add a nice dimension to our lineup. The fact that he can switch-hit keeps him available every day as long as he's healthy and doing a good job behind the plate.”

The Mariners have the four-day All-Star break to better map out how they plan to allocate playing time to their other catchers, Tom Murphy and Luis Torrens, but given the way Torrens has been swinging -- seven homers in 18 games since returning from a Minor League demotion -- he will continue to get regular at-bats, especially against lefties, against whom he has an .866 OPS.

Torrens has been getting more infield work recently, and the Mariners have basically been down a backup infielder for two weeks. He had some experience in the Minors as a first baseman in the Padres' organization. Murphy is hitting .194/.274/.364, but he has been critical to the success of Seattle’s pitchers due to his game-calling acumen.

“Cal will play a lot,” Servais said. “Murph is going to continue to play a lot. You'll see Luis, he’s really swung the bat well, and in the fact that he's a right-handed bat really helps as we tend to get a little left-handed at times. And when you see left-handed pitching, you will see Luis Torrens in the lineup for sure.”

Raleigh was a third-round pick by the Mariners in 2018 out of Florida State, where he wowed with power from both sides of the plate and drew praise for his game-calling ability. The latter was the aspect of his game Seattle's management wanted to see him improve upon over the first half of the '21 season, which is in part why the club hadn’t called him up sooner.

Raleigh impressed in Spring Training and drew praise from the Major League staff recently after passionately backing up his pitchers when being ejected last month.

Raleigh had dealt with some general body soreness in recent days and missed three games beginning last weekend, but he returned for Tuesday’s game against Reno. He flew in from the Houston area late Saturday evening after receiving word from the big league club about his callup, departing in the second inning -- but not before lacing a double.