Paxton pushed back; Trammell's hustle

March 3rd, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- will be pushed back from making his Cactus League debut by at least one day, but Mariners manager Scott Servais said that the decision is not related to the left-hander’s health.

Paxton, who was slated to start Wednesday’s road game against the Cubs, threw a bullpen during Monday’s off-day. His name was absent on the club’s official pitching probables through Thursday, and Servais said after Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to the Indians that Ljay Newsome would instead start against Chicago.

“Pax is completely healthy,” Servais said. “It's just kind of shifting things around a little bit, lining up our rotation going from there. … But there's absolutely nothing wrong health-wise with Pax. We're just going to give him a couple more days before he goes back out there.”

Like all clubs, the Mariners are working through logistics of innings allocation, and they are mapped out to play nine-inning games. However, with some teams not possessing as many arms to pitch that length -- such as Cleveland on Wednesday -- Seattle will have to adjust.

Beyond Paxton, Servais announced that right-hander Chris Flexen will start on Friday against the White Sox at Camelback Ranch and Justin Dunn and Nick Margevicius will throw a bulk of the innings on Saturday in Peoria against the A’s.

Also, No. 4 prospect Logan Gilbert is likely to see Cactus action soon, and not just in the "B" games that Seattle is in the process of coordinating with other West Valley clubs, including the Padres, Rangers and Royals.

Gilbert won’t be fully stretched out in Spring Training, which eliminates any chance of him breaking camp in the big league rotation. But the reasoning behind that is to save his innings for the second half of the regular season, when the Mariners anticipate they’ll need reinforcements to account for closely monitored workloads across their staff.

Trammell aggressive on basepaths

Taylor Trammell is vying for a chance to contribute at the big league level this season, and he made his first strong impression on Tuesday. In the bottom of the seventh, the Mariners’ No. 5 prospect fouled off multiple two-strike pitches, then he laced an RBI double to right-center field and came up just short of a triple.

Though he was out, Trammell’s aggressiveness on the basepaths was part of the Mariners’ larger strategy for 2021. In addition, J.P. Crawford and Sam Haggerty each swiped second base in the first inning.

Trammell, 23, is one of the older top-end prospects and entering his fifth professional season. He took a step back with his bat in his last full season in 2019 -- hitting .234/.340/.349 -- then was limited to alternate training site work in ’20. But the Mariners like what they see so far.

“He's got a good swing,” Servais said. “And I think his adjustability, you saw it in the at-bat today. [Indians pitcher Carlos Vargas] is out there throwing 97-98 mph, and [Trammell] is very aggressive. He's right on time with the fastball, and he gets a breaking ball late in the count and he's got the ability, because he's on time. He's in a really good position that when he does land, he's grounded and just adjusting hitting the breaking ball. This kid is a big strong kid.”

Julio shows off more bat speed

In his first at-bat since leading the Mariners to a walk-off win on Sunday, Julio Rodríguez roped another up-the-middle single that raised some eyebrows on Tuesday. It wasn’t flashy and didn’t drive in any runs, but Trackman data from the pressbox showed that the contact came with a 113-mph exit velocity, which is among the highest echelon.

Only 83 hits in all of baseball last year had an exit velocity that high, per Statcast, and many were from usual suspects, such as Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Sanó, Pete Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Seattle’s last player to exceed that threshold was Daniel Vogelbach on a no-doubt homer against the Rangers on July 24, 2019.

MLB Pipeline scouting reports say that Rodríguez -- baseball’s No. 5 overall prospect -- “has about as much offensive upside as any hitter in the Mariners’ organization, and perhaps all of the Minors. He should continue to be able to hit for both average and power and his already advanced approach will allow him to continue to get to his prodigious raw power consistently, giving him every chance to hit in the middle of a big league lineup.”