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These Mariners are turning heads this spring

@gregjohnsmlb
March 4, 2020

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In a Mariners camp filled with youngsters, many of the top prospects have been impressive this spring. But the young bucks aren’t the only newcomers opening eyes. In a very informal survey of some Mariners players, veteran right-hander Kendall Graveman was mentioned prominently as one teammate who

PEORIA, Ariz. -- In a Mariners camp filled with youngsters, many of the top prospects have been impressive this spring. But the young bucks aren’t the only newcomers opening eyes.

In a very informal survey of some Mariners players, veteran right-hander Kendall Graveman was mentioned prominently as one teammate who has impressed the most in the first half of Spring Training.

Here’s a look at some of the players who have opened the eyes of their peers so far:

Kendall Graveman, RHP
Graveman hasn’t pitched since 2018 when he had Tommy John surgery while with the A’s, but he’s thrown four scoreless innings in his first two Cactus League starts and was hitting 95-96 mph with his fastball in his last outing. The 29-year-old was a two-time Opening Day starter for Oakland and is penciled into Seattle’s rotation after signing as a free agent.

Quote: “I had some expectations of him just being able to pound the zone and command all of his pitches, but he’s just efficient and going about it the right way, working hard. He’s setting the right example for a lot of our young guys, too. It’s been great to have him. He’s been awesome.” -- Starter Marco Gonzales

“Just the way he bounced back from TJ. Not a lot of guys come back the same, but it looks like he’s come back the same, if not better. Just watching his outings, the life on his pitches. The velo he’s been able to get to in spring this far, he’s looked really good. I’m excited for what he’s going to bring this season. Hopefully he just keeps building on it and gets stronger and stronger.” -- Reliever Dan Altavilla

Jarred Kelenic, OF
The 20-year-old outfielder is rated Seattle’s No. 1 prospect and No. 11 overall by MLB Pipeline, and he’s lived up to that billing early in camp. Kelenic is expected to open the year at Double-A Arkansas, where he played the final three weeks of 2019 after jumping three levels during his first full season of pro ball.

Quote: “It’s pretty simple. The guy works extremely hard at all parts of his game. That’s what I appreciate about him for sure.” -- Catcher Tom Murphy

Julio Rodriguez, OF
The 19-year-old Rodriguez is Seattle’s No. 2 prospect and No. 18 overall by MLB Pipeline and has been linked with Kelenic all camp as the two youngsters go about much of their business in tandem and are good friends off the field, as well. So it’s understandable that it’s tough for teammates to separate them when deciding who has impressed them the most. Rodriguez finished last year at Class A Advanced Modesto and is probably a year or two away from the big leagues, but at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, he’s an impressive teenager.

Quote:Julio Rodriguez and Kelenic are two great young athletes. They have a bright future. Right now, it’s impressive just by being here at such a young age. Just learning from the veteran players, this is a good opportunity for them to get the taste of being in the big leagues. They’ve impressed me so far because they’re tremendous athletes and they have tremendous tools.” -- Outfielder Carlos González

Logan Gilbert, RHP
The Mariners’ top pitching prospect -- No. 3 behind Kelenic and Rodriguez in their system and No. 38 overall by MLB Pipeline -- has also quickly shown why he’s rising quickly through the system and could be in Seattle before long. The 2018 first-round Draft pick uses his 6-foot-6 frame to get good leverage with an impressive four-pitch mix, but his preparation and way he goes about his business has been equally impressive.

Quote:Logan Gilbert is one of my favorite people of all time. He works his tail off and is just fun to play behind, The work ethic is really what gets me. He and Kelenic, the two big ones that just put their head down and work and are easy to root for.” -- First baseman Evan White

Aaron Fletcher, LHP
The 24-year-old reliever pitched very well for Double-A Arkansas, as well as in the Arizona Fall League, after being acquired from the Nationals at the Trade Deadline last season as part of the Hunter Strickland and Roenis Elías deal. The 6-foot, 220-pounder is rated Seattle’s No. 20 prospect and is competing for a roster berth this spring.

Quote: “He carved me up in live BP. He has a weird delivery and great action on his ball. I didn’t think he had that good of stuff. He definitely surprised me. He was tough.” -- Shortstop J.P. Crawford

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.