With Spring Training rapidly approaching, we're taking an in-depth look at the Mariners' roster. This is the third part of an Around the Horn series looking at each position on the team. Today: shortstop.The big question: How does Jean Segura adapt to hitting second?Segura made a solid first impression in
With Spring Training rapidly approaching, we're taking an in-depth look at the Mariners' roster. This is the third part of an Around the Horn series looking at each position on the team. Today: shortstop.
The big question: How does Jean Segura adapt to hitting second?
Segura made a solid first impression in Seattle last year, batting .300 and stealing 22 bases while filling the leadoff role after being acquired from the D-backs. This year, he'll be asked to bat second behind general manager Jerry Dipoto's newest addition, speedster Dee Gordon, and that tandem should present a pretty formidable combo atop the order.
Segura has hit second a fair amount in his career, posting a .280/.315/.398 line with 12 homers, 50 RBIs and 48 stolen bases in 160 games from that spot in the order. He's produced better in the leadoff role -- .304/.347/.447 with 33 homers, 132 RBIs and 70 stolen bases in 337 games -- but that could largely be due to the fact he's hit leadoff exclusively the past two seasons when he's been at his peak offensively.
The only season Segura hit No. 2 consistently was 2013 -- his first year as a full-time starter for the Brewers -- and that worked out pretty well, as he earned the only All-Star berth of his career and batted .294 with 12 homers, 49 RBIs and a career-best 44 stolen bases in 146 games.
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The starter: Segura
At 27, the Dominican native should just be hitting his prime years, and the Mariners locked him up with a five-year, $70 million extension midway through last season that secures him through 2022. Now the hope will be that he stays healthy after two DL stints cost him 30 games last year with a sprained ankle and strained hamstring.
The Mariners would also like to see more of the first-half Segura, as he was hitting .349 at the All-Star break before falling to .253 the rest of the way. But the overall production was hard to argue with, as Segura wound up being the first Mariners shortstop to hit .300 in a season since Alex Rodriguez in 2000.
Backing up: Andrew Romine and Taylor Motter
Motter started 31 games at shortstop last year during Segura's stints out and handled the position well enough defensively, though he wound up slashing just .198/.257/.326 in 258 at-bats on the season. Interestingly, Motter hit .250 with seven doubles, seven home runs and 20 RBIs in 120 at-bats while playing shortstop compared to .152 with five doubles, no homers and six RBIs in 138 at-bats at other positions.
The Mariners brought in Romine to compete for the utility role, and the versatile 32-year-old has played more shortstop (170 games and 129 starts) than any other position in his eight years in the big leagues. Romine played every position on the field for the Tigers last season and hit .233/.289/.336 in 318 at-bats.
Depth: Zach Vincej
Seattle claimed the 26-year-old Vincej from the Reds in November, then kept him in the organization when he was outrighted to Triple-A Tacoma a week later and cleared waivers. He'll come to big league Spring Training as a non-roster invitee after getting his feet wet in nine games as a September callup last season for Cincinnati. Vincej is regarded as a strong defender and posted a .270/.325/.370 line with three homers and 38 RBIs in 110 games for Triple-A Louisville last year.
In the pipeline
Juan Querecuto is the Mariners' No. 12-ranked prospect per MLB Pipeline, but he's just beginning his pro career as a 17-year-old who signed a $1.225 million bonus last July out of Venezuela.
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Bryson Brigman is Seattle's No. 28 prospect, but he's further advanced as a 22-year-old who was drafted in the third round out of the University of San Diego in 2016. Brigman split time at second and short last season for Class A Clinton, but he'll need to show more offensively after posting a .235/.306/.296 line with two homers and 36 RBIs in 120 games.
By the numbers
Segura apparently felt comfortable switching to the American League West last season. His .336 average was the highest of any player with 125-plus plate appearances against AL West foes, just ahead of the Orioles' Jonathan Schoop and the Rangers' Adrian Beltre.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.