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Gilbert throws his 1st pitches at T-Mobile Park

@gregjohnsmlb
July 11, 2020

SEATTLE -- It wasn’t quite the way top Mariners pitching prospect Logan Gilbert pictured his first mound appearance at T-Mobile Park. “I imagined there would be more people in the stands,” the 23-year-old right-hander acknowledged. “But it’s still really cool.” Playing in front of empty seats will be the way

SEATTLE -- It wasn’t quite the way top Mariners pitching prospect Logan Gilbert pictured his first mound appearance at T-Mobile Park.

“I imagined there would be more people in the stands,” the 23-year-old right-hander acknowledged. “But it’s still really cool.”

Playing in front of empty seats will be the way of life this season in Major League Baseball, but the Mariners’ 2018 first-round MLB Draft pick is plenty happy to be receiving this opportunity as he got a two-inning start in Saturday’s intrasquad game.

Gilbert gave up one run in the five-inning scrimmage, but he struck out four and flashed the 94-95 mph fastball and array of offspeed offerings that have elevated him to the No. 38 prospect ranking in baseball by MLB Pipeline.

“It was kind of a weird situation, but just getting in innings here at T-Mobile at the Major League stadium before you debut, you can’t put a price on that. It’s really valuable,” Gilbert said.

“It’s not packed with fans, but when I got on the mound, it felt like any other game. I did turn around and see the city and jumbotron and all that stuff and it’s really cool. But as far as pitching, it was like any other mound out there.”

Rookie Lewis stands tall in center field

Gilbert got Dee Gordon to fly out then struck out Daniel Vogelbach in the first, but he wound up getting bit by a pair of his Double-A Arkansas teammates from last season in the second when Jarred Kelenic walked, stole second and scored on Donovan Walton’s double down the right-field line.

“I watched a lot of these guys last year and I’m sure they’ve watched me as well,” Gilbert said. “It’s fun facing guys you know. At the same time, I’m trying to stay competitive and locked in. I think I saw Kelenic smirk at me before he got in the box, so I just tried to stay as locked in as possible.”

Kelenic, the club’s No. 1 prospect and No. 11 in MLB, went 1-for-2 with a double and the walk in his intrasquad debut.

Bad ending for Bautista
Hard-throwing right-handed reliever Gerson Bautista unleashed a 101 mph fastball in his fifth-inning appearance on a pitch fouled off by Jose Marmolejos. But after clocking 98 and 94 on his next two pitches, the outing ended with trainer Rob Nodine coming to the mound and Bautista being removed from the game after pointing to his right elbow.

Since the contest was only scheduled for five innings, that turned out to be a tough way to finish the day, as Bautista is one of the more intriguing power arms in the bullpen mix.

The 25-year-old was acquired from the Mets in the 2018-19 offseason as part of the Robinson Canó/Edwin Díaz deal, but he missed several months last season with a strained right pectoral muscle and then appeared in 34 games, including eight with Seattle.

Julio in the house
While reporters haven’t been allowed in during the morning workouts since afternoon intrasquad games began, Mariners manager Scott Servais said outfielder Julio Rodriguez indeed is taking part in the early sessions after being cleared to join the team on Thursday.

Rodriguez, 19, is Seattle’s No. 2 prospect behind Kelenic, and the two became good friends last year while playing together in the Minors.

Rodriguez is one of six players among the 60-player pool who weren’t initially in camp the first week, along with center fielder Mallex Smith, utility man Dylan Moore, relievers Yoshihisa Hirano and Zac Grotz and catcher Joe Hudson.

“Julio looks great, smiling and joking around,” Servais said. “He actually got Kelenic to smile, so it's great to see those guys connecting. They’re happy to hang out again together. I can't give you a real update on some of the other guys yet, so we'll keep our fingers crossed that we get everybody in here soon. But Julio looks good. He took a good round of BP and no issues there. It'll probably be three or four days before you see him in the game.”

Per MLB policy, the Mariners have only announced that three people tested positive on their initial COVID-19 tests prior to camp. MLB has instituted a COVID-19 list this season, although clubs will not announce which players are placed on it due to privacy laws regarding individuals’ health. Players may address their status if they wish, though they are not required to do so.

Merely being placed on an injured list or held out of workouts without further explanation is not confirmation that a player has tested positive for COVID-19. For example, potential exposure to a person who has the virus can be sufficient cause.

Short hops from T-Mobile Park
Noelvi Marte also made his intrasquad debut and struck out in both at-bats, as the 18-year-old got his first exposure to big league pitching after playing last year in the Dominican Summer League.

Marco Gonzales will start and pitch for two innings in Sunday’s intrasquad game, and the plan is for one of the six projected starters to pitch every day in the ensuing games, with Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn doubling up on their turn as they did in Friday’s game.

• Sunday’s intrasquad game will be three innings, and the tentative plan is for seven innings on Monday. Games are various lengths at this point, depending on the number of pitchers lined up each day.

• Sunday’s game won’t be live streamed or broadcast on the radio, but the Monday through Thursday games next week will all be streamed on the Mariners’ YouTube outlet. There’ll be no intrasquad game on Friday, as that will be the team’s lone off-day prior to Opening Day in Houston on July 24.

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