Servais sets starting rotation; Celesten visits Mariners

March 25th, 2023

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners got an up-close look on Friday at their immediate future -- and, potentially, the franchise's future.

Before -- the teenage switch-hitting phenom who inked the biggest signing bonus in Seattle history -- arrived in Peoria for the first time, it was business first, with manager Scott Servais pinning down the Mariners’ 2023 starting rotation.

The Seattle skipper, coming off a second straight 90-win season, had previously tapped righty to start Opening Day when the Mariners host Cleveland on Thursday.

Lefty , the 2021 AL Cy Young winner, gets the ball next, followed by righty , lefty and righty , who is throwing fifth to save his energy in the first month of the season. Righty also has put together a strong spring, with a 3-0 record and 2.65 ERA in five starts.

It’s a nice problem to have: too many good starters to go around.

"The rotation is very good,” Castillo, who struck out six in five innings of the Mariners' 15-3 win over Oakland, said through an interpreter after his outing -- his last until Opening Day. "I feel like we have enough repertoire in that rotation to do as good as we did last year, if not even better."

On the offensive side of things, the Mariners stayed hot Friday and have scored 32 runs in their last 17 innings.

Behind Castillo, the bats came out swinging. belted his first spring home run, a three-run shot that put his prodigious power on display.

"Cal was on it. Big home run early. A lot of good things offensively the last couple days, which is good to see,” said Servais.

First baseman  added to the offense with three hits. Raleigh drove in three runs, and scored three himself.

Before the offensive fireworks in the game, Celesten flashed a bit of his sky-high promise. Appearing before the media sporting a Mariners T-shirt, the 17-year-old’s youthful orthodontic braces and wide smile contrasted with an upper body build that looked ready to play ball. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound shortstop, the No. 2 overall international prospect per MLB Pipeline, is a potential five-tool player who agreed with the Mariners in January to a $4.7 million signing bonus.

He worked out with the team’s Minor Leaguers on arrival Friday and took it all in.

"It’s mostly good vibes that we have here," he said through an interpreter. "You can really tell that everyone is working as a team here, and I think that’s the thing that’s caught my attention."

As Celesten explained, his path to baseball came through his father.

"Baseball came through my dad’s side of the family," he said. “He actually signed a professional contract with the Orioles as a pitcher.”

He says his biggest influence as a player is the switch-hitting, Puerto Rican-born Francisco Lindor, the four-time All-Star now with the Mets.

"I told myself I’ve got to be like him, if not better,” he said. “That was always my mentality. That’s how I learned.”

For now, Celesten is relegated to watch from the sidelines and absorb his new environment. But his patience is already showing.

"I take it as a learning experience just traveling with the team and going out there and seeing,” he said. “I’m also a visual learner, so I take it as a learning experience.”

While his next steps aren’t immediately clear, he indicated that the team will send him to the Dominican Summer League to start his professional career. The DSL opens its season March 31.

"They told me, 'We’ll bring you out [to Arizona] so you can get to know everything and see how they do things,'" he said. “But the plan is to go play over there.”