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Moran is an interesting signing for the Mariners because he would potentially be first in line to replace Eugenio Suarez of Ty France at either corner infield spot if an injury were to happen to either of them in Spring Training or early in the year. The 30-year-old also provides a possible bench option. Unlike many of the Mariners bench options, such as Taylor Trammell, Sam Haggerty, and Cooper Hummell, Moran has spent significant time in the big leagues and has hit at the big league level for multiple seasons. He owns a career 98wRC+ and has posted a wOBA of at least .300 his last five seasons.
The club also signed first baseman Mike Ford to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invite. Ford has bounced around several teams since he was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the M’s from the Yankees organization in 2017. He would end up being returned to the Yankees at the end of Spring Training that year, but the Mariners have signed him to multiple minor league contracts and traded him many times. He has a career .201/.301/.387 slash line in the big leagues in 151 games.
The Mariners made a minor trade this week when they traded minor league RHP Joseph Hernandez to the Milwaukee Brewers for RHP Justin Topa. Hernandez started 22 games for the Low-A Modesto Nuts in 2022, pitching 116.2 innings with a 3.39 ERA and 143 strikeouts. Jason A. Churchill had this to say about the righty Hernandez, “Reliever-only right-hander with plus slider, 40 command, and up to 95 mph from a low three-quarter slot. If he can throw strikes more often, he has the stuff to see the middle innings out of the bullpen, but he has a ways to go get there.”
Topa has only pitched 18.1 innings in the big leagues where he has a 8.35 ERA and 17 strikeouts. The past three seasons, Topa has been up and down between the minor leagues and the big leagues. President of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto and general manager Justin Hollander must think that they can get more out of him than the Brewers did, and he will most likely be in the mix for a middle relief role in Spring Training, and even if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he could be a call-up if anyone gets injured early in the season.
Mariners Draft Spotlight
After looking at Stanford infielder Tommy Troy last week, this week’s Mariners Draft Spotlight is on South Carolina RHP Will Sanders. Sanders is a 6-foot-6 215 pound righty who has pitched over 140 innings at the collegiate level.
Prospects Live ranks Sanders as their 24th ranked prospect in the 2023 draft class. They praise his secondary pitches, “Sanders’ go-to out pitch has been a solid slider with good shape and great consistency. He’s also got some of the best feel for a changeup at the top of this class.” They also say he needs to get more value out of his fastball, something that Jason A. Churchill has spent time discussing on the Baseball Things Podcast. The Mariners have sent prospects to their “Gas Camp” in the past to get more velocity, and if they were to draft Sanders, he would be a prime candidate to see if they could get his mid-90s fastball to tick up closer to triple digits.
The Mariners have had success drafting college pitchers in the first round, and having three top 30 picks, it is quite possible that Sanders could follow in the footsteps of Logan Gilbert and George Kirby.
Former Mariner Transactions
- Former Mariners RHP prospect Nick Neidert, DFA’d by MIami, was signed by Chicago Cubs. Neidert was traded with prospect Christopher Torres to Miami for Dee Strange-Gordon and international bonus money in December 2017.
- LHP Ryan Borucki who was acquired via trade from the Toronto Blue Jays last summer was signed by the Cubs as well.
- Former second round pick Joe Rizzo signed a minor league deal with the Miami Marlins.
Mariners Prospects in the News
MLB Pipeline put together a poll of MLB executives and found that one M’s prospect is considered underrated.
MLB Pipeline also put together the All Speed Team, and it included a Mariners catching prospect.
The Mariners announced on social media that there is a Player Development Pitching Camp that includes many of the organizations best pitching prospects.
Ready to bring the 🔥🔥🔥
Our @Mariners Player Development Pitching Camp is underway in Arizona. #SeaUsRise pic.twitter.com/1SQi3Ln8em
— Mariners Player Development (@MsPlayerDev) January 12, 2023
Curtis Christianson is the Athletic Director at Concordia Christian Academy. He also works in the Tacoma Rainiers clubhouse during the baseball season.
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