Seattle Mariners: Full Scouting Reports on Each September Call-Up
Interestingly enough, six of those seven call-ups have experience in the major leagues. A couple of prospects, particularly Ty Kelly, could have filled holes on the roster, but the Mariners decided to go with known veterans instead of unknown younger players.
Seattle’s starting lineup appears set, especially if Michael Saunders is able to return. Still, five of the additions appeared in Monday’s loss to the Oakland Athletics, and manager Lloyd McClendon said they could continue to get opportunities, via Greg Johns of MLB.com.
"I think all of them bring something to the table. And hopefully they'll get opportunities to help us win games.”
While the Mariners have some idea of what to expect from most of the new additions, their roles on the team may change from previous stints in Seattle.
Taijuan Walker, SP
Seattle: 1-2, 3.60 ERA, 5.13 FIP, 20.7 K%, 16.3 BB%, -0.1 WAR
Tacoma: 6-4, 4.81 ERA, 5.30 FIP, 23.5 K%, 7.9 BB%
Taijuan Walker was expected to be a starter in Seattle’s rotation for the entire season but has been hampered by a shoulder injury and control issues. An up-and-down season in Tacoma didn’t help, but now Walker will have an opportunity to prove he is ready for the majors in 2015.
The electric fastball has been there at times this season, but a walk rate of 16.3 percent is far too high. Walker has been unable to command his fastball well, throwing it for a strike only 58 percent of the time, decreasing the effectiveness of his still-developing curveball.
Fortunately for the Mariners, Walker had his best outing of the season on Monday in long relief. Walker allowed one run in six innings and struck out five batters to two walks.
McClendon said Walker still has to earn a place in the rotation, but he will have a chance to pitch himself into the No.5 spot, via Johns of MLB.com
Right now, he's probably going to be more of a long man. Hopefully he'll get to the point where he's so dominating that he's in the rotation, but we'll see. I had a talk with him today, and that's totally up to him. We've all heard the hype and know he's a very talented individual, but I want to see it on the field.
The Mariners previous long-relief option was Tom Wilhelmsen, so Walker will provide bullpen depth with huge upside at the very least.
Walker is still very advanced for a 22-year-old, but a strong September would provide some reassurance heading into 2015.
Corey Hart, DH
Seattle: .203/.278/.314, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 70 wRC+, -1.0 WAR
Tacoma: .286/.351/.571, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 134 wRC+
Seattle brought in Corey Hart on a cheap, incentive-laden contract over the offseason, hoping he could again reach the 30 home run mark after missing all of 2013.
The move hasn’t worked out at all. Hart has spent two lengthy stints on the disabled list and been ineffective even when healthy.
That prompted the Mariners to grab Kendrys Morales in late July to take over as the primary designated hitter. After a sluggish start, Morales posted a respectable .709 OPS in August, meaning Hart likely won’t provide any sort of upgrade.
Hart hit well during his last rehab assignment, so McClendon might give him a DH start here and there. Still, Hart has missed so many games at the major league level that it’s going to take some at-bats for him to regain his rhythm, which the Mariners can’t afford down the stretch.
Justin Smoak, 1B
Seattle: .205/.275/.347, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 77 wRC+, -0.3 WAR
Tacoma: .337/.422/.502, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 138 wRC+
After another disappointing season, it’s time for the Mariners to move on from Justin Smoak. His numbers in Tacoma are impressive, but he’s put up good numbers in Triple-A before, and it hasn’t translated well to the majors.
Unexpectedly, Smoak received the start at first base the same day he was called up. That came at the expense of Logan Morrison, who posted a 110 wRC+ in August.
Morrison needs to hit well as the everyday starter if Seattle hopes to reach the playoffs. Smoak’s main value will come as a late-inning defensive replacement, particularly if Morales is playing first base.
Stefen Romero, RF
Seattle: .196/.240/.310, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 54 wRC+, -1.0 WAR
Tacoma: .358/.387/.669, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 166 wRC+
Stefen Romero’s first stint in the major leagues went poorly at the plate, and he didn’t appear to provide much in the way of defense in right field. However, as evidenced by his outstanding Triple-A numbers, Romero still has some untapped potential.
The key to Romero’s success could be using him in the correct situations. Although he received most of his at-bats in Seattle against left-handed pitching, Romero hit better against righties in a full season of Triple-A in 2013 and still owns a .982 OPS (per Minor League Central) against right-handed pitching in Tacoma this year.
It might be worth giving Romero a couple of starts in right field over Chris Denorfia, who has not hit well since being traded to Seattle. Denorfia is the superior defender and baserunner, so he should be the starter until Saunders returns, but Romero has more upside than he showed earlier in the year.
Carson Smith, RP
Tacoma: 1-3, 2.93 ERA, 2.89 FIP, 24.7 K%, 7.1 BB%
Carson Smith is the lone call-up who hadn’t previously appeared in the big leagues. He made his major league debut on Monday, getting Josh Donaldson to ground out to finish the eighth inning.
While Smith couldn’t crack Seattle’s outstanding bullpen before roster expansion, there are still plenty of reasons to be excited about his future.
An unorthodox delivery allows Smith to get tremendous movement on a Frisbee-like slider. Smith also has a lively fastball that reaches the mid-90s, leading him to post huge strikeout numbers in the minors.
That arsenal promises to be tough on right-handed batters, who posted just a .537 OPS (per Minor Leauge Central) against Smith in Tacoma.
Again, Seattle’s bullpen didn’t exactly need any upgrade. Smith won’t appear in too many critical situations but will serve as a nice depth piece.
Humberto Quintero, C
Tacoma: .290/.311/.425, 4 HR, 27 RBI, 87 wRC+
The 35-year-old Humberto Quintero hasn’t appeared in the majors at all this season, but the Mariners decided to add him as the customary third catcher as John Hicks and Tyler Marlette continue to develop in the minors.
Quintero has posted a similar batting line to current backup Jesus Sucre in the minors. However, Sucre is the far superior defensive player, leaving Quintero a clear third on the depth chart.
There’s a strong possibility Quintero won’t appear at all, barring an injury or a game that goes deep into extra innings.
Lucas Luetge, RP
Seattle: 0-0, 4.91 ERA, 7.49 FIP, 18.8 K%, 18.8 BB%, -0.1 WAR
Tacoma: 3-2, 3.32 ERA, 4.20 FIP, 25.9 K%, 10.0 BB%
After going over two months without allowing a run to begin the 2012 season, Lucas Luetge has struggled mightily. September will mark his fifth separate trip to Seattle in 2014, only throwing 3.2 innings.
Luetge’s ERA and strikeout numbers in Triple-A are decent enough, but he has struggled with control. His career walk rate stands at 12 percent, and he hasn’t shown much improvement in Tacoma.
The Mariners only have two lefties in the bullpen, so it still makes sense that Luetge was added with the expanded rosters. Luetge has been successful against lefties [.566 OPS allowed] and will be the emergency third option behind Joe Beimel and Charlie Furbush.
All stats via FanGraphs.com unless otherwise noted.