The first official full squad workout of the Seattle Mariners 2016 season is today at 10:20am, and thus the first full workout under new manager Scott Servais and new GM Jerry Dipoto is upon us, too. The Mariners are a much different looking team than they were a year ago -- even much different than they were when the 2015 season ended less than five months ago -- thanks to the flurry of moves that Dipoto and his revamped front office have made during the offseason.
Of the 58 players in camp, only 10 were on last year's Opening Day roster. While Dipoto didn't make any huge, flashy moves to compete with the M's past two offseasons -- when they added Robinson Cano and then Nelson Cruz -- the overall roster feels to be much better constructed than the teams of the recent past for Seattle. Athletic outfielders Norichika Aoki, Leonys Martin, Boog Powell and non-roster invitee Daniel Robertson are in camp, and the bullpen has been completely rebuilt around back-end, bounce-back candidate arms Steve Cishek, Joaquin Benoit, Ryan Cook, Justin De Fratus and others, and the catching position has been solidified with the addition of veterans Chris Iannetta and Steve Clevenger.
There is on-base percentage, speed and athleticism on offense and defense and a pitching staff that appears to be built to take advantage of the wide open spaces that Safeco Field (and that improved defense) play to. On paper, the Mariners look like a much improved team that at least has a higher, more predictable floor than recent teams. Dipoto said from Day 1 that he wanted to build on athleticism and on-base percentage, and he definitely followed through on that. The club reportedly has reached an agreement with 25 year old Cuban outfielder Guillermo Heredia to add to that athleticism, although it hasn't been officially announced yet. Heredia is a plus defensive outfielder with some on-base skills who definitely would have been in the upper half of our Top-50 if he was on the roster when that countdown started.
There are some other exciting prospects in big league camp, too, with Top-50 guys Jonathan Aro, Mayckol Guaipe, Paul Fry, Danny Hultzen, Marcus Littlewood, Tyler Smith and Dario Pizzano joining Boog Powell in Peoria, mostly as NRIs. Hultzen is the biggest story among those names, and maybe the one with the best shot to make the club in his new role as a reliever.
SeattleClubhouse will provide reports throughout spring training and work on bringing some interviews and player development reports to our readers. As it always is for baseball fans, spring is an exciting time!
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