The Seattle Mariners have announced a coaching staff to lead the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers this season. Its composition is quite different from those seen in recent years.
Veteran major league player, manager and bench coach John Russell has brought a lengthy résumé when he was hired as a pilot for the Rainiers this season.
Russell spent three years in the major leagues, coaching the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2008-2010. Then back in Baltimore he spent eight years as coach on Showalter’s bench and the Orioles made the playoffs three times during his tenure.
Before reaching the majors as manager and coach, Russell managed in the minors. This included his 2001 and his 2002 seasons in the Pacific His Coast his league, Minnesota where he led the Twins affiliated Edmonton Trappers. He won his PCL Championship in 2002, and with sluggers (Michael Cuddyer, Mike Ryan, Todd Sears, Matt LeCroy, Javier Valentin, Casey Blake, Michael Restovich, etc.) Top pitching prospect Johan Santana was complete.
Russell also had a long career, including two years in the PCL with the Portland Beavers. He played all or part of his 10 seasons in his league majors with the Phillies, Braves, and Rangers. A catcher and outfielder, Russell was at bat for the Texas Rangers on June 11, 1990, when Ryan hit his no-hitter for the sixth time in his career.
In terms of experience, Russell’s hiring is a 180-degree turn compared to the last two managers the Mariners have sent to Tacoma. Both Christopher Negron (2021) and Tim Federowitz (2022) had no professional managerial experience when they were hired. Negron spent the 2020 season as a player development assistant, running an alternate site during his Covid season, which put him a year away from the end of his playing career. After retiring as a player at the end of the 2021 season, Federowitz took over as manager directly from the field.
The Rainiers’ new pitching coach for 2023 is Jairo Cuevas, who is new to the Mariners organization but not the Pacific Coast League. Cuevas has been his pitching coach for the Salt Lake Beads for the past two seasons, and prior to this year, his entire coaching career was in the Angels’ farm his system.
Cuevas oversaw one of the most impressive pitching staffs in recent PCL history last year when Salt Lake’s Hurler led the league in ERA. Salt Lake’s home ballpark is a hitter’s paradise, and Cuevas has somehow tamed pitchers. Since his return to the PCL in 1994, Salt Lake hadn’t led the league in earned runs until last season.
The only returning coach is Brad Marcelino, who is in his second season with Tacoma and his second season with the Seattle Mariners Organization. In his first season leading the Rainiers hitter, Tacoma set a franchise record by hitting his 216 home runs. Marcelino will also serve as hitting coach for the Great Britain national team at the World Baseball Classic in March this year.
Former infielder Eric Farris joins the Rainiers’ coaching staff for the first time. Faris is a veteran on his staff coaching the Rainiers as seen by the organization. He is in his sixth season on the Mariners’ player development staff, and has spent the past two seasons managing the Class A Everett Aqua He Sox.
On the support staff, Mikey Sadler will return for a second season as strength and conditioning coach, and new trainer Aric Queenie will be promoted from Class A Everett.
The Detroit Tigers have hired 2022 Rainiers manager Tim Federowitz as their major league catching instructor. Aron will be on his staff coaching the Reds in Cincinnati.
The Reds also added Colin Cowgill to their major league coaching staff. Cowgill has been the Mariners’ Double-A Arkansas manager for the past two seasons, and was perhaps hoping for a promotion to Tacoma this year before getting his league opportunity in the majors with the Reds.
These moves are part of the reason the Mariners had to reach outside the organization to replenish Tacoma’s coaching staff. Trying to hire them by giving is reassuring.
Baseball America has released its annual list of the top 10 prospects for the Seattle Mariners. Full articles with lots of details about scout reports and players are for subscribers and of course respect their business but don’t mind if I name them. If you want to follow the prospects or enjoy amateur baseball and the draft, it’s worth subscribing to Baseball America. Here’s how the Mariners’ prospects line up:
- harry ford catcher
- Infielder Cole Young
- Bryce Miller, starting pitcher
- Outfielder Gabriel Gonzalez
- Emerson Hancock starting pitcher
- Taylor Dollard, starting pitcher
- Brian Wu, starting pitcher
- Shortstop Michael Arroyo
- Tyler Locklear third baseman
- Prelander Velor, starting pitcher
In an article, Baseball America predicted that Miller, Hancock, and Dollard would pitch for Tacoma this season. Here’s a direct link to the Mariners Top 10 for subscribers:
There’s some big news for the PCL from Salt Lake City, where the team has announced plans to build and move into a new ballpark for the 2025 season. It will be built many miles away.
This is the second recent case of a team moving from a metropolitan area to a middle-class suburb to a new development. The Las Vegas Aviators did this in his 2019 with great success. In both cases, the team’s previous home was in a suburb on the edge of downtown, not in the best neighborhood.
In use since 1994, the current home of the Bees is one of the most spectacular views of any ballpark you’ll ever see against the backdrop of the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains outfield. Hopefully they can create a similar scenic experience at the new ballpark.
Robot referees will continue to work in Triple-A matches in 2023, and will be across levels this year. Last year, only 10 teams in the Pacific Coast League and his one city in the International League (Charlotte) used the system.
Reportedly, half of the cities use the automatic batting system to call all pitches, while the other half use the automatic batting challenge system. We used the latter for a handful of games in the second half of the 2022 season and received mixed reviews. We don’t yet know which system we’ll be using at Cheney Stadium this year, but we’ll let you know as soon as we know.
- Mike Ford He returned for his third go-around with the Mariners and signed a minor league contract. His hometown newspaper tracked his wild 2022 season.
- Mariners add MLB infielder Tommy La Stellafights for a bench job on a major league team during spring training.
- The team also picked up relief JB Bukaukas, with the Diamondbacks last year (Tacoma faced him several times in Reno). Bukauskas has suffered a lot of injuries in recent seasons, but when he’s healthy he’s doing very well.
- When the international signing period began last Sunday, Seattle reloaded its farm system and added seven teenagers to its organization. Fernin Celestine Considered a top new talent.
- The Times previewed the Mariners’ shortstop situation, and the article includes charts for the minor league tiers.
- If you have a Baseball America subscription, don’t miss this article about a former prospect who hasn’t yet established himself in the majors. Including four players who competed in Tacoma last year.
- The Mariners have announced their promotional schedule.
- This is the story of Salt Lake City, a bee building a new ballpark.
- Several other PCL coaching staff have been appointed. Blake Larry After a year as an instructor for the Diamondbacks, he is back as Reno’s manager. Pedro Lopez New skipper and longtime minor league manager for the Albuquerque Isotopes. Philip Wellman Take over El Paso Chihuahua.
That’s all for today. Our next post will be out later next week after the Mariners preseason media event I’ll be attending. Things are starting to turn around!