PEORIA, Ariz. — During an impressive half-inning — the highest of the first to be exact — the Mariners’ vaunted farm system offered a glimpse of talent that has been rated by evaluators as one of baseball’s best.
Unfortunately, the lack of rules or guidelines established as a whole by Major League Baseball, which addresses issues other than access to minor league minicamps in Arizona, and a decision by Padres staff, have limited viewing of other baseball action.
“No more baseball for you.”
On a perfect Wednesday afternoon with temperatures in the mid-80s and just a touch of wind to cool the sweat off your skin, a baseball game was being played at the Peoria Sports Complex.
No, it wasn’t the Cactus League game between the Mariners and the Giants, which would have drawn a large crowd, including a large number of San Francisco fans.
But that game, like the Mariners’ previous four scheduled spring training games and the next five games, if not more, was canceled by MLB without a collective bargaining agreement and the current lockout remaining in place.
Instead, the action took place at the No. 2 training ground on the Padres side of the complex in an intra-complex melee between the two organizations, not uncommon at this time of the year. year.
A game! A real baseball game with umpires and everything but, well, fans or MLB players.
With the baseball world still reeling and seething over the failure to achieve a new CBA and Tuesday’s announcement that the first two series of the 2022 regular season have been canceled, the scrimmage was something to enjoy. . It drew president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, assistant general manager Justin Hollander, manager Scott Servais, most of the Mariners major league coaches and several members of the analysis team from across the complex. from Peoria to watch anything other than workouts.
Their course was immediately rewarded in this top of the first.
Facing southpaw Daniel Camarena, who spent most of last season at the Padres’ Triple-A El Paso affiliate (6-7 record with a 4.75 ERA in 22 appearances) and re-signed with the Padres on a minor league contract this offseason, left-handed hitter Zach DeLoach took the lead from Seattle.
With two strikes into the count, DeLoach crushed a Camarena error, sending a towering explosion into right field that landed about 30 feet behind the fence.
Selected in the second round of the 2020 draft by Texas A&M, the Mariners loved DeLoach’s mature approach and his keen eye on the plate as well as his bat-to-ball skills with power potential. He spent the 2020 season at the team’s alternate training site in Tacoma training.
DeLoach started his first pro season with High-A Everett in 2021, posting a .313/.400/.530 slant line with 23 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 37 RBIs, 32 walks and 63 strikeouts in 58 games. He was promoted to Class AA Arkansas on July 20, along with several of his Aqua Sox teammates. DeLoach appeared in 49 games, posting a .227/.338/.384 slant line with 10 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 22 RBIs, 28 walks, 58 strikeouts.
MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 6 prospect in the organization.
DeLoach was still being congratulated by coaches and teammates in the dugout when Noelvi Marte stepped in and ambushed the first pitch he saw from Camarena.
The result was a screaming line to left field that cleared the fence and seemed to keep disappearing.
The bat sound and trajectory vapor trail drew oohs and comments, including “Get you some!” of the Mariners’ canoe, and the smiles of Dipoto and Servais.
Marte is the most touted positional player prospect in the unnamed Julio Rodriguez organization. He is ranked in the top 20 of all baseball prospects by multiple outlets.
After spending the 2020 season at the alternate training site as an 18-year-old, Marte was one of the league’s youngest Low-A West players in 2021. As the starting shortstop for the Modesto Nuts, he posted a .271/.368/.463 slash line with 24 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs, 69 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 58 walks and 106 strikeouts in 99 games and 478 plate appearances.
The Mariners promoted him to High-A Everett, where he will likely start the 2022 season, for the final eight games of the season. He had nine hits in those games, including four doubles. Marte also played six games in the Dominican Winter League.
When former Mariners scouting director Tim Kissner signed Marte as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic, he was listed at 6-1, 181 pounds. He now looks closer to 6-3 with most of it being legs and over 200lbs with most of it being shoulders and chest which is why many scouts believe he will be moved from shortstop at third base.
In the past four days, Marte has done at least one gasp-worthy thing during practice – twice, leading to Mike Cameron dropping complimentary obscenities and calling him a ‘superstar’.
Rodriguez received the same treatment from Cameron during recent spring training.
With Rodriguez and top pitcher George Kirby likely banned from opposing teams, Marte will certainly be called upon in any trade the Mariners might make to acquire a top MLB player.
It was the end of the score in the inning. Receiver Harry Ford, the Mariners’ 2021 first-round pick, hit third and hit a hard-ground ball to third base for an out. Cade Marlowe followed with a single down the middle, but Camarena knocked out Jake Scheiner and forced Kaden Polcovich out to end the inning.
As the Mariners prepared to enter the field for the bottom half, a sorry Padres coach informed watching media that the facility was closed to all non-team employees, including scouts. and the media. This is not the norm for all spring training facilities, with some being completely open to media and scouts.
As for fans lucky enough to roam the back courts to watch the only players from spring training camps, they remain locked out. Some believe that when minor league spring training officially begins on March 4-5, teams could open complexes and also allow fans to watch minor league spring training games. This is something that hasn’t happened since the sport was shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
Until then, we’re limited to that magic high of the first inning of an intra-complex scrimmage with back-to-back homers from Zach DeLoach and Noelvi Marte.