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2011 Tacoma Rainiers

The opening day roster for the Tacoma Rainiers has been released, so they are up next in my minor league affiliate previews. As the AAA affiliate, they get some coverage from others. So, before providing my own spin, here is what Rainiers announcer Mike Curto had to say about the roster, and here's what Larry Stone had to say (along with Cheney pics).

Without further ado, my two cents:

  • Remember the muddy bullpen mess the M's had in spring training? All the leftovers are now in Tacoma. It will probably make for a good AAA bullpen, though the ultimate adventure might be figuring out who pitches what innings on any given night.
  • Dustin Ackley will get plenty of coverage, so I won't say much more besides WATCH HIM. He's really freakin' good. The first time we see a report that mentions some sort of defensive gem (particularly turning the double play), he will be in Seattle.
  • The Rainiers should have a much more entertaining offense to watch than the M's. Ackley helps, but the real excitement is provided by the glut of thundersticks (I might have just made up that term) in the lineup. I'm talking about Alex Liddi, Carlos Peguero, and Greg Halman, plus to a certain degree Mike Carp, Mike Wilson, and Matt Tuiasosopo. The team is deep with guys that can go deep, but all of them have holes in their swings. A pitcher with good control and a good breaking ball might be able to rack up 15 Ks against this lineup. However, a guy with limited control of a fastball could get rocked.
  • It's not smart to anoint any one of the aforementioned hitters a can't-miss MLB slugger. However, out of a group as large as that, I like the chances of at least one of them becoming some sort of power source for the M's in the near future. As a fan, I'd love for it to be Peguero, simply because he looks like he can reach out and eat a pitcher from the batter's box. He just looks the part of a guy that annihilates baseballs.
Overall, the 2011 Tacoma Rainiers strike me as a deep team worthy of defending the PCL title they captured last season. It has a fun mix of unproven youth and AAAA-ish veterans. I think it will make for a worthy product to christen new Cheney Stadium.

I know this is brief, but it's a bit late. Plus, I figure I will end up highlighting many of these players individually as the season progresses. Many of these guys will log significant time for the Mariners this year.