Mariners 3, Brewers 1 at American Family Fields
The star outfield tandem of the Mariners’ future continued to offer hints that they could be ready for the prime time of Major League Baseball before even the organization anticipated.
Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez — they need a nickname like J&J Homer Factory or J-Squared — provided examples of their immense potential in the 3-1 win over the Brewers on Sunday.
With the Mariners trailing 1-0, Kelenic worked a 3-1 count against Brewers starter and former Mariners prospect Freddy Peralta. Kelenic was aggressive in the hitter’s count, jumping on a fastball and relocating it over the wall in right field at a high rate of speed. It was Kelenic’s second homer of the spring season and he finished the game 1 for 3.
Rodriguez put the Mariners ahead for good in the sixth inning facing veteran right-handed reliever Brad Boxberger. Rodriguez hit a towering blast to deep left-center that landed in the driveway just to the left of the batter’s eye in center field. It was a preposterous blast. And after striking out four times in his previous five plate appearances, including three in Saturday’s B game, it brought the familiar smile back for Rodriguez.
The two top prospects also showed they are more than just sluggers. Rodriguez displayed his arm strength, throwing out Keston Hiura at third base. Kelenic ran down a deep ball in right-center, fighting off the sun and making an impressive grab at the wall.
“Those guys are all-around players,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They’re young, but they’ve got some kind of ability. Everybody talks about their bats and what that’s going to do for our future, but they’re really good baseball players. They run, they can throw and take pride in doing those things. Again, sky’s the limit. I can’t stop smiling, thinking about what those two guys are going to grow into.”
Player of the game
Making his first Cactus League start of the spring, James Paxton delivered a solid outing. The big lefty worked through some first-inning command issues, pitching 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run on two hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Paxton’s fastball sat around 94-96 mph and even touched 97 mph. He seemed to get stronger as the game progressed, finding feel with his curveball and changeup.
“Today was about the young pups and it was great. J.K. and Julio hitting the long ball. Those experiences are just so important for young players, even in spring training, it is still a major-league game. It’s fun to see those guys show their abilities out there and it never ends. Those guys are very talented and they’re a lot of fun to be around.”
The Mariners return to the Peoria Sports Complex to host the reigning World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Left-hander Justus Sheffield will get the start for the Mariners while Trevor Bauer will start for the Dodgers. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports and there will also be a live radio broadcast ESPN 710-AM and mariners.com