ICYMI: February 11 — February 28

Spring Training workouts are well under way with the Seattle Mariners slated to play an intrasquad Monday. Erasmo Ramirez and Jordan Pries will start the game, which is weather permitting. Of note, several candidates for the second left-handed bullpen arm are scheduled to pitch: Lucas Luetge, David Rollins, Joe Saunders, Mike Kickham, and Rafael Perez.

After a string of minor league signings, the Mariners signed veteran second baseman Rickie Weeks to a one-year deal with a $2 million guarantee. Prospect Insider’s Jason A. Churchill analyzed the value that Weeks brings to the club. Churchill notes that Weeks’ role on the roster is unclear; the right-hander has exclusively played second base for the duration of his big league career and Willie Bloomquist has a guaranteed contract. The 32-year old has been getting work as an outfielder though, and could platoon in left field with Dustin Ackley. Whatever the case, Churchill views the move as having no downside and solidifying the bench.

With the signing of Weeks likely being the last move of significance made before Opening Day, we can reasonably estimate payroll for the upcoming season to be in the $120 million range. I broke down how the Mariners will be distributing salary by position.

College baseball season has also opened and Rob Balboni has previews and predictions: Big-12, Pac-12,SEC, and ACC. One player in particular keeping a close eye on is Stanford’s Cal Quantrill, the son of former big league pitcher Paul Quantrill who ranks as one of the top sophomore pitchers in the country.

While there’s reason to believe the Mariners could be playing baseball in October for the first time since 2001, there is concern as to whether the rotation will be able to hold up, writes Luke Arkins. Looking at the starters who appeared in the 2014 World Series, Arkins paints a picture of the demands the extended season has on a starting staff. Including Spring Training and the playoffs, San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner threw a whopping 291 innings. With youngsters James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Roenis Elias expected to play key roles in the rotation, adequate depth will be crucial to a successful season.

One starter who is finally back on the mound this spring is former No. 2 overall pick, Danny Hultzen. After missing the entire 2014 season recovering from surgery, the southpaw is ready to get back to work. But given the circumstances, including his age (25) and minimal innings pitched over the last few years, big league expectations for the youngster should be tempered. Hultzen is likely to start the year at Triple-A and will be watched very closely. There’s no timetable for his major league debut, and there shouldn’t be.

If the 2009 amateur draft could be redone with 20-20 hindsight, Mike Trout would go No. 1 overall, according to Churchill; much to everyone’s surprise, we know. That means actual No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg ends up in the No. 2 spot owned by Seattle. Current Mariner Kyle Seager, who was the M’s third-round pick in 2009, takes the No. 5 spot. Other current Mariners Mike Zunino and James Paxton were selected in the 2009 draft but were not signed. Three years later Zunino would be the No. 3 overall pick while Paxton went in the fourth-round of the 2010 draft.

Lastly, in draft news, 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken will pitch for the postgraduate team at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The decision allows the talented southpaw to be eligible for the 2015 amateur draft where he is currently projected to go near the top of the first round once again.

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Tyler Carmont

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