ICYMI: February 6 – March 6

It’s been a busy past couple weeks for the Seattle Mariners now that Spring Training is well underway. The best news out of camp today is that Taijuan Walker threw for the first time since being shutdown for seven days due to shoulder inflammation. The 21-year old said he felt really good but admitted that it was a tough week for him to standby and rest. Walker is still expected to be out until mid-April at the earliest, but it’s still a step in the right direction. Tests did not reveal any structural damage and the Mariners believe that he simply overthrew in his preparation for camp.

There were two important signings for Seattle in the past month: the first was Fernando Rodney, who agreed to terms on a two-year deal worth $14 million, and the second was Nelson Cruz, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles for $8 million. Rodney gives the young bullpen some much needed late inning experience and gives the Mariners a potentially solid one-two-three punch with Danny Furquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen. Many of us, including myself, weren’t too thrilled with the notion that Cruz would inevitably be a Mariner, but it’ll be Baltimore who will attempt to make lemonade out of lemons this year.

Instead of Cruz manning right field this year, the Mariners are planning to fill the position with Corey Hart, so long as his health is able to hold up over the course of the season. It’s still too early in camp to get a real feel for what Hart can be expected to produce as a semi-regular outfielder, but it should be considered a success if Seattle can coax 80 or more games out of him. Thankfully Abraham Almonte has put together a great Spring Training thus far and will see plenty of major league outfield time at this rate, making the outfield picture a little less murky. So long as the soon to be 32-year old Hart hits close to what he used to, it probably won’t matter all that much where he plays.

The ‘battle’ between Brad Miller and Nick Franklin for the starting shortstop job is ongoing, but we did learn recently that both the New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays have expressed interest in acquiring Franklin. In fact, the Rays had a deal in place for the young infielder, but it fell apart after an injury to Jeremy Hellickson. The assumption being made is that the Mariners would’ve acquired a starting pitcher in the deal since Tampa pulled out due to concerns over their depth after the injury. It remains to be seen whether or not Franklin will find a new home before Opening Day, but there’s still plenty of time for a deal to take place.

Steve Simas continued with his Fantasy Prospect Rankings series for 2014 and as a gentle reminder, Steve designed his lists based on fantasy value in the upcoming season; it’s not specifically a top prospects list. Click the following links for each positional ranking: second base, center field, first base, pitchers, corner outfield, and a top 25 list.

After re-signing for the 2014 season, Franklin Gutierrez told the Mariners in February that he won’t play this year after the stomach issues that kept him shelved for most of 2013 have returned. It’s a rather unfortunate turn of events for the former Gold Glove winner who appeared to have finally taken a positive turn in his health. Hopefully Gutierrez is able to make a full recovery and return to the major leagues in 2015, but it looks like he still has a long and tough road ahead of him.

Prospect Insider has you covered with previews and insight for this year’s collage baseball season. Rob Balboni has previews for the Pac-12, the ACC, the Big-12, and the SEC. And if you’re not sure who to pay attention to, Jason Churchill offers a scouting report on several top draft prospects. Eric Longenhagan also has a scouting report on several notable UVA prospects including Derek Fisher. Rob brings us a list of the 2014 All-American teams and top 25 teams while Steve Drumwright offers a piece on the changes to Skyler Ewing’s appraoch.

Jeff Hoffman is a name to keep an eye on as one of the top college pitching prospects according to Eric and others. Rob agrees, and has another set of names to keep an eye on.

A must read for anyone who follows amateur ball and wants to understand the 20-80 scale is brought to you courtesy of Chris Hervey who gives a quick and to the point explanation.

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Tyler Carmont

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