The Mariners announced they’re selecting the contract of catching prospect Cal Raleigh. All-Star southpaw Yusei Kikuchi was placed on the COVID-19 injured list to create active and 40-man roster space. Additionally, utilityman Donovan Walton has been recalled from Triple-A Tacoma, while outfielder Taylor Trammell was optioned to Tacoma after last night’s game.
Raleigh is now set to make his major league debut. A third-round pick out of Florida State in 2018, the switch-hitting backstop has developed into one of the game’s more promising young catchers. After a pair of quality seasons in the low minors, Raleigh entered 2021 as one of the Mariners top prospects. Each of Baseball America, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs and Keith Law of the Athletic slotted him among the top ten farmhands in a strong system this year.
All three outlets laud Raleigh’s combination of power potential and solid receiving skills, with Longenhagen noting that he’s rated as a strong pitch framer throughout his amateur and minor league career. The general expectation among evaluators is that he’ll develop into an average or better regular behind the plate.
The M’s would have had to add Raleigh to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft at the end of the season, but he forced his way to the big leagues a bit early by performing well at Triple-A. Assigned to Tacoma for the first time this year, he’s hit .324/.377/.608 with nine home runs across 199 trips to the plate. Raleigh has slashed his strikeout rate to a personal-best 12.6% this year, swinging and missing at a lower-than-average 10.9% clip.
With the 48-42 Mariners hanging in the postseason picture, Raleigh will get an immediate opportunity to contribute to a playoff race. The Mariners catching trio of Luis Torrens, Tom Murphy and José Godoy has offered slightly below-average production on the season, although Torrens has been better lately after a bad start. It’s not a given that Raleigh will stick on the active roster from here on out, but his selection clears the way for him to contribute at the big league level down the stretch.
As for Kikuchi, there doesn’t seem to be much cause for concern. The 30-year-old has been feeling virus-like symptoms recently, but he’s fully vaccinated and has already tested negative for COVID-19, relays Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Assuming a follow-up test today comes back negative, he’ll be cleared to participate in the All-Star Game and return to the Mariners next week.