Mariners: 4 players to watch for remainder of 2019 season

With the 2019 regular season entering it’s final stages, we pick four Mariners players you should watch during the remaining weeks.

It’s an understatement to say it’s been a frustrating year for Mariners fans. As the season winds down, the team is among the worst in the league.

As a result, the longest current postseason drought in the Majors will extend by another year. Just because the franchise is going through a full rebuild, it doesn’t make it any easier for the faithful supporters to deal with.

Having said all that, there are still enough reasons to continue going to T-Mobile Park to catch a game. Along these lines, here are four players you should check out between now and the end of September:

1) Justus Sheffield

If you take away the need to put a positive spin on things, the Mariners would probably admit they have been disappointed with Sheffield’s progress, or lack thereof. Heading into the season he was the team’s top-rated prospect, but has now dropped to ninth in the farm system.

The 2014 first round draft pick struggled in Triple-A (as well as his one appearance for the M’s), posting a poor 6.87 ERA. This resulted in him being demoted to Double-A

However, this doesn’t mean the M’s don’t still believe in the potential of Sheffield, who has been fantastic for the Arkansas Travelers. His slider is his best pitch and his fastball is now even faster; it will be interesting to see how he performs when he gets recalled to Seattle at the end of this month.

2) Mitch Haniger

Last season was a breakout year for Haniger, who hit 26 home runs, 93 RBI and a slash line of .285/.366/.493. He was named to his first ever All-Star Game and finished 11th in AL voting.

Unfortunately for the 28-year-old and his team, this year didn’t start quite as well and was summed up by a nasty ruptured testicle after 63 games. However, he is set to return to the Majors by the end of August.

Fans will want to keep an eye on Haniger when he does return to the Mariners’ lineup. He is theoretically the new face of the franchise, but if he performs well, could just as easily be traded as part of the ongoing rebuild.

3) Shed Long

There is plenty of intrigue surrounding Long, who made his Major League debut on May 11 earlier this year, versus the Boston Red Sox. At the time of writing, he is ranked 15th in the M’s farm system.

While the 23-year-old is officially listed as a second baseman, he is also capable of playing at third base and in left field. Despite this versatility however, he was limited to 19 games before being sent down, due in large part to the return of Dee Gordon and J.P. Crawford from injury.

Regardless, Long will get another chance when Major League rosters are expanded at the end of this month. He has provided some glimpses of hope, but still needs to prove he is part of the long-term future plans in Seattle. (There are more concerns about his glove compared to his bat.)

4) Felix Hernandez

Understandably, you’re probably wondering why we have included Hernandez in our list. After all, we’re talking about a player who will finish this season with his worst ever statistical year in the Majors.

However, the fallout from the fading star’s performances in 2019 also mean this is more than likely his last year playing for the Mariners. He is set to become a free agent after this season and you don’t imagine the team will re-sign him.

Hernandez is projected to come back from his shoulder injury around August 24, for the series against the Toronto Blue Jays. With the season long lost, the pitcher will get a chance to play again, to effectively say goodbye to Seattle.

As such, fans should take the opportunity to celebrate what has mostly been an extremely successful career in the Pacific Northwest (from an individual standpoint at least). No matter how subpar he is now, he has done more than enough to have M’s fans cheer him on and give him a good sendoff.

Which of the four players mentioned are you most looking forward to seeing in action, and why? Also, is there anyone else you would include in the list? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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