With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Mariners squad each day this week. Today's topic: Who Might Surprise?
SEATTLE -- With a strong nucleus of returning veteran and a number of key additions this offseason, the Mariners don't have a ton of question marks surrounding their roster as Spring Training nears.
But if you're looking for a potential surprise contributor at some point this season, keep young right-handed starter Andrew Moore in mind.
The Mariners like their rotation depth with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton now bolstered by trade acquisitions Drew Smyly and Yovani Gallardo. But it's hard to get through a season -- let alone a spring -- with five healthy starters, and Moore impressed club officials so much last year at Double-A Jackson that he's knocking on the door for a promotion when needed.
A second-round Draft pick out of Oregon State in 2015, Moore was the Mariners' Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season after going 12-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 28 starts between Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Jackson.
"Andrew has never not pitched well in his entire life, going back to high school," said player personnel director Andy McKay. "He's been an incredibly consistent performer. And behind the numbers is a very competitive, high-character person.
"People who keep getting people out and winning games tend to keep moving up and being rewarded that way. I have no doubt in my mind how the story is going to end for Andrew Moore, and I think it's going to be a very good one for him and for us."
At 6-foot, 185 pounds, Moore doesn't overwhelm anyone with his physical presence, and his fastball doesn't make scouts snap to attention. But the 22-year-old understands how to use his fastball command and offspeed offerings. He's a student of the game, and he's not about to back down from anyone.
Moore said he draws on Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who stands in at 5-foot-6, as inspiration.
"To me, baseball is a game where size doesn't matter at all," Moore said. "You can go out there and compete. Altuve was one of the best hitters in the bigs, and he goes out there and plays like he's the biggest guy on the field.
"I remember one of the Cubs' scouts, my freshman year at Oregon State, before I was making my first start, he said, 'I'll tell you exactly what I told Darwin Barney in his first outing. You might be the smallest guy on the field, but you have to play like you're the biggest.' And that's something that really clicked for me, and I try to take out there.
"I have to compete that much harder and never let my guard down. It's almost more fun that way, where you know you're facing big guys. It's a good challenge for me. I look forward to that."
Headed to his first big league camp next week, Moore will have plenty of challenges awaiting. The competition for starting jobs, even at Triple-A Tacoma, figures to be thick after general manager Jerry Dipoto improved the rotation depth considerably by trading for Max Povse, Rob Whalen, Chris Heston and Dillon Overton as well as Smyly and Gallardo.
But last season the Mariners used 13 starting pitchers during their regular season, and don't be surprised if Moore is the first one to get a big league shot if the need arises.
Mariners pitchers and catchers will hold their first workout on Feb. 15 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Ariz., and the first full-squad workout is set for Feb. 19.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.