After tearing up the Minor Leagues last year, Vinnie Catricala is starting off his spring in similar fashion.
Seattle's No. 6 prospect smacked a two-run homer that proved to be the difference on Wednesday, while Jesus Montero and Blake Beavan also turned in strong performances to help the Mariners defeat the Angels, 6-4, in Cactus League action.
Catricala entered the game in the sixth inning as a defensive substitution for third baseman Kyle Seager, then flied out to left field in the seventh. In the eighth, Catricala he took a 1-2 pitch by Orangel Arenas over the center-field wall. With a 6-1 lead, the M's were able to endure a three-run rally by the Angels in the ninth.
The two RBIs were the first of the spring for Catricala, who is participating in his first big league camp. The 23-year-old hit .349 with 25 homers and 106 RBIs between Class A Advanced and Double A last year, earning Seattle's Minor League Player of the Year Award. A 10th-round pick in 2009, Catricala is a dark horse candidate to win Seattle's third-base job, though he would have to displace Chone Figgins and beat out more established players such as Seager and Alex Liddi in order to get the gig.
Montero enjoyed a strong game at the dish as well, showing no ill effects from the foul tips off his mask that caused him to leave Friday's game early. The prized acquisition in the Mariners' blockbuster trade with the Yankees this offseason and Seattle's new No. 1 prospect, Montero collected a pair of singles to bring his spring average up to .444.
The 22-year-old catcher also caught five scoreless innings for Seattle, four of which were thrown by right-hander Beavan. One of four starters battling for three spots, Beavan yielded just two hits and a walk to an Angels lineup that featured six regulars. He also struck out three as he lowered his ERA to 1.42.
"I just tried to keep the same mentality as my last start against the A's, just establishing the fastball," Beavan told MLB.com. "I still felt pretty strong after four innings, so that was good."
Left-hander Charlie Furbush, another candidate for the rotation, earned the win after tossing a pair of scoreless frames. The 25-year-old, who was acquired in the trade that sent Doug Fister to Detroit, allowed two hits and fanned one.