Seattle Mariners’ Dominic Canzone looks for a pitch during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Seattle Mariners’ Dominic Canzone looks for a pitch during a spring training game against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday in Peoria, Ariz. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Dominic Canzone ranks high on the list of Mariners’ top breakout candidates

The team is bullish on the bulked-up outfielder’s abilities.

PEORIA, Ariz. — Jarret DeHart doesn’t need much prompting. Mention Dominic Canzone’s name and the Mariners’ hitting coach perks up immediately.

“He is incredibly talented,” DeHart said. “Like, he’s one of the more skilled hitters I’ve been around. His ability to impact the baseball and his ability to make contact — it’s a unique skill set. Unique.”

The Mariners’ No. 1 breakout candidate this year? Ask various folks around the club’s spring training complex and Canzone is often one of the first players listed.

A 26-year-old, left-handed-hitting outfielder, Canzone was the key return in the Mariners’ trade of closer Paul Sewald to Arizona last summer, and the more manager Scott Servais got to know Canzone over the final two months of the season, the more he liked.

This offseason, Canzone’s presence was one reason — perhaps the main reason — the Mariners were willing to part with former top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic in a cost-cutting trade with Atlanta.

“He’s a critical player for us this year,” Servais said. “Looking at the outfield mix … he is going to match up well against right-handed pitching. There’ll be plenty of opportunity for him, and I know he’s really focused right now.”

Before he settles back into his new baseball home in Seattle, Canzone went back home to the Cleveland area and bought his first house last fall. The former Ohio State standout lived there with his 23-year-old brother, Bennett, and they got to work immediately on a makeover of the basement.

On one side of the basement, they built a new theater room with a bar and a pool table. On the other side, they brought in equipment to furnish a weight room.

“The perfect man cave,” Canzone said. “Obviously, I don’t get to see my brother that much (during the season), so it was awesome to be able to hang out and live with him.”

When Canzone stepped into the batter’s box early in camp, it was obvious he’d made good use of the weight room. He packed on 15 pounds of muscle, up to about 205 pounds on his 6-foot frame, most of that in his lower half, in his glutes especially. (He said he was proud of his brother, who added quite a bit of good weight too.)

Canzone also worked with his personal trainer in Cleveland, working on stability and flexibility, in his hips especially.

“I feel great,” he said.

There’s another makeover Canzone undertook, this one more subtle, and this one under the supervision of DeHart and Brant Brown, the Mariners’ new offensive coordinator.

Because of his high leg lift — similar to Mitch Haniger’s leg lift — Canzone had a lot of moving parts to his swing as a rookie. The Mariners wanted to help him simplify his setup this winter.

After a few calls and video conferences with DeHart and Brown earlier in the offseason, Canzone flew out to Arizona in January to work with the hitting coaches at the Mariners facility.

They spent a week together, and the primary objective was to smooth out Canzone’s lower half. The first thing the hitting coaches asked him to do was eliminate the wide crouch he had in his stance. (To put it generously, the crouch was unconventional. To put it bluntly, the crouch looked awkward and uncomfortable.)

“Honestly, I have no idea how he pulled it off,” DeHart said. “It’s amazing that he did.”

Standing more upright, Canzone said he now feels less “jumpy” in his back leg. And that, he believes, will help his swing sync up better with his high front leg kick.

“Brownie and JD have helped me a ton,” Canzone said. “We did a lot of stability drills, just to be able to hold my backside, hold it as long as possible. I feel a lot smoother and not as jerky.”

From a technical standpoint, DeHart said Canzone’s swing is now more efficient, his lower half and bottom half more connected.

“Dom works his butt off and he does everything right,” DeHart said. “In terms of the swing, there’s a lot of really good things about it to begin with. He knows how to sequence his body rotationally — that’s why he’s able to create a ton of power, even last year when he wasn’t as big as he is now.”

In his new stance, Canzone is in a more athletic position to generate more torque in his swing.

“The biggest thing was to help him understand his body and what it needs to be stable,” DeHart said. “He’s hyper mobile. He has plenty of range in his hips. So for guys like that — similar to Haniger — that’s why they tend to have bigger movements because they need it to be able to get to their end ranges and create tension. For Dom, I don’t think that’s something he ever really understood before about himself.”

Add those discoveries and those swing changes with Canzone’s growing comfortability with the Mariners — he was, remember, traded to Seattle just three weeks after making his big-league debut with the Diamondbacks — and it’s easy to see why there’s buzz about what he could do in his first full major-league season.

There’s more: The underlying metrics support a breakthrough too.

In 59 games with the Mariners and Diamondbacks, Canzone hit .220 with six homers and 13 doubles and a .657 OPS in 182 plate appearances.

Statcast data paint a much more generous outlook on Canzone’s rookie season. His “expected” numbers, based on his quality of contact, suggest a .258 batting average, a .326 weighted on-base percentage (xwOBA) and a .470 slugging. Add all that on top of his better-than-average strikeout rate (17.6%), and a strong barrel rate (12.1%), and you can see why the Mariners are bullish on his overall hitting profile.

One goal Canzone has this season is to cut down on his chase rate (41.8%), and he expects that’ll improve the more familiar he becomes with big-league pitchers.

“He got a taste of the big leagues last year for the first time, and he’s never made an opening-day roster,” Servais said. “He wants to be a big contributor and he’s got the tools to do it. We’ll see how the adjustments he’s made will play out this spring, but it looks great so far.”

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