The Everett AquaSox practice Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at Funko Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

The Everett AquaSox practice Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at Funko Field in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

“Scrappy” AquaSox ready to start their season

Everett begins its 2024 campaign Friday at Hillsboro without any big-name prospects.

EVERETT — Get ready for plenty of scratching and clawing from the Everett AquaSox this season.

Everett, the High-A Northwest League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, begins its 40th-anniversary season when the Sox travel to face the Hillsboro Hops at 6:35 p.m. Friday, and the opening-day version of this year’s team is all about doing the little things.

“I’d say we’re very scrappy,” outfielder Bill Scott said following Tuesday’s workout at Funko Field. “We don’t have a lot of power hitters or things like that, but we’re going to get a lot of stuff done. It’s going to be a great year.”

Since Everett was elevated to High-A in 2021, the Sox have had many of the Mariners’ biggest prospects on their opening-day roster, names like Julio Rodriguez, Noelvi Marte and Harry Ford.

This year’s team is different. None of MLB.com’s list of top-10 Mariners prospects are starting the season in Everett. The biggest names are right-handed pitcher Michael Morales, a 2021 third-round draft pick who is listed by MLB.com as Seattle’s No. 13 prospect, and third baseman Ben Williamson, a 2023 second-round pick who’s lasted at No. 16.

“I haven’t really figured out what the identity is going to be,” second-year manager Ryan Scott said. “There are probably some guys who will hit some homers, but we’re also going to play some real good situational baseball. We’re going to get guys over to the next base and find ways to score runs. That’s all we’re trying to do on offense, get good pitches to hit, hit those pitches when we get them, take them when we don’t get them, get on base, get to the next base and ultimately touch home plate.

“But I’m really excited,” Scott added. “We had such a good spring out there, the guys got after it in spring and are itching to get back out here and play some real games. It’s a really exciting group we have this year so we’re ready for them to get going.”

Scott said he expects Everett’s offense to be solid throughout the lineup. For Williamson it will be his first true professional experience, as the 23-year-old form Fairfax, Va., saw just a total of 12 games between Rookie and Single-A ball last season. Scott said shortstop Axel Sanchez, a returner from last season who battled through injuries and dropped out of MLB.com’s list of Seattle’s top 30 prospects, had a good spring training. Scott is also expecting positive things from the likes of outfielders Knight and RJ Scherck, catcher Freuddy Batista and infielders Brock Rodden and Josh Hood.

The situation on the mound is similar to the one at the plate, as Everett doesn’t necessarily have the big-name prospects, but does have pitchers who will battle. The Sox begin the season with a rotation of right-handers Morales, Ty Cummings, Ryan Hawks and Marcelo Perez and left-hander Brandyn Garcia. Perez, listed by MLB.com as Seattle’s No. 28 prospect, has been named the opening-day starter.

“I think we have a really good team,” said the 21-year-old Morales, who hails from Enola, Pa., and struck out 106 batters in 101 1/3 innings at Single-A Modesto last season. “It seems like we have a really mature group. The pitching staff seems really mature, there are a ton of strike throwers, a lot of really good stuff, everyone seems dialed in on their respective needs and what they need to do in the clubhouse in order to perform. All the guys had really good springs and threw the ball well. I’m just excited to be a part of the group.”

Sanchez, Knight, Hood and Perez all spent time in Everett last season. Other returners include pitchers Nick Davila, Jimmy Kingsbury and Troy Taylor, catcher Ty Duvall and outfielders Victor Labrada and Colin Davis.

Everett is coming off a season in which the Sox went 78-54 and reached the Northwest League championship series. The Vancouver Canadians won the best-of-five series 3-1.

Everett plays three games in Hillsboro, then holds its home opener at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday against the Eugene Emeralds.

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