Believe it or not, there may come a day when the Mariners roster doesn’t feature Brendan Ryan, Chone Figgins, or Miguel Olivo. It’s hard to picture now, even as Eric Wedge is penciling an increasing number of youngsters into his lineups.
Still, as fans of a non-contending team, we have the luxury of examining the surplus of talent the Mariners are stockpiling in their farm system. By 2013 or 2014, and making exceptions for current Mariners under 25, this is what Seattle’s lineup could look like:
Behind the plate, Jesus Montero is being primed as the Mariners’ everyday catcher. With expiration dates pinned on Olivo, Jaso, and Triple-A veteran Guillermo Quiroz, Brandon Bantz might be looking at a backup role. He’s currently batting .371/.395/.600 in 40 PA, with a .50 BB/K and .429 wOBA. It’s the smallest of sample sizes, but next to the oft-injured Adam Moore, he’s not a bad option.
The infield poses a stickier situation with Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, and Alex Liddi clogging the bases. Without Brendan Ryan and his perfect UZR, there is enough wiggle room at short to accommodate Nick Franklin or Carlos Triunfel, both of whom are raking in Double- and Triple-A. Franklin is batting .328/.393/.496 over 146 PA, while Carlos holds a .269/.328/.444 line in 188 PA, including 18 extra bases and 21 RBI.
In the outfield, Ichiro appears determined never to retire. That day may be a few seasons away, but there is a slew of outfielders ready to fight Michael Saunders and Mike Carp for a starting role. Trayvon Robinson is working on a bounce-back spring after a rough debut season with Seattle; showing patience at the plate with a doubled BB/K, raising his average 70 points, and stealing 6 more bases than he did with the 2011 Mariners.
Equally as promising are outfielders Denny Almonte and Chih-Hsien Chiang. Almonte carries a batting line of .267/.352/.422 in 183 PA, with a hint of power in his 13 extra bases—7 of which have gone for home runs. Chiang was promoted to Tacoma after only 3 games with Double-A Jackson, adjusting to Triple-A with a .256 wOBA and .25 BB/K.
Perhaps most intriguing is the arsenal of pitchers Seattle is developing in Jackson and Tacoma. At the Triple-A level, part-time reliever Erasmo Ramirez is preparing for a starting role, while RHP Stephen Pryor hurls 100 MPH fastballs to close out games.
Taking into consideration the Big Three (Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, and Taijuan Walker), one of the most outstanding young pitchers this year is right-hander Andrew Carraway. In 7 starts with the Generals, he logged 32 strikeouts in 38 IP, with a 4.57 K/BB and 2.49 FIP. He made a stunning first impression in Tacoma, carrying a shutout through 7.1 innings with 4 strikeouts and a pair of baserunners in 24 batters faced. While it hasn’t all been smooth sailing—over the next 13 innings, he allowed 12 hits, 5 earned runs, and 5 walks—Carraway has 11 strikeouts in 3 appearances and has yet to record a loss this season.
At this point, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to remain patient. Chone Figgins is still on Eric Wedge’s good side (if only because he’s seen very little playing time recently), Miguel Olivo is fresh off the DL, and Kevin Millwood is polishing his performances as his trade value magically increases. September should give us a preview of the up-and-coming Mariners, provided the club is eliminated early from the hunt for the second wild card. Until the day when Brandon League and his 10+ blown saves are dealt to the A’s, however, you might be better off packing your bags for Tacoma.
Topics: Adam Moore, Alex Liddi, Brandon Bantz, Brendan Ryan, Carlos Triunfel, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Chone Figgins, Denny Almonte, Dustin Ackley, Eric Wedge, Francisco Martinez, Guillermo Quiroz, Jesus Montero, Jesus Sucre, John Jaso, Justin Smoak, Kevin Millwood, Kyle Seager, Miguel Olivo, Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners, Trayvon Robinson