There comes a time in every season when you start thinking towards the future. For some teams, that time comes after the season ends, and for some, the time comes in mid-June. I prettymuch threw in the towel for this season after we got swept by the Padres.
That doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore the Mariners for the rest of the season, but it does mean that it is time to start paying more attention to prospects in the farm system and potential moves at the trade deadline.
Just yesterday, top prospects Danny Hultzen and Nick Franklin were promoted to AAA Tacoma. The best part about the call-up is that Seattle natives can take a quick drive down I-5 to watch these two guys play. As exciting as it is to see these guys in AAA, the real question is, when will we see them in the MLB?
I can see Hultzen pitching for the Mariners by the end of the season depending on two things. First of all, he needs to stay healthy and succeed, but more importantly it will depend on his inning count for the year. Last season at Virginia, Hultzen threw 118 innings. Hultzen is currently at 75.1, so he is nearing his career high. His availability for the Mariners will be dictated by how many innings they decide to cut him off at.
Assuming that Danny Hultzen’s progress is not slowed, I would not be surprised to see him in a Mariner uniform during September callups, especially since he is already on the 40 man roster. Hultzen’s chance of getting a few starts could also be helped if the rotation continues to struggle or if Vargas is dealt at the deadline.
On the other hand, Nick Franklin is much less likely to be in the big leagues this year. First of all, he is not as far along in his progression as Hultzen is. In addition, he is not a current member of the 40 man roster meaning that the Mariners would have to remove someone from the 40 man in order to bring the 21 year old shortstop to the majors. While this is not undoable, it is less likely.
The matter of demand is also a main difference between Franklin and Hultzen. The current starting rotation could use some help considering that Vargas may be traded, Beavan is now in AAA, and Noesi and Ramirez have been less than impressive. Sure, Brendan Ryan has been incompetent at the plate, but the gold glove defense is worth the .290 OBP at least until the end of the year.
Keep an eye on the Rainiers to see how these two players are doing in Tacoma. Expect to see Hultzen in the MLB in September, but wait at least until late next seasons to see Nick Franklin at Safeco Field.