While the Mariners have been rather hot these past few months (24-18 record in July & August), the season has pretty much been down the toilet since they rattled off 17 humiliating defeats in row. Once again Mariners fans will have to look forward to the ever promising allure of “Next Season”.
However, that is not to say that there isn’t anything left to look forward to this season. The Mariners are in the midst of a 6-game winning streak and the euphoria of the first perfect game in Seattle Mariners history. There is still plenty of baseball left to play and with Sepetember right around the corner, there will be the introduction of numerous new faces–faces that fans will have to familiarize themselves with.
These faces–and the the bodies to which they are attached–represent not only the future of the Mariners, but the future of baseball. Eric Wedge and Jack Zdurincik haven’t officially tipped their hand on whom they plan on giving that much anticipated cup-o-coffee to this season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t delve into the minors and see who the Mariners could be eager to take a look at.
Danny Hultzen LHP 1-2 W-L / 4.25 ERA / 50 SO
Hulzten was never that far away to begin with. Looking back, speculation that Hultzen would make the rotation out of spring training was entirely unrealistic. Hulzten, amongst the other members of the big three, all started the season in AA. The Virginia product started off slow, struggling before finally mastering the level about a month ago. The Mariners promptly promoted the first round pick to AAA, where he is a short I-5 drive away from Major League Baseball. While his numbers in AAA haven’t suggested he has dominated, in reality he is suffering from a mere 2 rough starts. Hulzten may not have been ready to join the team to start 2012, but he’s mightly close to being ready in 2013.
Bobby LaFromboise LHP 5-2 W-L / 1.65 ERA / 29 SO
LaFromboise, like Hulzten began the season in AA and experienced similar success. Moving to the friendly confines of Tacoma hasn’t really hurt him either as his numbers have been just as spectacular. He has been a bit wild since joining the Rainiers, recording 16 walks in just 32 innings pitched. The Mariners however, won’t be too scared away as many relievers are known for being wildly effective.
Erasmo Ramirez RHP 4-3 W-L / 4.05 ERA / 42 SO
Ramierez is a face we already know, and one that might still be up here had he not succumb to an unfortunate injury. Known as a strike pounding, contact pitcher, Ramirez recorded an eye popping 10 K’s before going down. The recent success of Beaven has kept him in the minors and it seems as though we might not see him again, until the September roster expansion.
Nick Franklin SS/2B .284 / .354 / .461 10 HR
Other than Hultzen and Walker, I’m not sure their is another prospect fans are looking forward to seeing more than Franklin. When the Mariners drafted this high school short stop, many groaned due to an underwhelming hitting ability. He took no time changing those minds, blasting 23 dingers while displaying an above average ability to get on base. Quite suddenly, the Mariners had a short stop prospect on there hands. Since that fateful first season, we have waited patiently to get a glimpse of the former first round selection, and it may be just around the corner.
Alex Liddi 3B/1B .252 / .318 / .415 7 HR
I’m not sure exactly what to think of Liddi anymore, and neither are the Mariners. While on the one hand you have a power hitting Italian, who can man the corner infield positions, you also have a power hitting Italian who struggles to make contact and is a defensive liability. The Mariners are going to have to decide what they plan to do with this guy, because right now his role and future is entirely undefined.
Luis Rodriguez IF .296 / .392 / .452 12 HR
Perhaps if the Mariners didn’t have a certain albatross contract taking up valuable space on the roster, we may have already seen Rodriguez receive some playing time this season. As it stands, he is tearing up the minors and while he will never be a everyday player on a good baseball team, the Mariners seemed to have found a nice use for him last season as the utility infielder. Combining a good September and a good spring next season might be near essential if he wants to wiggle his way onto the roster for the 2013 season.
Carlos Triunfel SS .255 / .308 / .390 10 HR
Remember when Triunfel was touted as a next Alex Rodriguez? Those comparisons were always overblown, but it does go to show how far the prospect has fallen. Triunfel is likely to get his audition this fall, but his apparent lack of a major skill outside of his throwing arm, have all but discredited his prospect status. He is still young and there is still hope, but the future isn’t quite as bright for this once highly regarded short stop. Still, the Mariners are likely to take a look and see what they have on their hands.
Carlos Peguero RF .275 / .365 / .567 20 HR
Peguero. The Mariners just can’t seem to let go. I believe Peguero could build a mold for himself somewhere, but he has to improve his contact skills. Even though the Mariners decided they wanted Thames on the roster instead of Carlos, Seattle has made a bad habit of using September to recall those faces which they have already given a shot over the course of the season.
A few additional names in Double A pop out such as James Paxton, Logan Bawcom, Forrest Snow, Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, and Nate Tenbrink. All names that could make appearances next season, but would be hard pressed to make the jump this early. We won’t learn anything from the small sample sizes that these players put up during their brief stint this season, but at the very least we can finally see these players with our very eyes and we will receive a faint glimpse into the future.