The Seattle Mariners 2013 youth movement has begun.
As Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) tweeted yesterday, the Mariners can almost field an entire starting lineup composed exclusively of homegrown talent. That would look like: P-King Felix, 1B – Smoak, 2B – Franklin, SS – Miller (debuting tonight), 3B – Seager, CF – Ackley, RF – Saunders, LF – Ibanez.
Tonight’s game in this grand scheme of youth and rebuilding has an added importance, though.
Brad Miller, the kid who was batting .356 and in the midst of a 22-game hitting streak in Tacoma, is now officially a Major League baseball player. And in his first day in the Bigs he is starting at shortstop and batting 9th against the Cubs’ Travis Wood, who has been a pitching bright spot this year in Chicago.
Hitting, however, should not be Miller’s issue. Fielding will be. Though he has been touted as the shortstop of the future for the Mariners, he has a propensity to botch routine plays. That could be an issue for the M’s if Miller starts getting anxious and trying to do too much.
Everyone and their mother knows Brendan Ryan is a webgem machine defensively. But with 9 errors so far on the season, the Mariners should not (and do not) have any reservations giving Miller a shot. If he can hit and remain an average defender, Miller could become a mainstay at shortstop alongside the confident, professional-hitting Franklin.
There is also another debut of sorts tonight. Ackley is back in the lineup tonight, batting 7th and playing up the middle of the field. Though not the middle he has grown accustomed to since being drafted in 2009. He will be starting in centerfield, and the Mariners have high hopes that he can hit and perform their defensively.
What’s interesting about this move with Ackley is that it almost puts more pressure on him than he had when he was up with the club to start the year. The Mariners expect him to learn a relatively new position in a matter of weeks and then become a mainstay at the position for the foreseeable future. That’s tough for a guy who just got sent down for thinking too much and being affected by the pressure.
But hope is hope and it always finds a way to light itself anew. Tonight is one of those nights.
Expect a large ovation for Miller, and an all-around solid outing from Ackley.
From different paths they are both in the Majors, one for the first time, one for the second time, but both are here to stay.
Cheers to the youth movement.