The next position I will analyze for the future is second base. While it seems like Ackley is the obvious second baseman of the future, it is important to look at other second base options in case Ackley’s slump becomes permanent or he is moved to first base or the outfield.
Some of the organization’s second basemen include Munenori Kawasaki, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Christopher Taylor, and Timothy Lopes.
Kawasaki does not have a place in Seattle’s future other than that of dugout dance and possible Mariner Moose. On the other hand, Seager has certainly proved that he belongs in the starting lineup every day, so he would be a good option to replace Ackley should he be needed there.
As for prospects, Franklin should be knocking on the door of the MLB within the next year. While normally a shortstop, he could find himself at second or third base depending on how he matures defensively and how the Mariners decide to address Brendan Ryan. Considering the hype surrounding Franklin and the offensive up-side he has demonstrated, he needs to get his shot in the MLB. It will simply come down to which infield position Wedge decides to play him at.
Brad Miller as an infielder at Clemson. Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Brad Miller is another option, and he is a player that I am very fascinated by. Miller and Franklin have taken very different routes to get to similar spots. Unlike Franklin who was drafted out of high school, Miller played at Clemson before becoming a second round pick in the 2011 draft. As a result, this is Miller’s first full year in professional baseball while this is Franklin’s third year despite the fact that Miller is a year older than his counterpart. Regardless, Miller has dominated minor league pitching during his stints in class A Clinton, class high A High Desert, and class AA Jackson.
Here is a comparison between Franklin and Miller during their time in AA Jackson in 2012.
It would also be helpful to point out that Miller had an AB/HR rate of 36.75 during his stint while Franklin’s was 51.25.
I’m not necessarily saying that Miller is the same level of prospect that Franklin is, but there are certainly similarities in their plate production. Don’t rule out Miller just because he’s not the top shortstop in the farm system, because he might just force himself into the Major leagues weather that means he plays somewhere in the middle infield or he gets traded.
If you are skeptical of Miller, just remember Kyle Seager’s ride to the majors. He started the 2011 season in AA as an afterthought due to Alex Liddi’s prospect status. Seager earned a AAA call-up after a few months and proceeded to hit .387 and post a 1.029 OPS in his 24 game stint in Tacoma before being sent to Seattle in mid- July. The rest is history. To summarize this analogy: Teams like Seattle can’t afford to ignore big time minor league production so don’t sleep on Brad Miller.
Chris Taylor and Timothy Lopes, who were the fifth and sixth round picks in this draft respectively, are both guys who have progressed quickly in their first year of professional baseball. In Class Low A Everett, Taylor posted at .430 OBP over a 37 game span and walked more than he struck out before being moved up to Class A Clinton. There he hit .304 in 53 plate appearances.
Lopes, who was drafted out of high school, began in rookie ball, shined, and earned the distinction of Seattle’s 17th best prospect by MLB.com. He spent the last couple of games in High A High Desert.
Taylor is 22 and Lopes is 18, so Taylor won’t have nearly the leash that Lopes does, but both players have quite a ways to go before they are knocking on the MLB door, but they are names to remember.
There is a pretty good chance that Ackley adjust to the pitching and break his sophomore slump, and none of these guys will ever be asked to play second base in Seattle. That’s what I’m hoping for.