mariners

MLB Analysis: Jack Z’s Mariners youth movement

You’re Up, Kid

There is one silver lining to being terrible for long periods of time – lots and lots of top prospects.

I think I’m FINALLY starting to see Jack Z’s big plan for the Seattle Mariners. Tank and tank until you have no tanking left, and then tank some more.

As the record falls, the draft pick rises. We then find ourselves with Mike ZuninoNick Franklin and Danny Hultzen in our system. Okay Jacky boy, I can see your approach now. I don’t agree with it, but I can see it.

If only that were the case. Unfortunately, I don’t think the porous production over the past decade was planned. It has occurred nonetheless, and the top prospects we have in our system have been forced into play. What I love and hate so far with the Seattle youth movement.

Love ‘em

Nick Franklin

Franklin has proven a stud early on (Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo)

Franklin has proven a stud early on (Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo)

I love anything and everything involving Nick Franklin. The kid has spent the appropriate amount of time in the system developing his game, and was called up at the opportune moment – when Dustin Ackley was sent down. This could have created a hole at second base, but Franklin came in as the stopgap and actually increased production at the position. His defense is improving and he has shown glimpses of power from both sides of the plate while maintaining a .277 average through 24 games. The future is bright for the 22-year-old out of Sanford, FL.

The Future

I love the opportunities at hand for the young players. That’s basically a fancy way of saying every position is up for grabs, but either way it is exciting. Unlike veteran teams where spots are solidified, literally every Mariner is on the hot seat – besides my boy Seags.

You look at first base – Justin Smoak is fighting to keep his head above water, while the front office brings in Kendrys Morales and Mike Morse and draft corner infielder D.J. Peterson. Second is a battle that is (so far) being won by Franklin, but who knows what could occur there. Short stop is a defensive fortress with Brendan Ryan, and offensively non-existent – with Brendan Ryan. The up-and-coming Brad Miller will likely be the answer for that issue in the near future.

The outfield is wide open. Michael Saunders seems to be swinging with a pool cue at the plate, Franklin Gutierrez gets sent to the DL after a cool breeze, not to mention Jason Bay and Raul Ibanez‘s ages combined total a century. Transitioning Ackley to outfield in AAA is an exciting move, because despite the struggles I still believe he can be a solid utility player in the future. SOMETHING HAS GOT TO GIVE HERE.

A Booming Rotation

I love our potential future rotation. We have Felix locked up for his career. God that feels good to say. We now have the best number 2 in the AL with Hisashi Iwakuma - a pleasant surprise for the organization. While Iwi isn’t exactly a young player – 32 – he has adjusted his velocity since his time Japan to lengthen his career, and signed an extension through 2015. Now we get creative.

We have a plethora of young arms coming up in the minors, so who could be in the starting rotation at season’s end? Obviously we first look to Danny Hultzen.

Currently finishing up a two-month rehab stint since straining his rotator cuff, Hultzen will soon rejoin the Rainers’ rotation with whom he was 3-1 with a 25:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio before suffering the injury.

Then there is Taijuan Walker, who was just called up to Tacoma and will make his AAA debut this Tuesday. Walker spent extended time in Jackson working on his command issues, and the work has paid off – in his last three games he has struck out 28 while only walking 1, a step up from his previous 3:2 SO/BB ratio. If everything plays out, we would have 4 studs with a fifth spot open to Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, or the young and struggling Brandon Maurer. Gives me goosebumps just thinking about the possibilities!

Hate ‘em

Up Too Early

It may have been too early for Zunino to get called up (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

It may have been too early for Zunino to get called up (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

I hate the Zunino call up. Can’t stand it. Makes me sick.

The catcher position for the Mariners has been a roller coaster ride of emotions for me. When we first acquired Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda, I was sad to see the young all star go. Then it turned out to be a great move, because Pineda only sees the field with his “My Player” on MLB 2K13. Then I saw Montero play. His laughable coordination gives little hope that he could blossom into the so-called slugger everyone expects him to be.

The guy does high-knees around the bases! We send him down, and have Shop-House come in. No expectations, some contributions, whatever.

No big deal.

We need an answer at catcher, sure. But calling up Zunino so early?? Amidst a struggle in AAA where he was only hitting .238?? I despise this move. Sure he has hit a bomb and shows incredible defense behind the plate, but he is also looking fooled at the plate more often than not and – if his struggles continue – could scar his confidence for a long while.

The worst part is that Eric Wedge was a professional catcher. You would think that the one position our head coach played would be the position he could actually develop. Quite the contrary thus far.

Current Outfield

I hate our current outfield. Finally, Wedge is realizing that Endy Chavez is our best option at lead off. I love me some Endy. He is no long-term solution, but he is producing on a team that is desperate for a run. Then we have nothing.

Why oh why, is Saunders still in the lineup? He has struggled more than anyone on the roster. If anybody needs some time in AAA, it is the Condor. Who could replace him? How about the never-talked-about Stefen Romero? Who is he, you ask? Just the Mariners’ 2012 Minor League Player of the Year. Drafted in 2010 out of Oregon State, Romero had a breakout year for Jackson in 2012 – .352/.391/.599 with 23 home runs and 101 runs batted in.

Over his last ten games in Tacoma, Romero is hitting .324 with 2 bombs and 9 RBI’s. Call him up!!!

BRENDAN RYAN

I HATE BRENDAN RYAN.

Seriously. It was a good joke, but it isn’t really funny anymore, you guys. I am so sick of the liability we have in the 9 spot of our lineup. I don’t care how many amazing plays he makes at short. I don’t care how many gold gloves he “should have won.” If I hear “Brendan Ryan is on a hot streak, bringing his average up to .220″ one more time…I mean really.

This guys is a terrible hitter. Flat out.

I don’t give a damn if his contract is up in 2014. Get him off of the field. Put Carlos Triunfel at short. Hell, put Carlos Peguero at short. I don’t care, ANYBODY else will do. I just can’t watch him lick his shoulder every at bat before swinging at a low-and-away strike three with his knee on the ground, upset like he should have hit it. 

Tell us how you really feel, Jordin?

Aside from all of this love and hate, I have nothing but love for my Mariners. And a winning streak is coming. Our players are on the verge of some offensive explosions. We just have to get the right players in the right spots for that to happen.

Go Mariners!!!

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About Jordin Ereth

Reigning from the Palouse, an avid Cougar and Seahawks fan who still sheds a tear at the name drop of our lost Sonics. A recent graduate from Washington State University with a degree in Broadcasting Productions and Sports Media. Go Cougs! Connect w/ Jordin today!
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