Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/15/14
There’s no denying the Seattle Mariners have a number of infield options on the farm primed to push incumbents at the major-league level in the next year or two. In 2012, Brad Miller, Nick Franklin and Stefen Romero left strong impressions in Double-A. And while I don’t question the three as future big leaguers, are they true upgrades over what’s already in Seattle? Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak are younger options with spotty track records. And while that inconsistency is maddening, the opportunity exists for each to improve once fully healthy. Brendan Ryan is a top flight defensive shortstop, but one of the worst hitters in baseball. Kyle Seager has been an overachiever given his pedigree. And if you consider Jesus Montero a viable catching option, then throw Mike Zunino in this discussion as well (For the record, I don’t). By now, the baseball world expected Montero, Smoak and Ackley to be star caliber players. This hasn’t happened leaving Seattle fans hoping the next wave will be an improvement. At shortstop, I have little doubt Brad Miller would produce more offense than Ryan now. However, is he really an upgrade at present given his error totals in the minor leagues? As a player capable of posting .350+ on base percentages, it may not matter. Low strikeout totals and a decent number of walks may force the hand of the Mariners and their abominable offense. Mariners fans expect Nick Franklin to push Dustin Ackley and force the organization to decide on a second baseman of the future before 2014. Franklin is a quality prospect, but will his peak production eclipse a healthy Dustin Ackley? I’m not so sure. Ackley had a career minor league line of .280/.387/.435. Franklin’s is .283/.351/.458. Franklin has been young for every level, but Ackley was considered to have a better pedigree. For me, Franklin is more trade chip than core piece of the next winning Mariners team. From an organizational standpoint, the future of the Mariners at first base is difficult to project. Justin Smoak has struggled mightily and enters his prime with a career WAR of 0.0. Should Nick Franklin Surface, Dustin Ackley could man first base. Stefen Romero and his .352/.399/.599 line in 2012 may also make a push. Romero is a bat first player with a poor defensive profile. When scouting Romero, I was reminded of a mini-Dan Uggla. I’ve never cared for Jesus Montero at catcher. As he continues to adjust to Major League pitching, Montero will become a viable designated hitter option. My only concern is shuffling at other positions will lead to a designated hitter by committee with more managers rotating players in and out as a form of pseudo-rest. This leaves Mike Zunino the undisputed catcher of the future. He and Taijuan Walker are the two untouchable commodities inside the organization. To deal either would be a form of heresy. Of course I would have said the same thing about Trevor Bauer and Wil Myers a week ago. The only “safe” infielder is third baseman Kyle Seager. While he’s not an impact talent, the Mariners have bigger fish to fry. The 24-year old has done everything asked of him on a baseball field and then some. It’s fun to try and decipher what the Mariners front office will do with a plethora of infield prospects and youngish big leaguers. For me, it’s disconcerting to think organizational planning may yield the same results as throwing names in a hat and picking at random. Beyond Zunino, none of the current “baby Mariners” are considerably more valuable than what’s already there. And with the Mariners pursuing a number of impact bats, signs point to their feeling the same way.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Mark Cuban will play the President in 'Sharknado 3'

Five most exciting one-bid conference tournaments

Report: Redskins interested in Ndamukong Suh

Report: Darrelle Revis likely to hit free agent market

Le'Veon Bell could face up to a four-game suspension

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Giants place franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul

Vikings GM: Team has spoken with Adrian Peterson

Yu Darvish on notion he quit on Rangers: ‘That’s BS‘

Tiger Woods' agent refutes drug suspension claim

Bryce Harper says he needs to ‘step up’ this season

Report: Chiefs place franchise tag on Justin Houston

Nik Stauskas wears Michigan State gear after lost bet

Bret Bielema takes away player's car after DUI

NHL player traded after daughter's heartbreaking letter

Curt Schilling unloads on Twitter trolls again

Pirates Corey Hart cut his foot getting into a whirlpool

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter, jabs Clemson

Michael Jordan makes his first Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young rips ESPN anchor over Iggy Azalea insult

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

Could Holly Holm be a worthy challenger for Ronda Rousey?

Gronk spikes Lombardi Trophy cake on his bro's head

In defense of Geno Smith

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

MLS 2015 season preview

Report: Broncos to franchise Demaryius

James Harden kicks LeBron in groin

Lynch: 'I was expecting the ball'

Report: Rangers get Yandle from Coyotes

Harbaugh respects Madonna's grit

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.