Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 6/21/12
Make the call, Z

It’s that time of year again in Major League Baseball. Summer is approaching, players are dropping like flies with injuries and your minor league players are progressing nicely. For several teams in the league, now is the time to start making some changes.

In the case of the Seattle Mariners, it’s time to start the process now.

The Mariners have one of the best stocked farm systems in baseball and have depth at almost every position.

Between the team’s AA affiliate Jackson Generals and the Tacoma Rainiers in AAA, Seattle could field a second competitive pro team in all reality. Unfortunately, that’s not allowed.

What the Mariners must do now, though, is begin moving prospects around to stock their big league club. Through struggles and injuries, the time is now to make these moves.

With the news yesterday that the Mariners’ first round pick from last year, P Danny Hultzen, and stellar SS Nick Franklin are being moved from AA Jackson to AAA Tacoma, it looks like the team is starting the process.

And starting it well, I might add.

With the Tacoma Rainiers currently rich with the talent, the Mariners will soon have to call up a guy or two to come help the big league club compete in this wild AL West. Who that might be remains to be seen as they have made several random moves already this year.

Danny Hultzen may have been just called up to Tacoma, but he could be a Mariners sooner than you think. (Photo Courtesy Jackson Generals)

The case for a P

With Kevin Millwood old and injured, it left a gap on this starting rotation. The Mariners then brought up Erasmo Ramirez who has been lit up since joining the club.

If you couple that with the fact that both Hector Noesi and Blake Beavan have seen more than their fair share of struggles this year, a strong case could be made to bring a pitcher, maybe two, up to add some firepower to a lackluster rotation.

The case for a 3B

Chone Figgins sucks. There’s no escaping that. And hopefully, the Mariners will just get rid of him so they can bring someone in with talent who will actually produce more than boos from the stands. Kyle Seager has been pretty good, but that’s been off and on this season as well.

There’s no problem with having depth, either, especially with Seager able to play multiple positions.

The case for a SS

Brendan Ryan is being heralded by many as the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Whether or not that is true, it doesn’t matter. This Mariners team needs runs at all costs right now and Ryan has not helped the cause.

Giving up a few errors to score runs is a risk worth taking and hopefully the Mariners take the risk soon.

I know the team has Munenori Kawasaki, but he is not exactly everyday starter material. He is a good utility guy off the bench when you need him and an excellent pinch runner. He is no starting SS in this league, though.

With all that being said, let’s take a look at the best options in Tacoma and predict who the Mariners will call up next.

Andrew Carraway – SP

Coming out of the University of Virginia, this 26 year old pitcher started the season in Jackson and was quickly promoted to Tacoma. This season, he is a combined 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 15 games. In those 86 2/3 innings, he struck out 60 batters while walking 21 of them.

We haven’t been hearing his name because of all the hype of the Big 3 the Mariners have coming through the system. He was good enough, though, to get a quick AAA call up and before any of the Big 3. That’s gotta say something to validate his talent level.

Could Andrew Carraway be the next to make the jump to Seattle? (Photo: Jackson Generals)

Danny Hultzen – SP

Despite his call up only yesterday, Hultzen already looks to be in big league form. He’s 23 years old and also out of the University of Virginia and like mentioned earlier, he was the Mariners pick in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft.

This year, while pitching at AA Jackson, Hultzen went 8-3 with a 1.13 ERA over 13 games. He struck out 79 and walked 32.

He was dominant in AA and if his first appearance or three in Tacoma are solid, they may make the move and give him a shot in the Bigs.

Vinnie Catricala – 3B

Vinnie Catricala wowed everyone in Spring Training, but was sent to Tacoma on opening day from Japan. This was a shocking move considering how well he did.

The 24 year old out of the University of Hawaii hasn’t disappointed yet this season.

Catricala is batting .228 in 66 games. He’s got 29 Runs, 38 RBI, and 60 hits with 5 home runs. He’s struck out 50 times, walked 14 times and stolen 2 bases.

Those numbers are very comparable to Kyle Seager this season in Seattle. Catricala could easily make the jump and contribute to this Mariners club.

Carlos Triunfel – SS

There has been lots of talk surrounding Carlos Triunfel and why he’s not on this club already. Whatever the factors may be, he seems to be getting closer. And with the aforementioned issues at the position, it helps his chances big time. He’s 22 and out of the Dominican Republic and is known as a top prospect in the Mariners organization.

This season he is batting .239 in 66 games with 45 Runs, 27 RBI, and 62 hits including 14 doubles, 2 triples and 5 home runs. He’s struck out 51 times and walked 17 times while swiping 2 bases.

Nick Franklin – SS

The same goes for Nick Franklin as it does with Danny Hultzen. He may have just been promoted, but he already possesses the skill to make the jump.

His will be a harder move, because of his age and the bigger depth at the position within the organization. Franklin is 21 years old and climbing the minor league ranks FAST.

This season in Jackson, he batted .322 with 25 Runs, 26 RBI and 66 hits including 17 doubles, 4 triples and 4 home runs. He’s struck out 38 times and walked 24 times while stealing 9 bases.

I think the Mariners would take those stats from the SS of the future…don’t you?

And my wild card dark horse?

Nick Franklin may be considered the shortstop of the future for the Mariners, but Triunfel may get first crack at replacing Brendan Ryan.

Luis Antonio Jiminez – DH

I know you’re thinking to yourself that bringing up a DH is insane considering the Mariners have many options on the team already.

The fact is, though, that the Mariners need hitting and they need it badly. He’s 30 years old, but age doesn’t matter if you’re bringing in runs.

The Mariners have worked bats into the lineup any way they can this year and using Jiminez would be no exception.

This year in Tacoma, he’s hitting .308 in 65 games with 36 Runs, 44 RBI, and 74 hits including 17 doubles and 11 home runs. He’s struck out 42 times but has also walked a whopping 44 times.

So, with all that being said, who do I think will get the next call up?

This is a complicated answer with lots of “if”s attached, but I will ultimately go with Andrew Carraway.

With the injury to Millwood and the fact that Hector Noesi, Blake Beavan and Erasmo Ramirez are getting shelled almost regularly now, it may be time to do some more experimenting. Bringing up a pitcher or two to remedy that situation makes the most sense.

Don’t be surprised if you see any of the guys on this list get called up in the near future, though.

With all of the reasons I listed above, you could make a statement for each and every one of these players.

It’s always a crap shoot trying to decide what Jack Z and Eric Wedge are thinking.

If they knew what was good for this team, they will start calling these guys up one by one and quickly.

*Side Note – When I say prospect, I mean somebody who has not seen a second of playing time in the big leagues.


© Brandon Choate for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: AA baseball, AAA Baseball, AL West, Andrew Carraway, Carlos Triunfel, Danny Hultzen, Eric Wedge, Jack Z, Jackson Generals, Luis Antonio Jiminez, M's blog, Mariners, Mariners blog, Mariners Blogs, Mariners Predictions, Mariners prospects, Minor League Baseball, MLB, Nick Franklin, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Mariners Blog, Tacoma Rainiers, Vinnie Catricala

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