MLB Futures Part II: American League West: Seattle Mariners

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIFebruary 9, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 24: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
Brandon Wade/Getty Images

I began this series last weekend with the New York Yankees. If you'd like an explanation of what it's all about, check here.

It's been a long time since the Seattle Mariners were in contention. They fought for the 2007 wildcard but fell short. Since then the organization has gone through some major changes.

The AL West was a tough division to break down. The Texas Rangers have some really good position players, but I was worried about their pitching. Then we get to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; 2011 saw the Halo's spend a lot of money, but in exchange they may have given up future financial flexibility.

That left the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners. Oakland has a ridiculously stocked farm, and their move to San Jose will hopefully fix the payroll. But, in the end, I had to go with Seattle.

C- Adam Moore
1B- Justin Smoak
2B- Dustin Ackley
SS- Nick Franklin
3B- Kyle Seager
LF- Trayvon Robinson
CF- Franklin Gutierrez
RF- Vinnie Catricala
DH- Jesus Montero 

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Taijuan Walker
3. Danny Hultzen
4. James Paxton
5. Blake Beavan

Closer- Brandon League 


So, obviously the pitching is good. Like, really good. Do you see why the Michael Pineda trade made so much sense?

The rotation is led by one of, if not "the," best pitcher in baseball, Felix Hernandez. The rest of the rotation might seem unknowns now, but these guys have huge ceilings.

Taijuan Walker is a wild 18-year old flamethrower that looks poised to blast through the minors. Hultzen and Paxton are two well-polished aces in the making, both drafted out of college.

This pitching group has a lot of potential. Now add the fact that they'll be playing their home games at Safeco Field. When looking at future could-be rotations, Seattle's definitely in the top echelon.

Chances are your fingers are itching because you know there's an issue with this team. You all want to scroll down to the comments and rip me a new one. Light bulbs burst in your metaphorical head the second you saw Safeco Field.

Yes, Safeco is a pitcher's park and Seattle has struggled mightily to score runs there.

Well, for all the doubters, I ask you to take a second and scroll back up the article. Run your eyes over that potential lineup a couple more times.

You see it don't you? Power, speed, average and high upside. Combine them all, and you've got hope my friends.

In 2001, the Seattle Mariners won a record setting 116 single season games. That team's offensive core revolved around Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and Brett Boone; they too played at Safeco Field.

Now let's imagine those three had names like Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak. To some it may seem like a stretch, but I think these three players could be better than their counterparts.

Ackley may not have the speed of Ichiro, but he's got a sweet swing with 20-20 potential. Montero has a huge bat and can combine for a lot of power and good average. Smoak looks unable to hit for a lot of average, but his big body will produce a good amount of home runs.

Those are three high-ceiling bats to build a lineup around. Then there's the supporting cast: Nick Franklin, Travyon Robinson and Vinnie Catricala are three more prospects with bright futures.

The Mariners haven't been an offensive threat for a long time. They've also never had a group of players this promising.

They'll face challenges and doubters. The team has to prove that they can score runs at Safeco, which I don't think will be a problem.

They've got a ridiculous rotation and key ingredients for a dominant lineup. Add in a top of the line GM like Jack Z and you have all the makings of a really bright future.


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