The Seattle Mariners have brought a few guys up from Triple-A Tacoma this season. Who should be next? That’s right, shortstop Nick Franklin.
Let the Nick Franklin era begin, assuming there will be a Nick Franklin era. Based on what the Mariners have in the minors, there could be a few guys that are slated to eventually take over at shortstop.
In the short term, the Mariners need to make a move. Brendan Ryan is a great defender, and a terrible hitter. Robert Andino is not as good on defense, and only slightly better on offense. Emphasis on slightly:
Brendan Ryan: .133, 0 home runs, 4 RBI
Robert Andino: .167, 0 home runs, 4 RBI
Not good. NBC Sports gives us this little gem:
Mariners shortstops have combined to hit .121 with a .318 OPS this season. National League pitchers have combined to hit .124 with a .323 OPS this season.
So through one-fourth of the season Seattle’s shortstops have been out-hit by pitchers. Think about that.
You know a guy is struggling when Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times is celebrating (sort of) an infield single:
It is hard to fathom Ryan and Andino hitting any worse. At the same time, Franklin is in Tacoma hitting .339 with four home runs and 16 RBI (via baseball-reference.com).
Granted, minor league hitting stats always have to be put in context. After all, they are minor league stats. Still, is Franklin worth a look?
It depends on whether Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino represent the future at shortstop. Again, Ryan is a great defender, so he has value on a team that is built around pitching and defense. The problem is that a great defender still has to hit a little better than .133 for the year. Ryan is not even flirting with the Mendoza Line.
Obviously there are reasons to keep Franklin in the minors. If you bring him up and he does not perform, it could hurt his confidence in the future. In addition, what if Brad Miller is actually the shortstop of the future? If that's the case, Franklin’s greatest value may be as trade bait.
You could argue that sometimes a player’s greatest value is right before they reach the majors. Once they get to the big leagues and hit .220, the “potential” isn’t as intriguing.
Truthfully, you never know how a player will do until you bring him up and let him face major league pitching. The Mariners could give him a shot at shortstop or let him cover second base a few times.
See how he does. Roll the dice. This team is arguably on the brink of turning the corner and challenging the upper-echelon teams in the American League.
Perhaps a hot young rookie will bring a renewed energy.
Regardless, the shortstop situation in Seattle is not good, and it is unlikely to improve anytime soon. Fans have been hearing about some of these “hot” young prospects for the last couple of years.
Let’s see what some of them can do. Start with Nick Franklin. Call him up.