Seattle Mariners: Prospects Who Could Be Called Up in the Second Half
With the Seattle Mariners' season on the brink of yet another breakdown, many fans will again start looking towards Triple-A Tacoma and Double-A Jackson to see who could see time when the rosters expand in September.
Even though prospects Mike Zunino and Nick Franklin are already in the big leagues, the Mariners still have a plethora of talent waiting in the wings to become the new faces of the franchise.
With that in mind, who in the Mariners farm system is most likely to get the call in the second half of the season?
At this point in time, Brad Miller has to be seen as the odds-on favorite to be the next prospect to make his debut in Seattle.
Currently, Brendan Ryan is blocking Miller from making his debut, but with all the talk of Ryan potentially being moved at the trade deadline, it appears that nothing will stop Miller from making his major league debut sooner rather than later.
The writers over at U.S.S. Mariner made a strong case a few days ago, writing about all of the success Miller has seen at the plate at every stop he has made, which can be seen on the graph below:
Miller started the season at Double-A Jackson, but he was called up to Triple-A Tacoma after posting a .294/.379/.471 slash line over 42 games. Since his promotion, Miller has been even better, posting an outrageous .354/.430/.583 line with five home runs and 27 RBI.
The biggest concern with Miller moving forward is his defensive ability at shortstop, especially when compared to current starter Brendan Ryan. But if he can continue to hit anywhere near his current pace, he will more than make up for any defensive shortcomings he may have.
As seen in the photo above, Erasmo Ramirez is no stranger to the big leagues. Over 2012, Ramirez appeared in 16 games, including eight starts in which he went 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA over 59.0 innings.
In fact, if it wasn't for a triceps injury during spring training, Ramirez would have most likely made the starting rotation at the beginning of the season instead of Blake Beavan or Brandon Maurer.
Since returning, Ramirez has been rock-solid, going 2-2 with a 2.17 ERA over six starts in Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma. What has been even more impressive about Ramirez is the way he has been dominating hitters along the way with a 36:9 K/BB ratio and a .210 batting average against over his 37.1 innings pitched.
If not for recent signs of life from Aaron Harang and a solid stretch from Jeremy Bonderman, it is very likely that Ramirez already would have been in Seattle's rotation at this point.
With that in mind, Ramirez will most certainly be the first pitcher called up in the event that either Bonderman or Harang start to struggle again.
As has been documented time and time again, Stefen Romero is the definition of "have bat, will travel." And with the Mariners' continued struggles at the plate, it's only a matter of time before Romero gets his crack at the major league level.
After winning the Mariners Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2012, Romero had big expectations coming into the 2013 season. The Oregon State product was off to a great start in spring training, but after straining his left oblique back on March 8, Romero found himself on the designated list and out of contention for a spot on the 25-man roster.
Romero's numbers are definitely down a bit from his breakout 2012 campaign, but he is still the proud owner of a .288/.351/.441 slash line with five home runs and 39 RBI over 56 games in Tacoma and Single-A High Desert.
Romero has spent most of his time in the outfield this season and would be a prime call-up candidate after the trade deadline. If the Mariners decide to move any of their veterans, such as Raul Ibanez, Mike Morse or Jason Bay, Romero could be one of the first names called up to take their place.
In wake of super-prospects Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino getting called up to Seattle, it wouldn't shock anyone if the Mariners continued their aggressive ways and gave Danny Hultzen a look when the rosters expand in September.
Hultzen has been battling a shoulder injury all season, but he recently started his rehab assignment in the Rookie Arizona League back on June 22. In that appearance, Hultzen allowed one run while striking out eight and walking none in five innings of work.
Needless to say, if Hultzen continues to show his shoulder is holding up fine, he will most likely be back in Triple-A Tacoma's rotation very soon.
Before getting hurt, Hultzen was having a solid season in Tacoma, going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA while striking out 25 in 22.2 IP.
The most impressive thing coming from Hultzen was the improvement in his command that had become a question at the end of the 2012 season. Many felt his lack of command had a lot to do with him wearing down at the end of his first big league season, but 43 walks in 48.2 innings in Tacoma was still a big concern.
If Hultzen makes it through the rest of his rehab with no setbacks and continues to add on to his impressive start in Tacoma this season, he could see himself toeing the rubber for the Mariners come September.
To be honest, there may be just as many Mariners fans who want to see Taijuan Walker in Seattle this season as there are who don't.
Walker has been very impressive this season, and he recently earned a call-up to Triple-A Tacoma after dominating the Double-A level to the tune of a 4-7 record with a 2.46 ERA with 96 strikeouts and a .195 batting average against.
Though the record may not show much, Walker was a victim of poor run support and could easily have had a much better mark.
As good as Walker has been most of the season, he has been even more impressive since the end of May, which Bleacher Report's own Adam Wells pointed out when he labeled Walker as one of the next five top prospects to take the MLB by storm.
Many will argue that Walker is only 20 years old and should spend more time in the minors. But current ace Felix Hernandez made his debut as a 19-year-old in 2005, and he has turned out more than fine for Seattle.
With plenty of holes in the Mariners rotation after Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the organization could decide that Walker should have the chance to prove himself over the last month of the season.
Writer's Note: Walker earned a win in his debut with Triple-A Tacoma on Tuesday night, pitching six innings while allowing just three hits, walking two and striking out four.
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