With Dustin Ackley in the majors and most of the Mariners top prospects making appearances already this season, the cupboard may appear bare to some. However, Jack Zduriencik has done a lot to rebuild the farm system, and the fact that so many Mariners have made their debuts this year, and yet so many promising prospects have yet to make their big league debut.
Here are a few names to be excited about.
1. James Paxton, LHP, AA Jackson Generals (4th round, 2010 draft)
Paxton was once a top pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, but after failing to sign, and being drafted by the Mariners in the fourth round last year, he’s made a huge impression this season averaging more than 12 K/9 in 65 innings so far this year.
2. Taijuan Walker, RHP, A Clinton Lumberkings (Supplemental round, 2010 draft)
Walker has been impressive after being a fairly lackluster selection for the Mariners. Many even wanted to see a guy like Paxton taken ahead of Walker. He’s got a K/BB ratio over 3, and has struck out more than 11 per nine.
3. Nick Franklin, SS, AA Jackson Generals (1st round 2009 draft)
Franklin, who came from the same draft that yielded Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager, may end up being the third left-handed hitting infielder to come from the draft. It appears he’ll continue to switch hit for now, but his offense hasn’t been as good this year as last. He’s still one of the Mariners top prospects.
4. Danny Hultzen, LHP, 2011 Draftee (1st round, 2011 draft)
Hultzen can probably expect a fast ascent to the majors. His college experience and repertoire put him well ahead of many of his fellow draftees. Though he was underwhelming for the bat-hungry fan base, he’s a sabermetric dream with advanced command and three pitches.
5. Alex Liddi, 3B, AAA Tacoma Rainiers (international signee, 2005)
Sure, there are a ton of guys that may have higher ceilings than Liddi. He’s hitting for more power than ever though, and at the minors’ highest level. He’s probably due some sort of September call up, and may be a platoon DH/3B/1B in 2012.