Those of us who have been Mariner fans for a long time do know that the team has had trouble developing players especially those who are regular players in the field.
Players like Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez who were top pick in the draft already had the talent so the Mariners didn’t need to do too much developing. There have been other players who were high picks but did not go anywhere for example catcher Jeff Clement and then there is guys like Dustin Ackley and Mike Zunino who were brought up too early and needed more development.
The most recent player to be developed ad an everyday player for the Mariners was third baseman Kyle Seager and he actually started out on the team as a utility player. He never really played third base until he was on the team and Chone Figgins didn’t work out.
This year the Mariners have three outfielders who they either traded for or signed as a free agent. Ben Gamel the Mariners received from the New York Yankees in a trade late last year and Mitch Haniger in the off-season in the trade for pitcher TaiJuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte. These were two players that the Mariners developed themselves to some degree however were not at their development as of yet. Walker I would say was close but Marte is still a year or two away. The Mariners were able to pick up a shortstop that was ready to go as well in Jean Segura who the Mariners signed to a five year contract recently.
Last year the Mariners signed Guillermo Heredia as a free agent out of Cuba. Obvious he was almost ready to play in the major leagues. He started 2016 in double A and then triple A before coming up to the Mariners in August. With these three outfielders the Mariners now have that means outfielders like Tyler O’Neill and Kyle Lewis they can take the time to develop them into good players and don’t have to rush them.
At first base they have Danny Valencia so they can take the time with Daniel Vogelbach and D.J. Peterson to develop into major leaguers as well. Also they don’t have the pressure if neither of them pans out either. Vogelbach looks like more of a designated hitter in the long run. Peterson is having a good year in triple A so he could be on the Mariners later in the year or next year. Also they could use him in a trade as well. The Mariners number one draft pick was Evan White out of University of Kentucky who looks to play first base. The Mariners can take their time in developing him as well.
The three primary infield spots are already filled for some time so the Mariners can take their sweet time to develop those positions. The Mariners have a shortstop at Tacoma in Tyler Smith who can play second base as well. He most likely be turned into a utility player or be part of a trade as well.
So the other position left is catcher where Mike Zunino is starting to do well himself. He was another player that was rushed to the major leagues. Last year he spent most of the year in triple A to develop his hitting. He was a top rate defensive catcher already. In fact in May the Mariners had to send him down again to work his hitting. Right now he looks like he is the hitter the Mariners thought he could be. They don’t expect him to have a high average but somewhere between .230 and .250 would be fine. He has been hitting super in the month of June and driving in a lot of runs for the Mariners. He could be the real thing however we still have to wait to see.
The pitching the Mariners look like some good possibilities of those who should service in the next year or two. If you have to look on the positive side when it comes to the injuries to the starters the Mariners were able to use some pitchers who could be part of the staff real soon. They now know who could be and who likely won’t be or make some further development down the road. Andrew Moore who is the number two pitching prospect looked like the real thing last Thursday Night. He is expected to be the fifth starter for the time being. Now the Mariners have to see who they can develop in the bullpen besides Edwin Diaz as the closer. Dan Altavilla looks like the real thing if he can get his slider working along with his fastball. Now the Mariners have to look to see who can be setup men as well for the future. Other words who will work the sixth, seventh and eighth innings or whether they have to go out and get those pitchers. The Mariners can’t figure that Nick Vincent and Steve Cishek will last beyond another year or two. They may be able to use some excess starters to get those relievers.
Whether the Mariners make the playoffs this year or not the future does look good with the newest regime. Go M’s.