As Joe already posted today, Dustin Ackley has been promoted to triple-A Tacoma. This is a move that most people saw coming at some point. After a very slow start, Ackley has put up numbers that are close to what the experts expected. He will only be playing second base for the Rainiers, which is good news as they push his development forward.
I’ve never followed the Mariners farm system until the last couple years. Sure, I knew who the most promising prospects are but I didn’t know much else. That changed this year. This is partially because the Mariners are so disappointing and partially because the Mariners farm system has suddenly become interesting again. It’s become so interesting that, with this recent Ackley call-up, it’s hard for me to choose which team I’d rather go watch.
I thought I’d take a closer look at this by going through both teams position by position (Matthew’s series preview style). I’ll pick the starter who I find more interesting. This doesn’t mean I think they’re better, it just means that I’d rather watch them. This may be because of the potential they have. Here we go:
Catcher: Mariners: Rob Johnson/Josh Bard. Rainiers: Adam Moore. To tell you the truth, I don’t want to watch any of these guys. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted on here, you should know my hate of Rob Johnson. Josh Bard is fine but he definitely isn’t the future. Adam Moore is the future at this position but after his terrible first half with the M’s (before getting injured) left a bad taste in my mouth. He has put up good numbers in Tacoma and his ability to hit with power to the opposite field is enough to give him the edge here. Plus, he can catch which is more than Rob Johnson can say.
1st Base: Mariners: Justin Smoak. Rainiers: Mike Carp/Brad Nelson. Justin Smoak is awesome and has more potential than almost anyone in this organization. If anyone says that Mike Carp or Brad Nelson are more interesting or exciting than Justin Smoak then you probably shouldn’t be talking to them. Mike Carp might be average someday and Nelson might be an okay pinch-hitter in the bigs. Justin Smoak could be a star.
The rest of the positions after the jump.
2nd Base: Mariners: Chone Figgins. Rainiers: Dustin Ackley. If Chone Figgins was playing good I’d still pick Dustin Ackley. Chone Figgins isn’t playing good so I pick Dustin Ackley even more. No, this doesn’t make sense and I probably sounded like an 11 year-old when you read that. Dustin Ackley is exciting.
3rd Base: Mariners: Jose Lopez. Rainiers: Matt Magini. This is a position where you could add the AA player to the position I might pick him. That player is Alex Liddi and he might be the long-term answer at this position. Lopez is so annoying and so loveable at the same time. Magini used to be a pretty solid prospect, then he had a bad year. This year he is one of the best hitters on the Rainiers but is it too late? I’m not sure, we might see him with the big league club this September to see what he could do. Magini hits left-handed and has shown some power. He’s more interesting to me than Lopez right now.
SS: Mariners: J. Wilsons. Rainiers: Chris Woodward. This is terrible. The Mariners position is somewhat interesting because it will determine who starts next year. Unless they go get a free agent (pray that we go get a free agent). Chris Woodward is not interesting. He’s the opposite of interesting. All hope is not lost though. Looking down the farm, the future is much brighter. Carlos Triunfel was a top prospect before he broke his leg. He’s in double-A now and is doing okay. He may not stick at short stop though. There is also Nick Franklin. He is the most exciting of these four names. He is in high A ball and has been one of the best players in his league.
The outfield is a little bit more confusing. The Mariners have Ichiro and Franklin Gutierrez who are two of the most interesting and exciting players in the game. I can’t think of too many outfielders that I’d rather watch. We also have Milton Bradley who, as far as entertainment goes, is interesting to watch. If he could figure out how to hit again he’d be awesome. There is Michael Saunders in left field who is interesting because he’s young and shows flashes of great potential. He is second in home runs for american league rookies and he may be the Mariners left fielder in the years to come. That’s an interesting group and a group of players that I get excited about seeing when I go to Safeco.
But Tacoma is not too bad either. They have Tui, who is amazing in Tacoma and absolutely terrible in Seattle. No one can really figure him out so that makes him somewhat interesting. The outfielders who have everyone talking in Tacoma are Greg Halman and Mike Wilson. Both are getting a little old to not have cracked the bigs. Halman was everyone’s favorite prospect a few years ago but then he started striking out at an incredible rate. He’s quite an athlete and can hit for power. At some point the management will have to see if he can make it at the major league level. Mike Wilson has had a great year. His OPS has been off the charts and he is having one of the best years of any Mariner prospect. Seattle Sports insider had this little piece on him. I agree that he needs a chance in the league to see what he can do. The M’s need power and he might be able to provide some. So, Seattle has this position on lock down but there are still some interesting things to see down in Tacoma.
The starting rotation is one that the Mariners win easily. Pineda is the only starter I’d take from Tacoma, along with Felix, Fister, Vargas, and Ryan Rowland-Smith. I would add some guys like Robles, Beaven, Hill, and Cortes from West Tennessee to this if that was the game but it’s not. Those guys aren’t better but they have shown a lot higher upside than most of Tacoma’s rotation.
So with all that, the M’s hold a slight edge still, mostly due to the outfield and pitching. Matthew pointed out to me that there’s still a big gap between AAA and the majors which is true. Watching the Mariners over the course of a season would be a lot more entertaining than watching the Rainiers even if the Mariners suck and the Rainiers were great. But, if I had to choose for just one night I might pick Tacoma. Especially if Pineda was starting. Maybe that says something about Tacoma. Maybe it says even more about how bad the Mariners are.