We seem to be alternating between barren and loaded positions with this series. That should continue until the outfield. Next up is the loaded second base.
Dustin Ackley is still a pivotal piece in the Mariners’ rebuilding effort. He’s not performing well this year, but that’s not uncommon for someone in his position. He has some clear mechanical issues at the moment and seems to be struggling to make adjustments. I’d expect these to be ironed out at some point soon. It’s still unclear where Ackley will end up offensively. His recent struggles have tempered the Chase Utley comparisons, but that level isn’t impossible. He should still be at least an above-average, allstar level bat most years. He needs to be that, for everyone’s sake. What isn’t a huge issue is his defense. After meeting a lot of skepticism while learning the position, he’s become a solid if unspectacular defender. To my eyes, he’s improving and has the skills to be at least slightly above-average.
Should Ackley fail or move to a different position, there are plenty of potential replacements. Kyle Seager tops the list, but I think he’s found a home at third, so I’ll save my Seager thoughts for that preview. Also likely is new Tacoma Rainier Nick Franklin, but there’s still a solid chance he can stay at shortstop, so we’ll save him as well. Just know that his defense at short is suspect but he profiles and performs better at second right now. Also at Tacoma is the forever young Carlos Triunfel, but he’s going in the shortstop pot as well, for now.
Moving down a level to Jackson, we have the hot-hitting and recently promoted Stefen Romero. Romero was a sleeper pick to bust out Vinnie Catricala style this year, and he hasn’t disappointed. He put up huge numbers in High Desert and has been good in a couple of games in Jackson, but he needs to keep producing there for anyone to feel confident in him being more than a High Desert mirage. Also in question is his ability to stay at second base. Outfield seems a more likely landing spot to those in the know.
I have to talk about Brad Miller at some point, so I think I’ll do it here. Not that talking about him is a chore, I just don’t know which position he’ll end up playing. Last year’s second round pick out of Clemson, Miller was drafted as a shortstop and has played there most of the time in High Desert this year. Unfortunately, he’s less likely than Franklin to stay at the position, according to most. These people have been wrong before, but it seems more likely than not that he’ll move. To where is a great question. He could probably play second or third, and there’s been talk of center field as well. Nothing to do but wait and see. The good news is that he’s hitting the ball like crazy and could end up on a Kyle Seager-like fast track to Seattle.
There are some other interesting guys lower in the minors, including a couple of recent draftees, but they’re all a long ways away. Plenty too talk about here already, so I’ll leave off for the night.
Of all the positions in the Mariner system, this one demands the least worry. Even if Ackley doesn’t pan out, there are good options, both in Seattle currently and in the upper minors. With any luck, the Mariners could have an all star at second base in the near future.