By Shannon Drayer
As the Mariners continue to stockpile young talent there was a good amount of interest in just where the prospects would land once spring training ended. The Mariners have announced their minor-league rosters and there are a few items of interest to note.
What jumps out right away is the Tacoma starting rotation. There are so many starters that Hector Noesi has been dropped down to Double-A. If that is not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is. Taijuan Walker starts at Double-A but that is not a huge surprise as the organization will take things slow with him at the start because of his youth. James Paxton had a rough spring with the big club but made a much better showing once he was sent down. It will be interesting to see if he has put his command issues behind him. The same goes for Danny Hultzen, who told us earlier this spring that he feels better prepared physically this year than last and that he knows how to avoid wearing down with one full professional year under his belt.
Chance Ruffin is converting to starter and will do so at Double-A. Carson Smith is another name to keep an eye on in Jackson. I suspect he could be on the Stephen Pryor/Carter Capps path and could be one of the first bullpen arms called on if needed.
As for the position players, after a very strong showing this spring Brad Miller starts at Double-A but Jack Zduriencik has told me that he is one of the players he would not hesitate to jump to the bigs if he shows he is ready and there is a need. Also at Double-A is Francisco Martinez, who came to the organization as a third baseman but has been playing center, a position he played as a kid and says he feels more comfortable at than third. With James Jones and Leon Landry also on the roster, Jackson will have a very speedy outfield.
Carlos Triunfel and Nick Franklin will most likely switch off duties at short and second again and then things will be interesting when Stefen Romero joins the team. Romero, whose spring was cut short due to an oblique injury, will return to play in a week or so. Romero plays second but don’t be surprised if you see him at first and third as well and possibly the outfield as they look for a position for him to settle in at.
Finally, Mike Zunino will start at Triple-A. How long he stays there is up to him.