However, his offense is just terrible, accumulating a miserable offensive WAR of 0.5 in 2012. Ryan’s defense is good enough to keep him in the lineup for now, but the Mariners have plenty of middle infield depth in their minor league system that will eventually replace him.
Nick Franklin is one potential replacement for Ryan. Franklin, a switch hitter, had an average of .322 in 57 in Double-A, but when he was called to Triple-A Tacoma last year, he hit a weak .243. Franklin projects to be an above-average contact hitter, but he will not have very much power, as he hit only 11 HRs last season in 121 total games. Franklin would not be a huge drop-off from Ryan defensively.
Brad Miller absolutely blew people away in his first full minor league season in 2012, hitting .334 with a .410 OBP in 137 games with Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. Miller has the plate selection necessary to be a very talented hitter at the major league level, drawing 74walks in 2012. At 24, Miller has above average speed (23 stolen bases in 2012), and his power is very good, hitting 15 HR’s last year. The only trait that is holding Miller back is that he is projected to be a below-average defender.
Carlos Triunfel is the only player of the three that I have mentioned that has seen time with the major league club, as he appeared in ten games last September. At 23, Triunfel has been in the Mariners minor league system since 2007. He spent 131 games in Tacoma last year before his September call up, hitting .260 with 10 HRs. Triunfel has struggled defensively, averaging over 24 errors a year in his six minor league seasons.
All three of these young shortstops will be in contention for a roster spot this spring. Triunfel is the most likely to make the opening day roster, but I believe that Miller has the best chance to be Mariners shortstop in the near future.
Max Gross can be followed on Twitter @maxgross55