After a very impressive first week, the Seattle Mariners front office has to be wondering if the future is now for several of the team’s highly touted prospects. Pitchers Tajuan Walker and James Paxton have shown their continued maturity as well as their abilities to shut down and at times dominate big-league hitters. Highly touted catching prospect Mike Zunino and infielder Nick Franklin have both connected on long home runs and have looked impressive to date. For a team that has been last in offense the last four years in the American League and has put up historically low numbers in doing so, the sudden arrival is a welcome sight.
The hope is that over the course of the long spring training schedule, the cream will rise to the top as the team currently has a logjam of players who essentially play the same position. This will force the front office to make some very hard decisions in the weeks ahead. The most practical solution will be to send the youngsters down to the minors for more seasoning and then look to call them up after June should the need arise. This gives the team time to assess what they have with their current roster as well as avoid the dreaded arbitration clock starting early on several of the young players.
For players like Justin Smoak, Jason Bay, and Casper Wells, this is the time for them to show what they have and stake their claim for being on the major-league roster when the team heads north. It is also a time for the youngsters to show what they’ve got and give the front office confidence that should some of the veterans fail to deliver when the games start to count, there are plenty of options available in the minors.
For the fans, this is an incredible boost of confidence as many entered the season with little to no expectations for the team in 2013. The early offensive outpouring has fans believing that the team is finally heading in the right direction and that the influx of youth that the team is based their rebuilding efforts upon might be ready to pay off within the next year or two and make the Mariners a potential contender by 2015.
It’s important to remember that there are always guys who come out of nowhere to shine in spring training and unexpectedly make the club. Far too often, said players fade under the bright lights of the major leagues and quickly find themselves back in the minors. It’s also important to note that very few, if any, teams finish the season with the players they open the season with. Injuries, trades, lack of production, and other factors will shape the rosters over the coming months.
For now, fans and front office alike continue to watch the impressive young talent assembled in the Arizona sun, and dream of better days ahead.