The Seattle Mariners have now won six in a row, sweeping both the Los Angeles Angels and the Houston Astros, but they likely wouldn’t have swept anyone without major contributions from rookie players like Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin and Brad Miller.
Defensively, the Mariner rookies have been stellar, especially catcher Zunino, who replaced Jesus Montero in mid-June. Montero wasn’t much of a catcher and couldn’t seem to buy a hit, but Zunino has been a solid back stop for the Mariners and is hitting a halfway-decent .229 at the moment, up from .213 just 10 games ago.
Infielders Franklin and Miller have also contributed heavily to the team’s success since being called up from AAA Tacoma. Franklin is batting .268 with seven home runs and 24 RBI, while Miller is batting .270 with two home runs and 14 RBI. If those numbers don’t impress, consider the fact that the two young men have only played in 64 MLB games between them.
These three rookies, combined with slightly older players like Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak and veteran players like Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, have become an integral part of a team that has been on a hot streak lately. The Mariners had homered in 23 straight games until last night, when a bizarre one-hit, 4-2 victory over the Astros snapped that record streak. Still, the team has been able to score consistently even without the long ball and the youngest players on the team have been an important part of that impressive production.
The team will face the Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox to finish out the month of July, and it will be exciting to see how well the hot team will handle more formidable opponents. The rookies (and everyone else) will need to keep up the pace if the team wants to continue to be successful.