Seattle Mariners Top Prospects Grow Together In Minors

Seattle Mariners fans have waited patiently for a specific crop of young, talented prospects to make it to the big leagues. It’s been a long process, and one that’s weighed on the players as well.

Seattle Mariners Top Prospects

Seattle Mariners top prospects in Tacoma

“We’re doing our best,” Mariners pitching prospect Danny Hultzen told me. “Hopefully, that call will come at some point. Obviously, it’s our goal to get there as soon as possible.”

Now, many of the top prospects M’s fans have been itching for are just one step away for the major leagues. They’re all currently playing for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers.

“You have that extra motivation knowing that you’re close” said catching prospect Mike Zunino. “You have to go out and handle your business day in and day out, and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later that you can make that jump and help the ball club up there win.”

I’m sure you know their names by now, but I’ll remind you anyway. There’s shortstop/second baseman Nick Franklin, starting pitcher James Paxton and the aforementioned Mike Zunino and Danny Hultzen.

“I love our team,” Franklin told me. “We bond well and we have great chemistry. We’ve played with each other coming up through the minor leagues. We’ve had a few additions, but we’ve been nothing but great. I enjoy it.”

Baseball America ranks the star-studded posse as four of the M’s top five prospects. Zunino is ranked No.1, followed by Hultzen (No. 3), Paxton (No. 4) and Franklin (No. 5). You’d think there might be big egos, but there’s not.

Seattle Mariners Top Prospects

Seattle Mariners top prospect Mike Zunino

“The best part of it to me is that everybody works together,” said Hultzen. “Nobody is trying to be too flashy. No one plays for themselves, which is always a good thing.”

Thanks to that teamwork, the long wait for reinforcements in Seattle is almost over. It’s not just exciting for the fans, it’s thrilling for the prospects as well.

“It’s really exciting to think we’re this close,” Paxton said to me. “It’s just one phone call and a short drive away and we’re there. So, we’re all getting ready and we’re real excited to help [the Mariners] at some point.”

For these four players it’s not a matter of “if” — it’s a matter of “when” they get called up to the big leagues. Until then, they’re honing their skills together in the minor leagues. We probably won’t be able to say that for long though. These prospects should all debut at Safeco Field sometime this season.

This is the story I put together for my television station on the Seattle Mariners top prospects. Click below to watch Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen in action.

What do you think of the Seattle Mariners top prospects? Are they the answer at the big league level? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Don’t forget to read more about the Mariners right now on All Around Tim!

Danny Hultzen | Mariners Prospect One Step Away

Seattle Mariners fans have heard the name Danny Hultzen for years, but they’ve never seen him in the big leagues. It’s all been hearsay and hype up to this point. That could all change soon for one of the organization’s top pitching prospects.

Danny Hultzen | Seattle Mariners

Danny Hultzen

Hultzen is among a talented crew playing for the AAA Tacoma Rainiers this season. He’s on the roster with catcher Mike Zunino, second baseman Nick Franklin and starting pitcher James Paxton. They’re ranked as four of the Mariners top five prospects by Baseball America.

“There’s a ton of talented guys, but the best part is that everybody works together,” Hultzen told me. “No one is trying to be flashy. No one plays for themselves, which is always a good thing.”

Not only is Hultzen a prized Mariners prospect (currently ranked No. 3 in the organization behind Zunino and pitcher Taijuan Walker), he’s also considered one of the top prospects in all of the minor leagues. Baseball America‘s Jim Callis ranked Hultzen as the No. 22 best prospect to start the 2013 season.

Hultzen is a former first round draft pick out of the University of Virginia. He was nabbed by the Seattle Mariners with the No. 2 overall selection in 2011. He skyrocketed through the system after signing an $8.5 million big league contract, which included a club-record $6.35 million bonus.

Hultzen started his professional career in the 2011 Arizona Fall League, and then pitched his first minor league game for AA Jackson last season. After recording eight wins and a 1.19 ERA in 13 starts for the Generals, Hultzen was promoted to AAA Tacoma — just one step away from the big leagues.

Danny Hultzen

Danny Hultzen pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers

“You can’t get ahead of yourself,” Hultzen said. “There were times I did that a little bit last year and it didn’t work well for me.”

Hultzen’s numbers spiraled out of control once he was promoted to AAA last June. He won only one game over his next 12 starts, and his ERA shot through the roof to 5.92. That was simply a result of allowing too many baserunners. Hultzen walked 43 batters (compared to 57 strike outs) over 48.2 innings with the Rainiers.

“You don’t make it to the big leagues by thinking about it,” said Hultzen. “You do it by taking care of business, and going out there and playing hard. That’s how I look at it now. I’m just trying to keep a level head and put [the Major Leagues] way back in my mind”

That appears to be working for Hultzen. The 23-year-old is on a roll to start the 2013 season. He’s 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA, and most importantly he’s regained his control. Hultzen has only walked six while striking out 25 in his first 22.2 innings with Tacoma this year.

Danny Hultzen

Danny Hultzen

“Everyone’s goal is to obviously make it to the Major Leagues,” Hultzen said to me. ”But, I’m a firm believer that if you’re helping the team win, then you’re personally going to perform the best you can. I think that’s the mentality we all have. We help the team win, and in doing so we can all hopefully move up.”

Hultzen has a deceptive delivery and the Mariners rave about his maturity (he was extremely polite to me — almost hinging on a little shy). Baseball America projects him as a No. 2 starter in the big leagues thanks to his 90-92 mph fastball (which touches 95 mph), “above-average” change-up and 80-84 mph slider.

The long wait to hear Danny Hultzen’s name announced at Safeco Field is almost over. If he can stay healthy (which has never been an issue with him), his Major League debut should happen at some point in 2013. I’m sure M’s fans are hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

Have you ever watched Danny Hultzen pitch? What do you think of the Seattle Mariners prospect? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for all the latest in the world of sports, food and music!

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