Franklin up, Ackley down as roster churn continues
Things continue to get interesting on the Mariners roster world as young infielder Nick Franklin was selected from Triple-A today and second baseman Dustin Ackley was optioned to Tacoma.
The Mariners also recalled right-hander Hector Noesi and optioned lefty reliever Lucas Luetge back to Tacoma.
Noesi’s move provides some long relief as well as a starting option in case Aaron Harang falters again in today’s 1:05 p.m. game with the Padres at Safeco Field, or if Brandon Maurer struggles again Tuesday against the Padres.
The Franklin move is bigger, however, as it signifies a change in approach with Ackley. As the No. 2 overall pick in the 2009 draft, Ackley is a youngster considered at the heart of the rebuilding process.
But he had a rough year last season when he hit just .226 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs and he’s looked even more lost this year as he’s batted .205 with one homer and eight RBIs in 45 games.
Ackley is a far better player than that, so something is clearly wrong. Whether it’s physical or mental remains to be seen, but some time in Tacoma can’t hurt at this point. In my mind, this is a guy who should hit .280 with speed and some pop, but he’s shown none of that this year.
As for Franklin, we’ll see. He’s a 22-year-old with a lot of confidence and is himself a late first-round pick in ’09 out of high school in Florida. He’s had some bumps along the way, but has progressed up the Minor League ladder the last few years and was hitting .324 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 39 games in Triple-A this year.
The Mariners now have both Franklin and Carlos Triunfel on the Major League roster, along with veteran shortstop Brendan Ryan. How Eric Wedge divvies up the playing time with that trio in the middle infield remains to be seen, but Ryan has been hitting pretty well lately and obviously is the superior shortstop.
I’d guess Franklin will get a lot of time at second base, with Triunfel backing him up and also splitting time at shortstop.
At 21-29, the Mariners are making changes two months into the season. I wouldn’t call it a youth movement, since Jesus Montero and Ackley — two of their top young players — have been sent down. But they’re clearly not going to sit pat and they’re willing to give Franklin and Triunfel a look now, as well as Jesus Sucre at catcher.
It seems only a matter of time before Mike Zunino gets a shot there. Sucre has handled himself well in his two starts so far, but Zunino is much more of an offensive threat in the long term and obviously the club is moving forward on many fronts. So we’ll wait and see on that one as well.