(1090 The Fan) – Though the Mariners’ offense has gotten significantly better in the past couple of weeks, there is still a bit of concern of whether the bats can remain healthy for the remainder of the season. The biggest concerns (offensively) are the faces of the future: Justin Smoak, Jesus Montero and Dustin Ackley.

Many fans think Smoak’s opportunity has passed due to his inability to hit off-speed pitches at the big league level. Montero isn’t quite on the chopping block, but his .203/.250/.324 start is not sitting well with those who thought the Michael Pineda trade was a bargain for Seattle.

Then there’s Dustin Ackley, who Adam Wells of the Bleacher Report says has “regressed in spectacular fashion” after a strong rookie season in 2011. The second overall pick in the 2009 draft’s numbers so far this season are downright depressing — especially for a guy who got six Rookie of the Year votes two years ago. In 105 at bats this season, his on-base percentage is .288

Ackley’s struggles gives us reason to believe the ball is in the court of Mariners infield prospect Nick Franklin (sorry to switch sports on you with that basketball cliche). Wells reports Franklin’s numbers in the Pacific Coast League (.337/.461/.518) are a little inflated because that league caters to hitters, but he also has a history of performance, the tools to be a big leaguer and, frankly, couldn’t be worse with the bat than Ackley.

Do you think Nick Franklin will be ditching the Rainiers jersey for a Mariners one soon?

Read Wells entire article: MLB Prospect Watch: 10 Players on the Verge of Being Called Up

-Chris Coyle, 1090 The Fan

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Bleacher Report contributed to this report.)


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