Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Mariners pretty much have their Opening Day roster set. They announced today that Brad Miller will be the starting shortstop; Nick Franklin, the other player vying for the position, was sent to Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners currently have 28 players on their roster, but pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma, Taijuan Walker, and reliever Stephen Pryor will likely be placed on the disabled list before the season starts.
Miller performed exemplary during the Cactus League season. In 19 games and 65 plate appearances, the 24-old native of Orlando, Florida hit .439 (led the league) with 4 homers and 10 RBI. He also posted an impressive .500 OBP and a 1.395 OPS. In his rookie year in 2013, he played in 76 games primarily as a shortstop.
Miller was drafted in the second round of the 2011 Amateur Draft by the Mariners and was impressive in all levels of the minor leagues. As a starter this year, Miller will have a huge opportunity to solidify his place on the Mariners for years to come. Seattle is a team that is trying to win and players like Miller complement stars like Robinson Cano and Felix Hernandez.
MLB.com reporter Greg Johns quoted manager Lloyd McClendon in regards the position battle between Miller and Franklin:
"They both played extremely well, but Brad separated himself. I’d be a fool if I told you he didn’t. I think we all saw that. He separated himself and played extremely well. He deserves the opportunity and he’s getting it. Nick didn’t lose the job. It was more Brad winning it."
Franklin played 102 games in his rookie year last season at second base for the Mariners, but lost the spot after Seattle signed Cano to a huge deal. Franklin didn’t play terrible in spring training (.265, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI), but McClendon had no choice after Miller’s spring campaign. Johns reports that Franklin will play shortstop for the most part in the minors, but will spend some time in the outfield to develop more versatility.
These will be the starting position players for the Mariners on Opening Day according to Johns:
"Catchers Mike Zunino and John Buck, infielders Justin Smoak, Cano, Miller, Kyle Seager, Willie Bloomquist and Logan Morrison and outfielders Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, Michael Saunders, Corey Hart and Stefen Romero."