MLB 2011: This fan’s top five prospects for the Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners have a number of prospects that could make a huge difference in the major leagues soon, and it could usher in a new era of success for Seattle if they all pan out. Two of the best prospects in the system might even be able to make the big leagues out of spring training in 2011, allowing Seattle to really start the rebuilding process from the ground up.

The Mariners also have the No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 MLB Draft, so the cupboard is just about to get deeper.

Top 5 Seattle Mariners Prospects

Dustin Ackley—Second Base

Ackley is ready to make the move from AAA to the major leagues, and could be an interesting option at second base for years to come. He was the No. 2 pick behind Stephen Strasburg(notes) when the Mariners selected him, but it took a little while for him to find his swing. He ended up with a .267 batting average combined for 2010, showing great signs of speed on the bases and patience at the plate.

He will either start at AAA or the majors at the beginning of the 2011 season, but he will definitely end the season on the big team.

Michael Pineda—Pitcher

Pineda has already showed moments of brilliance in 2011 spring training games, and after being named Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010, he might just be ready for the jump. During 2010 he ended up with an 11-4 record, a 3.36 ERA, and 154 strikeouts. He can get up to triple digits with his velocity, and is an imposing guy on the mound that could be lightning to the thunder of Felix Hernandez(notes) in the Mariners rotation.

Nick Franklin—Shortstop

Franklin is still down at A-Ball in Clinton, but will look to move up the levels in the 2011 season. In 2010 he hit .283 with 23 home runs, 65 RBI, and 25 steals. He is a switch hitter that plays shortstop, but he is also a very unassuming power hitter.

At 19 years old, he still has some developing to do, but he could be another bright spot in the Mariners future in two to three years.

James Jones—Outfield

Jones is a player that the Mariners have developed from a pitcher at Long Island University into a really good outfielder. He has a lot of upside, even at 22 years old, and he could really be one of the better hitting prospects out there if he continues to improve.

It looks like he will see time in the California League to begin 2011, and it's possible he could be on the big team in about two years if everything plays out right for him. His hitting could just be a bonus in the equation too, because he is a demon on the base paths and has a superstar arm in the field.

Justin Smoak—First Base

Smoak was the center piece of the trade that sent Cliff Lee(notes) to the Texas Rangers during the 2010 season, but he still needs to do some developing to be worthy of the starting spot at first base. In 2010 he only hit .218 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI.

But he could be much more comfortable in 2011 and prove that he can become even better as a sophomore in the show.

Other Upcoming Seattle Mariners Prospects

Greg Halman(notes), Outfielder
Adam Moore(notes), Catcher
Guillermo Pimentel, Outfielder
Michael Saunders(notes), Outfielder
Taijuan Walker, Pitcher

More From YCN:

2011_MLB_Draft_Order

Reference:

Seattle_Mariners_Website

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Updated Thursday, Mar 10, 2011