Franklin Off To Hot Start





Best Player: Being assigned to the Midwest League should be a challenge for any player in his first full professional season. But 19-year-old shortstop Nick Franklin, a 2009 first-round pick out of a Florida high school, handled the cool temperatures and pitcher-friendly ballparks like a veteran.

Franklin belted nine home runs in his first two months with low Class A Clinton and finished the year with a league-high 23. He hit .281/.351/.485 and stole 25 bases in 35 attempts. Franklin joined Double-A West Tenn for the Southern League postseason and made an impressive debut there as well, going 2-for-3 with three runs in the regular season finale.
 
Best Pitcher: Righthander Michael Pineda has developed into a strike-throwing machine with plus stuff since the Mariners signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2005.
 
Pineda—who works off a 97 mph fastball, a dynamic breaking ball and an increasingly tougher changeup—went 8-1, 2.22 with 78 strikeouts and 17 walks in 77 innings with West Tenn before earning a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma. The 21-year-old finished the season 11-4, 3.36 overall with 154 strikeouts in 139 innings.

Keep An Eye On: Third baseman Matt Mangini was a player the Mariners had high hopes for when they took him with the 52nd overall pick in the 2007 draft, but the former Oklahoma State star needed the usual learning curve before coming into his own.

Mangini, 24, anchored Tacoma's lineup this season, with a .311/.350/.519 average to go along with a career-high 18 home runs. He finished the season with a rush, tallying 35 hits in his final 17 games.

MARINADE

• Shortstop Carlos Triunfel had to deal with another injury. Triunfel, 20, went down with a sprained finger on his right (throwing) hand just before West Tenn was to start the Southern League playoffs.

• West Tenn outfielder Carlos Peguero led the Southern League in home runs (22) and strikeouts (178).