M's Franklin Is Loaded With Confidence





SEATTLE — No one was more surprised than Nick Franklin when he was asked by Seattle management to take part in the Mariners annual fanfest event at Safeco Field in late January.

Such is the future that the club sees for the 19-year-old shortstop that they wanted him to get the feel of the Mariners' home, a place he could be, if not late this year, then sometime in 2012.

The 27th pick in the 2009 draft, Franklin is a switch-hitter who hit 23 homers at low Class A Clinton last season, breaking a franchise record that dated back since 1961.

He's loaded with confidence and as he heads into his first major league spring training, he's ready for anything that comes his way. The 6-foot-1, 175-pounder is likely to start off at high Class A High Desert, though Double-A Jackson (formerly West Tenn) isn't out of the question.

"I plan on going to spring training and play my heart out," Franklin said. "Wherever I go, wherever I start out, I plan on playing like I've never played before. Wherever I start doesn't matter. I'm just going to work my way to the big leagues."

His first full season saw him hit .283/.354/.486, but the 23 homers indicated power that was unexpected.

"People look at me at my size and they don't think I'm going to hit for power," Franklin said. "But I've been jumping. I hit six homers as a junior in high school and then 11 as a senior, so when I had the bigger numbers this year, it's not something that was completely unexpected for me."

It will be interesting to see how far he goes in 2011, after he spent the offseason working on his strength with a personal trainer.

Farm director Pedro Grifol said Franklin was impressive offensively and defensively in his first year, and his progress from this point depends on his overall play.

"This is a kid with a lot of talent, someone who understands the game and what he has to do to get to the big leagues," Griffol said. "I think he has a chance to be a special player."

MARINADE

• Righthander Michael Pineda said he is excited to come to spring training with a chance to win a spot in the major league rotation. "I need to show them I know how to attack the strike zone," he said.

• Players signing late minor league contracts with an invitation to spring training included outfielder Gabe Gross and righthanders Chris Ray, Jamey Wright and Manny Delcarmen.