Mariners Midseason Report





Best player: Second baseman Dustin Ackley got off to a slow start for the first month of the Triple-A Tacoma season. Ever since then, however, the 23-year-old second baseman has validated the confidence the Mariners had in making him the second overall pick in the draft to the point where the Mariners called him up and pushed him right into the starting lineup on June 17.

He didn't find his groove until this May, when he went on a six-week tear during which he hit .350 in 42 games and earned the promotion.

Some may have expected him to get to the big leagues even sooner, but he needed time to learn the intricacies of playing second base. How's he done?

"I think it won't be too long that people forget he didn't used to be a second baseman," Mariner minor league director Pedro Grifol said. "He's that good."

Biggest leap forward: Drafted out of high school last year in the supplemental first round (43rd pick overall), righthander Taijuan Walker has become a dominant pitcher in the low Class A Midwest League, even though he won't turn 19 until Aug. 13.

His record is just 2-3, but he has a 2.40 ERA and had just 36 hits and 16 walks in 45 innings while striking out 56.

"Taijuan has made tremendous strides already," Grifol said. "He's got electric stuff and electric makeup, and that combination is hard to find."

Biggest disappointment: The Mariners had high hopes for 19-year-old outfielder Julio Morban, but as was the case last year, they are having trouble keeping him in the lineup.

He had one ribcage and two hamstring injuries in the first three months of the season. He's already missed 20 games and isn't expected to be back in the lineup for Clinton until early July at the soonest.

As a result of the injuries, Morban hasn't ever gotten into the kind of groove he'd like, and the result has been a .241/.287/.353 line in 204 plate appearances this year.

MARINADE

• Lefthander Maurico Robles, who had surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow, is back, having made a start for high Class A High Desert. Robles, who finished 2010 at Triple-A Tacoma, could move up quickly if he proves healthy and effective.

• After Dustin Ackley got called up to the big leagues, the Mariners promoted second baseman Kyle Seager to Triple-A Tacoma and shortstop Nick Franklin to Double-A Jackson.