Spring Training Notes: Mariners Bats by Mike Newman March 15, 2013 In addition to scouting a trio of young Mariners pitching prospects, a number of top position prospects also made the trip to Goodyear Stadium. Nick Franklin batted second and played shortstop alongside Brad Miller. Franklin struggled at the plate and in the field as he failed to make hard contact and booted two balls on the infield. On one play a few steps to his right, Franklin attempted a back hand, but choppy footwork left him in poor position to make the play. The ball ricocheted off his glove and into shallow left field. His second error was on a ball a step to his left. Instead of fielding the ball in front of him, he ole’d it off his side and it bounced off his palm and into centerfield. In 2012, a leaner Franklin failed to impress defensively as a member of the Jackson Generals. With the added size of an off-season regimen filled with 6,000 calorie days and time in the weight room, it’s even more difficult to project Franklin as a shortstop at the Major League level. Brad Miller manned the hot corner, with former third base prospect Francisco Martinez working exclusively in center field now. Untested in the field, Miller rolled over on inside pitches in multiple at bats resulting in weak ground balls to the right side. In left field, Vincent Catricala misplayed multiple balls. On a shallow pop up, Franklin was forced to make an over the shoulder catch as the left fielder meandered to the ball hoping to be called off. On a deep fly ball to left-center field, Catricala took a poor route and slowed as his focus shifted from the ball in play to the center fielder converging on the ball. An extra step would have helped Catricala as the ball bounced off of his glove and rolled along the warning track. Defensively, Catricala’s future home is to be determined, but left field is unlikely to be it. At the plate, he rolled over on multiple fastballs resulting ground balls to shortstop. Catrical presented as stiff at the plate, although has hands were quick through the strike zone. Julio Morban was the most impressive Mariners prospects offensively. With two singles to left-center field, he showed an innate ability to stay back on fastballs on the outer half. Not only does he have quick hands, but the bat head lingers in the zone hinting at an advanced feel for contact. The right-fielder attacked pitches early in counts every at bat. This included flailing at a couple of sliders low and out which left me with the impression he’d have to tighten his approach at the upper levels. John Hicks served as the designated hitter. With the perfect catcher’s frame, he makes a great first impression. At the plate, he hit a fly ball to center field for an out and single to right off of an 87 mph Matt Capps fastball. The fly ball to center was interesting because backspin created enough loft to nearly burn Francisco Martinez. As for Martinez, he continues to underwhelm. His frame has really filled out from last season. If he’s successful in center field, maybe he recovers a bit of lost value. However I’ve now seen more than a dozen plate appearances by Martinez without a hard hit ball to speak of. 18-year old Timmy Lopes also made an appearance and singled up the middle in his first at bat. Lopes is undersized, but has tools and an advanced idea of what he’s trying to accomplish at the plate. To stumble upon an embarrassment of prospect riches on day one has set the bar high for the remainder of this trip.