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Seattle Mariners - PlayerWatch

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

2B Nick Franklin was back in the No. 2 hole Sunday after spending most of the second half of the season at or near the bottom of the order. He went 0-for-3 with a walk to finish off his rookie season with a .225 average after a promising start that followed his call-up in late May.

OF Dustin Ackley may have resurrected his career over the final couple months of the season, even though he's not exactly the player the Mariners expected to get when they used the No. 2 overall pick on him in the 2009 draft. Ackley was supposed to be Seattle's second baseman of the future but continually struggled at the plate before being demoted to Triple-A earlier this season. He then was moved to the outfield, and since a June recall, Ackley has started to show signs of being a consistent hitter -- thanks in part to a more aggressive approach at the plate. His future role appears to be as a utility man, which isn't necessarily the vision the Mariners had but is better than being simply a draft bust.

RHP Taijuan Walker was being handled with kid gloves when he opened the season at Double-A Jackson, but by midseason he was too good to hide away. After tearing up Double- and Triple-A, Walker got three September starts with the Mariners and gave every indication that he's ready for the big leagues. Pitching behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma will take a lot of the pressure off Walker whenever he does become a full-time member of the rotation, but it's safe to say he'll have plenty of eyes on his every move.

RHP Hisashi Iwakuma probably didn't want the season to end after the way he blew through the opposition in September. The 32-year-old starter gave up just three runs during the entire month, and all of them came in a Sept. 6 start against Tampa Bay. Iwakuma followed that outing with three consecutive starts that saw him pitch 23 consecutive scoreless innings -- he allowed just 11 total hits in the process. The Mariners' most successful starter this season, Iwakuma went 2-0 with a 0.76 ERA in September.

3B Kyle Seager is one of the rare examples of a homegrown Mariners product who used the 2013 season to cement his place as part of the future. Despite a rough September that saw his batting average drop 17 points to .260, Seager was one of the most dependable offensive players the Mariners had all season. He had a career-high 22 home runs and delivered some of the Mariners' most clutch hits of the season. He went 1-for-3 on Sunday, closing out the month of September with a .171 batting average.

SS Brad Miller singled on each of his first two at-bats Sunday, when he went 2-for-4. Over his final two games of the season, Miller went 4-for-8 with two home runs and five RBIs to finish his rookie year with a .265 batting average.

OF Abraham Almonte quietly emerged as a player to watch heading into the spring, thanks to a successful run that followed his Aug. 30 promotion. Almonte reached base safely in each of his first 18 games with the Mariners, and he finished the audition with a .264 batting average. Almonte also showed speed on the base paths and an impressive outfield arm, but he was also prone to mistakes during his short run in Seattle.

OF Raul Ibanez, 41, said he wants to play again next season, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll be back with the Mariners. A longtime fan favorite, Ibanez returned to Seattle under a one-year deal and quickly established himself as the team's best power hitter over the first half of 2013. But his numbers significantly faded down the stretch -- 24 of his 29 home runs came before the All-Star break -- as his age began to show. Ibanez hit .242 with 29 home runs and 65 RBIs for the Mariners, but his home-run production probably caught up to him in the long run. His age makes him better-suited to be a part-time player, but Ibanez seems to hit better in an everyday role. His 29 home runs match Ted Williams as the only players to hit that many during a season when they turned 41 years old. He went 0-for-4 in the season finale and remains seven hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Before his final at-bat of the season, Ibanez was given a standing ovation by a few thousand fans at Safeco Field -- just in case he didn't return.

RHP Erasmo Ramirez was uncharacteristically wild on Sunday afternoon, and it resulted in him being pulled before the end of the second inning. Ramirez walked four of the 11 batters he faced and never really found anything close to his A-game. He allowed four runs off three hits over 1 1/3 innings -- by far his shortest start of the season. It wasn't a great way to finish a 2013 season for a pitcher hoping to be back in the rotation next spring.

DH Kendrys Morales is the team's top offseason priority after leading the team in batting (.277) and RBIs (80) in 2013. The Mariners dealt for Morales even though he was entering the final year of his contract, and now it's time to make the big decision. He'll probably command a high price tag, but the Mariners have to weigh his importance against his lack of a position and his long-term future on a young team. The Mariners seem to want Morales back, but his interest appears unclear after overtures to sign him to an extension failed.

DH Jesus Montero had quite a fall from grace during the 2013 season, which was supposed to be his breakout campaign in Seattle. His audition as a full-time catcher went awry, and things got so bad that he completely lost his hitting stroke along the way. The former Yankees prospect who was acquired for RHP Michael Pineda was hitting .208 when he got demoted to Triple-A in late May, then he suffered a meniscus injury in his knee. Montero was then among the players receiving a 50-game suspension for being involved in the Biogenesis scandal, effectively ending his season. Once considered a cornerstone of the franchise, Montero is suddenly at a career crossroads.

RHP Hector Noesi looked like he might close out a frustrating 2013 season on a good note, but the reliever fell apart in the fifth inning of Sunday's season finale. After throwing 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball in relief of struggling starter Erasmo Ramirez, Noesi allowed the first four batters of the fifth inning to reach base. Three hits and a walk led to two runs, then replacement Bobby LaFromboise gave up a two-run single that left Noesi on the hook for four runs. After his 3 2/3-inning performance that included four hits and four earned runs, Noesi closed the book on a season that saw him go 0-1 with a 6.67 ERA.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130930/seattle-mariners-playerwatch