Mariners' trio of top arms headed to Double-A

Mariners' trio of top arms headed to Double-A

Mariners' trio of top arms headed to Double-A
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Top pitching prospects Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker will open the 2012 season in Double-A Jackson, as the Mariners kept the talented trio together after a strong showing in their first Major League camp this spring.

The Mariners announced their Minor League rosters on Wednesday, and there should be plenty of interest in the Southern League team in Jackson, Tenn., given that the team also will include top shortstop prospect Nick Franklin, third baseman Francisco Martinez and outfielders Chih-Hsien Chiang and Johermyn Chavez.

The Mariners are bullish on their young talent and will also have plenty of players to watch in Triple-A Tacoma, including third baseman Vinnie Catricala, last year's Minor League Player of the Year.

where to watch
A look at where the Mariners' Top 20 prospects are starting the 2012 season:
No. Player Club Level
1 Jesus Montero Seattle MLB
2 Danny Hultzen Jackson AA
3 Taijuan Walker Jackson AA
4 Nick Franklin Jackson AA
5 James Paxton Jackson AA
6 Vinnie Catricala Tacoma AAA
7 Francisco Martinez Jackson AA
8 Brad Miller High Desert A+
9 Carter Capps Jackson AA
10 Stephen Pryor Jackson AA
11 Phillips Castillo Pulaski R
12 Jordan Shipers Clinton A
13 Erasmo Ramirez Seattle MLB
14 Jabari Blash Clinton A
15 Forrest Snow Tacoma AAA
16 Brandon Maurer Jackson AA
17 Jack Marder High Desert A+
18 Johermyn Chavez Jackson AA
19 Guillermo Pimentel Clinton A
20 Chih Hsien Chiang Jackson AA
Click here for the complete Top 20 list on Prospect Watch.

Nine of the Tacoma players spent time with the Major League club last year -- pitchers Charlie Furbush, Cesar Jimenez, Shawn Kelley, Chance Ruffin and Anthony Vasquez, infielder Luis Rodriguez and outfielders Carlos Peguero, Trayvon Robinson and Mike Wilson.

The Rainiers will also include former Mets starter Oliver Perez, looking to make a comeback as a left-handed reliever, as well as promising bullpen prospect Forrest Snow and highly regarded shortstop Carlos Triunfel.

Class-A teams in High Desert and Clinton will also begin their seasons on Thursday, which is Opening Day across Minor League Baseball.

You can keep track of the Mariners top prospects throughout the season on Prospect Watch. And get scores, stats, news, schedules, tickets and more for all of the Mariners' Minor League teams on the Mariners' affiliates page.

Stacked squads
Jackson has not only the talented pitching trio of Hultzen, Walker and Paxton, but top shortstop prospect Franklin also returns to the Double-A squad after playing 21 games there in the second half last season, before getting injured.

Martinez and Chiang, two top prospects acquired in Trade Deadline deals last July, also will be in Jackson. The Class-A Clinton team includes highly regarded outfielders Jabari Blash and Guillermo Pimentel, as well as young catcher Steven Baron.

Debuts and Draftees
Hultzen will be making his pro debut in Jackson, having only pitched in the Arizona Fall League since being drafted with the No. 2 overall pick out of Virginia. Second-round Draft pick Brad Miller, a shortstop out of Clemson, will open in Class A High Desert. Right-handed pitcher Carter Capps (3rd round) and catcher John Hicks (4th) are both at Jackson.

Teams on TV
The Tacoma Rainiers are among a growing number of teams whose games are available on MiLB.TV. The 2012 MiLB.TV package will include more than 2,500 Minor League games streamed live, as well as games archived for on-demand streaming soon after completion.

That will give fans a chance to keep up with Catricala, Triunfel, Robinson, Peguero and the host of Mariners prospects waiting in the wings in what figures to be an intriguing 2012 season throughout the Minor League system.

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.