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Wedge: Mariners' increase in talent 'dramatic'

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Eric Wedge got his first full look at the 32 pitchers in camp with the Mariners on Wednesday and wasted no time noting how much the talent level has improved since his arrival in Seattle in 2011.

"I don't know if I can put it into words, it's that dramatic," Wedge said. "If you look at all the pitchers we have in camp here and even all the position players, the 61 guys we've got now vs. where we were a couple years ago, it's off-the-charts different. It's as dramatic as anything I've seen in a couple years' time."

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Wedge is bullish on the young prospects coming up in the system, but also appreciates that a couple veteran pitchers have been added to the mix in Joe Saunders and non-roster invitees Jon Garland and Jeremy Bonderman. That means youngsters like Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Brandon Maurer can be given time to develop at their own pace.

Wedge wouldn't hazard a guess on the rotation right now, beyond the obvious.

"It's too early to tell," he said. "We'll just leave it at Felix [Hernandez] right now. We've got [Hisashi] Iwakuma and Saunders. Beyond that, we've got a lot of competition. We've got some solid options, whether it be veteran guys or some of the younger kids we have in camp. There are 15 starting pitchers in camp we have to see and look at, so that's pretty extreme."

Garland, coming back from shoulder surgery, was one of 15 pitchers who threw 10-minute bullpen sessions Wednesday. The other half of the pitchers will throw Thursday.

"He looked good," Wedge said. "Free and easy. He's got a great pitcher's body, the guy knows how to pitch and compete and get big league hitters out. He looked good and healthy today."

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