Given the Seattle Mariners are likely to go young in 2011, no matter what else general manager Jack Zduriencik can pull off this winter, it seemed a good time to ask minor league director Pedro Grifol about which prospects in the farm system are closest to big-league ready.
Grifol and his right-hand man, Roger Hansen, laid it out position-by-position.
These aren't necessarily the best players on the farm, they're the closest to making the bit-league team. And they come with an asterisk: every minor league director can talk about all the almost-ready talent in his system. If he couldn't, he wouldn't be employed long.
Still, the story is intriguing. No surprise in the names like Justin Smoak or Adam Moore - they're assumed to have spots on the team in 2011. But as Grifol and Hansen point out, both those players need to step up and perform, or they'll go from prospects to suspects quickly.
One of the areas the farm system could impact soonest is the bullpen -with the arms of Josh Lueke, Dan Cortes and lefty Cesar Jimenez. All three could make the team.
So could second baseman Dustin Ackley, though he probably won't.
Take a look at the story for all the positions and players. Which prospect is closest today? Starting pitcher Michael Pineda.