Those who make a living predicting the future in baseball seem certain the Seattle Mariners have pitching waiting just off stage in their farm system, but it's been so long since the team has produced a bat - other than Dustin Ackley - the topic rarely comes up.
It's possible a transition is coming.
No one seems to doubt the futures of Dan Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, and there's plenty of buzz in camp about Erasmo Ramirez and Forrest Snow, too. For the first time in years, however, there's also keen interest in some young Mariners hitters.
At third base, for instance, the team has Vinnie Catricala, the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year, and Francisco Martinez, who had a solid year in AA last season. And up the middle there's Carlos Truinfel, who's still only 21, and Nick Franklin, whose favorable skillset was overshawdowed in 2011 by illness and injjury.
Will any of them make the team out of spring training? Only as extreme dark horse candidates. And the cupboard at catcher and the outfield seems full of names that wouldn't excite the electorate - Adam Moore, Mike Wilson, Carlos Peguero.
The point? There seems at last to be at least a pulse beyond Ackley and Kyle Seager, two home-grown prospects, and newly acquired Jesus Montero. Every player mentioned could miss - for that matter, so could a few pitchers.
Still, there's no reason to assume all will. A year ago, Mike Carp's future wasn't that bright in Seattle, no one expected Tom Wilhelmsen, Steve Delabar, Chance Ruffin or Casper Wells to be Mariners, either.
Watching the young position players is, at the least, more fun this spring than in recent years. If we knew how well that was going to translate, we'd have one of those cool jobs predicting the future in baseball.