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1. Felix Hernandez – RHP
After virtually being made a Mariner for the rest of his career with the inking of his 7-year/$175 million extension, the city of Seattle rejoiced. Countless numbers of teams from the northeast pursued him, offering king’s ransoms and the promise of prospect after prospect, yet the Mariners stuck by their man. With his fifth straight season of 200 strikeouts notched under his belt, the Venezuelan native knows that he is tasked with acing a staff that has no true #2 starter behind him. While his innings load has approached the mid-200’s every season since 2009, Hernandez is approaching the prime of his career, so there is no reason to believe that “King Felix” won’t be able to keep his court in session.
While jockeying with the Angels for third place certainly isn’t where Mariners fans want their focus to be in September, the future isn’t far off. The Mariners top prospects are as good as any other teams in the bigs and for a mid-market team to win; building from the bottom up is a necessity. It may not be too long before we see a winning ballclub inhabiting Safeco Field.