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Spring Training 2012: Mariners Look To Jesus Montero, Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak For Production

The Seattle Mariners have struggled over the last few seasons to score enough runs to win consistently. With limited funds to work with and a lack of production from veteran guys like Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez, the front office has made it a point to bolster the middle of their lineup with young talent. While there are still quite a few problems with the team, M's fans should at least be looking forward to an improved lineup on a nightly basis.

Seattle made a huge splash just about a month ago when they acquired catcher Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. Not only does it provide the team with a player capable of catching behind the plate, but it also gave them a legitimate cleanup hitter to provide protection for Dustin Ackley, who projects to hit third this upcoming season. Montero will likely be followed by Mike Carp and Justin Smoak, two other guys capable of providing power and driving in some runs.

It remains to be seen if Montero will be able to last behind the plate. Should he struggle in the early going, the Mariners could look to veteran catcher Miguel Olivo to serve as the starter as Montero becomes the DH.

Ichiro will continue to hit at the top of the order, although it remains to be seen what the club does with Chone Figgins, who had an incredibly awful season in 2011. It will likely be between Figgins and Kyle Seager for the third base job.

Regardless of who fills these other positions, Mariners fans need to remember this trio: Ackley, Montero and Smoak. These three are the future of the franchise, and the future may be here sooner than you think should they build off the strong campaigns they put together last year.

For more on the Mariners and to discuss the club heading into Spring Training, head on over to Lookout Landing.