Top Prospects: Brad Miller, SS, Mariners

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Brad Miller understands his time may be limited in Mariners camp going forward, but the young infielder wants to make the most of every opportunity this spring. So going 2-for-4 with a home run and double in Tuesday's 5-4 loss to the D-backs certainly registered on his Richter scale.

"That was fun," said Miller, the Mariners' second-round Draft pick out of Clemson in 2011. "A lot of fun. A whole lot of fun."

Miller, ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect, has received a good look from the Mariners in the first few weeks of Spring Training. Going into Wednesday's game, the 23-year-old was tied with Justin Smoak for the second-most Cactus League at-bats on the team, one behind Carlos Peguero's 30.

"It's been awesome," Miller said. "One, just getting to be around everybody for the full time. Last year I got to come over a couple times to sit on the bench, but just being around everybody and trying to pick up everything from all the guys has been great. And just getting a lot of action, too, getting out there to play and trying to take advantage of that opportunity."

Though Miller was drafted as a shortstop and played there exclusively last year when splitting his first full season of pro ball between Class A High Desert and Double-A Jackson, he's seen time at second and third base this spring as well.

"I've always definitely practiced at different spots," said the Florida native. "But that was some of my first real game action at third and second, so it's been cool. It makes you better everywhere. It really does. They talked about wanting me to try out at different spots, so that's been perfect."

Miller has been solid this spring, but hadn't hit much in games until his Tuesday outburst, which raised his Cactus League average to .241 (7-for-29). He didn't take much time to enjoy his first home run, sprinting out of the box so fast that he was halfway around the bases before realizing the ball was over the wall.

"I was hauling," he said with a grin. "Off the bat, I thought, 'Get over his head, get over his head.' Then I saw him back off the wall and I'm like, 'OK, he's playing the bounce off the wall. I'm going three.' Then I saw the umpire or heard the fans or something and I was, 'OK, I'll take that.' I was already at second. It felt good to put a good swing on it and get after a ball."

Manager Eric Wedge appreciates Miller's all-out approach and definitely has taken notice of the youngster this camp.

"He's a good young player," Wedge said. "He's a heady player. The ball jumps off his bat. He's able to hang in there good against left-handers. And as you've seen, we've played him at second, short and third. He's young, but very mature for his age, both on and off the field."

Hultzen posts scoreless inning in return

Top Prospects: Danny Hultzen, LHP, Mariners

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Pitching for the first time in two weeks after dealing with a minor hip strain, top Mariners left-handed prospect Danny Hultzen threw a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday in Seattle's 4-2 loss to the Royals.

Hultzen, ranked by MLB.com as the Mariners' No. 2 overall prospect, gave up a leadoff double to Lorenzo Cain after replacing starter Hisashi Iwakuma in the fifth inning, but stranded the speedster at third by retiring the next three batters.

Hultzen, 23, said he still can't full-out sprint, but that's not a problem since he's not running the bases. His job is to prevent the opposition from doing so. And after the leadoff double, he settled in nicely in that regard.

"It was good to be out there again," he said after having his last start scratched because of the hip soreness. "I'm past that and hopefully it doesn't come back. I'll just keep doing some preventative work to make sure it doesn't happen again, but it felt good today."

Hultzen, the second overall selection in the 2011 Draft, said he hung an 0-2 curve up where Cain could reach it, a quick reminder that he was facing Major League batters again.

"I made a mistake and he hammered it," Hultzen said. "That's what good hitters do. At this level, you're going to face a lot more good hitters. I tried to not dwell on it, just because in recent history I've been thinking about things too much and not just moving on. So I tried to do that, just forget about it and keep making pitches."

He needed just 12 pitches to get through his inning and hopes to get a chance to throw a lot more in the next few weeks, knowing he's fallen behind with just four innings of Cactus League work. He's yet to allow a run and has given up just two hits in those four innings, but knows he needs to get back up to speed quickly.

"You can't impress anyone on the bench," he said. "I just hope I get a couple more chances and keep going. I missed a few days, but hopefully it didn't affect anything and I can get back in stride with these guys that are up to 4-5 innings."

"We'll work him back," said manager Eric Wedge. "We wanted to just get him one inning today and we'll see how he feels tomorrow. But he said he felt good and he obviously looked good."

Plenty of action on deck for Mariners pitchers

Mariners planning to contend in American League West

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners will get plenty of action for their pitching staff on Thursday and Friday, with two games scheduled both days before the schedule goes back to normal for the final two weeks of Cactus League play.

The Mariners added a "B" game to Thursday's slate so they could get more innings to look at some of their younger arms. James Paxton and Taijuan Walker will each throw three frames against the Indians in the 10 a.m. PT exhibition game at Goodyear.

Joe Saunders makes his second Cactus League start in the 1:05 p.m. game against the Reds in Peoria Stadium, with the veteran lefty scheduled to throw four innings. Brandon Maurer, the 22-year-old right-hander making a strong showing this spring, is scheduled to follow and throw four frames of his own.

Then on Friday, the Mariners have both their normal Cactus League action against the Angels in Tempe at 1:05 p.m, as well as a World Baseball Classic exhibition against The Netherlands at 7:05 p.m. in Peoria.

Jeremy Bonderman is scheduled to throw the first four innings against the Angels, followed by three innings from Andrew Carraway.

Jon Garland is targeted to start against The Netherlands and throw four innings, with relievers Lucas Luetge, Stephen Pryor and Tom Wilhelmsen to follow.

Both Bonderman and Garland are veteran right-handers trying to make the club as non-roster invitees on Minor League deals as they return from injury issues. Garland has allowed one earned run and five hits in six innings over his first three outings, while Bonderman has given up six runs and eight hits in his own six innings of work.

Worth noting

• Outfielder Casper Wells was not in the lineup for a fourth straight game on Wednesday as he continues recovering from a stiff neck.

• Due to a conflict with the Pac-12 basketball tournament's game between Washington and Washington State, Wednesday's 1:05 p.m. PT game with the Royals was broadcast live on 710 ESPN Seattle instead of on a tape delay as originally scheduled.

There is also the potential for a change to Thursday's game vs. the Reds to be a live broadcast depending on the outcome of the UW-WSU game. On Friday, 710 ESPN Seattle will carry the Classic exhibition against The Netherlands live at 7:05 p.m. PT.