Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 3/15/12
Message from the future

Your patience will be rewarded

Disparaging fans were excited to see the trio of Mariners prize pitching prospects take the field this spring.

Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton delivered well on the expectations placed upon them.

However, much to the dismay of many, all three of these future stars were sent to the minor league camp over the weekend.  While everyone was looking to a pitching sensation to fill the role Michael Pineda played in 2011, cooler heads prevailed and did the right thing.

The main reason is experience.

No matter how well these guys did in spring training, they were simply not ready to join the big leagues.

Pitching professional ball is a whole lot different than college and independent leagues.  The schedule, the competitive edge, and the seasoned hitters are all things that the three youngsters need a chance to see firsthand.

Here is the situation on each of the three prospects:

Taijuan Walker (19) 1st Round Draft Pick (43rd overall) 2010

The youngest of the three also has the most experience in the Mariners farm system and it shows. While he only appeared in one official spring game where he pitched a hit-less inning and struck out two, he also worked in some of the intrasquad and “b” games as well.

Everything Walker has done has been impressive to say the least.

The Louisiana native shows impressive control and velocity, but the pitching coaches want to get some more film on him, to better determine his durability and mechanics.

The M’s also need to see how this young man will respond to pressure situations and a longer schedule that he would not have faced in the lower levels of the farm system.

The good thing about his age means he doesn’t need to be rushed, even if it is harder to wait for his start than for Christmas.

Danny Hultzen (22) 1st Round Draft Pick (2nd overall) 2011

Danny Hultzen was a surprise move on the M’s part as analysts assumed Seattle would use the draft to try and bolster their struggling offense.  However, those that followed Hultzen in college, through winter ball into the spring training have not doubted Jack Z’s instinct for an instant.

Hultzen is showing major league quality stuff in every outing.  Many fans are hoping that he will be the left handed version of Felix Hernandez.

Walker shows impressive control but pitching coaches want more film.

He may well be.

However, this 22 year old has yet to throw one pitch that actually makes a difference to the Mariners.  To think about putting him in a rotation without any minor league experience would be to ruin his potential.

Don’t expect to see him in Seattle until at least 2013 if not later.

James Paxton (23) 4th Round Draft Pick 2011

This former 1st rounder was picked up at a discount after a sordid past getting caught between the NCAA and infamous sports agent Scott Boras.

(Read Paxton’s biography here: NorthWest Athlete Profile: James Paxton)

Paxton walked into the M’s camp with the most potential for making the big league club, but due to the fact that he sat out most of the 2010 season and was benched early in 2011 the percentage of him starting the season with Seattle was probably in the single digits.

Paxton had a bit of a rough spring compared to the other two high profile prospects, but nothing overly concerning.  Paxton needs to stretch out his arm and get more starts before the M’s throw him into the starting rotation.

After all he only has played in 21 pro games, but in those games he has a combined 2.64 ERA a .583 winning percentage and 149 strike outs. 

Impressive stuff if it can translate to the show.

The M’s are doing the right thing in waiting for the future to arrive instead of trying to time travel there immediately.

Time travel always ends up resulting in mind blowing problems anyway.

Just ask Marty McFly.

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© Danny Ferguson for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: 2012, Cactus League, Danny Hultzen, Felix Hernandez, James Paxton, M's Baseball Blog, Mariners Blogs, Mariners pitching report, Mariners prospects, Marty McFly, Michael Pineda, NCAA baseball, Scott Boras, Seattle Mariners, Seattle pitching, Seattle Pitching Prospects, Spring Training, Tacoma pitching, Tacoma Rainiers, Taijuan Walker

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