Yesterday at Citi Field, the 2013 Futures Game took place. On display were all of the finest minor league talents from organizations around the league. The Mariners happened to have two representatives. Tacoma SP Taijuan Walker represented the US team, while Jackson first baseman Ji-Man Choi played for the World team.
Of the two, Walker is certainly the most vaunted prospect, and he showed why in his only inning of work, the second frame. Walker looked dominant on the hill, and he’s certainly quite an imposing figure. He faced four batters, threw 17 pitches, nine for strikes, walked one and gave up no hits. He looked, by all accounts, like a stud.
Choi entered the game as a defensive replacement and had two at bats, lining out once and striking out looking the second time. During his second at-bat, he had the chance to give his team the lead with two on and one out in the ninth. He just missed a 2-1 fastball and got really angry at himself over it. Then he took strike three on a pitch that was probably low and outside. As a prospect who’s only hitting .235 at Jackson right now, the M’s would be lucky to see him by 2015, if at all.
The most compelling part of the game was all of the attention Walker was getting from the ESPN announcers. At the top of the show, Adnan Virk asked Aaron Boone to discuss one pitcher and one hitter he was looking forward to seeing. Out of all the pitchers in the game, Boone talked about Walker. Later in the game, they interviewed Howard Johnson, former Met and assitant coach for the World team who also serves as the hitting coach for Tacoma. He’s the HITTING coach, and half of the questions the asked him were about Walker.
But possibly the craziest part about it all was the line of questioning repeated a few times throughout the broadcast that suggested Walker is one or two starts away from debuting in Seattle. Ummm, that’s news to me. The guy is still 20 after all. Boone said he was one or two starts away, and the guy interviewing Johnson (I think it was Keith Law) said Walker could be up by August. After the game, Jim Bowden tweeted that the Mariners will have three No. 1 starters in their rotation next year with Walker, Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma. Can you feel the Walker hype already!?