The two big question marks..
Taijuan Walker & James Paxton
These two young men have a tremendous amount of talent. They may possibly represent the future of Mariners pitching. Basing on how this offseason has played out, the future is now.We are all expecting that these two will fill in the spots at either 3, 4, or 5.
Taijuan Walker is one of the most promising prospects in baseball. Last year he was the youngest pitcher in Mariners history to win his debut versus the Houston Astros, pitching five innings giving up just one earned run on two hits.
He looks anything but 21 years old, standing at 6’4″ with a 210 pound frame. He has a vast arsenal at his right side consisting of a mid 90’s fastball as his go to, a plus cutter in the low 90’s, and a pretty nasty curve ball honed in around the mid 70’s. Not to mention the better-than-the-average change up. Expect the occasional growing pains but he will blossom this year.
James Paxton‘s story is an intriguing one. He has a similar frame to Taijuan, standing at about 6’4″, but does not seem to have near the same athleticism as Walker. My hope is that James picks up where he left off last year but unfortunately I am basing much of my optimism off just the four starts he made last season.
I want to wait and find out what Spring Training and the first month of the season show us, then I will decide if he is the real deal. I felt the same way about Brandon Maurer last year after Spring Training and look what happened.
Paxton’s first start came against one of the better offensive ball clubs in the majors, the Tampa Bay Rays. He was able to hold them to one earned run on four hits (including a two-run shot by Evan Longoria), logging three strikeouts.
His best start came against the Kansas City Royals on September 24th. He threw seven shutout innings with 10 strikeouts showing just how dominant he can be when he is on top of his pitch command. I wondered how “into” that game the Royals were though knowing the season was already over. Paxton last year should have finished 4-0 but a no decision came against the Detroit Tigers on September 19th.