Mel Stottlemyre may not be working with the Mariners best Arizona Fall League pitcher, Dylan Unsworth, just yet, but soon the pair will join forces if the right-handed, South African continues to shine going forward.
Unsworth has been a force to be reckoned with in the minor leagues for five years now, but 2016 has been his true coming-out-party. This past season, Unsworth dazzled with the Mariners double-A affiliate, the Jackson Generals.
Playing alongside Tyler O’Neill and Edwin Diaz made it hard to stand out, but while Diaz was getting called up to the Mariners from the Generals and O’Neill was putting together an MVP year, Unsworth was quietly having a dominant all-star worthy campaign, that would earn him a selection in the All-Star Futures Game.
He would finish the AA season with an astonishing ERA of 1.16 over nine games, surprisingly only awarding him with three decision wins and even one loss.
Unsworth was so in control of his craft, though, that after his shaky season debut where he allowed three men to score on him, he would regroup and not give up that many runs in any start the rest of the year. Furthermore, he only surrendered multiple runs in two of his final eight games.
During that span, Unsworth would have one particularly remarkable game in early May where he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He would finish that night pitching seven innings of two-hit, scoreless baseball.
Much like O’Neill, Unsworth was ready to take his talents to Arizona for the Fall League season, and he made sure not to disappoint in the Grand Canyon state.
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In the shortened season, Unsworth started just six games, but he played well in all of them. He continued his eight-game streak of allowing no more than two runs, bringing his end of the year total to fourteen games.
His ERA took a bit of a hit compared to double-AA ball -it would finish at 3.00- yet it didn’t affect his record, which went down in the books as a very respectable, 4-1 to cap off an amazing year for the right-hander.
Unsworth will have a moment to rest this off-season, as he (and his nation) did not qualify for the World Baseball Classic. Perhaps in this time he will prepare a plan to creep his way into the Mariners early season roster in 2017.
And, If he can prove himself in the months leading up to the spring games, the Mariners could surely use Unsworth, a reliable and skillful starter in the minors, to complete their rotation at the major league level.