Tuesday, March 22, 2016 / 13 Days ’til Opening Day (April 4 at Texas Rangers)
Tuesday was the club’s first off day of the spring. For the pitchers and catchers, it was the first day off since Feb. 19; first day off since Feb. 25 for the balance of the staff. (Scott Servais and the coaching staff was in a few days before the pitchers).
Nearly everyone took the day off. The exceptions? James Paxton (see below) was the lucky winner of the annual “who is scheduled to throw on the off day” lottery, so he came in. With Paxton pitching in a AAA game, Scott Servais and Mel Stottlemyre were in the house, as well.
James Paxton vs. the Knights
James Paxton was the starting pitcher for the AAA squad today, as Tacoma hosted the White Sox AAA affiliate, the Charlotte Knights. Coincidentally, the Langley Blaze from Langley, BC, were also playing a game on the practice fields today (against Seattle’s Rookie League team). Paxton pitching and a number of Canadian fans around led to a slightly larger than usual crowd on Field #1. Paxton worked 5.0 innings, allowing just a pair of solo homers (it’s fair to say the wind was blowing out). He allowed just 4 hits, walked 1 and struck out 8.
An interesting addition to the crowd of Langley Blaze supporters was Robinson Cano who also came in on his off day to support some of the young players in games today.
Photos of the Day
A group of kids from the Boys & Girls Club got a rare treat on Tuesday – the chance to play on the grass at Safeco Field with Robinson Canó.
The kids from Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club and Seattle Reviving Baseball in Innercities (RBI) program were invited to take part in the annual PLAY campaign designed to help kids establish healthy exercise and eating habits early in life.
PLAY stands for Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth. It’s a national public awareness campaign sponsored by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS), the Taylor Hooton Foundation and MLB Charities.
Canó was joined by teammates Charlie Furbush, Mark Lowe, James Paxton and Chris Taylor as well as members of the Mariners training staff to deliver a message about the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle, as well as making good decisions about things such as performance enhancing drugs.
Mark Lowe, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in his early 20s, told the kids that he didn’t let his medical condition prevent him from achieving his dream of becoming a Major League pitcher. Lowe, who has been managing his condition for the past 10-years, told the kids that they too can overcome obstacles if they stay positive.
The kids also got some good advice about steroids and performance enhancing drugs from Brian Parker of the Taylor Hooten Foundation. Hooton was a high school baseball player in Texas who took steroids to get bigger and stronger. Parker explained to the kids that although steroids can be therapeutic if you are sick, they can also have harmful effects on young, healthy bodies. He said steroids make all your muscles grow bigger, including the heart, which is dangerous. In addition, he said, performance enhancing drugs are illegal and they’re cheating.
After the presentations, the players were joined on field by three members of the Mariners training staff, Rick Griffin, Rob Nodine and Matt Thoth, who led the kids through a series of exercises – stretches and warmups, sprints and agility drills.
The New Year is upon us and Pitchers and Catchers report to Peoria, Arizona in a little over the month to kick off the 2015 season. To get you ready for baseball season, ROOT Sports begins its weekly Mariners Mondays show tonight from 7-10 pm (check your local listings).
The first installment of Mariners Mondays will focus on the 2014 season openers, both on the road in a 10-3 win over the Angels on March 31 and at home in a 5-3 win over the Angels on April 8 at Safeco Field.
In the 2014 opener, the Mariners fell behind early on a 2-run home run by Mike Trout in the first inning, but staged a comeback taking a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th inning. Seattle added 6 runs in the 9th inning to reach double-digits in a season opener for the third time in club history. Felix Hernandez made his 7th career Opening Day start, earning the win to improve to 5-0 with a 1.52 ERA all-time on Opening Day.
In the home opener on April 8, the Mariners improved to 5-2 in the young season with a 5-3 win over the Angels. Rookie southpaw James Paxton earned the win allowing 4 hits and 3 runs in 5.0 innings and designated hitter Corey Hart hit a pair of home runs going 2-for-4 with 4 RBI.
The next edition of Mariners Mondays will air next Monday (Jan. 12) from 7-10 pm. The episode will chronicle the Mariners historic three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in late August.
James Paxton had a fine rookie season with the Mariners, going 6-4 with a 3.04 ERA in 13 starts. In 17 career Major League starts, the left-hander is 9-4 with a 2.66 ERA.
A native of Ladner, British Columbia, Canada, Paxton was asked if he had any items from his rookie season he could donate to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Following the season, Paxton donated the mitt he used all season to be displayed at the museum in St. Marys, Ontario.
As you can see in the picture above, Paxton’s mitt is placed nicely next to a signed Mariners hat and game-used batting gloves from Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders, who is also a Canadian native from Victoria.
Mariners LHP James Paxton had a strong season debut last night, allowing only 2 hits and striking out 9 batters in 7.0 shutout innings vs. the Angels. If you combine his starts from the end of the 2013 season, James is now 4-0 with a 1.16 ERA (4 ER, 31.0 IP) with 30 strikeouts in his first 5 career starts. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that this is a pretty notable start to a career:
Here are some video highlights of his start last night:
Well, it is that time of year, when spring training is right around the corner and prospect rankings have hit the internet.
- Taijuan Walker – No. 2 right-handed pitcher
- D.J. Peterson – No. 8 third baseman
- Tyler Marlette – No. 10 catcher
MLB.com recently came out with their annual Top 100 Prospect Rankings with Walker (No. 6) and Peterson (No. 88) making the list. Here is an article by Mariners.com beat writer Greg Johns on Walker and Peterson.
And lastly, BaseballProspects.com published their annual Top 101 prospect list. Taijuan Walker was the highest rated pitching prospect checking in at No. 8 on the list. Third baseman D.J. Peterson (#65) and LHP James Paxton (#68) also made the list.
Tonight on Mariners Mondays on ROOT SPORTS looks back on pitcher James Paxton’s stellar introduction to the Major Leagues.
Paxton made his first Major League start on September 7, 2013 against the Tampa Bay Rays. He threw six strong innings, allowing just one earned run in the Mariners 6-2 win.
In his next start, on September 14, Paxton gave up just two hits and struck out five in six shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals, a game the Mariners went on to win 4-1.
10 days later, Paxton ran his record to 3-0 with seven dominant innings, including 10 strikeouts and no walks, in a 4-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Tonight’s edition of Mariners Mondays features highlights of these three games beginning at 7:30 pm, right after Mariners All-Access.
Mariners Mondays episodes will air on ROOT SPORTS during the offseason and Spring Training, building to the March 31 season opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
In 2012 the Mariners nine minor league affiliated put together one of the best seasons in club history, combing for a 496-406 (.550) record. The organization led all Major League farm systems in wins (496) and winning percentage (.550), while also setting a new record for most win in a single season my any organization. Various publications have rated the Mariners farm systems as one of the best in baseball.
The Mariners looks to continue their winning ways throughout the minor leagues as well as get players ready to make the jump to the Major League level. The Mariners triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers roster boasts four of the top five prospects in the Mariners farm system, as ranked by Baseball America. Catcher Mike Zunino (No. 1), pitchers Danny Hultzen (No. 3) and James Paxton (No. 4), and infielder Nick Franklin (No. 5) all sit atop BA’s list entering the 2013 season.
Catcher Mike Zunino is off to a hot start with Tacoma this season. In 6 games with the Rainiers, Zunino is batting .385 (10×26) with 7 runs, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs and 17 RBI. He currently leads the Minor Leagues with 17 RBI, T1st with 8 extra-base hits, while ranking as one of only 6 players in the Minor Leagues to have hit at least 4 home runs this season. The 2012 first round draft pick ranks 2nd in the PCL in extra-base hits (8) and slugging percentage (1.038), while ranking 3rd with 27 total bases. Zunino became the first Rainiers player since second baseman Dustin Ackley (7/15/10 at Reno) to have his first triple-A hit go for a home run on April 4 at Fresno.
LH Danny Hultzen has earned wins in each of his first two starts with the Rainiers, going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA (3 ER, 11.0 IP). He has limited opponents to a .167 (7×42) average, while walking 3 and striking out 14. His 14 strikeouts currently lead all Mariners farmhands, while ranking 3rd overall in the Pacific Coast League.
OF Eric Thames is one of 6 players in the PCL to hit safely in each of the first 8 games. He is currently batting .424 (14×33) with 5 runs scored, 1 double, 1 triple, 1 RBI, 1 stolen base and 4 walks. Thames ranks 11th in the league in average, and he is tied for the team lead with 4 multi-hit games.
The Rainiers open the home portion of their schedule tonight with a four-game series against the Salt Lake City Bees at Cheney Stadium. Tonight’s game starts at 7:05 p.m. PT with LH James Paxton (0-0, 4.50) making his 2nd career triple-A start and first at Cheney Stadium. Tacoma is currently 5-3 and trails Salt Lake by one game PCL Northern Division.
Well, the votes are in, and five Mariners have been named to the MLB.com Top 100 Prospects List. The impressive haul of Mariners includes three players listed in the top 25 and four in the top 50. Here are the Mariners named to the Top 100 list:
- RHP Taijuan Walker (#5)
- LHP Danny Hultzen (#18)
- C Mike Zunino (#23)
- INF Nick Franklin (#47)
- LHP James Paxton (#61)
And for the second consecutive season the Mariners organization received the most “Prospect Points”
Mariners pitchers Danny Hultzen and James Paxton have both been named among the top 5 left-handed pitching prospects heading into the 2013 season. Hultzen checked in at No. 2 on the list, while Paxton was No. 5 in the annual MLB.com Prospect Position Rankings.
Here is what MLB.com prospect guru Jonathan Mayo had to say about Hultzen and Paxton:
2. Danny Hultzen, Mariners: Hultzen signed an $8.5 million Major League contract after being picked second in the 2011 Draft by Seattle. Thought to be an advanced college pitcher who could move up quickly, he’s done just that, reaching Triple-A in his first season of pro ball. A 2012 Futures Game participant, the lefty out of the University of Virginia dominated in Double-A but then had serious control issues in Triple-A. If he can fix those problems – and he was known as a command guy coming out of college – his three-pitch mix should work nicely in the big leagues.
5. James Paxton, Mariners: Paxton was taken in the fourth round in the 2010 Draft by Seattle, though he didn’t sign until March 2011. He reached Double-A that season and spent all of 2012 at that level. A 2011 Futures Gamer and 2012 Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game participant, there has never been any question about the Canadian’s pure power stuff, especially his fastball and breaking ball. That’s allowed him to strike out more than 10.5 per nine innings in two years in the Minors. Some thought he might eventually end up in the bullpen, but an improved changeup and better command could make him a formidable starter.
Here is a video clip from MLB.com featuring Hultzen:
Hultzen and Paxton join RHP Taijuan Walker, who was listed as the No. 2 right-handed pitching prospect. The full list of positional prospect rankings and their release dates are below:
• Right-handed pitchers
• Left-handed pitchers
• Jan. 23 – Catchers
• Jan. 24 – Shortstops
• Jan. 25 – Third Basemen
• Jan. 26 – Second basemen
• Jan. 27 – First basemen
• Jan. 28 – Outfielders
• Jan. 29 – Top 100 Prospects