On this week’s Mariners Mondays on ROOT SPORTS Taijuan Walker shows why he’s one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball.
On May 29, Walker turned in one of the best starts of his career with a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians. He gave up just two hits over eight innings, did not walk a batter and struck out eight for his first victory at Safeco Field. A two-run homer by outfielder Seth Smith was all the offense the Mariners would need to give Walker his second win of the season.
Two months later, Walker was even better as he tossed a one-hitter at Target Field for a 6-1 win over the Twins on July 31. It was his first complete game in 29 Major League starts and it was a crucial bounce-back for Walker, who had yielded 19 runs in his previous four starts. Nelson Cruz and Jesus Montero both homered to give the Mariners a 6-1 win. The game was also the Major League debut of Ketel Marte, who batted leadoff and played second.
Mariners Mondays airs every Monday night on ROOT SPORTS through March leading up to the season opener on Monday April 4 at Texas.
On this week’s Mariners Mondays on ROOT SPORTS two young Mariners pitchers deliver back-to-back shutouts.
Mike Montgomery gave the San Diego Padres “The Full Monty” on June 30 as he tossed a complete game, 5-0 win. He carried a no-hitter into the 7th and settled for a one-hitter after giving up a one-out ground rule double. It was Montgomery’s second consecutive shutout in only his sixth Big League start. With that feat, he joined such elite company as Randy Johnson, who did it three times with the Mariners, and Mark Langston, who did it twice.
The next night, July 1, Taijuan Walker matched Montgomery’s brilliance with his own one-hit wonder through six innings as the Mariners romped over the Padres 7-0. Walker matched Padres starter James Shields, who held the Mariners hitless through three and scoreless until the top of the 6th. Walker pitched through the 6th, and left with a 1-0 lead. That was all he would need for his seventh win, as Robinson Canó and Nelson Cruz led a nine hit attack on Shields and three members of the Padres bullpen.
Mariners Mondays airs every Monday night on ROOT SPORTS through March leading up to the season opener on Monday April 4 at Texas.
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.
Walker, widely considered the Mariners most promising pitching prospect, made his Major League debut August 30 against the Houston Astros. Pitching in front of about 40 family members, Walker did them proud. He did not allow an earned run over five innings, and with the help of Dustin Ackley’s career best four hits and four RBI, the Mariners topped the Astros 7-1. With that win, Walker became the youngest Mariners starting pitcher (21 years, 17 days) to pick up a victory in his Major League Debut.
Walker’s next start September 4, against the Kansas City Royals was a test of his abilities. He did not allow a hit over the first three innings, but gave up four runs in the fourth inning. Walker returned to the mound in the fifth for a 1-2-3 inning. The bullpen held the Royals long enough for Kendrys Morales to hit a two-run homer with two outs in the ninth for the Mariners 6-4 win.
Start number three came September 9, again against the Houston Astros, this time at Safeco Field. Walker was in control this time giving up two runs and striking out eight over five innings. On a closely monitored pitch-count, Walker yielded to the bullpen, who held onto the lead until the ninth inning when Danny Farquhar gave up four runs, giving the Astros a 6-4 win.
Walker was shut down for the season after his third start, leaving fans anxious to see what he can do in the 2014 season. Heading into Spring Training, Walker is tentatively slated to be a member of the Mariners starting rotation.
Mariners Mondays Episode 3 airs Monday, January 20, 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.
MLBPipeline.com’s 2014 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Thursday, Jan. 23, on MLB.com, as well as during a one-hour show on MLB Network airing at 7 pm PT. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball’s Top 10 prospects at each position.
The top 10 right-handed pitching prospects were announced today, and the Mariners Taijuan Walker is listed No. 2 on the list. Here is what MLB.com had to say about Taijuan:
Taijuan Walker, Mariners: Walker became the youngest Mariners pitcher to win his debut when he beat the Astros on Aug. 30, two weeks after he turned 21. More of a basketball star and shortstop early in his high school career, he has been a quick study on the mound. Of course, it helps that Walker is a supreme athlete with a mid-90s fastball, and his secondary pitches (cutter, changeup, curveball) are coming along.
Walker went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA (6 ER, 15.0 IP) in three starts with the Mariners last season as a 21-year-old. He was named the Mariners Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year after combining to go 9-10 with a 2.93 ERA and 160 strikeouts in 25 starts with AA Jackson and AAA Tacoma.
It is that time of year where the top prospect lists start to come out. Baseball Prospectus chimes in with their Mariners Top 10 this morning with an in-depth analysis of the Mariners Farm System. While the complete run-down is available only to subscribers (which is a great resource for baseball fans), here is the top 10 list and a peak at the detailed profiles of Taijuan Walker and D.J. Peterson. We’ll post additional prospect news/lists when Baseball America, MLB.com and any others publish their rankings.
Baseball Prospectus – Seattle Mariners Top 10 Prospects
by Jason Parks
The Top Ten
- RHP Taijuan Walker
- 1B D.J. Peterson
- LHP James Paxton
- RHP Victor Sanchez
- RHP Edwin Diaz
- LHP Luiz Gohara
- SS Chris Taylor
- LHP Tyler Pike
- C Tyler Marlette
- OF Gabriel Guerrero
1. Taijuan Walker
Height/Weight: 6’4” 210 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Yucaipa HS (Yucaipa, CA)
Previous Ranking: #1 (Org), #9 (Top 101)
2013 Stats: ERA 3.60 (15 IP, 11 H, 12 K, 4 BB) at major league level, 3.61 ERA (57.1 IP, 54 H, 64 K, 27 BB) at Triple-A Tacoma, 2.46 ERA (84 IP, 58 H, 96 K, 30 BB) at Double-A Jackson
The Tools: 7 FB; 7 CT; 5 CB; future 5 CH
What Happened in 2013: Walker started at the Double-A level and finished his season with three starts at the major-league level, displaying not only high-level stuff but also the necessary makeup to stand on a major-league mound as a 21-year-old.
Strengths: Electric fastball from easy release; works in the 94-96 range; can get more when he needs more; good movement to the arm side; cutter is a monster pitch; 89-93 with late horizontal movement to the glove side; curveball has big depth in the 73-76 range; average but effective offering; excellent pickoff move; big competitor.
Weaknesses: Command is below average; lacks plus projection; can work up in the zone too often; curveball has nice shape but can get soft; tendency to start it too high in the zone; will struggle to be effective unless it plays with sharper fastball command; changeup can get too firm; lacks quality fade.
Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 2 starter
Realistic Role: 7; no. 2 starter
Risk Factor/Injury History: Low risk; ready for majors
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: One of the top fantasy pitching prospects in the game, Walker has the type of arm that can help contribute strongly across all categories. I’m not sold that he’ll be someone who sits near the top of the league leaderboard in strikeouts, but there will be enough to go around (think around 190-200 at his peak).
The Year Ahead: Walker needs to refine his command and his secondary arsenal, but the fastball is a high-end major-league pitch, and the cutter can bail him out of situations. Oddly enough, the curve that received all the minor-league hype received the least amount of industry love, at least as far as major-league projection is concerned. Don’t rule out his changeup becoming a much better pitch than people are projecting; it doesn’t look good now, but he has feel for pitching and the power of the fastball will assist in the deceptive elements of the offering. I wouldn’t be shocked if it develops into a plus pitch down the line. Give it time.
Major league ETA: Debuted in 2013
2. D.J. Peterson
Height/Weight: 6’1” 190 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2013 draft, University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM)
Previous Ranking: NR
2013 Stats: .293/.346/.576 at Low-A Clinton (26 games), .312/.382/.532 at short-season Everett (29 games)
The Tools: 6 potential hit/power
What Happened in 2013: It’s a small sample, but Peterson did exactly what a polished college bat should do in the lower minors, which is slug .553 over two spots, including 13 home runs is 55 games.
Strengths: Natural hitter; easy to the ball; good extension; uses the entire field; shows plus power potential; doesn’t sell out for the tool; strength to lift the ball; arm is strong enough for third.
Weaknesses: Glove is below average at third; below-average range; likely home is across the diamond at first; has work ethic to improve at position, but the bat is the carrying tool; has to hit.
Overall Future Potential: 6; first-division third baseman
Realistic Role: 5; second-division first baseman
Risk Factor/Injury History: Moderate; difficult profile but good polish at present with plus projections on hit/power.
Bret Sayre’s Fantasy Take: The key with Peterson is how long he can maintain that 3B eligibility, even if his future eventually lies across the diamond. If his bat comes close to maxing out, that’s the difference between a stud at the hot corner and a back-end starter at first base. However, it’s a tough task to put up big power numbers as a right-handed bat at Safeco.
The Year Ahead: Peterson could be ready to move fast, possibly reaching Double-A by summer. The bat is his ticket to a first-division future, and the reports since he signed have been very positive; his bat-to-ball is very easy, and the power is already showing up in game action. He’s going to hit. The big question is: Will he become a 6/6 hit/power type or will he fall short of those projections? Falling short with the stick could come with an even bigger sting if he does in fact shift over to first at some point in the development process, a move that my sources seem to think is a likely outcome.
Major league ETA: 2015
For the rest of the rundown on the top 10, please visit BaseballProspectus.com.
A few quick updates before the Mariners open an 8-game, 10-day, 3-team homestand tonight vs. the Oakland Athletics…
- The Mariners had two draft picks, 2nd-rounder Austin Wilson and 13th-rounder Lachlan Fontaine, at the ballpark to sign their professional contracts. Wilson and Fontaine put on a power display during early batting practice, with both players hitting several home runs. Wilson will report to the Everett AquaSox and Fontaine to the Peoria Mariners to begin their pro careers. Good luck to both!
- Mariners top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker has been promoted to AAA Tacoma and is scheduled to make his first Triple-A start Tuesday vs. the Fresno Grizzlies at Cheney Stadium. Walker went 4-7 with a 2.46 ERA (23 ER, 84.0 IP) with 96 strikeouts in 14 starts for AA Jackson in the Southern League. Walker was the Mariners first selection (43rd overall) in the 2010 June Amateur Draft out of Yucaipa (CA) High School. In four minor league seasons he has combined to go 18-23 with a 3.46 ERA in 61 games/57 starts. He entered this season rated by MLB.com as the No. 5 prospect, and No. 2 pitching prospect.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that Danny Hultzen (out since late April with a rotator cuff strain) is scheduled to start and throw 5.0 innings for the Peoria Mariners tomorrow in the Arizona League. If all goes well, he could return to the Tacoma rotation following that. Pretty cool to think the Rainiers starting 5 could be Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker.
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”
Here is what MLB.com prospect guru Jonathan Mayo had to say about Walker.
Walker looks like one of the biggest steals of the 2010 Draft after being picked 43rd overall and signing for $800,000. He has a plus fastball that stays in the mid to upper 90s throughout games to go along with a plus curveball and an improving changeup. The 2012 Futures Gamer faded a bit in the second half of last season, but he still has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation type of starter.
Here is a breakdown of when MLB.com will list their top prospect lists prior to the start of spring training. Prior to the 2012 season the Mariners have five players listed amongst the MLB.com Top 100 (Jesus Montero – #12, Danny Hultzen – # 16, Taijuan Walker – #18, Nick Franklin – #52, James Paxton – #77). Walker moved up from his #8 listing to #2 this season as top RHP prospects.
Here is a look at the MLB.com schedule for prospect rankings by position:
• Right-handed pitchers
• Jan. 22 – 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
The Mariners nine minor league affiliates wrapped up the 2012 season putting together one of the best season in club history, combining for a 496-406 (.550) record. The organization led all Major League farm systems in wins and winning percentage, while setting a new record for most wins in a single season. This has led to optimism in the Mariners pipeline, as Seattle has one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Baseball America unveiled their annual Top 10 Prospects list ranking the top Mariners in the minor leagues.
Baseball America’s Top 10 Mariners Prospects:
1. Mike Zunino, c
2. Taijuan Walker, rhp
3. Danny Hultzen, lhp
4. James Paxton, lhp
5. Nick Franklin, ss/2b
6. Brandon Maurer, rhp
7. Carter Capps, rhp
8. Stefen Romero, 2b
9. Brad Miller, ss
10. Victor Sanchez, rhp
Catcher Mike Zunino, selected by the Mariners with the third overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player draft, quickly established himself as an offensive and defensive force and was ranked by Baseball America as the Mariners No. 1 prospect. In his first professional season, Zunino hit .360 (58×151) with 35 runs scored, 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 43 RBI in 44 combined between Short-A Everett and AA Jackson.
The Mariners had six pitchers ranked in the top 10, including five of the top seven prospects. For the second straight year, right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker (#2) was tabbed as the Mariners top pitching prospect. In only his third professional season, Walker, 20, was one of the youngest pitchers in the Southern League and was also named to the North Division All-Star Team. Left-handed pitchers Danny Hultzen (#3) and James Paxton (#4), joined right-handed pitchers Brandon Maurer (#6), Carter Capps (#7) and Victor Sanchez (#10) to round out the Mariners top pitching prospects. After being in the minor leagues less than a year, Capps made his Major League debut on Aug. 3, 2012 and became only the third player from the 2011 First-Year Players draft to make his ML debut. Hultzen, Maurer and Paxton each ranked amongst the Mariners organization leaders in wins, ERA and strikeouts, while Sanchez at age 17 was the youngest player in the top 10.
While the Mariners are known for their top pitching prospects, it was their offensive numbers that really stood out in 2012. Amongst all full-season minor league clubs, the Mariners affiliates finished in the top 5 in nearly every offensive category, including ranking first in hits, home runs, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Infielders Nick Franklin (#5), Stefen Romero (#8) and Brad Miller (#9) joined Zunino as the Mariners position players in the organizations top 10 rankings. Romero was named the Mariners Minor League Player of the Year after batting .352 (167×474) with 85 runs scored, 64 extra-base hits and 101 RBI in 116 games combined between High-A High Desert and AA Jackson. Franklin was recently named to the Arizona Fall League Top Prospect Team, while Miller ranked second amongst all Minor Leaguers with 186 hits.