The Seattle Mariners are set at the top of their rotation for the 2013 season. Felix Hernandez is the unquestioned ace of the staff and free agent acquisition Joe Saunders lines up as the No. 2. Behind them, Hisashi Iwakuma is in line for No. 3 spot in the rotation which leaves the back end up for grabs this spring. Seattle should turn one of those spots over to Brandon Maurer.
Maurer hasn’t been considered as one of Seattle’s top pitching prospects (that remains the “Big Three” of Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton), but he has shown this spring that he’s ready to make the next step to the major leagues. He’s shown excellent poise and great stuff over a couple of outings this spring, making a strong case to be counted among the best pitching prospects Seattle has.
He’s been using a low to mid-90s fastball along with a plus slider that has excellent tilt to it along with a hard-fading changeup that he has been able to use effectively. He’s had trouble locating his curveball effectively, though, but has worked around that with his other pitches. He can lock up righties with regularity using that cruel slider of his.
There’s been concerns about Maurer’s health in his short career, however, as 2012 was the first time that he topped 80 innings over a full season. He’s had elbow and shoulder issues since being signed by Seattle back in 2008, but he seems to be putting that behind him as he continues a strong 2012 campaign this spring.
Seattle would like to keep their “Big Three” in the minors for at least a little bit longer to get them more seasoning before throwing them in the deep end with the big league club. Maurer’s emergence this spring would allow them to protect their high-ceiling arms while getting solid production from the back end of their rotation.
The 22-year-old Maurer is proving this spring that he is ready to take the hill in the big leagues. With Seattle picking between him and some aged veterans in camp on minor league contracts (Jeremy Bonderman and Jon Garland), the Mariners should turn things over to the young arm of Maurer.