The Seattle Mariners were already shallow in the starting rotation, and that was before it was announced that Hisashi Iwakuma would miss the beginning of the season with a finger injury. Somebody besides ace Felix Hernandez is going to have to step up and give the Mariners a great performance out of the rotation this season if they expect to be competitive. The most likely candidate to be that pitcher is 21-year-old righty Taijuan Walker.
Walker is easily one of the ten best prospects in all of baseball and arguably the single best pitching prospect in the game. With the injury to Iwakuma, aside from Hernandez, the Mariners’ rotation will now be completely up for grabs in Spring Training. Walker will be one of many pitchers fighting for a spot in the rotation, and with his huge upside, Seattle certainly hopes he grabs one of those spots.
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing 210-pounds, Walker has impressive athleticism and a very live arm. His fastball sits in the low to mid 90s, but he can reach as high as 98. He introduced a cutter last season that turned out to be a great pitch, and while his curveball is in consistent, it shows flashes of brilliance. Control is the key for Walker as he has the tendency to get wild at times.
Walker will be involved in a huge competition for the rotation in Spring Training, battling with Scott Baker, Blake Beavan, Brandon Maurer, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton and Hector Noesi for a chance to start for the Mariners. As far as pure talent goes, none of these guys can even compare to Walker. He has legitimate front of the rotation stuff. If Walker can consistently control his pitches, nothing will hold him back from having a Rookie of the Year caliber 2014 season.