By Nina Zimmerman on April 27, 2014
Though “King” Felix Hernandez anchors the Seattle Mariners’ rotation in the majors, Seattle’s minor league system is also loaded with a lot of deep pitching potential. Of the organization’s top 10 overall prospects, six of them are pitchers, with several close to or at the major league level, and others projected to debut within the next few years.
Here is a ranking of the Mariners’ top five pitching prospects.
Signed out of Venezuela in 2011, 19-year-old Victor Sanchez differs from other pitchers in the Mariners’ system in that he relies less on the speed of his pitches and more on his ability to consistently keep them down in the strike zone. Though on the seven-day DL right now, Sanchez made two starts earlier the season for Double A Jackson and had a 5.40 ERA in 10 innings pitched and one walk compared to eight strikeouts.
The Mariners are known for being aggressive on the international market, so it’s no surprise to see Luiz Gohara, a 17-year-old Brazilian lefty, in their system. Gohara will pitch in Rookie ball once that season starts, and features an above-average fastball and average curveball, along with a developing slider and great potential in his change-up.
A 2012 draft selection out of Puerto Rico, Edwin Diaz features an above-average fastball and average slider, and has made great strides in his command of both pitches in the past year or so. In four 2014 starts with Class A (full season), Diaz is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA, and has eight walks and 20 strikeouts.
After making his debut last year and starting the 2014 season in the Mariners’ rotation, James Paxton is currently on the DL with a strained lat muscle he hurt in the second week of the season. His loss was huge for the team; in two starts, Paxton was 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. Paxton’s above-average fastball and curve mean that he has the potential to develop into a strong starter after he recovers from the injury.
Ranked as the sixth-best overall prospect in baseball, Taijuan Walker suffered from shoulder soreness in Spring Training and has been slowly progressing back since then. He made two rehab starts, in Class A Advanced and Double A, going a combined 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA and 0.96 WHIP before suffering a setback. Walker made his debt last season and went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in three starts and will probably join the Seattle rotation when he returns.
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