Mariners’ general manager, Jack Zdurienzik and Co. has turned the organization’s farm system around from one of the weakest systems in 2008 into one of the deepest systems in the major leagues today. One of the main ingredients to the depth of the system has been top-notch pitching prospects. Over the last couple seasons, the Mariners have had arguably the best trio of pitching prospects in the game in Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, and James Paxton. All three were acquired via the draft over the last few years and are all close to making an impact at the next level.
Taijuan Walker separates himself as the top prospect of the trio. The young right-handed pitcher has true ace potential and is one of the best starting pitching prospects in the game. Danny Hultzen ranks behind Walker and of the big three; he is the closest to the majors and has a shot to break camp in the rotation with a strong spring. He had some command issues towards the end of last season but those should not be a major concern for the lefty as he was probably experiencing some fatigue, finishing out what was by far his longest professional season. He has one of the best changeups in the minor leagues and has the upside of a good number two starter. Paxton has similar upside but his stock took a bit of a hit last year as he really struggled with his command. The power lefty still has great promise though as he brings a mid-90s fastball with a hammer curveball. He has the most question marks of the big three and if his command doesn’t come around, he’ll most likely end up in the back of the bullpen. All three of these promising arms should open the season at Triple-A Tacoma and make their major league debut at some point in 2013.
After the big three, the system still has great depth in pitching prospects. Brandon Maurer has entered himself into what people are now calling “the big four” and some even prefer him to James Paxton. Maurer came out of nowhere last year and he has middle of the rotation potential, he should also open 2013 at Triple-A Tacoma. Victor Sanchez is another arm with mid-rotation potential and is a top 10 prospect in the system. He is only 18 but he has showed stuff beyond his years.
Become a Big Leagues Magazine subscriber to continue reading the rest of this article. Click the Subscribe Today! button below to learn more about our many subscription offers currently available.