Seattle Mariner fans are accustomed to hearing the names of Danny Hultzen, the number two rated left-handed pitcher in all of baseball; James Paxton the number 8th right-handed pitching prospect; and Taijuan Walker the number two rated right-handed pitcher. Trader Jack is holding these three young aces, possibly looking for a fourth to strengthen his hand.
One 22-year old pitcher that does get much ink is Brandon Maurer, but the M’s have been talking about him.
A look at his minor league record does not impress. 16-17 win-loss record and career 3.65 ERA. But what has gotten Maurer the attention and a spot on the protected 40 man roster is his performance last season at Jackson, the AA minor league team filled with stars. He was 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA. In 138 innings he struck out 117 and walked 48. He made a huge jump from a mediocre 2011 between Clinton and High Desert. In fact his ERA at High Desert was +6.
But the numbers a player has put up in the minor leagues does not tell what scouts look at. Many minor leaguers put up big numbers only to fall like Humpty Dumpty in the Majors. Others do better in the Majors than the Minors.
Maurer made improvement. That is what Mariner scouts saw. He should get a promotion to Tacoma for the 2013 season. It is possible that if any of the Big Three pitching prospects do not get traded, or make the Mariner rotation (which is a possibility), the Rainiers, a short drive down I-5, could have a rotation of Hultzen, Paxson, Walker, and Maurer. That could be the best rotation in all of Minor League baseball.
That would be the perfect situation for the Mariners. The Pacific Coast League is a hitters league. If Blake Beaven, Hector Noesi, or Iwakuma, or anyone else falters-except Felix-the Mariners have four top prospects to choose from.
But there have been rumors the Mariners are currently talking a trade for an offensive player. If a trade goes through, one of those four pitchers may be gone.
For the Mariners, as for all teams, you never have enough pitching. Tacoma could have a better starting staff than Seattle. Is that enough?