While playoff contenders prepare for the postseason, teams like the Seattle Mariners must play out the rest of the year and hope that September call-ups can get some valuable experience for next season. For the fans, these prospects represent some level of intrigue. However, knowing that yet another season has gone by without a playoff appearance can be frustrating.
The Mariners have their share of exciting prospects in the farm system, but those players are at various levels of development. Translation? Most of them will not be making their way to Safeco Field in September. Still, there are a few names that could make an appearance. Here are three September call-ups for the Mariners that could impress down the stretch.
Is Taijuan Walker the savior of the franchise? There has certainly been enough hype surrounding the right-handed pitching prospect, who is currently throwing for Triple-A Tacoma.
The dilemma with Walker is that the Mariners are going to be hesitant about rushing their prized prospect. Walker has been solid (5-3, 3.61 ERA) but not dominant in Tacoma. That said, in his last two starts, Walker has given up one earned run in 11 innings of work while striking out 15.
As noted by Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times, Walker could take the place of Aaron Harang, who was designated for assignment:
Let the Taijuan Walker era begin?
In addition to Walker, there are two other pitchers that comprise the so-called “big 3” in the farm system. The team has not coined this term, but it caught on quickly when it became obvious that the Mariners had some talent in the minors.
Danny Hultzen is one of those pitchers, but he has struggled with injuries all season. Perhaps the most seasoned of the three is James Paxton, who has posted an 8-11 record and a 4.39 ERA at Triple-A Tacoma in 2013. These are certainly not dominant numbers, but they are a sign that Paxton may be ready to handle Major League opponents.
Paxton will turn 25 in November, which means that he is getting to that age where it is time to see what he can do. A September call-up may be appropriate if the Mariners are willing to gamble that two-thirds of the “big 3” are ready for an audition.
Who will play outfield for the Mariners in 2014? Good question.
Franklin Gutierrez is finally back, but he is an injury waiting to happen. Veterans Raul Ibanez and Michael Morse might not return. Michael Saunders and Dustin Ackley may not be long-term solutions in the expansive grass of Safeco Field.
Anyone else want to give it a shot?
Enter Abraham Almonte, who is putting together a rather impressive season in Tacoma. Through August 27, the 5’9” Almonte is hitting .306 with 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He has an on-base percentage of almost .400, and he could be the leadoff man that Seattle has been craving.
Obviously, minor league numbers have to be put in context. Will he hit over .300 with the big club? Most likely not. Then again, he may be the spark that this offense needs in order to progress to the next level.
Might there be an Almonte sighting in September?