The Seattle Mariners have auditioned their share of September call-ups over the last few weeks. For a team like the Mariners, the season was over quite some time ago and in the closing weeks it is time to start thinking about next year.
Sometimes the September call-ups provide a level of optimism for the future, though in the case of the Mariners the fans are not sure what to expect in 2014. This team has been in rebuilding mode for quite some time, and it does not seem like the team is making definitive progress from a standpoint of wins and losses.
Still, there are some interesting players that may have a major impact on the 2014 roster. Here are a few things that we have learned about the Seattle Mariners’ September call-ups.
Taijuan Walker will have to wait
In terms of top prospects in the Seattle farm system, Taijuan Walker is still the biggest name. After all the speculation on Walker’s ability, he was finally promoted to the big club at the end of August.
The Mariners have applied a conservative philosophy to Walker’s progression, as the club does not want to overwork the arm of a young player that is reputed to have ace potential. Therefore, the Mariners shut Walker down after three starts and decided he could wait.
What did we learn? Some, but not a lot. At the risk of simplicity, Walker’s three starts could be labeled great, average and shaky. That is to be expected of a young hurler, but it doesn’t give the fans a lot of information. He finished with a 1-0 record and a 3.60 ERA. He struck out 12 and walked four in 15 innings.
The Taijuan Walker era will need to wait until next spring, where he will likely be in the mix for a spot in the rotation.
James Paxton is ready for the rotation
Who is more likely to make the 2014 starting rotation?
Another member of the so-called “big three” is James Paxton. Taijuan Walker has grabbed more of the speculative spotlight, but it is Paxton who appears to be closer to being ready for the big leagues.
Paxton is still pitching, and his fourth start was arguably his best. On September 24, Paxton pitched seven innings and held the Kansas City Royals to four hits. He struck out 10 and did not issue any walks. Not bad for a rookie.
After four starts, Paxton is now 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. He has struck out 21 and only walked seven batters in 24 innings of work. Much can happen between now and next April, but Paxton looks ready to secure a long-term spot in the rotation.
Abraham Almonte may be a future outfielder
What the Mariners faithful would love to see is some promising young hitters, but unfortunately there aren’t many call-ups that fill the need for additional offense. One call-up that is showing promise is Abraham Almonte.
The 24-year-old outfielder hit .314 at Tacoma before being promoted to Seattle on August 30. Obviously, one has to be cautious when getting excited about minor league numbers. Rarely do they directly translate.
Still, Almonte has done well at making contact with the ball, and through September 24 was hitting .279 with a .329 on-base percentage. Almonte is not necessarily going to provide a lot of power, but the Mariners don’t really need a power guy right now. They need baserunners.
The Mariners actually rank fourth in home runs this season, but they are tied for 29th in team batting average and tied for 25th in OBP. Needless to say, a young outfielder that hits .280 would be a welcome addition to this club.
There is some optimism in Seattle about the September call-ups. Unfortunately, that optimism will have to wait until next spring.