Taijuan Walker might be seen as the baby face in Double-A Jackson’s prospect-heavy rotation, but that thought fades once he takes the mound.
With Walker coming off a 6-5, 2.89 season in low Class A in 2011, the Mariners were willing to challenge the 19-year-old righthander with an assignment to Double-A, where he joins fellow highly touted arms Danny Hultzen, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, and James Paxton. But we rated Walker as the best prospect in Seattle’s system entering the year, and he rose to the occasion in his first Double-A start Monday, fanning eight Birmingham hitters in five innings while allowing two runs on four hits and a walk.
Walker’s night started off a little shaky, as he gave up a leadoff double to start the game to Barons left fielder Kenny Williams (Williams was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple), then a one-out triple in the second inning to Jose Martinez, who subsequently came home one batter later on a Walker wild pitch. But Walker righted the ship quickly, recording back-to-back strikeouts to end the second and retiring eight of the next nine hitters after Martinez’s triple, six of them via strikeouts. He gave up a walk and an RBI double in the fifth but ended his night with a called third strike on Williams.