Mariners' Maurer Knocks On The Door
SEATTLE—Mariners watchers have spent the last year or so talking about
the big three—lefthanders Danny Hultzen
and James Paxton
—all of whom began the 2012 season with Double-A Jackson.
The Mariners themselves never quite bought into that. To their minds,
there were other good young starting pitchers in the organization, and
narrowing the field to just three was unnecessarily limiting.
There was Erasmo Ramirez
, who by the end of the season was in the
Seattle rotation. And then there is Brandon Maurer
. The 6-foot-5,
200-pound 22-year-old has been in the Seattle organization for five
years after having been drafted out of high school in California's
Orange County. At the time, he could throw hard, but there is more to
finding success than throwing hard.
The first additional pitch to come along for Maurer was his slider. And
this year, his additions of a changeup and curveball, both that could be
consistently thrown for strikes, turned him into a force.
He went 9-2, 3.20 with 177 strikeouts and 48 walks for Jackson and wound
up being named the Southern League pitcher of the year. He got shut
down in the postseason after he reached an innings limit (138) imposed
by the Mariners.
"It was a jump of something like 30 or 40 innings for him," general
manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We wanted to make sure that we protected
him. We didn't want him overextended.
"He's knocking on the door of being a big league pitcher."
The innings jump for Maurer actually was greater than that, from 79
innings in 2011, an increase of just under 60 innings. He was limited by
two stints on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.
The 2012 season also proved that the elbow problems that limited Maurer
to 79 innings in 2011 are behind him. He had trouble throwing his
fastball for strikes in his first few outings, but once he got locked
in, everything clicked.
Scouts say Maurer, who can throw at 96 mph but generally sits at about
94, showed skill this year at hitting the corners, elevating the
fastball with two strikes, and throwing a slider that can disappear on a
• Outfielder Carlos Peguero
, who spent most of the season at Triple-A,
says he wants to play winter ball. He played daily with Triple-A Tacoma,
but during his stops with Seattle didn't see much playing time.
• Jackson catcher Jesus Sucre
was the only Southern League catcher with
qualifying playing time to go without an error. He had a 1.000 fielding
percentage in 769 total chances. Adding to his defensive credentials, he
threw out 44.4 percent of basestealers.