Mariners Can't Rule Out Walker
spent the 2012 season as one of the youngest players in Double-A.
That's what happens when you possess a 98 mph fastball, have serious
athletic skills and scouts put you on their "best of" lists.
And on the eve of spring training 2013, Walker, 20, has a chance to be
the youngest player in Triple-A. Or perhaps even the youngest in the
Walker is likely to join the rest of Double-A Jackson's deep 2012
rotation in Triple-A, and Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said
"anyone who comes into big league camp should be realistic. You come in,
show your best stuff and give the coaches and front office staff a
chance to make some evaluations."
That being said, Zduriencik said Walker shouldn't "rule out being in the
big leagues with this team. That wouldn't be fair to him and it would
be foolish (on the Mariners' part)."
Walker's future appeared to be elsewhere when several media outlets in
January reported that the Mariners had offered him in a trade for
Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton
, who used a no-trade clause in his
contract to block the deal.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Walker was a multiple-sport star in high school
at Yucaipa, Calif., and had a great future in basketball in addition to
baseball, where he primarily played shortstop. That ended when the
Mariners drafted him as a pitcher with the 43rd overall pick in the 2010
"He's probably the best athlete in our organization, bar none,"
Zduriencik said. "He's really made great strides in terms of learning
how to pitch."
To this point, Walker's raw numbers (7-10, 4.69 with 118 strikeouts and
50 walks in 127 innings last year) aren't eye-opening. But there were
times when he was simply dominating while pitching for the Generals,
including a season-opening stretch in which he yielded just four runs
and 21 hits over 28 innings. He mixed in a snapping curveball with the
fastball, and there were moments when his changeup was surprisingly
Walker spent much of the winter working out in Arizona perparing for
spring training, where he could compete. Does he have a chance to make
the Seattle roster? Well, it didn't hurt that Jason Vargas
leaving a core of young pitching talent to compete for the spots behind
and Hisashi Iwakuma
. The Mariners have a flock of young
starting pitchers—Danny Hultzen
, James Paxton
, Brandon Maurer
in addition to Walker—so it's not like the Mariners are
in a position where they have to rush him.
But he could rush them.
• Righthander D.J. Mitchell
, who had been designated for assignment when
the Mariners needed roster space, cleared waivers and re-signed with
the team. He will likely get an invitation to major league spring
• Lefthander Anthony Vasquez
has been cleared to start throwing again,
less than two months after having emergency brain surgery. Vasquez had
five hours of surgery after a ruptured blood vessel and a mass in his
brain were discovered. The 26-year-old is expected to report with the
minor leaguers in March.