Capps Makes Quick Climb Up Mariners' Ladder

SEATTLE—The Mariners knew they were getting a hard thrower when they used their third-round pick in the 2011 draft to take Carter Capps out of small-college Mount Olive in North Carolina.

What they didn't know was that in converting Capps from a starter, which he'd been in college, to a reliever, they would be unleashing an arm that looks at times like the second coming of Nuke LaLoosh.

Capps, 22, earned a late July promotion to Triple-A Tacoma, followed shortly by a call to the majors, after four months of making Southern League hitters pay. He was consistently hitting 99-100 mph, and batters were consistently not hitting his pitches.

In his 38 appearances with Double-A Jackson, he recorded 19 saves in 21 tries with a 1.26 ERA. More than that, he has a miserly WHIP of 1.04 and opponents were hitting just .212 against him.

That's quite a change for someone who set an NCAA Division II record with 24 consecutive wins from 2010-11.

"You have to be surprised when you have a young man hitting 100 as consistently as he has," general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "When he was coming out of Mount Olive, he was showing that he could throw hard.

"And you know that if he's just going to throw relief, you might get a little bump in velocity. But he's really coming on quickly."

Even though the Mariners watched the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder start during his Mount Olive career, they liked him all along as a potential closer.

A lot of that has to do with his velocity. Some of it has to do with his arm angle, which isn't quite as high as most pitchers coming out of college.

"He has a slightly lower arm angle, and that gives hitters a different look," Zduriencik said. "It looks like it takes him a little extra effort to release the ball, but his arm has always reacted very well."


• In his first three starts since coming off the disabled list for Jackson, lefthander James Paxton was 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA. He walked two and struck out 17 in 141⁄3 innings.

• First-round draft pick Mike Zunino earned a short-season Northwest League player of the week award after appearing in just nine games at Everett. In a week at the end of July, he hit .407 (11-for-27) with two doubles and three homers.