State of the Farm: “When I was younger, so much younger than today….”
Prospect rankings primer
The Top Ten
- RHP Taijuan Walker
- C Mike Zunino
- LHP Danny Hultzen
- IF Nick Franklin
- LHP James Paxton
- RHP Brandon Maurer
- LHP Luiz Gohara
- RHP Victor Sanchez
- LHP Tyler Pike
- IF/OF Stefen Romero
1. Taijuan Walker
Height/Weight: 6’4’’ 210 lbs.
Drafted/Acquired: 1st round, 2010 draft, Yucaipa High School (Yucaipa, CA)
2012 Stats: 4.69 ERA (126.2 IP, 124 H, 118 K, 50 BB) at Double-A Jackson
The Tools: 7 FB; 6 potential CB; 6 CT
What Happened in 2012: After an impressive full-season debut in 2011, Walker jumped straight to Double-A in 2013, making 25 starts and blossoming into one the top pitching prospects in the game.
Strengths: Ultra-fast arm; impressive size/athleticism; from easy release, fastball works in the 93-97 range; pitch shows late action to the arm-side; can push velocity higher in bursts; curveball flashes plus and should develop into consistent plus offering; pitch features a tight rotation and heavy vertical action; cut fastball already plays as a plus pitch, with upper-80s/low 90s velocity and late glove-side slice; shows some feel for a changeup; high-end competitor.
Weaknesses: Arm action can get long; delivery can lose lower half/get arm-heavy; fastball command is fringe-average; can slip under curveball and lose the sharp break; can get slurvy and loose; changeup can get deliberate and lacks turnover.
Overall Future Potential: 7; no. 1 starter profile
Explanation of Risk: High risk; likely to be a major-league pitcher, but high-end ceiling comes with risk; needs command improvement; secondary consistency.
Fantasy Future: Has the potential to be a true top-of-the-rotation arm, with high strikeout ability.
The Year Ahead: Walker is far from a finished product, so he will need more seasoning in the minors in order to refine his command and improve his secondary offerings. With a potent fastball and a nasty cutter, Walker can often look more like a reliever who is starting than a true starter, so he will need to add more nuance to the arsenal by taking steps forward with the changeup and finding more consistency with the curveball. The total package could be a legit no. 1 starter at the highest level, but there is more work to be done before the Mariners can celebrate that reality.
Major league ETA: 2013
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