Taijuan yes, but more so, I can't believe how fast I forgot about Abe Almonte!
Or, so the Mariners hope, that an 'era' begins today. They certainly made enough about the idea that "When he gets here, you want him to stay here." So today we reap the benefits, right? :- )
SSI does not take seriously the possibility that Taijuan might have to go back down for more seasoning, like Erasmo or Almonte or somebody. If he's healthy for his next 150 starts, they're going to be for Seattle.
Wanna hyper up for the ballgame? With this link, you get a pretty good read from BaseballHQ about Taijuan's prospects before LAST season. Before THIS season, HQ says:
"Extremely athletic SP who .. possesses all the tools to be a future ace. Improving fastball command makes heater plus-plus while featuring explosive life.
"Can register K's with all four pitches, especially fastball and slider.
"Hold velocity well and curve can be deceptive."
Comments: People who are auditioning for jobs within baseball don't call a pitcher an "ace" unless they mean "perennial Cy Young contender," which HQ actually said the year previous. It's kind of like you give Kevin Durant a $70M shoe deal before he plays his first game ... baseball HITTING prospects are quite a bit iff-ier than [great] PITCHING prospects. With the big time Felix type prospects, it's about health.
Explosive life on the fastball ... the year before the same comment read "best fastball in the minors." That's the idea.
Can register K's with the changeup ... again, when a pro scout, given to "look how tough I am!" grades, says "can register K's" he means it's a wipeout pitch. Or pretty close.
Holds velo well ... that part is pretty much what tips you off that Taijuan is different.
Dr. D has always preferred K-Pax, and still does. SSI does NOT confidently forecast a Michael Pineda splash.
But, objectively speaking ... if you SPOTTED us the premise that both will be healthy for the next 5 years, yeah, we'll agree with the world that Taijuan's a better prospect even than Paxton. (The world loves, loves, loves upside. Well, America does.)
What the SCOUTS will be watching for: is Taijuan healthy, does he throw his fastball to both sides of the plate, does he get ahead in the count okay, avoiding a meltdown, yada yada. (No disrespect to scouts, but we do resist the "one size fits all" shtick.)
What SSI, on the other hand, will be watching for today:
- Is the fastball truly "explosive," or is that an exaggeration (in 2013 it was, a little bit)
- Does Taijuan have anything else whatsoever, besides the cutter, that is reliable (on a technical level comparable to, say, Roenis Elias)
(There is a more subtle thing, too: Taijuan throws a ton of strikes, willing to give up HR so that he doesn't walk anybody. Strikes are great, but over-challenging can get you Maurer'ed. This is not a first-game checkpoint, though we'll be interested to watch it.)
It's a first, wide-scan, triangulation ... In my mind, the more explosive the fastball, and the better his curve or changeup, the more likely a Michael Pineda scenario in 2014.
For once as a Mariners fan, I'm glad I live in Corpus Christi.....Leaving for Houston in about 30 minutes to catch tonights game. Was talking to my son last night at dinner, and we were talking about Taijuan being called up, and he said, "Well, the M's are in Houston the next three days"....so we decided we'd go watch Walker live!
Hey Doc...what would you say the odds are today that Walker is a significant upgrade over E-Ram and Maurer? :)
He *is* a big upgrade, in the sense that Jadevon Clowney (sp?) is an upgrade over a taxi-squad NFL veteran ... you mean, what are the odds that his RESULTS are better than 7.00 ERA this game? This month? This year? Presuming health ...
Like, >90% as it applies to the season ... this game, 7-8 of 10 ... similar to the odds that the 2013 Jose Fernandez, Julio Teheran, Gerrit Cole, or random A's pitcher (Straily, Gray) was going to do better than 7.00 .... same question as, "can they defend themselves at all as rookies" ...
Taijuan, if he's healthy, already in 2013 showed that he can defend himself at all; 4 games, 2.2 xFIP, very few BB ...
:: daps ::
A mere 21. Man, that is young! Are there any other 21 year olds in a major league starting rotation?