With the reporting date for pitchers and catchers less than three weeks away, my curiosity as to who will be pitching where is beginning to work on me. I have pet players who I want to see in certain locations, and I would be disappointed if they don't go where I believe they should.
Ya feel me, Jack?
I guess the best way to start this off is to look at who started where in 2012.
Seon Gi Kim
Dylan De Meyer
If you pull out Ramirez from Tacoma, then that rotation looks like an humongous Steaming Pile(tr) if you just look at results. That rotation last year, right from the day it was announced, looked like shit, and it proved to nothing less. Thankfully, 2013 should be a banner year for starting pitching at Tacoma. Maybe...
First off, you have to figure (as things stand right now) that one of Hultzen or Paxton is going to make the Mariner's starting rotation. The chances of both players making their big league debut is less than zero, so whoever doesn't make it will be in Tacoma.
Andrew Carraway should return once again to the Tacoma rotation. In 2012 he was the most consistant pitcher on the staff. He lead the team in starts and innings by a wide margin. While his 2012 wasn't exactly something to write home about, Carraway should build on what he did and put together a solid 2013 season. He can't help but to do this, it's in his blood.
Also coming back from a less than stellar 2012 will be Hector Noesi. I really hope for the best with Noesi, but I don't hold out much hope for him. He could show that 2012 was an anomolomous season and hit the ground with a whole new mindset in 2013, but I'll have to see something before I predict him doing so.
One other returnee to the Tacoma Rainiers in 2013 will be D.J. Mitchell
. Mitchell joined the Rainiers right after the trade deadline when he came over in the Ichiro trade from the Yankers. Mitchell pitched very effectively for the M's, and it would be great to see if he can maintain such a high level of performance.
Brandon Maurer was the Mariners minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 while he was with AA Jackson, so there is no reason to not expect him to make his AAA debut in 2013. Maurer is one of the guys that I am really hopeful for. I believe that he can handle the competition at the AAA level.
Rounding out the rotation at Tacoma will either be Danny Hultzen or James Paxton. Also, a bit of a dark horse candidate is Jeremy Bonderman
, but he has a lot to prove before anyone can say where he will play.
So, in 2013 I see these five guys starting the year in the Rainier rotation:
- Andrew Carraway
- Hector Noesi
- D. J. Mitchell
- Brandon Maurer
That is a good looking starting rotation. Carraway is solid, and Mitchell impressed. Noesi had issues in 2012, but he has a track record of success, so maybe he can revert back to being a good pitcher. Brandon Maurer has all the tools and just needs to work on consistancy, and staying healthy (career bug-a-boo for him). Who ever out of Hultzen and Paxton doesn't make the big league club and ends up at Tacoma will instantly become the staff ace.
It's just too bad that this rotation will probably make Jack Zduriencik's sphincter pucker because it lacks the one thing that a AAA staff has to have; MLB proven starting pitching insurance. Should one of the starters with the Mariners go down with an injury, the first guy out of that group to get called up is Hector Noesi. The second guy? Probably Hultzen/Paxton. Although exciting, the prospect of bringing up pitchers with little to no experience at the big league level should bother both Jack Zduriencik and Eric Da Wedgie. The offense has been built up to supply more run support, so there is a good chance that the team is in contention well into August, but if Blake Beavan
gets hurt and you suddenly have to start Hultzen/Paxton, then things can turn ugly really fast.
Should Jackie Z bring in a vet arm as insurance, then I can see D.J. Mitchell being moved into the bullpen for long relief. I hate the idea of that, but it makes the most sense. Mitchell doesn't exactly profile as a big league starting pitcher as he suffers from Russell Wilson
disease. Mitchell is short at 6'0" and a little light in the loafers at 160 lbs, but that could be old information. Still though, I seem to recall that last year he looked like a stick, so there is a good chance that he still looks like a stick.
After having such a marque rotation as it did in 2012, the Jackson Generals should have a very solid rotation once again in 2013. Gone will be Paxton, Hultzen, and Maurer, but all is not lost. There are a couple of guys who actually pitched well to fantastic in 2012 at the launching pad known as High Desert. First though, lets look at who is returning for 2013.
As good as we all know that he can be, Taijuan Walker had an up and down season in 2012. He was electric to begin the season, but then tailed off. The reason for this is.... well, I really don't have a clue as to why he went from on top of the world to merely human. Regardless of the why, the end result is that Taijuan Walker should return to the Jackson rotation in 2013 to begin the season. There really isn't any need to promote him at this point since the level of competition that he will face in the Southern League might be better than what he would otherwise see in the PCL.
Roenis Elias pitched the entire 2012 season with High Desert in the California League, which is usually punitive sentence for some sort of transgression against humanity. Rather than wilt in the heat, dry up in the wind, and dodge groundballs on erratic trajectories, Elias decided to own the league. The guys that pitch an entire season in High Desert and walk away with a 3.76 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19 are rare. Usually it takes a Felix or a Michael Pineda
to pull off such a feat. I'm not saying that Elias is the next Felix or Michael Pineda, but the kid from Cuba has some skills and is not shy in showing them. Elias should take the Southern League by storm.
In 2012 James Gillheeney pitched 120.1 "ok" innings at High Desert, and was given a promotion to AA Jackson. Out of the desert, Gillheeney was reborn... kinda. Gillheeney, who is an extreme flyball pitcher, was saved from all of those wind-blown doubles and homeruns in High Desert by the more nuetral environment of Jackson. Gillheeney isn't much of a prospect since he tends to give up a bit too many hits, but he also strikesout very nearly a batter per inning while walking something much less than that. Gillheeney won't be flashy, but he will be solid in the Southern League in 2013.
It seems like Anthony Fernandez has been in the Mariner minor league system for nearly 10 years, but it's actually just 6. Fernandez, who is just 22 years old (23 in early June), is a lefty who will lull a batter to sleep with his marginal stuff, but will induce a ton of groundballs. Fernandez will strikeout about 7.7 batters per nine innings while walking 3.0, so he does know how to pitch. It will be interesting to see how things go for Fernandez since he could be the next Jason Vargas
for the Mariners. I predict a good season for Fernandez in 2013.
I have to stop there since there is a very good chance that one of the starters on the Tacoma squad will get pushed down to AA Jackson. Who it might be will all depend on how things go in ST. There's no sense in me pulling a name out of the nether regions of my posterior, so I won't.
Coming up: High Desert and Clinton rotations.
Edit: I actually started this a couple of days ago, but I have to send a thanks to Huindekmi for "chumming the water" for me