Seattle Mariners hitters face Taijuan Walker, and came away impressed with the young pitcher. Brendan Ryan broke down the rising star:
“Very fluid, very easy – effortless. The ball comes out hot. He’s got some good tilt on the breaking ball, and I like the changeup. It’s hard to distinguish. It comes out the same slot as the fastball, and it just kind of bleeds down a little bit. If it was going left or right, you could maybe distinguish it closer to him, but it just comes out the same and fades a little bit. Pretty deceptive.“He’s pretty far ahead of the game. The talent’s there, obviously. It’s just fine-tuning it and making sure the control is there, maybe learn a cutter or something. If the control’s there, I’m sure he could compete (in the major leagues) right now. You could tell he’s an athlete, too. I see him taking PFPs (pitchers fielding practice), and I see somebody athletic fielding a ground ball. Sky’s the limit, it looks like.”
Walker has an August birthday, so he’ll play 2012 as a 19-year-old. Ryan is right about the control, as Taijuan’s walks are a little high, but he’s nearly unhittable. In his 103 2/3 minor league innings, he allowed just 71 hits. I’ll take that tradeoff.