When arriving at Cleveland camp to scout future Indians, a trio of A-Ball infielders were tops on my list of “must see” players. Francisco Lindor, Dorssys Paulino and Ronny Rodriguez stretched and ran sprints on back fields and I was content to watch them doing morning drills.
Then, a conversation with volunteer field staff forced a change of plans.
In the “B-Game”, the Indians would be playing the Mariners. Out of curiosity, I hurried to the far field to see which Seattle prospects made the trip.
Taijuan Walker? Check.
James Paxton? Check.
Nick Franklin? Check.
Paxton started the game and sat 88-91 mph with his fastball, touching 93. His high arm slot and “hitchy” delivery created deception, as well as command issues. When down in the zone, the pitch featured late sink.
From the stretch, Paxton lost his release point and struggled to locate. To combat this, his delivery slowed causing a drop in velocity.
At 76-79 mph, Paxton’s curveball was an 11/5 hammer when on. With command, it’s a strikeout pitch. When Paxton struggled, his wrist stayed under the pitch causing it to hang at the letters.
Paxton pushed an 84 mph changeup, slowing his delivery in the process. Later in the outing, his arm action improved and the pitch stabilized at fringe average. It’s a passable third offering, but he scouted as more of a two-pitch guy.
Taijuan Walker followed with an explosive fastball at 92-95 mph, touching 96. The right-hander struggled to stay on top of the pitch due to collapsing his back leg, but it was special when he did.
Walker spent the outing playing catch, flashing easy velocity behind impressive leg drive. As Walker continues to fill out his frame, his velocity will stabilize in the mid-90’s.
Across two innings, Walker never established his changeup or curveball. At 73-75 mph, his breaking ball missed the mark down-and-away on multiple occasions. The pitch featured sharp, slurvy break and was not the 12/6 offering scouted last season. However, it’s early and difficult to establish any off speed pitch in just two innings of work.
Same can be said for a mid-80’s changeup which flashed solid average. When effective, his arm action was identical to his fastball and the ball tailed in on right-handed hitters.
When he struggled, the pitch was left up in the zone and flattened out considerably.
Carter Capps closed the game with a multi-inning stint. Working off a 93-95 mph fastball, his ability to hide the ball gave the appearance of added velocity.
He mixed in an 82 mph slider which he threw like a Frisbee at times. When he released the pitch out front, it featured late break away from right handed hitters.
For the Indians, Cory Kluber started and threw four innings. At 88-90 mph, touching 92, the right-hander mixed in a slider and changeup with some success.
Against Dustin Ackley, Kluber pulled the string on a 80 mph changeup which left the Mariners second baseman flailing wildly.
At present, Kluber is more of a swing man or fifth starter with limited upside. If nothing else, his three pitch mix would play up out of the pen.
Cody Allen threw one inning at 92-93 mph. His max effort deliver leaves little room for additional projection, but
Former closer Matt Capps struggled in his attempt to return from shoulder issues. At 84-87 mph, his fastball was a far cry from the 92-plus Capps threw last season.
Seeing three of the top young arms in the Mariners organization was a great way to begin a scouting trip. Part two of breaking down the “B-Game” will include a look at a number of the Mariners top position prospects.