Mariners notebook: Back to work for Walker and a number of teammates
Arizona Fall League play began today and the Mariners have a number of players we will be keeping track of. Due to the renovations underway in Peoria, the Mariners will make their fall home in Surprise and play for Saguaros rather than the Javelinas. Their teammates will include top prospects from the Red Sox, Reds, Padres and Rangers.
The Mariners will be represented by DJ Peterson, John Hicks, Patrick Kivlehan, Matt Anderson, Stephen Landauzuri and Taijuan Walker, who saw his first action and gave up up one run on five hits in four innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. He threw 57 pitches, 44 for strikes in the 5-4 loss to Peoria.
Walker is expected to get 20-25 innings this fall in an attempt to get his innings total up a bit more after being limited to just 120 due to injury this season. If he gets the innings now then the Mariners should be able to get him to at least 175 next year if he is healthy. He threw 156 innings in 2013.
Another plus to having Walker throw in fall ball is it gives him the opportunity to work on his changeup a bit more. The pitch, which he had been working on for some time, proved valuable in his last few outings and in his final start against Toronto had the look of a pitch that could be a difference maker for him.
On the offensive side of things, Kivlehan went 1 for 4 with a home run off the Royals’ No. 2 prospect, Kyle Zimmer. Peterson went 1 for 3 with a walk, a double and an RBI and Hicks, who caught the game, was 1 for 3 with a walk. The league runs through Nov. 15.
• Felix Hernandez is a finalist for the 50th annual Hutch Award. Felix joins John Danks, Yovani Gallardo, Alex Gordon, Josh Harrison, Dan Jennings, Joe Mauer, Devin Mesoraco, Roberto Perez and Sergio Romo as nominees. The award, which recognizes the MLB player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of Fred Hutchinson, will be presented at the Hutch Award Luncheon, which will take place Jan. 29 at Safeco Field. It is a great event that has raised over $4.3 million to support research at FHCRC. Information about the award and luncheon can be found here.
• The qualifying offer for free agents who are eligible has risen to $15.3 million from $14.1 million. The $15.3 million represents the average of the 125 highest contracts in 2014. At the conclusion of the World Series, teams have five days to extend the offer to free agents on their team who have been with the club since opening day in order to be eligible for draft-pick compensation. Players who are given the qualifying offer have until 12 days after the World Series to accept or deny it. I think it is safe to say the Mariners will not be extending the offer to any of their free agents. The Mariners have the 21st pick in the 2015 draft and would have to surrender that if they sign a player who has been extended the qualifying offer.
• The ratings for the postseason so far are up. Significantly up. Best numbers since 2010 for most games. No Yankees, no Red Sox, no matter?