Let’s take a look at Taijuan’s 2012 season in three pieces:
From 4/09 – 5/27 – 2.24 ERA
- 9 GS (4-1) – 44.1 IP, 38 H, 11 ER, 14 BB, 44 K.
- 3.14 K/BB ratio
In these 9 starts Walker posted 2 quality starts (mainly due to pitch count control) and never allowed more than 2 ERs in a single game.
From 6/02 – 7/14 – 8.07 ERA
- 7 GS (1-4) – 31.2 IP, 33 H, 28 ER, 23 BB, 33 K.
- 1.43 K/BB ratio
In these 7 starts Walker posted no quality outings and allowed more than 3 ERs (allowing 4+ runs four times) in every game thrown.
From 7/20 – 8/28 – 3.90 ERA
- 8 GS (2-4) – 46.1 IP, 48 H, 20 ER, 12 BB, 34 K.
- 2.83 K/BB ratio
In these 8 outings Walker posted 4 quality starts and allowed 2 ER or less in four of his starts.
What the Pundits say.
The consensus is that Walker has been rushed, because of his current age, and needs more time adjust to those of MLB-ready age.
As of 8/30/2012 Taijuan ‘Sky’ Walker has thrown 227 innings of minor league baseball; being drafted at 17 out of Yucaipa High School with the 43rd overall pick in the Supplemental Round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
This is not a youngster who is just getting his feet wet in a relieving role; which he did in 2010 in the AZL league.
This is a guy who was named the organization’s top MiLB pitcher in 2011 striking out 113 in 89.1 innings. Walker allowed just 4 HRs while posting the 10th best WHIP (1.117) at 18-years-old in those 89.1 innings with Clinton.
This isn’t a discussion about rushing a prospect to the major leagues; it’s a discussion about a MiLB pitcher working through some mechanical issues and it’s OK to talk about.
I am a Seattle Mariners fan and I am telling you that it’s OK to mention that Taijuan is working through some mechanical hitches; the same way it’s OK to talk about Danny Hultzen’s 6.09 ERA in Tacoma.
Neither has flamed out from the Top-50 and there is no need to rip your hair out.
Take a look:
- Gio Gonzalez, who was also drafted out of High School posted a 4.66 ERA in his first full AA season in 2006 walking 81 batters and allowing 24 HRs.
- Randy Johnson in his only AA season in 1987 walked 128 batters and posted a 1.629 full season WHIP.
- Roy Halladay posted a 5.40 ERA in his only stint with a AA squad before his MLB debut giving up 22 runs in 36.2 innings; a total WHIP of 1.555.
Don’t look at Walker’s June and July as a reason to doubt the Mariners organization or get down on the talent he brings to the mound.
Look at his full season in the three pieces I listed above and take notice that whatever mechanical malfunction he was going through is coming under control.
Walker has nearly doubled his K/BB ratio in his past 8 starts compared to those in the middle of the season.
Baseball pitchers, especially MiLB players, change their leg-kick, release point, and foot placement on the mound over the course of developing into MLB starters.
They undergo these changes while experiencing an increase in the velocity of certain pitches while taming the movement of others.
It’s all a part of making it to ‘The Show’ and I for one am encouraged and possibly more excited than ever over Walker’s numbers to close out his 2012 campaign.
For him it’s all a part of earning the moniker so many have dubbed upon him; ‘SkyWalker’.