Rated the fifth-best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com before the season began, right hander Taijuan Walker has moved one step closer to realizing his major league dreams.
After posting a sparkling 2.46 ERA and 1.048 WHIP in 14 starts at Double-A Jackson, Walker was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma on Friday. It is expected that he will make his Pacific Coast League debut on Tuesday.
Walker, who won’t turn 21 until August, was the 43rd overall selection in the 2009 draft, picked by the Seattle Mariners. After spending all of 2012 as a teenager at Jackson, Walker was assigned to repeat the level this season. That’s nothing to be ashamed of in any way, as Walker was incredibly young for his level both last season and this. He will also be among the youngest in the PCL.
Walker posted a 4.69 ERA in 25 starts last season and saw his strikeout rate dip below one per inning for the first time in his pro career. Another year of maturity has lead to dramatic improvement in the results despite his 4-7 record this season. Walker has fanned 96 in 84 innings of work and allowed only 58 hits to Southern League competitors.
The general wisdom is that there is no reason to rush Walker to the big leagues, but while the M’s have been aggressive in their assignments with their prized young hurler, they’ve moved him up only after he’s shown mastery of a given level. If Walker shows similar dominance with Tacoma, it’s not unreasonable to think he could see action with the Mariners later this season, even if only as a September call-up. At very worst, Walker has put himself in line to potentially crack Seattle’s rotation during camp next Spring.