James Paxton Deserves More Attention

Sunday, December 30th,2012

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Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): 

James Paxton is one of the most talented Left-Handed pitching prospects currently in the Minor Leagues. However, partially because he went through trouble entering the MLB Draft a few years ago, Paxton seems to be underrated be most of the baseball world. There is a decent chance that Paxton will make his MLB debut in Seattle before the All-Star Break, so he should have a chance to get some of the attention he deserves in 2012. The Mariners are lucky to have Paxton, whether they use him as a trading piece or they decide to keep him. James Paxton has the talent to become a #3 starter in the majors and it won’t be long before the baseball world is much more aware of this.

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Born in Richmond, British Columbia, in Canada, rumors of James Paxton dominating the British Columbia Premier Baseball League soon spread through Canada. Baseball in Canada is gaining on the USA, in terms of popularity, but Canadian baseball is still light-years away from the U.S. Paxton attended college at University of Kentucky, where his strong performances as a reliever led to a starting job as a sophomore. With a sub-3.00 ERA in his sophomore year, Paxton was expected to help Kentucky make a run in the NCAA tournament. However, he was unable to play due to an injury. Nonetheless, Paxton’s sophomore season really put him on the map from Major League teams. After a junior year when Paxton struck out 115 in 78 Innings, Paxton was drafted by the Blue Jays with the 37th pick in the 2009 MLB Draft.

James Paxton didn’t sign with Toronto and planned on returning to Kentucky for his senior season. However, due to his contact with agent Scott Boras, the NCAA ruled Paxton ineligible to return for his senior season. This decision by the NCAA was completely unfair and should have been revoked. Contact between players and agents is extremely common, and Paxton being punished was just the NCAA making him an example. Paxton was forced to spend the next season pitching for the Grand Prairie Air Hogs in an independent league. After by no means dominating the league, Paxton was drafted in 2010 by the Seattle Mariners in the fourth round. Paxton was not college eligible, so he did not have to meet the August 15th signing deadline. It took the Mariners until March of the next season to sign him.

In 2011, James Paxton kicked off his minor league career with the Mariners  A-ball affiliate in Clinton. With nobody knowing what to expect out of Paxton, I followed him, entranced by his story. Paxton dominated Clinton, striking out 12.86 batters per 9 Innings Pitched in ten starts. He threw his next seven starts at Double-A Jackson, where his peripherals got even better. In 2012, Paxton pitched in twenty-one starts at Double-A, missing almost a month due to a knee injury. When he was healthy, Paxton posted a 3.05 ERA with 9.31 K/9 and 4.57 BB/9 in 106 Innings. All of this just goes to show that James Paxton has yet to face a challenge in the Minor Leagues that he hasn’t been able to handle.

James Paxton throws three pitches; a fastball that can reach up to 97 MPH, a plus curveball, and a changeup. Paxton’s curveball is considered by most to be the best curveball in the Mariners farm system. His changeup is still developing, but I believe that it will be a MLB average pitch. With three pitches that are at least average or better, it is easy to see why Paxton is so highly regarded by the Mariners. Learning how to locate these pitches and when to throw them will be what will decide what kind of pitcher Paxton will become.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Paxton started the 2013 season with a different organization. The Mariners will have to make a trade or two before the season starts and Paxton’s name has come up in discussions. The Royals have been rumored to be very interested in Paxton and I’m sure other teams would love having a prospect like Paxton come to their organization as well. If the Mariners do decide to keep him, they won’t be in a rush to bring Paxton up to the majors. Seattle has plenty of pitchers to fill out their rotation and contending in the A.L. West is not something that they will be doing in 2013.

James Paxton has the potential to become a poor man’s version of Cliff Lee. That kind of pitcher, especially if he can throw 200 innings per year, makes for a very valuable commodity in the majors today. James Paxton has had a very odd trip through baseball. At times, it appeared that Paxton wouldn’t be remembered for much more than the example the NCAA made of him. However, Paxton has exceeded pretty much all of the expectations set for him on his way to becoming one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter 

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About samevans87

I love writing, talking, watching, and playing baseball. I am a baseball writer for MLB Reports and Fish Stripes. "No game in the world is as tidy and dramatically neat as baseball, with cause and effect, crime and punishment, motive and result, so cleanly defined." -Paul Gallic

Posted on December 30, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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