It’s not that often that a Major League team can boast that they have 3 young starting pitching prospects that all have top of the rotation potential. Not to mention the fact they’re all 3 coming along on the same track to the big leagues. If you haven’t heard yet Tajuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton have all Mariners fans wishing the future were NOW.
James Paxton is 3-1 in 7 starts with a 2.60 ERA, 34 innings and 43 K’s while opposing batters are averaging .198 against him.
Tajuan Walker is 3-1 in 6 starts sporting a 1.71 ERA, 31 innings and 32 K’s while opposing batters are averaging .216 against him.
Danny Hultzen is 2-3 in 6 starts with a 2.35 ERA, 30 innings and 34 K’s while opposing batters are averaging a paltry .142 against him.
An example of how a media-fueled ‘Big 3′ can go wrong was what happened to “Generation K”. In the mid-90′s the New York Mets had what they thought would be the backbone to a dominant young starting pitching rotation in what the media called “Generation K.” This threesome was made up of Jason Isringhausen, Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher. Isringhausen unfortunately started out his career battling three major surgeries on his pitching elbow, tuberculosis, and a broken wrist from punching a dugout garbage can.Isringhausen ended up with the longest tenure of the three pitchers, although the majority of his time in baseball has been spent in the bullpen. Bill Pulsipher had his major league debut in June of 1995 only to struggle in his short stint in the Big Leagues before experiencing elbow pain which later required Tommy John surgery. There are some pitchers that recover with no problems from Tommy John surgery but Pulsipher was unfortunately not one of those and bounced around the minor and majors with multiple teams ultimately never showing the promise he once showed. Paul Wilson was the #1 pick of the 1994 Major League Draft out of Florida State. He was widely considered a cant-miss prospect as most #1 picks are labeled. Critics worried that his mechanics may force him to have arm troubles early in his career( the same things were said about Tim Lincecum coming out of the University of Washington.) Wilson only needed less than 2 years in the Minor Leagues before he made it to the Big Show where he struggled early and ended his 1996 season with arm troubles. Wilson would resurface in the majors in 2000 with the Devil Rays but never even reached being an average pitcher.
On the other hand, the Oakland A’s from 2000 to 2004 competed for American League Championships consistently with their version of the “Big 3″ . Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito all rose through the minor leagues together and joined the Major League team to form one of the best rotations in baseball and putting General Manager Billy Beane on the national spotlight. Between them they had 6 All-Star appearances and a Cy Young for Zito while winning three division titles in four years.
What the Mariners fans are hoping for is for this rebuilding project to take shape NOW and not four more years down the road. The future of Jack Zduriencik rests in not only how his current young bats progress but how he handles the development of the next “Big 3.” By looking at the attendance and asking people i know that are Mariners fans, many wouldn’t even mind watching a Double A Jackson minor league game on some nights instead of watching the big league team struggle to drive people in with runners in scoring position. The “Big 3″ hopefully represent the end of the rebuilding and rebirth of the Mariners as playoff contenders.