Could Seattle Mariners Pitcher Brandon Maurer Be Next In Line?
The Seattle Mariners are littered with good starting pitching prospects in their farm system. While everyone who follows baseball prospects will point to either Taijuan Walker, who is currently pitching for their Double-A team, Jackson Generals, or Danny Hultzen, who is currently with the Mariners Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, but is on the 7-Day Disabled List, as the best of the bunch. Walker and Hultzen may be the best of the bunch but there is one starting pitching prospect who gets little attention and just may be next in line for a call-up. His name, Brandon Maurer.
Maurer, a 23rd round selection in the 2008 MLB Draft, was drafted and signed straight out of high school. He was #5 on Keith Law’s top 10 organizational prospect list for the Mariners and MLB.com had him #11 on their 2012 top 20 organizational prospect list. At age 22, he made his major league debut this 2013 season for the Mainers, winning the 5th spot in their starting rotation out of Spring Training. This came as a surprise to many, as Maurer’s highest level of pitching completed in the minors was Double-A, where he went 9-2 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 24 starts, and tallied up 117 K’s with 48 BB’s.
In 10 starts for the Mariners this season however, Maurer posted a 2-7 W-L record, with a 6.93 ERA and 1.68 WHIP in 49.1 IP, allowing 10 HR’s and having a 32:17 K/BB ratio. Not the greatest debut for Maurer. In order to get Maurer back on track, the Mariners sent him back down to Triple-A Tacoma, were before Friday he had posted a 0-1 W-L record with a 1.42 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 2 starts, and had 13 K’s with 5 BB’s. I had the pleasure of getting to see Maurer pitch this past Friday when the Rainiers battled the Sacramento River Cats, a match-up of two first place teams in the Triple-A, Pacific Coast League.
Maurer was unimpressive in his start but showed that he has the stuff to be a big league pitcher. His 4-seam fastball showed at 93 MPH consistently, topping out at 95 MPH; he also throw a two-seam fastball at 89 MPH. His secondary stuff was good as well, showing an 87 MPH slider, a curveball at 78 MPH with a sweeping hook. But right from the get-go of his start, Maurer had major control issues that plagued him throughout his entire start. He hit two batters in his start and almost hit another three if it weren’t for quick duct-and-cover moves. And for most of his start, Maurer had a 50/50 strike/ball ratio on his pitches thrown. Yet despite his control issues, Maurer ended up with the win, pitching 5 innings, giving up 4 H’s, 2 R’s, 1 ER, 3 BB’s, and 5 K’s.
Walking away from Maurer’s start, you see why the Mariners gave him the starting job out of Spring Training. His stuff, when he has command of it, is pretty good. If Maurer plans on remaining a starter, he’ll have to improve on his control, otherwise he may be best suited for the bullpen. But at age 22, there is still a lot of room, and time, for growth and improvement; and once Maurer overcomes his control issues, he will undoubtedly be next in line for that call-up.