Here is today’s Mariners’ minor-league report.
Contained within is details of Danny Hultzen’s performance in what turned out to be Tacoma’s fourth straight loss. He worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs. Hultzen walked one and struck out six. For the season, Hultzen is 2-1 with a 2.70 ERA, allowing 14 hits in 16.2 innings and holding opponents to a .215 average. The most encouraging thing is that after struggling with his command last year when he got to Triple-A, walking 43 in 48 2/3 innings, he has walked just four so far this season while striking out 20. I think the next thing the Mariners would like to see is for Hultzen to get farther in his outings.
Mike Zunino has hit a little bit of a slide after his torrid start, with his average down to .303. But those four homers and 18 RBIs are still impressive. I’m headed down to Tacoma tonight to talk to Zunino for a story that will appear in tomorrow’s Seattle Times.
Nick Franklin, who got off to a delayed start because of illness, is hitting .350 (7-for-20).
The eye-catcher on the pitching side is lefty reliever Brian Moran, who hasn’t given up a run in 6.1 innings, with 11 strikeouts and just one unintentional walk. He’s allowed four hits.
At Double-A Jackson, infielder Brad Miller is off to a hot start. Miller, who made such a strong impression in spring training, is hitting .389 through 10 games with two homers. Outfielder Julio Morban got off to a .562 (9-for-16) start but has been hampered by a groin injury.
Top prospect Taijuan Walker pitches tonight for Jackson against Mississippi. Walker has lost both his starts this year, but I talked late last week with Generals manager Jim Pankovits and he says Walker has looked good. He has a 3.60 ERA (four earned runs in10 innings), with nine hits allowed (two homers), six walks and 13 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .209.
“He’s thrown well,” Pankovits said. “He made a couple of mistakes that hurt him in Jacksonville, and (in his last start) the defense behind him was very poor. Overall, I’m really encouraged how he’s thrown, his demeanor and preparation, just about everything.”
The Mariners want to see Walker with better command of his breaking pitches, and Pankovits believes progress is being made on that front.
“He seems to have improved that with a couple of mechanical adjustments,” he said. “I’m real excited to see how he’ll progress.”