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February 24, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Minor league pitching coach Lance Painter expects young Mariners prospects to be confident, but not cocky on mound today

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Just chatted with Lance Painter, the former big league pitcher who handled James Paxton and Erasmo Ramirez in Class AA last season. Painter has had the chance to observe both guys up close this spring — along with Danny Hultzen and Taijuan Walker — and does not expect any of the quartet to b overcome with nerves during today’s intra-squad game.
The game gets underway in about an hour.
“They aren’t cocky, but I don’t think they’ll be nervous either,” he said. “They have a tremendous sense of confidence in what their abilities are.”
Painter said Ramirez — often overlooked in all the hulabaloo over the Paxton-Hultzen-Walker trio (photo above) — has made “tremendous strides” since last year.


The biggest, he said, was in his ability to expand the strike zone. When he first arrived in AA, Ramirez would jump ahead 0-2 in the count but then send his next pitch right down the middle of the strike zone as well.
Even in AA, hitters figured that out quickly. They would sit back and wait for Ramirez to throw strikes and then aggressively hack away.
Before long, Ramirez, a native of Nicaragua, realized he had to throw stuff out of the zone as well and get hitters to chase.
Painter said Ramirez now does that consistently well. As for Paxton, Painter says he got a lot of jitters out of his system last year when he joined the Mariners in camp after signing a contract late.
“He was like a deer in the headlights back then,” Painter said. “It should be a different story this time around.”
We’ll see some of it later on today.

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