Players have been meeting this morning with Mariners manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis and it’s now official that Class AA prospect Brandon Maurer has made the team as the No. 4 starter.
Blake Beavan will be the fifth starter when the season opens. The reason for slotting Maurer fourth? Likely to spare him having to debut in Chicago against a slugging White Sox team at the bandbox known as U.S. Cellular Field.
Erasmo Ramirez threw a minor league game today, had trouble getting his breaking ball over and, as reported yesterday, was optioned to Class AAA after the outing. Jeremy Bonderman was reassigned to minor league camp after getting lit-up midway through yesterday’s Cactus League outing against the Royals.
Maurer’s first move upon being told the news was to leave the clubhouse and call his parents in Newport Beach, Calif.
“It was good,” he said. “I think my Mom was kind of getting choked up and my Dad was just rambling on about random stuff.”
Maurer is from California, but said he’s never seen a game at The Coliseum in Oakland, where he’ll make his debut next Thursday.
“Never did, no,” he said. “I went to a lot of Angels games growing up and I got to throw at Angel Stadium in high school, which was kind of fun.”
His folks are trying to book a flight to Oakland from the LA area as we speak.
Maurer agreed this camp has been about more than just making the majors.
“It’s definitelty been a huge learning experience,” he said. “Having success is a positive part of that, I guess, but (it’s also about) trying to go out there and just battle through every game and work on pitches and get where I need to be for the season.”
And that’s part of a continued learning process he says began a while a ago and now finally helped take him where he dreamed.
“I’ve learned so much every year just turning myself into a pitcher and not just a thrower,” he said. “So, going out there this year, I actually felt like more of a pitcher than I have ever. Using the two-seam (fastball) and throwing changeups in fastball counts and being able to throw a slider ahead or behind in the count. Different types of sliders. Just going out there and learning how to pitch.”
Among the first to seek Maurer out to congratulate him were his former minor league mound mates from Class AA, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who share a house with Maurer down here.
“We’re always rooting each other on,” he said. “We have been this whole time and we still will. It’s great to have a good group of friends like that to just rally behind you.”
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