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Updated: 2018-01-23T10:00:02-08:00


40 in 40: James Pazos


James Pazos is an awesome pitcher and we should appreciate him more. Whenever I try to write down the Mariners’ projected bullpen for 2018, I always seem to forget one guy: James Pazos. I’m not sure why. He was solid last year as a lefty reliever in his first season in Seattle. Pazos threw 53.2 innings to the tune of a 3.86 ERA. On paper, that seems all right. His numbers certainly weren’t spectacular -- he walks a lot of guys, which we’ll get to in a bit -- and he doesn’t have the kind of velocity that arms like Edwin Diaz possess (although he does throw in the mid-90s). To the naked eye, Pazos just kind of seems like a regular dude. But I’ve come to realize that he’s a lot more than that. Pazos was yet another reliever acquired from the Yankees prior to 2017. He didn’t have a whole lot of big league milage, pitching briefly in New York in 2015 and 2016. He finally got his first chance to throw a full MLB slate in Seattle in 2017, his age-26 season. And the deeper numbers suggest that he’s a much more valuable reliever than we give him credit for. Among lefty relievers younger than 29 who threw 50+ innings last season, Pazos was just one of five who had an ERA+ better than 110 with a K/9 over 10. The others were closers Felipe Rivero and Brad Hand, and middle relievers Enny Romero and Andrew Chafin. Unlike a couple of those other guys, Pazos has only had one year with those kinds of numbers. He’ll need the upcoming season to back those lines up. But according to Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners aren’t the only team who thinks he can repeat that kind of success. Both outfielder Ben Gamel and left-hander James Pazos have established themselves in Seattle, so much so that Dipoto notes that he gets asked about Pazos more than any other player in trade talks. “You don’t find a lot of 26-year-old lefties who throw in the mid-90s, who are making close to league minimum, who have gone out and shown that they can be effective in the big leagues,” [said Dipoto]. There’s no reason to believe Papa Paz can’t keep up his terrific numbers. The lefty has maintained K/9 rates over 10 in every season he pitched in the minors, so he’s had no problems missing bats. Despite being a lefty, he actually had double-digit K/9 rates against hitters from both sides of the dish. However, Pazos’ continued problem throughout his career has been his control. In 2017, Pazos walked 4.02 batters per nine innings. That’s pretty close to his minors career 3.68 BB/9. Unless he can improve there, it’s going to be difficult for him to work his way into a closer role like Grant predicted he might when the team acquired him. Once his velocity starts dipping, he’ll be in trouble. Hopefully that won’t be a concern for the M’s for a long time, but it’s something to keep an eye on. But part of what helped Pazos this season was his extensive work with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre on increasing the usage of his slider. In the first half of the season, he was relying on his high heat to get guys out, and his willingness to change up his pitch mix is certainly encouraging in terms of his long-term outlook. “Pazos is a stuff guy,” [Scott] Servais said. “He’s not a command pitch-maker. He’s going to have some up-and-down to his game. But the slider — they don’t hit it. They hit less than .100 against it. “But the fastball, they’re getting a lot of them, and they’re hitting them.” So look for more sliders in Pazos’ future appearances. “Yes, sir,” [Pazos] confirmed. “That’s the thing. I just need to use it, and that will get the fastball back on track.” Here he is getting Rafael Devers to strikeout on one of his sliders. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Pazos is heading into his sophomore season, and he seems to be ready for the challenges that await. The signs point towards him continuing to be an effective lefty ou[...]

If the Mariners had every pick in the first round of the 2018 draft: Picks 7-12


Do you like people who throw baseballs with their right hands and scrappy infielders? Well, you are in for a treat. This week, Ben, John, and Kate are previewing the first round of the MLB draft with a thought-experiment: what if the Mariners had every pick in the first round of the 2018 draft? Picks 1-6 and a general intro are here; today, picks 7-12. Pick Seven: Kate selects Nick Madrigal, INF, Oregon State “All he does is hit” is the phrase that pays to draw my attention to a prospect. I love the hit tool, and I thought about taking personal favorite Jarred Kelenic—who I think has the best hit tool in the HS class—here, but after taking two prepsters earlier, I wanted to go with the safety of collecting what might be the best bat in the college class. At 5’7”, Madrigal is a slightly taller Altuve, and at 20, he’s a little younger than Altuve was over his first full pro season, when he batted .290/.340/.399 with seven home runs. Scouts aren’t sold on Madrigal’s ability to hit for power like his similarly-sized MLB counterparts (Altuve or Dustin Pedroia, also a popular comp), but Madrigal’s advanced plate approach plus his defensive abilities, speed, lightning-quick baseball instincts, intangibles, and overall contact-monster-ness means the floor is very high for Madrigal as a leadoff hitter despite questions about his power. The elite hand-eye coordination Madrigal displays on the infield translates to incredible bat speed; watch how fast his hands fire and he drops the hammer: src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> The leadoff hitter can set the tone for an entire game. Madrigal is someone I’d happily pencil in atop my lineup anytime, and many Mariners fans would be happy to see another Beaver stay home in the PNW. Pick 8: Ben selects Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn University Mize becomes my third pitcher in three picks, but I couldn’t pass him up here. If it weren’t for a tired arm and a flexor strain in his forearm that knocked him out of duty last spring and again during his time with Team USA during the summer (but not until after he threw eight scoreless innings), he may well be regarded as the top college arm in this year’s pool of eligible draftees. When I checked out some of his highlights from last season, I immediately noticed what looked to me like a fairly violent pitching motion that consisted a lot of shoulder and arm in a very over-the-top delivery. After being snubbed for a spot in Baseball America’s Top 500 draft prospects coming out of high school, Mize got to work in the weight room, putting on 35 pounds of muscle since landing at Auburn, and the results have been on display as he’s added several tics to his heater, which regularly sits in the mid-90’s after topping out at 92 coming out of high school. His arsenal also consists of a mid-80’s splitter that’s got some serious sink to it and currently grades out at a 60, as well as a 55 slider that also sits in the mid-80’s. Even while ramping up his velocity, Mize hasn’t sacrificed his command one bit, a skill that landed him atop the NCAA last season as a sophomore in K/BB ratio (12.1) and fourth in BB/9 (1.0). The key for Mize is going to be health. You’ve heard stories about guys losing flexibility as they bulk up, which can make players more susceptible to injury. If Mize is able to put together an extended run of success this spring and show that his forearm woes are behind him, he should hear his name in the top 10 no doubt, but his draft stock—and perhaps his future as a starting pitcher—could take a serious hit if he posts another season marred by injury. Pick 9: John selects Jackson Kowar, RHP, University of Florida It appears I have a type. After snagging the top college arm in the draft in Brady Singer, I went back to the swampy Everglades-adjacent well for his teammate, Jackson Kowar. He’s no afterthought, however. Kowar[...]

Mariners Moose Tracks, 1/23/18: Chris Archer, Austin Jackson, and Pearl Jam



Tuesdays need links, too

Hello, welcome to Tuesday. It’s still January. If you squint really hard, you can see very beginnings of the baseball season over yonder on the horizon. That’s pretty neat. A long ways to go, but it’s there.

In Mariners news...

  • Oh, heyyyyyy, thereeee, Pearl Jam’s gonna play at Safeco Field twice. Ooooh yeah!