Independent Baseball Insider by Bob Wirz – Vol. 12, No. 2,   March 13, 2014

           Southpaw James Paxton (Grand Prairie 2010) would certainly be on the short list if I was to try to assess the “positives” coming out of major league spring training camps so far, although his success for Seattle makes him far from the only onetime Independent player putting up great numbers.

           Paxton’s four innings of one-run work against Arizona earlier this week lowered his earned run average to 1.00 (one run in nine innings), providing considerable encouragement to a rotation in need of a shot in the arm because neither Taijuan Walker nor Hisashi Iwakuma is expected to be available when the American League team opens its season March 31.

           “His confidence is just soaring,” pitching coach Rick Waits told The Tacoma News Tribune of the 25-year-old even before he faced the Diamondbacks.  “It (confidence) started in the middle of last season when he felt he had taken that last little step and was ready to get his feet established in the big leagues.”

           “I shortened up my delivery on my back side,” Paxton told the newspaper, which Waits said made Paxton’s off-speed pitches better.  He has allowed just seven hits without walking anyone so far this spring.

           Bo Schultz and Kris Johnson  are among other former Indy hurlers getting a good look this spring in a quest to reach Opening Day.

           Schultz, another former Grand Prairie hurler, has five scoreless innings (three hits) in two outings for Arizona, where he is a 40-man roster guy.   He started the last time out, and also has gone 2-for-2 at the plate although his bat will not win him a job.  Johnson (Kansas City, KS, American Association) has not allowed a run in five innings spread over four outings in his first year with Minnesota.

Peralta, Kevin Johnson Get Looks

           We try to keep our eyes open for onetime Independent players who get brought over for a day or more from minor league camps to wear a major league uniform.  The most recent we have seen who have actually gotten into games include two who started pro careers in Indy uniforms.  Outfielder David Peralta has gone 1-for-2 plus a walk in three outings with Arizona and Kevin Johnson worked briefly from the mound for the Los Angeles Angels.  Peralta played in the American Association (Amarillo, TX, and Wichita, KS). 

Photo: Brad Barton/Grand Prairie AirHogs


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