DURHAM, NC – James Paxton (pictured) has rocketed through the Seattle Mariners’ minor league system since having his contract purchased from the Grand Prairie AirHogs in 2010. Just three years after his first professional season in the American Association, the left-handed pitcher is on his way to becoming a big league regular.
The Mariners announced on Tuesday that Paxton will make his major league pitching debut on Saturday when Seattle hosts the Tampa Bay Rays. Paxton will not be one-and-done in the big leagues, either. He is expected to join the M’s six-man rotation for the remainder of the 2013 season, which should come as little surprise to those who have followed the 24-year old’s young career.
Paxton debuted with Grand Prairie in 2010, making four starts and compiling a 1-2 record. In 17.2 innings, the lefty struck out 18, walked seven and earned a 4.08 ERA. The Mariners quickly saw potential in the young southpaw and purchased his contract from the AirHogs after the American Association season. From there, Seattle fast-tracked the starter.
Seattle started Paxton in the Low-A Midwest League in 2011. In 10 starts with the Clinton LumberKings, Paxton was 3-3 with a 2.73 ERA. The lefty also posted a remarkable 80 strikeouts in 56 innings, earning him a rapid promotion to Double-A. The ramped-up competition did little to deter Paxton’s success. In fact, the left-hander posted better numbers with the Jackson Generals. Paxton handled the Southern League to the tune of a 3-0 record and a 1.85 ERA. He struck out 51 men in 39 innings with a 1.05 WHIP.
The youngster’s success at Double-A caught the attention of Major League Baseball and Baseball America. Both ranked Paxton as a top-100 prospect before the start of the 2012 season (MLB.com #77; Baseball America #52). Once again, Paxton delivered. He went 9-4 with a 3.05 ERA in a much larger Double-A sample size. He made 21 starts with the Generals, striking out 110 in 106.1 innings.
His continued success earned Paxton even more praise from MLB.com and Baseball America prior to 2013. Though Paxton fell in Baseball America’s pre-season prospect rankings to #87, MLB.com rated him #57 on its list. He is 8-11 in his first Triple-A season this year with the Tacoma Rainiers and owns a 4.45 ERA. Entering his major league debut on Saturday, Paxton is listed as the #6 prospect in the Mariners’ organization, according to MLB.com.