Earlier this week, Seattle Mariners top prospect Taijuan Walker completed his third rehab assignment. Walker went five innings, striking out three, walking one, and surrendering two earned runs in what culminated in a no decision for the young pitcher. The following day, the Mariners made the move to activate Walker from the 15-day disabled list and optioned him to Class AAA Tacoma. The reassignment to Tacoma provides the Mariners some more time to make a decision on when Walker will be ready.
At the moment, the time frame is up in the air as Walker was scratched from his initial rehab starts. Realistically, they could bring Walker back up to the Major League level by Saturday to pitch in place of Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez could be moved to start on Monday since the team’s website shows that no starter has been officially announced for the M’s against the San Diego Padres. Or the Mariners could opt to recall Walker on Monday and have him start.
The bigger question is whether or not Walker is ready for the Majors just yet. The answer could come sooner rather than later as Seattle does need help at the number five-spot in the rotation, but there is a difference between a veteran arm in that slot compared to a rookie call up. Even if that rookie call up is the top prospect in the system.
Through three starts at the Triple-A level, Walker currently holds an ERA of 6.30 over ten innings pitched. While this was during his rehab assignment, he could use a little bit more polishing before being recalled. In his earlier rehab starts for Class A High Desert and Class AA Jackson, Walker was solid, so it could just be relative. At some point though, Taijuan Walker will be pitching in a Mariners uniform this season. It is just a matter of when it will happen.
Walker is the Mariners’ top prospect and could be useful down the stretch even if he is still unproven at the big league level.