James Paxton, LHP, Jackson Generals (AA, 24.1 years old on average in 2011)
6-4, 220lbs, 23 years old
Bats: Left, Throws: Left
Acquired: 2010 Amateur Draft (4th round)
Paxton is one of the most successful value acquisitions the Mariners have made under Jack Zduriencik, as Paxton had been drafted in 2009 by the Toronto Blue Jays, but failed to sign because he wanted more money than the Blue Jays were willing to offer. After attempting to return to Kentucky for his senior season, the NCAA ruled that he was ineligible because he’d made contact with Scott Boras. So Paxton was left with no college team and no big league team to play on, so he signed with the Independent League. There he pitched decently in limited action, amid some reports that his velocity was down. It appears that it has been regained in the Mariners farm system, and now he’s shot up the Mariners prospect list. His 12.4 K/9 last year in 95 innings split between Clinton and Jackson was quite impressive. His walks need to come down, as he’s averaged exactly 4.0 BB/9 so far in the minors, and he’ll need to develop a better third pitch to go along with his mid-90s fastball and plus-curve, as his changeup appears only average right now. If his command never improves though, Paxton can still have a career on par with Jonathan Sanchez if he remains a starter, or Sean Marshall if he’s moved to the bullpen.
Potential (of 40): 36
Probability of Success (of 30):24
Positional value (of 20): 18
Character (of 10): 10
Check out the rest of the Mariners Top 25 Prospects.