Sports

Tacoma’s James Paxton credits video for improving his pitching game

Mariners pitcher James Paxton threw six innings without allowing a run or walk for the Rainiers on Wednesday.
Mariners pitcher James Paxton threw six innings without allowing a run or walk for the Rainiers on Wednesday. The Associated Press

Tacoma Rainiers starting pitcher James Paxton had an excellent start Wednesday in El Paso, pitching six shutout innings without a walk. This was a huge step forward from his first two starts of the season, in which he walked nine batters over 6 1/3 innings.

How did he turn it around? By studying video of his successful games in 2013 and 2014, and comparing them with his first two starts of this season.

“We were looking at some video after my last start,” Paxton said, “and realized that I was throwing from a different arm slot than I had in the past when I was pitching well. I was trying to throw the ball from 7 feet in the air, which is hard to do.

“We worked on some things to bring that back to my normal arm slot. Everything felt a lot easier and a lot freer.”

The Mariners have assigned a video coordinator to each of their minor league teams for the past four years. The video coordinator shoots every game with multiple cameras positioned around the ballpark — at Cheney Stadium and on the road.

Four years into the program, the club has a library of footage available of all of their players. A player like Paxton can watch more than just video of his major league games — he can pull up a Rainiers game he pitched in 2013.

JACKSON JUMPS TO BAKERSFIELD BLAZE

The 2015 season was not a fruitful one in the Mariners farm system, but Everett shortstop Drew Jackson was one of the positive developments.

Selected in the fifth round out of Stanford in June, Jackson went on to hit .358 and steal 47 bases for the AquaSox while winning the Northwest League’s Most Valuable Player award.

The Mariners responded by giving Jackson an aggressive assignment for this season, having him skip the Low-A level and jumping him up to Advanced-A Bakersfield to start the season.

Playing every day for the Blaze, Jackson is hitting .294 with nine RBIs through 15 games. He’s had some trouble on the basepaths, stealing successfully only two times in seven attempts.

NICE HORSE, MAN

A perusal of the Mariners minor league statistics will find a stat jumping off the page.

Bakersfield reliever Ryan Horstman has struck out 19 batters in just 10 2/3 innings.

A 23-year-old left-hander, Horstman was the Mariners’ fourth-round draft pick in 2013 out of St. John’s University.

Over his first 2 1/2 professional seasons, he pitched just 22 1/3 innings because of elbow and forearm injuries.

Horstman’s fastball reaches the low 90s. He reminds some Mariners coaches of former Mariners and current Atlanta Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty.

Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.

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