The Seattle Mariners apparently still had plenty of international slot dollars from their offseason buildup when they were chasing two-way star Shohei Ohtani from Japan.
They announced the signing of two left-handed pitchers on Tuesday, even if neither are projected to have the same national fanfare of Ohtani. They agreed to deals with Jing-Yu Chang of Taiwan and Blake Townsend of Australia.
Chang is an 18-year-old who recently graduated from Kao Yuan Technology and Commerce High School and he’s also a member of the Taiwanese National U-18 team.
Tim Kissner, the Mariners’ director of international scouting, said they liked Chang’s athleticism.
“A very good, durable body, clean arm action, repeatable delivery, feel for the strike zone and ability to spin a curveball,” Kissner said in a release. “We talk about prospects with upside and projection and Chang fits the mold perfectly.”
Townsend is a 17-year-old who toured Arizona with the Australian U-18 National Team in April and pitched against Major League extended spring training teams. Kissner said he profiles as a starting pitcher.
He isn’t the first Australian pitcher to join the Mariners’ organization. They had some success with left-handers Ryan Rowland-Smith (now on the Root Sports broadcast team), Travis Blackley and Craig Anderson.
“We are excited about his upside once he begins working with our player development group,” Kissner said. “Watching him pitch in January, I was very impressed with his extreme competitiveness on the mound, while throwing a ton of strikes.”
Can right-hander Felix Hernandez (6-6, 5.44 ERA) build off of his last start, when he allowed just two runs in seven innings in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox? He’ll start the Mariners’ second game of this three-game series against right-hander Jonathan Loaisiga (1-0, 0.00 ERA).
The game starts at 4:05 p.m. Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. It will televise on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM radio.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677