Mariners Insider Blog

Paxton, Nuno off to strong starts in winter ball

James Paxton is trying to salvage something positive from a disappointing season by pitching in the Arizona Fall League.
James Paxton is trying to salvage something positive from a disappointing season by pitching in the Arizona Fall League. AP

Far from the spotlight of the World Series, which begins Tuesday in Kansas City, the Mariners can point to some encouraging news from various winter ball locales.

Lefty James Paxton has made three starts for Peoria in the Arizona Fall League, apparently without incident, after missing roughly four months of the season because of problems with his middle finger.

Lefty swingman Vidal Nuno, meanwhile, has yet to allow an earned run in 12 innings over two starts for Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League. He has allowed just six hits while striking out nine and walking three.

Nuno’s tentative plan is to remain with Aragua until Nov. 24.

Paxton is tracking for six starts at Peoria before the Fall League’s regular season concludes Nov. 19. He has allowed 12 hits in 10 1/3 innings, but results are somewhat deceptive because he is using a limited repertoire.

Club officials want Paxton to stay away from breaking balls in an effort to avoid renewed problems with his middle finger. Their priority is for him to log innings in an effort to build his endurance for next season.

Paxton suffered a strained ligament on May 28 and made just three starts after returning in September because of a torn nail on the same finger. He pitched just 73 2/3 innings, including his time on a rehab assignment.

Other winter notables:

***Lefty reliever David Rollins has two scoreless one-inning outings for Peoria after beginning his Fall League tour by giving up two runs and four hits in two innings.

***Lefty Tyler Olson gave up three runs and four hits over three innings in his last start for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League. That came after four scoreless innings in his debut.

***Infielder D.J. Peterson is 7-for-22 with two homers and seven RBIs in six games for Peoria. He was the Mariners’ top pick in the 2013 draft, but he batted just .223 with seven homers and 44 RBIs this season in 97 games at Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma.

***Infielder Tyler Smith is 8-for-22 in six games at Peoria. He was an eight-round pick in 2013 and batted .271 with a .361 on-base percentage this season in 121 games at Jackson.

***Outfielder Tyler O’Neill’s all-or-nothing approach remains evident at Peoria. He has two homers and two doubles in 23 at-bats but also 10 strikeouts. He was a third-round pick in 2013 and had 32 homers (and 137 strikeouts) this season in 106 games at Hi-A Bakersfield.

***Outfielder James Jones is batting .273 (12-for-44) in 12 games at Aragua in Venezuela. He also has five walks for a .353 on-base percentage.

SHORT HOPS

Former pitching coach Rick Waits is expected to remain with the Mariners as their minor-league pitching coordinator under new farm director Andy McKay. Waits spent three years in that role before becoming the big-league pitching coach in 2014…Jack Howell appears a likely candidate to replace Lee May Jr. as the minor-league hitting coordinator. Howell spent the last four seasons as the minor-league field coordinator…The Mariners fired Rookie Peoria manager Darrin Garner, who spent 21 years in the organization. He was Peoria’s manager for the last three seasons after serving the eight previous years as the minor-league infield coordinator.

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