Hultzen, Walker, Paxton among 15 sent to Minors

The Mariners made their first big round of roster cuts on Sunday and top young pitching prospects Danny Hultzen, Taijuan Walker and James Paxton were among the 15 players optioned or re-assigned to Minor League camp.

Also sent to the Minor League camp were: pitchers Yoervis Medina, Forrest Snow, Mauricio Robles, Scott Patterson; infielders Nick Franklin, Carlos Triunfel and Francisco Martinez; outfielders Johermyn Chavez, Chih-Hsien Chiang and Darren Ford; catcher Ralph Henriquez and designated hitter Luis Jimenez.

The moves leave the Mariners with 47 players remaining in Major League camp.

Hultzen, Walker and Paxton were outstanding in their Cactus League debut on Saturday night against the D-backs, combining with fellow rookie prospect Erasmo Ramirez to throw eight innings of one-run ball with just four hits between them.

“It was hard to not sit there with a big smile on your face,” said Mariners pitching coach Carl Willis.

But the youngsters need time to develop and the Mariners will let them continue to grow, at least for the start of this season, in the Minor Leagues.

Most of the players sent down Sunday are youngsters who got good looks early in camp, but the club needs to begin paring down its roster in advance of traveling to Japan on March 22-30 for the season-opening two-game series with the A’s.

Willis knows it’s just a matter of time before the three young standouts get their opportunity in the Majors. He said Saturday night’s Cactus League debuts were a good indicator of how the youngsters might handle their eventual progression.

“We saw good things in the ‘B’ game against Cincinnati [earlier in the week],” Willis said. “But to see them go out in that atmosphere [against Arizona] and almost step it up a notch, but yet be very much under control, it speaks a lot. Because they’re going to have another first time one of these days and it’s a bit of an indication of how they’re going to handle it.”

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