James Paxton Solid with 9 Ks, Taijuan Walker Starts Tonight

The Mariners exciting trio of James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, and Danny Hultzen keeps the Jackson Generals as one of the best minor league teams to cover in baseball and even better when Paxton is as good as he was last night.

After getting roughed up in his last two starts, Paxton was back on track against the Tennessee Smokies yesterday: 6 innings, 9 K, 2 BB, 3 H and 1 unearned run. Paxton had completely lost control in his previous two outings but he kept the ball in the zone and went a season-high six innings, probably making it his most efficient start of the season as the Generals won by a score of 7-2.

Denny Almonte went 3-for-3 with two home runs. The former 2nd round pick has had one of the highest strikeout rates in baseball during his career, which has kept him from being considered a good prospect, but he’s having a career year in 2012.

Almonte is hitting .359/.412/.654 with 6 HR, 5 2B and a more reasonable 23 strikeouts in 20 games. Last season, Almonte struck out 161 times in 128 games. The year before, he struck out 192 times in 127 games. He’s been a leader in the lineup for Jackson this season.

Taijuan Walker makes his fourth start of the season tonight for Jackson at 5:05 PST. He has 21 strikeouts and 5 walks allowed in 16 innings with a 2.25 ERA. By now, most people have to consider him to be Seattle’s #1 prospect, though he probably won’t join the rotation until 2013.

Jackson is now 15-7 on the season and in first place.

The Tacoma Rainiers won by a score of 6-4 over Las Vegas. Guillermo Quiroz, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Scott Savastano, and Leury Bonilla had two hits apiece. The top prospect in Tacoma, 3B Vinnie Catricala, went 1-for-3 and now has a five-game hitting streak to raise his average to .205.

Mike Carp has been devastatingly bad for the Rainiers and who knows how long until he returns to Seattle. He went 1-for-5, ending a string of 18 hitless at-bats. He is hitting .128/.190/.154 in 39 at-bats on the year.

Shawn Kelley picked up his third save of the season.

The Rainiers are 9-12 and Jeff Marquez gets the start at 7:05 PM.

The High Desert Mavericks split a doubleheader against San Jose and travel to take on Inland Empire tonight. The Mavs lost the first game 3-0 and won the second game 6-0.

Catcher John Hicks went 2-for-2 with a home run in the second game. Anthony Fernandez went 7 innings, allowing 2 hits and striking out 7 in the shutout.

Finally, the Clinton Lumberkings also picked up a victory yesterday by beating Great Lakes 8-4 with a 6-run fifth inning.

Jabari Blash went 2-for-5 with 2 home runs and 5 RBI. Blash is only hitting .167 on the season, however.

Ambioris Hidalgo picked up his first win of the season for Clinton.

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