Success in bigs changes plans for Altavilla

Mariners prospect will no longer pitch in Fall League due to workload

Success in bigs changes plans for Altavilla

SEATTLE -- He made the jump from Double-A Jackson to the Majors during the season, throws heat in the upper 90s and has been a big contributor to the Mariners' bullpen already as a rookie. But, no, we're not talking about closer Edwin Diaz this time.

Dan Altavilla, a stocky 24-year-old from Pennsylvania, has made his own mark on the Mariners in his short time since getting the call up in late August, with a 1.29 ERA in nine appearances and enough presence to already be getting some use in late-inning situations.

Altavilla has pitched so well that general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais informed him on Sunday morning that he will no longer be throwing in the Arizona Fall League this offseason as originally planned, due to the unexpected workload he's carrying into late September with the big league club.

"I just had a meeting with Jerry and Servais and they said I'm not going to go," Altavilla said prior to Sunday's series finale with the Astros. "I'm just going to take it home after the season. Either way would have been good for me, but throwing regularly here, they just said there's no real need to throw 15 more innings."

Altavilla loves pitching and competing, but he understands the decision.

"If I had to pick one, I'd definitely pitch here," he said with a grin. "I'm sure anyone would."

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound right-hander has allowed just one run on six hits with one walk and six strikeouts in his first seven innings in the Majors.

"He's done really well, a young guy coming up from Double-A," Servais said. "You don't quite know how he's going to handle everything. Right when he got here, we were forced to put him into some situations that were a little tougher, some big games in Texas and stuff like that on the road and he handled it fine."

Like Diaz, Altavilla was converted to the bullpen this year and the move paid off with a quick rise through the Minor League system. After going 6-12 with a 4.07 ERA in 28 starts for Class A Advanced Bakersfield last year, he was 7-3 with a 1.91 ERA and 16 saves in 43 relief outings for Jackson before getting promoted to Seattle.

"It's a little more of an adjustment pitching to these hitters. You've got to execute a little better," Altavilla said. "You get away with a little more in Double-A. These hitters aren't going to miss mistakes. But just getting more comfortable out there is the biggest thing for me.

"It's all starting to sink in a little," he said. "The first week I was on Cloud Nine the whole time. Now I'm getting more comfortable and it just seems like a regular day of work. Just coming in every day and getting to play baseball here is something special."

And the Mariners believe they've uncovered another young power arm for their bullpen for this year and beyond.

"I like what I see," Servais said. "I think he has a very bright future ahead of him. As he continues to hone his craft on how to attack certain hitters with his stuff, I think it's just going to get better."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.