Not long ago, a scout went to check out the Seattle Mariners' Double-A affiliate and came away extremely impressed with the pitching staff assembled for the Jackson Generals.
"It's one of the finest pitching staffs I've ever seen in baseball," the scout said.
With three top-notch starting prospects and, at the time, two hard-throwing relievers, it's easy to see why the scout was so enamored. Here's what he had to say about the quintet of talented arms in the Mariners' system.
Danny Hultzen: "His fastball is 93-95 mph. His changeup is plus and his command of it is plus. But he used it too much. He needs to use his fastball more (something he may have been doing in his past two starts). His slider is average now, with below-average command, but it should be above-average in the future. He's athletic and should be a No. 3 starter."
Taijuan Walker: "I project him as a No. 2. He has below-average command right now of an electric, top-notch fastball, with plus life, up to 99 mph. He'll have to control the life on it. If he can do that, he could be a No. 1 starter. He has a below-average curve now, but I project it to be plus. His command is inconsistent with his release point. But he's just learning how to pitch. He's a two-pitch guy with a show-me changeup. But the two pitches will be plus and he'll be able to throw the changeup enough to keep hitters honest. It's a great scouting story, from the scouting director all the way down to the area guy. That was a gutsy pick."
James Paxton: "I've never been a big Paxton guy, but he could be a No. 4 starter. He has an easy power arm, but below-average command of it right now. It projects to be average. His slider and changeup are below-average now, but should be average for both. He could end up in the bullpen, where everything would play up. He might have to develop a hard cutter."
Carter Capps: "It's an 80 fastball, 97-100 mph. He has an average slider and a plus changeup that he throws 86-88 mph. He has a cross-fire delivery that makes him impossible for right-handed hitters to hit. His deception and angle make him even tougher. He won't be here very long."
Stephen Pryor (since promoted to Triple-A): "Another 80 fastball, 97-100 mph. His slider is 90-94 mph. He has closer stuff and dominates with two pitches. He's strong, durable, pitches downhill and is really aggressive on the mound. He'll be in the big leagues soon."