FORMER AIRHOG PAXTON PLAYS SPOILER

FORMER AIRHOG PAXTON PLAYS SPOILER

Independent Baseball Insider: Vol. 11, No. 33, September 26, 2013

By Bob Wirz

Two more American Association hurlers, Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar, have been hoping to reach the postseason with Kansas City, but those hopes were virtually extinguished this week by a third pitcher who also started his professional journey in Miles Wolff’s league.

The spoilsport was rookie Seattle left-hander James Paxton (Grand Prairie, TX/pictured), who has debuted in the majors with four starts this month, the best of which came this week when his powerful seven shutout innings in which he allowed only four hits (no walks) while striking out 10 improved his record to 3-0 and lowered his earned run average to 1.50.  “James was really good tonight,” Seattle Manager Eric Wedge told The Tacoma (WA) News Tribune. “He was really consistent.  He was strong throughout all the way to the last pitch.  He commanded the ball game.”

Mike Zunino, who caught Paxton this week as well as with Triple-A Tacoma earlier this season when results were very up and down for the southpaw, told The News Tribune “I think his focus is just a lot better now.  He’s sort of zeroing in on a smaller target and his mistakes are a lot smaller.”  

4 to 6 Players Headed to Postseason

One of Mickey Callaway’s star pitchers, Scott Kazmir, will be right alongside presuming Cleveland does not let up and secures a wild card playoff spot.  Kazmir rebounded from his season with Sugar Land, TX to once again become a proficient major leaguer.  The southpaw has had a 9-9, 4.14 season with 151 strikeouts, but his September ERA of 2.86 (2-2) indicates he can be a factor in the postseason, which would make the Skeeters and Atlantic League look that much better.

Detroit’s 21-game winner Max Scherzer (21-3) heads a contingent of four–possibly five–other players with time in Indy circuits who also will be in the American League playoffs.  Scherzer (Fort Worth, TX, American Association) will join the Boston trio of shortstop Stephen Drew (Camden, NJ, Atlantic), outfielder Daniel Nava (Chico, CA, Golden League) and southpaw reliever Craig Breslow (New Jersey Jackals, then in the Northeast League, now in the Can-Am) and if Texas can sneak in its roster will include reliever Tanner Scheppers (St. Paul, MN, American Association).

Nava, the onetime undersized collegian who spent more time washing uniforms than playing only to work his way from nearly forgotten to regular duty in Boston, left no doubt how he felt when the Red Sox clinched the A. L. East title.  “It’s huge for me,” he told ESPNBoston.com, while holding his one-month-old daughter Faith in his arms at Fenway Park.  “It’s too much for me.  From Indy ball to this?  Are you kidding me.”  The 30-year-old, with career highs in average (.296), home runs (11) and RBI (63) plus an impressive .380 on-base percentage, admitted he did not know if he would make the team out of spring training, then when he did what his role would be.

“…so just to have the opportunity to play left, right, first, I think that was something that I wanted, to play as much as I can and they’ve given me the opportunity to play a lot,” Nava added.