The Seattle Mariners Cano-centric push to compete this season could make them an active team on the trade market as the deadline approaches, but they might have an effective reinforcement on the way to the majors from inside the organization. Top prospect Taijuan Walker has completed his rehab assignment and is set to make his 2014 debut on Monday against the Houston Astros, manager Lloyd McClendon announced Saturday night (via MLB.com's Greg Johns).
The Mariners are sitting in third place at the moment, at 43-38 in the AL West. Walker could step into the M's rotation and provide them with a solid fifth starter, something they haven't had this season. Brandon Maurer and Erasmo Ramirez have started a combined 18 games at the back end of the rotation. The Mariners are 6-12 in those games. If Walker performs the way he has during his minor-league career -- the way many scouts believe he can in the majors -- Seattle could be in much better shape behind Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, Roenis Elias, and Chris Young.
Shoulder issues have kept Walker from starting the season with the team, having been shut down at the end of February. However, his return won't necessarily prevent the Mariners from considering the acquisition of another starting pitcher, but he could help the team remain in a position that warrants another bold move.
Last season, the 21-year-old made three starts for Seattle, pitching to a 3.60 ERA with 12 strikeouts and four walks in 15 innings. In six Triple-A starts this year, he has posted a 4.11 ERA with a 1.04 WHIP. Coming into the season, most top prospects lists had him in the top 10, and several evaluators considered him the best pitching prospect in the game.