Right-hander Taijuan Walker has not had the season many predicted.
The Seattle Mariners' No. 1 prospect missed Spring Training with a shoulder injury, then saw his rehab stint cut short in late April when the injury flared up again.
Since late May, he has managed to make nine starts for the Tacoma Rainiers and three more for the Mariners.
"It's new, it's all new to me," Walker said. "It's one of those things where it's almost like a test, mentally. Being on the disabled list for the first couple months, not having a Spring Training, being young you want to be up there as soon as possible, especially when the team is doing really well winning.
"So you want to be a part of that, you want to be up there pitching. It's just been tough trying to stay patient and make sure I'm healthy."
Walker has gone 4-2 with a 4.14 ERA for Tacoma and 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA for Seattle. He said if nothing else, this year has taught him patience.
"Getting an MRI, getting it checked out by the doctors, and having them say it's nothing serious, it's one of those things where you have to let it rest," Walker said. "And it's like, OK, well, how long do I have to let it rest? They're like, when you start feeling better you'll know. Just waiting around, especially because I was coming back up and had that setback. That was really the biggest test. I was really pushing to come back and then I was like, 'ugh.'"
The late-April setback pushed Walker's first Triple-A start of the year to May 28. He gave up four runs in three innings in that game, but otherwise has only had two other starts out of eight in which he has allowed more than two earned runs.
Now it's just a matter of remaining healthy and being ready the next time the Mariners call.
"I've just kind of been focusing, just making sure that when I do come back I was ready to go out there and compete and pitch," Walker said. "So I just kind of kept everything the same, tried not to do anything different. I looked back at the video to have that memory of what I did last year with my mechanics and everything.
"But it's been tough just sitting around, especially up there with what they're doing in the big leagues. It's tough, you just want to be out there, I want to pitch so bad. That's the hardest part, you want to go out there and compete and just win."
Remolded: Right-hander Caleb Clay followed up his breakout 2013 campaign in the Nationals system by signing with a Korean team. That didn't work out, so now Clay is suiting up for the Salt Lake Bees, going 3-2 with a 3.77 ERA in seven starts for the Angels' Triple-A affiliate.
Burning up the basepaths: A's speedster Billy Burns wasted little time showing off his quickness. In his first three games with the Sacramento River Cats, the center fielder has two stolen bases, giving him a total of 53 in the Minors this season.
Wolf in Lamb's clothing: Third-base prospect Jake Lamb got the call to Reno to start the month of August. So far, so good as he has gone 7-for-11 with a home run and four RBIs in three games.