LumberKings’ Walker named Mariners MiLB pitcher of the year

LumberKings 3B Matt Browning watches as SP Taijuan Walker throws to first base during a game in August.

Clinton LumberKings RHP Taijuan Walker and Jackson Generals 3B/1B/OF Vinnie Catricala were named the Seattle Mariners’ minor-league pitcher and player of the year, respectively.

Walker, 19, was the Mariners’ top draft pick (43rd overall) in 2010. He started 18 games for the LumberKings this year, going 6-5 with a 2.89 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings. He held opponents to a .202 batting average.

In September, Baseball America ranked Walker the No. 1 prospect in the Midwest League.

Catricala, 23, was a 10th-round draft pick in 2009. He split the 2011 season between the Class A+ High Desert Mavericks of the California League and the Class AA Jackson Generals of the Southern League. He hit .349 with 25 home runs and 106 RBI.

Catricala played 135 games for the LumberKings in 2010. He hit .302 with 17 home runs and 79 RBI.

The Mariners also picked a pitcher and a player of the year for each of their minor-league teams. For the LumberKings, Walker was the pitcher of the year and IF/OF Stefen Romero was the player of the year. Romero, 23, was a 12th-round pick in 2010. He hit .280 with 16 home runs and 65 RBI this year, his first as a professional ballplayer.

Stefen Romero bats during a Clinton LumberKings game in August.

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