SEATTLE -- A couple of new Mariners signees were on hand at Safeco Field to take batting practice before Tuesday night's game against Oakland. Second-round pick Austin Wilson and 13th-rounder Lachlan Fontaine each hit a few pitches into the stands while wearing personalized Mariners jerseys in front of family, friends and reporters.
"It's awesome, to get on a big league field," Wilson said. "You watch guys play on TV here, the opportunity to play out here and hit. It gives you motivation and incentive to go out in the minors and work hard, and hopefully some day I can work out here and play here."
Wilson, an outfielder out of Stanford, impressed onlookers with his power, hitting a number of balls deep over the left-field fence. The 21-year-old Wilson led Stanford with a .288 batting average, along with five home runs. Fontaine is a third baseman from Canada, who was named the No.1 Top Prospect at the prestigious Perfect Game camp in Arizona.
Wilson said he was very excited to be drafted by the Mariners and that he was already familiar with the organization.
"A lot of the young prospects that I follow, I mean, I've seen [pitching prospect] Taijuan Walker play in high school, I watched [Mariners catcher Mike] Zunino play, I got to play against him in Cape Cod," Wilson said. "It's an honor to play out here, and I watched [Mariners All-Star Ken] Griffey growing up, so it's almost surreal to be out here and I was very excited the Mariners picked me up."
Top prospect Walker earns promotion to Triple-A
SEATTLE -- It was only a matter of time before the Mariners let top prospect Taijuan Walker try his stuff at the Triple-A level. Seattle made the call Friday, promoting the right-hander from Double-A Jackson to Triple-A Tacoma, where he will start Tuesday.
Walker has been showing that he's ready for the promotion for some time, boasting a 2.46 ERA in 84 innings for Jackson. His 96 strikeouts were the second-most among all Double-A pitchers, and his 1.05 WHIP was ninth-best. In his final start, the 20-year old struck out a career-high 12 batters in 6 2/3 innings.
Walker has been regarded as one of the Mariners' best pitching prospects since they selected him 43rd overall in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.
He is the fifth-ranked prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com.
Wedge plans to maintain closer by committee
SEATTLE -- Mariners skipper Eric Wedge said the Mariners will continue with a committee approach while the closer situation sorts itself out. Seattle has asked different relievers to save games while former closer Tom Wilhelmsen works through his recent struggles.
The normally dependable Wilhelmsen has allowed a baserunner in his past eight appearances and has a 12.00 ERA in 10 games since May 29. Wilhelmsen was seventh in the American League with 29 saves a year ago, despite not taking over the closer role until June.
"There can't be any clarity right now, because there's no clear-cut closer and we've got a couple guys struggling, trying to find it," Wedge said. "So you mix and match as best you can. That's what happens when you lose your closer, you pull everybody else out of their roles."
Amid Wilhelmsen's struggles, the Mariners have tried Yoervis Medina and Oliver Perez in the ninth. Wedge says that practice will continue as the Mariners start an eight-game homestand.
"It's just part of it," Wedge said. "They've got to handle it, they've got to come together. Opportunities are going to be given like they have been, and it's an opportunity to step up."
• The Mariners blew only two saves in the first 44 games of the season, but they've blown eight since May 20.
• Kyle Seager's four-hit game Thursday night was the Mariners' first in 74-games. Seattle was the only team without a player recording a four-hit game this season before Seager accomplished the feat.
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.