Mariners call up pitching prospect Dominic Leone
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Right-hander Dominic Leone, a top pitching prospect in the Mariners organization, was called up from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday for his first stint in the majors.
The 22-year-old Leone had his contract selected Friday and arrived in Oakland in time to be available for the second game of a four-game series against the Athletics. He has been on the fast track to the big leagues since being drafted in the 16th round of the 2012 draft out of Clemson.
Manager Lloyd McClendon says he won’t hesitate to use Leone in an ”impactful” situation.
”We liked Leone in spring training and he came close to making our club,” McClendon said. ”We just felt that he was a good fit at this time.”
Leone received an early call from minor league coordinator Chris Gwynn, then packed up in Tacoma, Wash., and headed for the airport. Leone brings a fresh arm after last throwing a couple of days ago.
He figured he would have pitched Thursday, but Tacoma’s opener got rained out. He has essentially bypassed Triple-A after spending last season at two levels of Class-A ball and Double-A Jackson.
”When I got drafted in 2012, I made it a goal to keep pushing the pace,” Leone said. ”I understand this is a business and there are numbers involved and guys in front of you, but I didn’t let that affect me.
”I went about my business, did my work. I didn’t really keep it in mind how fast I was moving. When I got to Jackson last year is when I kind of realized, `Whoa, this is the first full season, this is the real deal.’ I didn’t want to let off the gas pedal at all, I wanted to keep going.”
Neither team took batting practice on a soggy field after the tarp was kept off the field overnight through a heavy rain after the teams played 12 innings Thursday. But Leone and some other pitchers tossed a football around in the outfield for a light workout.
”It kind of breaks up the intensity of the moment,” Leone said. ”You get out there and your nerves are a little bit high.”
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, a 14-game winner and All-Star last season who began this year on the disabled list with a torn tendon in his middle finger, threw a 55-pitch session on flat ground featuring only fastballs and came out of it well.
”He did great,” athletic trainer Rick Griffin said.
Iwakuma expects to throw again Sunday, then he could go off a mound by the middle of the week, McClendon said.
”I felt great,” Iwakuma said.
To clear room on the 40-man roster for Leone, the Mariners designated for assignment right-hander Hector Noesi.