It was the biggest week thus far of James Paxton's promising pro baseball career.
The 22-year-old Seattle Mariners' prospect worked a perfect inning, pitching for the World Team in last Sunday's Futures Game in Phoenix.
The Ladner left-hander took to the mound in the third inning and needed just six pitches to complete his work. He got former University Kentucky teammate Jason Kipnis out on a broken bat come-backer, retired Manny Machado on a routine flyball, then 2010 first overall pick Bryce Harper hit a grounder to first base on a 96 mph fastball.
"I felt pretty good, actually,'' Paxton told the Seattle Times.
"Surprisingly, I expected to be quite nervous, but once I got out there and threw my first couple of warmup pitches, I just calmed myself down, and focused on throwing strikes."
He had little time to savour his performance, having to jump on a bus for a long ride to rejoin his Jackson Generals' teammates in time for his second start in the Double-A Southern League yesterday against the Carolina Mudcats.
Paxton earned the promotion after an outstanding stint with the Class A Clinton Lumberjacks where he posted a 2.73 ERA in 10 starts and recorded 80 strikeouts in 56 innings of work.
Paxton's journey to pro baseball proved to be a long one. He was originally drafted 37th overall in the 2009 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays but failed to come to terms with the team prior to the Aug. 15 deadline for school eligible players. He was then ruled ineligible for his senior season at Kentucky over his agent Scott Boras' role in his contract negotiations with the Blue Jays.
He eventually left school and signed with the independent Grand Prairie AirHogs where he pitched last spring. Paxton was then drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Mariners and agreed on a contract that included a $942,500 (US) signing bonus.