Fagan Progressing Nicely in Everett

EVERETT, Wash. - If you're new to the game of baseball, don't get too used to the Felix Hernandez style of progression. The young pitching phenom made quick work of the Mariners' minor league affiliates, but the feat isn't exactly common. Minor leaguers don't usually see major league action for several years after being drafted. This is perfectly fine for players such as AquaSox pitcher Paul Fagan, however, who is anxious to prove that good things can come to those who wait.

Fagan was picked up out of high school by the Mariners in the fourth round of the 2003 draft and quickly assigned to the Peoria Mariners of the Arizona Rookie League. Though he put up solid numbers that year (9 G, 1-2, 4.36 ERA, 33 IP, 24 K, 6 BB) they weren't enough to earn him a promotion. Nevertheless, Fagan remained happy with his decision to go pro.

"I just wanted to get [my career] going," said Fagan. "I had a good scholarship to the University of Florida, but I'd rather do this. This has been my dream since fifth grade, since I was first playing."

The young lefty had more opportunities to work during his encore season at Peoria, appearing in 12 games and posting a 4-3 record with a 5.07 ERA. And while his numbers didn't skyrocket from the year before, Fagan maintains the time spent in Arizona was well worth it.

"It kind of helped me a little bit, just to get more of a feel for hitters up here in this league and more of a feel of how to throw to a wood bat, versus aluminum," he said. "It didn't affect me at all—other than that—in a bad way."

Positive thinking yielded positive results as Fagan climbed up a rung in the M's system and reported to Everett for the 2005 season. The move proved successful for the Jacksonville, Florida native, who has seen a significant jump in his numbers and is en route to his best season yet.

"He just comes out there throwing strikes and has outstanding movement," said Pat Rice, the Mariners minor league pitching coordinator, of Fagan. "Sometimes he just can't control things because his pitches move so much. He can throw 90 miles per hour when he tries to throw it straight, and just needs to command his fastball and let the movement take care of itself. Once he figures out how to do that, he could move really quick through the system."

Through August 14, Fagan is 4-2 with a 3.32 ERA and has proven one of the most valuable components of the AquaSox starting rotation.

"I feel like I've made a lot of progression. The big thing is I'm back with Marcos Garcia," said Fagan, who learned under Garcia as a pitching coach at Peoria in 2003 before being reunited with the AquaSox pitching coach again this season. "He had a lot of effect on me my first year—my rookie year—and I'm back up here with him and we're kind of working on the same stuff again and there's just been a lot of success and maturing."

Garcia has been just as high on Fagan and is impressed with the young pitcher's work and improvement this year.

"He's doing a great job throwing strikes," Garcia said. "All he has to do is throw strikes and attack the hitters."

Garcia refuses to take any credit for the numbers Fagan is putting up, however.

"All I'm doing is giving him confidence and he's doing it himself," Garcia reiterated.

If Fagan can stay confident and continue to see his numbers increase, it is unlikely Garcia will be coaching him much longer. While his two years in Arizona were no doubt worthwhile, Fagan has no intention of returning to Everett next season, stating simply, "I don't plan on being back here."

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