Former Ashland University pitcher Art Warren didn't get much of an opportunity to get on the mound in his first professional season.
He is chomping at the bit to prove himself and move up in the Seattle Mariners' organization in pro season No. 2.
Warren became the first Eagle to be selected in the Major League Baseball draft since 1989, and the seventh Ashland baseball player selected overall, when he was picked by the Mariners in the 23rd round (No. 695 overall) in June.
"It's quite an accomplishment," Warren said. "I actually didn't even think about being the first guy drafted from Ashland in 26 years. Basically, for me, it was how much work I have put in throughout my baseball career."
In his only season on the mound for the Eagles after transferring from Division I Cincinnati, Warren was 5-4 with a 3.88 earned run average in 60 1/3 innings over 12 starts in 2015. He allowed 48 hits and 47 walks while striking out 52, and yielded just one home run.
Warren returned to the mound last spring after missing the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery.
"I learned a lot here," he said, "and that's one of the reasons why I transferred from UC is because I wasn't getting worked with. When I came here, it was more hands-on coaching."
After being drafted, however, Warren didn't make his professional debut with the Mariners' Arizona Rookie League team until August 3.
"When I went out there, I had a shoulder problem, so I didn't pitch right away," Warren said. "I started throwing again, and had to do rehab for the whole month and a half that I was out. I was supposed to be in short-season (Class) A, which is basically where all the drafted guys go. But since I was injured, I lost my spot, and that's how it works in pro ball."
Instead of beginning his pro career in Everett, Wash., Warren pitched in six regular-season games and one postseason contest out of the bullpen for the AZL Mariners. During the regular year, he was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and 10 strikeouts in seven innings. In Warren's one playoff outing, he pitched a scoreless inning with a K and earned a save for the eventual league runner-up.
"It was awesome. It's cool to have 'Mariners' across your chest, and you're pitching against other pro teams," Warren said, "and the level of competition's a lot better than college. Everyone is more consistent."
Going forward, there are a few unknowns for Warren. Seattle has a new general manager in Jerry Dipoto and a new minor-league pitching coordinator in Rick Waits.
"I'm going to go out there and, hopefully, I'm going to make the low-A (Clinton, Iowa) or high-A (Bakersfield, California) team, which are full-season clubs," Warren said. "If I for some reason don't make that, then I'd be assigned to extended spring training. The ultimate goal is to maybe reach double-A (Jackson, Tenn.), if I have a good spring training.
"I think I'm durable enough to last a full season. The only way to tell is just to go out and do it. We have a new GM, we have a new pitching coordinator, we have a new manager, we have new coaches, so I have to go out and basically re-impress everybody. It's like starting over again, essentially."