Paxton Tosses Shutout IP in MLB Futures Game

PHOENIX -- Former Kentucky southpaw James Paxton completed a perfect inning by retiring top prospect Bryce Harper, tossing a shutout third frame in the talent-laden MLB Futures Game, part of All-Star Week, on Sunday afternoon at the Arizona Diamondbacks' Chase Field.

A native of Ladner, British Columbia, and a member of the Seattle Mariners organization, Paxton started the third inning as part of the World Team in the Futures Game. The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder needed only six pitches to retire three of the top prospects in baseball - hitting 1-2-3 in the order - Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Baltimore Orioles shortstop Manny Machado and Harper, the Washington Nationals outfielder and former No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, currently ranked as the No. 1 prospect in baseball.

Kipnis, who played with Paxton at Kentucky in 2007, led off the third inning and grounded out on a first-pitch fastball from Paxton, with the ball splintering the bat on the hands for a slow roller at second base. Kipnis, who hit six homers in 29 starts at UK as a redshirt freshman in 2007, led of the bottom of the first inning for Team USA with a solo homer to gain an early lead. The second hitter in the third inning, Machado, flied out to rightfield and Paxton ended the inning by getting Harper to ground out softly to first base.

In 11 starts between high class A and the class AA Southern League in 2011, Paxton has totaled a 3-3 record and a 2.82 ERA, striking out 81 in 60.2 innings, allowing only 51 hits and a .232 opponent batting average.

During his three-year UK career, Paxton appeared in 55 games with 24 starts, totaling an 11-5 record and a 4.91 ERA, striking out 168 in 148.1 innings. As UK's Friday night starter in 2009, Paxton ranked third in the NCAA in strikeouts per nine innings (13.2), fanning 115 in 78.1 innings. In 13 starts in 2009, Paxton totaled a 5-3 record and a 5.86 ERA. With 115 punchouts, Paxton ranked fifth-best in the history of the Kentucky program, marking just the 10th player in program history to eclipse 100 strikeouts in a season. Paxton, southpaw Chris Rusin (108 strikeouts in 94.1 IP)  and then-freshman right-hander Alex Meyer (80 strikeouts in 59.2 IP) teamed to help UK set a new season strikeout record, as the UK staff fanned 523 in 2009, breaking the previous record of 502 team strikeouts in 1995. Paxton's ERA was inflated in 2009 courtesy of three outings that saw the lefty allow five or more runs. Without those three outings, Paxton totaled a 5-0 record and a 3.95 ERA in 10 starts, hurling 66 innings with 101 strikeouts and a .218 opponent batting average. Seven times in 2009, Paxton struck out 10 or more hitters in a game.

A supplemental first-round pick as a junior at UK in 2009, Paxton signed with the Seattle Mariners as a fourth-round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft.