One of the more anticipated debuts in minors memory leads a solid slate of performances.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our farm-system-following staff and feel like EVERYBODY has their eyes on the minors at any given moment. While that’s usually not the case, yesterday was a fascinating day for the youngsters who will determine the fate of the Mariners for the 2020s (your occasional reminder that Julio Rodriguez was born on December 29, 2000, a date science tells me adult human beings were capable of being born and yet my brain rejects it). Not every level shone brilliantly but it was a fun day in total, especially if for whatever reason you just love seeing Yadier Molina flounder.
DSL Mariners: Off
The Marineritos took their usual Sunday rest, but lost on Saturday, which I’d tell you more about if there was anything good to share, but alas. Jose Caguana was not charged with any errors in that game? That’s a good thing. He also struck out three times. Not so good! But walked twice? Yay? Also, Jonatan Clase didn’t appear in this game after being lifted early in Friday’s game. One hopes the reason is positive (promotion) and not sinister (injury).
AZL Mariners (19-25) blanked by AZL Padres 2 (30-14), 2-0
The AZL Mariners, alas, continue to struggle; they didn’t have a single extra-base hit in this game, and struck out eight times. The offense couldn’t help out the pitching, which held up well, with new acquisition Elvis Alvarado allowing just one run over three innings; Brazilian international signing Christian Pedrol was solid as well, with 3.1 innings of hitless, scoreless ball.
Everett AquaSox (25-30) crunched by Hillsboro Hops (35-20), 10-1
This was a rough one. Starter Juan Then was roughed up for four runs over four innings, and walked as many batters as he struck out (2). Deivy Florido continued to dig the hole deeper, giving up six runs in just three innings, although he did collect five strikeouts, which is promising. Even better, Dan Altavilla made a rehab appearance, striking out two and allowing no hits in his inning of work. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t contribute much of note, striking out an astonishing 14 times and being kept off the board until the 8th, when they scratched across one measly run on a sac fly.
Despite their poor performance on the field, the AquaSox players came back out to make sure some kids had a memorable night at the ballpark:
Never have I been more proud to be a part of the @EverettAquaSox organization. Long day, the team lost 10-1 and yet @LouisBoyd2 and the entire team came back out on the field with smiles on their faces and made this event special for the athletes that participated. What a night! https://t.co/GgrQCjrPPU— Steve Willits (@stevewillits) August 12, 2019
Pretty cool scene here after the @EverettAquaSox game tonight...— Josh Horton (@JoshHortonEDH) August 12, 2019
Frogs players/coaches helping out with Miracle Baseball game at Funko Field. The Miracle League provides the opportunity for developmentally and mentally challenged youth to play baseball — it’s an awesome cause. pic.twitter.com/XmI0ovV3D6
West Virginia Power (61-58) ice Lakewood Blueclaws (49-68), 6-1
Here’s where things start to heat up. The Power have had a tough go of it, going 17-7 in April with a top-heavy roster of Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, and Logan Gilbert. By May 1st, Gilbert was gone, and by the end of May Kelenic departed with him. Since May 1, the Power have gone 44-51, further losing out on impact with Rodriguez on the IL for nearly two months. Now, with Julio back and 2019 draftee Austin Shenton up already, they have at least two guys whose ball “sounds different” off the bat. I was able to take in the Power and BlueClaws in person this weekend (more on that this week!) but yesterday’s game was the clear jewel of the weekend. Facing top-10 Phillies prospect Francisco Morales and his mid-90s heat/solid slider, the Power managed to string together some offense.
Julio paced the Power with a 4-for-5 day including a deep opposite field double, setting the bottom of the order up nicely to drive him in.
Julio Rodriguez doubles to RF. pic.twitter.com/YHYWbXxLoR— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 11, 2019
Another hit was an absolute laser that reminds us the “infield single” designation comes in many shapes and forms.
his 3rd hit was a rocket that the 3B dove and stopped (crazy play) but was presumably too shook from the 175 mph exit velocity (rough estimate) to make the throw pic.twitter.com/OEfTzH2DHG— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) August 11, 2019
Drive him in they did, with a dinger-free offensive showing that nonetheless included a multi-hit game from Bobby Honeyman and two walks from Shenton. Rodriguez’s roommate Onil Peña also had a well-balanced day at the dish, with a couple free passes and an RBI single. Josias De Los Santos has had a challenging task moving into the Power rotation for his first crack at stateside ball, but his 6.0 IP with one run, no walks and four Ks was his fourth straight start yielding just two runs or less in 5.2+ IP. Injuries and promotions have taken a toll on West Virginia’s bullpen too, but a five run lead was easily secured by Ben Onyshko and Elias Espino.
Modesto Nuts (55-65) might be better than San Jose Giants (54-65), 5-2
The Nuts have had their roster picked clean like the cashews out of a Christmas nut bowl, but the Giants aren’t in much better shape themselves, having lost both Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart to promotions. Today victory belonged to the Nuts, who rode a strong start from Clay Chandler (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) to a win. Newly-acquired Luis Caballero had two hits out of the leadoff spot, and Connor Kopach in the two-hole had a double and a home run. Ariel Sandoval also had a two-hit day with a double. Speaking of Kopach, he’s developing into a very interesting super-utility player; a career infielder, Kopach was moved to the outfield this season; now, with Jarred Kelenic promoted, he’s drawn starting centerfielder duties, and he’s making it look easy:
Great play by Connor Kopach. pic.twitter.com/Fy8W4cgXdY— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 12, 2019
Arkansas Travelers (71-46) lose to Springfield Cardinals (53-66), 3-7
THE MAIN EVENT! Double-A baseball is not everyone’s idea of a good time, but this was a game worth snagging a stream for. It was Jarred Kelenic’s AA debut, and the lineup was a thing of beauty.
Arkansas Travelers Lineup.— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 11, 2019
Donnie Walton SS
Evan White 1B
Jarred Kelenic CF
Cal Raleigh C
Kyle Lewis LF
Luis Liberato DH
Dom Thompson-Williams RF
Mike Ahmed 3B
Jordan Cowan 2B
Justus Sheffield SP
The end result was disappointing, but there was a little taste of intrigue for everyone. You want Evan White showing how a 1B turns a baserunner into an out with his glove?
Evan White with the pick at 1B. pic.twitter.com/v5mTK67YPq— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 11, 2019
Justus Sheffield strikes out Yadi Molina for the 3rd time today. pic.twitter.com/VpjtqQ5LPf— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 12, 2019
Yadi, as our Nicholas Stillman noted, had a whale of a time this weekend.
Vs. Seattle Mariners pitchers this year: 0-for-7 with a Sac Fly and two Ks
Vs. Arkansas Travelers pitchers this year: 1-for-12 with eight Ks.
Kelenic was the new kid on the block, and he looked it at times. He tracked a ball but lost it at the last moment in the outfield, putting Sheffield in a tough spot despite his sharp eight Ks, two BBs outing. Still, he had a few strong PAs including this single on the first pitch he saw in AA.
Jarred Kelenic’s 1st hit at Double-A. pic.twitter.com/YC8SH9NaGo— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 11, 2019
The game was lost late, as a leadoff error in the 8th by 3B Mike Ahmed, who also homered to try to balance the scales, led to four unearned off Joey Gerber in his second inning of relief. Gerber had stifled a rally the previous inning, although two of the runs he allowed were homers, so the damage control was less than exemplary.
Still, this group is essentially a must-watch nightly, as they present prospect intrigue at nearly every position on a nightly basis. The seven hitter tonight was Dom Thompson-Williams, who hit an opposite field homer, and he barely cracks the front page of the title card at this point. Watch the Travs, y’all.
Tacoma Rainiers (53-66) smash the New Orleans Baby Cakes (63-54), 10-3
After collecting nine hits but only three runs off former Mariners prospect Nick Neidert yesterday, the Rainiers went after another former Mariner in Robert Duggar, with more convincing results. Chris Mariscal had two homers off Duggar, and Joe Odom had a three-run shot of his own, already his second home run since being promoted to Triple-A after hitting four of them in his 314 plate appearances forArkansas. Odom also kicked off the Rainiers’ scoring in the first with an RBI single. Connor Hoover had two homers of his own, one off each of the Cakes’ relievers. Sean Nolin earned his fourth win, going 6.2 innings and only giving up two runs (one earned) with four strikeouts and no walks.
Hoover’s first HR was his first Triple-A home run, but barely snuck over the wall (with maybe a little assistance from the New Orleans outfielder), so he made sure his second one was a no-doubter:
Crushed by Connor Hoover. pic.twitter.com/54lIM3ub2l— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 11, 2019
There’s a sad lack of TV after being spoiled by high-quality streams this past weekend, but it’s worth checking in on Arkansas and seeing if Seattle’s new superteam can make up for the ignominy of their loss yesterday, helmed by Ljay Newsome, who has looked improved in his last couple Double-A outings after a rough entree to the level.
DSL Mariners at DSL Tigers, 7:30 AM PT
AZL Mariners at AZL Dodgers Mota, 11 AM PT
West Virginia at Delmarva, 4:05 PM PT (LHP Nate Fisher)
Tacoma at New Orleans (TV), 4:30 PM PT (RHP Nabil Crismatt)
Northwest Arkansas at Arkansas (TV), 5:10 PM PT (RHP Ljay Newsome)
Hillsboro at Everett, 7:05 PM PT (RHP Damon Casetta-Stubbs)