AAA Tacoma Rainiers (23-34, Pacific Coast League)
Yesterday's game between the Tacoma Rainiers and the El Paso Chihuahuas was an especially big one for one player in particular: Taijuan Walker. With a relatively solid showing last night in his second AAA rehab start and, barring any setbacks with his shoulder in the coming week, Walker could theoretically rejoin the rotation in time for his next start.
It's uncertain whether or not Walker's performance (2.0 innings, 1 hit, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts and 4 walks) will inspire enough confidence for him to return immediately, but if he does he will supplant the struggling Erasmo Ramirez—who was just brought up to replace the also-struggling Brandon Maurer—as the Mariners' fifth starter. In his first rehab start on May 28th Walker gave up 4 earned runs on 5 hits (2 of which were home runs) in just 3.0 innings, so lat night was a huge improvement despite the 4 walks.
Since Logan Morrison started his rehab assignment in Tacoma on May 23rd, he's batting .286 with home runs, 5 runs batted in, 3 walks and a stolen base. He's still figuring things out and trying to find a consistent rhythm, though, so I wouldn't expect to see him up with the big club anytime too soon.
Right fielder Jabari Blash continues to baffle me, going 3-5 last with three home runs and 7 runs batted in to raise his batting average to a meager .190 on the season. If he can figure out how to limit strikeouts and start to hit with more consistency, he could be a big help for the Mariners in the future. Blash now leads all players in the Mariners' farm system with 13 minor league home runs (8 with Tacoma) this season. Jabari Henry is tied for second with 11 home runs, leading me to believe that there's some kind of correlation between the name Jabari and the ability to hit home runs at the minor league level.
Xavier Nady is going to be a pretty interesting player to watch. It's still unclear what his role will be with the organization, especially with the solid outfield play at the big league level of late, but he did have the best of his four games Tacoma yesterday (3-4 with 1 RBI, a double, and a walk). Jesus Montero is another guy to keep an eye on. He has been amazing lately for Tacoma at DH/1B, hitting .476 with 4 doubles, 5 runs batted in, and 3 walks in his last 5 games. If he keeps that up, it will be hard to overlook him given the team's need at DH.
AA Jackson Generals (25-33, Southern League)
Shortstop Ketel Marte is playing out of his mind right now. Marte is currently in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak and was recently named to the North Division All-Star team for the 2014 Southern League All-Star Game, where he and relief pitcher Stephen Kohlscheen will represent the Jackson Generals.
Kohlscheen has been phenomenal all season and is beyond deserving of the All-Star nod. In his 21 relief appearances, he has only allowed an earned run in 4. In his 28.1 innings pitched he has 29 strikeouts and just 4 walks, while holding opposing hitters to a .224 batting average.
It's also worth noting that catchers Mike Dowd (hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games) and Manny Pina (hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games) are both hitting well in Jackson lately, and outfielder Jamal Austin is riding a 6-game hitting streak.
A High Desert Mavericks (31-29, California League)
Hey, you guys, D.J. Peterson is really good at baseball. He was just named the California League's Player of the Week for the week spanning May 26-June 1. Peterson recorded a base hit in all seven games during that stretch, batting .467 with 2 home runs and 7 runs batted in. He now has 11 home runs this season, which is really impressive considering his name isn't even Jabari.
Speaking of people named Jabari, Jabari Henry extended his hitting streak to 9 games. During his streak, Henry has hit 2 of his 11 home runs and has driven in 8 runs.
Tyler Pike was named the California League's Pitcher of the Week after starting the Mavericks' combined no-hitter on May 28th. Pike went 6.0 innings and struck out a career-high 8 batters while only walking 2.
A Clinton LumberKings (29-27, Midwest League)
Not much to report from Clinton other than the fact that second baseman Zach Shank and outfielder Austin Wilson each have nice little hitting streaks going. Shank has a 9-game hitting streak, while Wilson's streak has lasted 6 games. Wilson, who was selected in the second round by the Mariners in the 2013 MLB Draft, is batting .458 with 2 homers and 9 runs batted in during the streak.