On The Farm: 5 up and 5 down

Ricky Bassman/

Turning around the fortunes of a Major League team is likely a very difficult, time consuming process. It might be described as a "multi-year rebuilding effort" or something equally meaningless. It turns out, that quickly achieved, worst to first finishes (although more common recently) are still not happening every season. Typically, it takes at least a couple of years of shrewd player acquisitions. It takes mixing low cost, high upside free agents with smart trades, it takes being a year too early on letting older, under performing players walk rather than a year too late. It takes smart, calculated decisions based on in-depth research and analysis and crap, not emotions or feelings.

That is all true for a major league team, but it's different when you're looking at a minor league affiliate, like say the Everett AquaSox for instance. After promotions from Latin American leagues, international signings, and 40 rounds of an MLB amateur draft, a rookie league club will typically look quite a bit different from one year to the next. Last season, the Frogs finished with the worst record in the NWL (28-48) while featuring a lineup where their best hitter, Austin Cousino, slashed .266/.341/.402.

Thanks in part to a 2015 draft haul that has given them a three headed monster consisting of Drew Jackson (5th), Braden Bishop (3rd), and Logan Taylor (12th), the AquaSox are sitting at 11 games over .500, and 4 up on 2nd place with only 10 games left. The 2014 team had two guys who slugged over .400, this year they have eight. They have the league leader in OPS (Jackson) while seven other guys have OPS's over .750.

I believe that this is what makes following minor league ball, even as a passing hobby, so much fun. Yes, I'm aware that the Mariners have been a huge disappointment this year. Yeah, I'm also aware that the bullpen is about as appealing as a bowl of cheerios that someone peed in and left outside in the sun. I'm also aware that there's something cool going on 30 miles up I-5 at Everett Memorial Stadium. So if you ever get a chance in-between late game pitching meltdowns at Safeco, why don't you tune in to what's going on up north? Drew Jackson is trying to win the NWL MVP, and the AquaSox are gunning for their first league championship since 2010. Who knows, you might even forget that being a Mariners fan in 2015 makes you a cynical jerk and actually enjoy yourself! Ok, I'm done ranting, have some numbers.

*Each Thursday throughout the Minor League Season, I take a look at notable performances (both good and bad) and share them with you here. Stats are cumulative across any level, except for MLB played over the last 7 days, players called up to the Major Leagues within the last 7 days are not eligible for inclusion.

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Drew Jackson - SS, Everett AquaSox

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Drew Jackson 7 22 7 10 1 0 2 3/7 .455/.586/.500

As long as the best player in the league keeps playing like the best player in the league, he retains his top spot. Another week, another double digit hit total, seven more runs, and six steals without being caught once. He started off slow, with just a single hit in his first four games, then caught fire with 9 hits in 3 games to finish out the week. He also drew seven walks against only 3 strikeouts, so there's that. #MVP #MVP #MVP

Braden Bishop - CF, Everett AquaSox

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Braden Bishop 6 27 4 12 1 0 2 2/1 .444/.483/.481

The title of his book the last month would be something like Hits: The Braden Bishop Story The rangy CF collected four multi-hit games and went 3 for 3 in stolen bases. He's helping push the AquaSox towards the playoffs and has become half of the best top-of-the-lineup duo in the league. I know a lot of people would like him to start walking more, but really as long as he keeps this up it's hard to complain.

Ryan Yarbrough - SP, Bakersfield Blaze

Player Record ERA Innings Hits Runs K/BB G/F
Ryan Yarbrough 1-1 4.09 11.0 11 5 14/3


I struggled with the idea of putting him ahead of the remaining guys on this list, but the fact is this season it's hard to find any Mariners minor league hurler throw two good starts in a row. Two starts, lots of strikeouts, lots of ground balls, and a nice bounce back from's 9th rated M's prospect. Yarbrough is in line for one or two more starts this season, let's see if he can build on this recent performance, and close out the season on an upward trend.

Tyler O'Neill - LF, Bakersfield Blaze

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Tyler O'Neill 7 26 6 9 0 4 9 9/2 .346/.414/.808

THE CANADIAN MISSILE CRISIS! No? Ok then. My man crush has returned to the good list, almost as if he read my write up on him last week (here) and thought to himself, "you know what? fuck that guy." The powerful OF launched home runs in four straight games to start the week off right, then just so we don't think he's only a one trick pony, singled 3 straight times to close out his last two games. Bravo, my friend.

Jabari Blash - RF, Tacoma Rainiers

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Jabari Blash 7 25 5 7 1 4 6 12/5 .280/.419/.800

Jabari smashed his way onto the good list for the second time in three weeks, it can't be ignored when a guy clubs four home runs in 6 games. I'm beginning to think we might see him at Safeco for a handful of AB's after rosters expand on September 1st. This recent power surge has brought him up to 28 dingers and a .546 slugging percentage for the season. While he has struck out nearly 120 times, he has showed decent vision (55 walks) and when he makes contact, it's generally pretty hard. The only thing is that they'd have to make room for him on the 40 man roster, but if he keeps hitting like this, he might force their hand.

Wonderful beautiful rebound mention...

Edwin Diaz - SP, Jackson Generals

1 G/6.0 IP/0.00 ERA/2 H/0 ER/4-2 K-BB

Too tired to run or jog, only gonna walk mention...

Aaron Barbosa - CF, Bakersfield Blaze

7 G/23 AB/7 R/7 H/3-0 SB/5-10 K-BB/.304/.515/.304

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Luiz Gohara - SP, Everett AquaSox

Player Record ERA Innings Hits Runs K/BB G/F
Luiz Gohara 0-1 7.94 5.2 7 5 6/7 9/2

Gohara continues his recent trend of pitching like a bucket of wet rags, in his second start of the week, he couldn't even make it out of the 2nd inning, getting shelled for 4 hits, 4 runs, and walking two. I don't know if he's tired or what, but I'm guessing he'll be happy to get some time off here soon. If you want a silver lining, he did record 9 groundball outs this week. Woooooooo.

Jabari Henry - LF, Jackson Generals

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Jabari Henry 6 14 1 1 0 1 3 7/5 .071/.316/.286

Jabari Henry has not had a good 2015, after hitting .291 in the California league last year and getting promoted to AA, he has struggled mightily. This past week is basically a microcosm of his season, a little power, some walks, and almost nothing else. His BABIP has regressed this season way down to .220, which is 50 points lower than it's ever been in pro ball, so I think he will eventually trend upward to a degree, just not sure how high his ceiling actually is. I'll be interested to see what he does in his second trip through the Southern League next season.

Jordy Lara - 1B, Jackson Generals

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Jordy Lara 8 25 1 2 0 0 0 9/1 .080/.148/.080

Lara did one thing really consistently this week, strike out. If you're gonna get rung up 9 times and walk only once, at least crush a bunch of XBH or something, geez. Two hits all week, both singles, it's been a long and probably very frustrating season for Dominican first baseman, and it's just been more of the same recently. Not really much to see here, moving on.

Marcus Littlewood - C, Jackson Generals

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Marcus Littlewood 6 21 1 2 1 0 0 11/1 .095/.136/.143

Jackson gets three players on the bad list this week for some kind of horrible recently bad prospect triple crown, congrats. Littlewood made sure to strike out multiple times in four of his six games this week, and only walked the one time. He's had an up and down season, but a recent 10 game cold streak where he's hit .139 has dragged his season average down around the Mendoza line. I think Marcus Mendoza is a better name, anyways.

Austin Cousino - CF, Clinton Lumberkings

Player Games At Bats Runs Hits Doubles Home Runs RBI K/BB BA/OBP/SLG
Austin Cousino 8 33 4 5 2 0 3 4/0 .152/.238/.152

Cousino started off the week 1-4, then proceeded to go one for his next 13 before collecting two hits and two runs against Cedar Rapids August 23rd. He's still not walking, and the ball just is not finding holes for him. His results have taken a big step back after a solid performance in rookie ball last year, I'll be interested to see where he's assigned next season, still has elite defense. Also I just feel like he should be fast, and steal more bases than he has, 10/13 on the year, but only 3 attempts in his last 12 games.