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State of the Farm: 05/10/16

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Welcome to the first edition of "State of the Farm". Over the past few weeks, we've covered highlight performances from prospects with interesting tidbits of hot streaks and Star Wars jerseys tucked away in the end and will continue to do so in the future. This will be more of a weekly, overall look at how the clubs are trending, who is hot, and who is hotter. Thank you for understanding and please enjoy your flight:

AAA Tacoma Rainiers (18-13, 1st in Pacific Northern)

Record over last 10 games: 7-3

Top Performers:
  • Stefen Romero - OF: Romero has relentlessly bashed baseballs all season long, posting a line of .400/.444/.644 over 99 plate appearances. The Oregon State alum has always performed well in Tacoma, but he's taken it to a whole different level this year. Unfortunately for Romero, things will need to go very wrong with either Franklin Gutierrez or Dae-Ho Lee in order for him to get called back up to the club. For now, all he can do is keep on crushing.
  • Mike Zunino - C: The big guy has cooled off some since a torrid start, but he's still running a line of .344/.380/.702 with a 190 wRC+. Zunino's K% currently sits at 18.4% while his BB% is at 6.8%. As we all should know by now, Zunino is expected to remain in Tacoma virtually all season long in order to get his confidence back and find himself and yada yada yada. It's been awhile since he's completely dominated a league offensively, so he has to be feeling good right now.
  • Boog Powell - OF: Over his last 10 games, Powell has slashed .324/.429/.471 and has more than made up for a somewhat slow start. He has pushed his walk-rate up to 11.7% and is looking exactly like the player Dipoto spoke so highly of after the trade went down.
  • James Paxton - LHP: After initial struggles, Paxton has caught fire down in Tacoma. Over his last four starts, Paxton has done the following: 0.74 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 9.25 K/9, and a 0.37 BB/9. This is the best Paxton has looked in awhile, and it wouldn't be shocking if he gets the chance to showcase his stuff with Seattle sooner rather than later.
  • Paul Fry - LHP: Since April 17th, Fry has posted a 1.86 ERA and a 3.49 FIP with ten strikeouts over 9.2 innings. His walk-rate is still far too high (5.59 BB/9), but his stuff has looked good. In the event of the Mariners needing a lefty in the bullpen before Furbush gets back, David Rollins probably gets the call first since he's already on the 40-man, but Fry, to me, is the better long term bet to make an impact.
  • Blake Parker - RHP: Parker has been a rock in Tacoma's bullpen this season. Through 10.1 innings pitched, Parker has struck out ten while posting a 2.63 FIP. He impressed enough in Spring Training to the point where people were seriously calling for him to break camp with the team and if Steve Johnson hadn't been torching the PCL to start the year, we probably would've seen Parker pitching against the Astros on Sunday.

AA Jackson Generals (18-11, 1st in Southern League North)

Record over last 10 games: 6-4

Top Performers:

  • Emilio Pagan - RHP: Through 14 innings pitched, Pagan has posted a 0.64 ERA and a 1.98 FIP while striking batters out at a 12.21 K/9 rate. Pagan's fastball-slider combo has very real potential and he could find himself in Tacoma soon enough.
  • Edwin Diaz - RHP: The Mariners' top prospect is out to a stellar start this season, striking out 38 over 29 innings while posting a 2.75 FIP. His early removal from his last start had some thinking he way on his way to Tacoma, but for now he'll continue to dazzle against Southern League hitters
  • Dylan Unsworth - RHP: Unsworth has outperformed his peripherals a bit this season and still has all the looks of an organizational guy, but it's impossible to ignore how much of a rock he's been for the Generals' rotation. Over his last 19.2 IP, the 23-year-old has surrendered one run on fourteen hits.
  • Tyler O'Neill - OF: We've covered O'Neill so extensively this season for a reason. The 20-year-old has posted a 172 wRC+ and a .235 ISO over 114 plate appearances and any worry of his dominance being fluky is starting to wear off. The kid is developing into so much more than a guy who can hit a baseball to Neptune and back. He looks like a legitimate baseball player.
  • Timmy Lopes - 2B: It feels like Lopes has been in the system forever, but the 2012 draftee is still just 21-years-old and has been a pleasant surprise for the Generals. Through 121 plate appearances, Lopes has posted a line of .308/.395/.365 and a 129 wRC+. As you can see, he doesn't hit for even the tiniest bit of power, but he consistently strings together strong at-bats and has turned into arguably the toughest out in the lineup

A+ Bakersfield Blaze (12-18, 4th in California League North)

Record over last 10 games: 4-6

Top Performers:

  • Ryan Horstman - LHP: Horstman was recently promoted to Jackson, but the bulk of his work this season has been done in Bakersfield, so we'll keep him here for this week. The oft-injured lefty was a nightmare for Cal League hitters, striking out 23 hitters in 13.2 innings while posting a 1.98 FIP. Horstman has pitched well wherever he has gone since being drafted in 2013, but his toughest test awaits him in Jackson.
  • Tyler Herb - RHP: The 29th-round selection in 2014 has cranked it up a notch for the Blaze. Through 31 innings, Herb has 41 strikeouts and a 2.38 FIP.  It's an interesting turn of events for Herb, who was primarily a contact pitcher who struggled in Clinton last year.
  • Andrew Moore - RHP: Seeing how Moore would do in the hitter-friendly Cal League after skipping a level was one of my bigger interest points heading into the season, and Moore has performed more than admirable. Last year's second-round pick has posted a 1.48 ERA and 2.92 FIP over 42.2 IP to start the season and there's a chance he makes it up to Jackson within the next couple months. Moore's ceiling is still a reliable back of the rotation arm with plus command, but as long as he continues to get everyone out, you won't hear too many complaints about the Mariners reaching for him in the draft.
  • Jay Baum - 3B: Baum is one of the very few Blaze hitters who is A) actually hitting well and B) younger than twenty-four years old. This isn't to say there's a magical cutoff line that makes players who are twenty-four years or older in High-A ball irrelevant, but when someone who is repeating the level for the fourth time posts a 140 wRC+, you just don't put a ton of stock into it. That isn't Baum, however. After skipping Clinton and going straight to Bakersfield last year, he struggled all year long and ended up with a 60 wRC+. In his second go round he has been much better, slashing .286/.359/.438 over 117 plate appearances. If anything, I need Baum to be good for the potential puns.

A Clinton Lumberkings (19-11, 1st in Midwest League Western)

Record over last 10 games: 7-3

Top Performers:

  • Osmel Morales - RHP: Like Horstman, Morales recently earned a promotion, but the bulk of his work was done in the lower level so I have him here for now. Morales was a rock in the LumberKings' bullpen, posting a 0.63 ERA and a 1.91 FIP over 14.1 IP. He's always posted a strong strikeout-rate and it'll be interesting to see how he does with Bakersfield.
  • Nick Wells - LHP: After two ugly starts at the beginning of the year, Wells has been great for Clinton. The 20-year-old lefty who came over in the Mark Lowe trade has allowed just four earned runs over his last 22.2 IP. A third-round-pick back in 2014, Wells is still very young and him figuring things out would be a wonderful development in the Lowe trade.
  • Dalton Kelly - 1B: If you need to root for someone, root for Kelly. The UC Santa Barbara prospect has gone from one of the last players selected in the 2015 draft to looking like one of the best hitters in the Midwest League. As it stands, he's posted a 184 wRC+ while slashing .362/.452/.476. Bakersfield could be coming soon, as he looks completely underwhelmed against A-ball pitchers.