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State of the Farm: 6/14/16

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In which we celebrate the Jackson Generals and welcome a few newcomers

David McNew/Getty Images

It's been a busy, but thoroughly positive week for the Seattle Mariners' farm system. For starters, the organization added Mercer OF Kyle Lewis with their first pick in the draft. Lewis is an exciting player, the kind who demands checking of the daily box scores and video dumps from twitter accounts of fans who happened to have their cell phone video recorder rolling during that one at-bat where he did that crazy thing.

The Mariners also picked up 39 other players and I'm sure you'll get to know lots more about them in the coming weeks as the Everett AquaSox and AZL Mariners open play. Perhaps the neatest thing to come out of the draft was the sudden fame achieved by Mariners' 16th-round selection Lyle Lin:

Lin is the first Taiwanese player to be selected in the MLB Draft.

And now, a look at everything else.

Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers

(36-27, 1st in Pacific Northern Division)

The Rainiers have seen their division lead shrink to just two games after dropping three of four to the Reno Aces at home. The once stellar offense has continued their tumble into normalcy, rendering them incapable of bailing out woeful pitching performances on a nightly basis.

  • Stefen Romero has finally hit a wall in Tacoma after ripping the ball there and back again for two good months. Since May 26th, Romero is 3-24. Considering the fact that he only has one strikeout in that time period, a lot of it is BABIP regression. Regardless, Tacoma has missed his production.
  • CF Boog Powell is slowly starting to string together strong offensive performances. In the month of June, he's 13-36 with 5 BB and just 3 K. He's still running a sub-100 wRC+, but he's trending in the right direction.
  • RHP Adrian Sampson tossed six shutout innings in Monday's 3-1 win over the Salt Lake Bees. Sampson has probably established himself as the next man up if the Mariners need a seventh starting pitcher this year. Sampson's arsenal is average, but his command has been mostly stellar. You could definitely live with him making a couple spot starts.
  • LHP David Rollins hasn't walked anyone yet. It's been twenty-six innings. David may never walk anyone again. I don't know what this means for him or the Mariners or for you or for me, but it's neat.
***

Double-A Jackson Generals

(41-23, 1st Half North Division Champs)

The Jackson Generals clinched the North Division title in dramatic fashion, defeating the Mississippi Braves 3-2 in 13 innings on Saturday. The concept of clinching playoff berths and popping champagne cheap beer in June will always be weird to me, but it's impossible to not be happy for all of those smiling faces:

Look at all of those young Seattle Mariners having the time of their life playing baseball and drowning each other in suds. Baseball is a good game, guys. It really is. Let us celebrate with good news:

  • 1B D.J. Peterson has eight hits in his last four games. His wRC+ is up to 117. He is hitting lasers; not semi-hard line drives or high-arcing fly balls that keep finding grass and the edges of fences, but lasers. D.J. Peterson is a prospect again.
  • OF Tyler O'Neill hit a walk-off grand slam this week because of course Tyler O'Neill hit a walk-off grand slam this week:
  • RHP Andrew Moore started Jackson's clincher, striking out six and surrendering just two runs in six innings pitched. He pounded the strike zone (79 of 95 pitches for strikes) and limited hard contact throughout. When his command is working, he is a very neat pitcher to watch. What stands out most of all is how fast he works. Imagine a right-handed, beardless Wade Miley with an uber-quick windup motion. It's like that.
  • RHP Emilio Pagan is back to his dominant ways after a brief stretch of vulnerability. Pagan has struck out six and allowed just one baserunner in his last four innings.
  • RHP Dan Altavilla is starting to look like a legitimate middle relief prospect. His last ten appearances: 10.2 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 15 K, 0 R. He's lowered his FIP down to 2.98 in the process. Many speculated he could be a dangerous arm if he shifted to the bullpen and that potential is starting to show.
  • LHP Ryan Horstman has settled down quite a bit following initial struggles in Jackson. Since May 15th, the lefty has a 9.35 K/9 and a 2.08 ERA (3.98 FIP). The 9.49 BB/9 is blasphemous, but that should lower in the future (I mean, one would think).
***

High-A Bakersfield Blaze

(33-30, 3rd in Northern Division)

The Blaze may have been eliminated from the playoff chase for the first half, but that didn't stop them from stitching together a ten-game winning streak from May 31st to June 10th.

  • OF Austin Wilson is alive! Wilson's disastrous start to the season had many forgetting about/giving up on him, but a sudden offensive renaissance has him nudging himself back towards the center of the prospect map. Since May 17th, Wilson has hit .324/.427/.456 with a 150 wRC+. Ideally, you'd like the slugging percentage to be higher, but it's great to see the large, athletic Wilson hitting again.
  • Remember 3B Joe DeCarlo? The 64th overall pick in the 2012 draft has posted a 143 wRC+ in Bakersfield this year and has been ripping the shred off the ball as of late. In June, DeCarlo has hit .410/.478/.846 with a 250 wRC+. His BABIP for the year is .346 and is due for some regression, but hey, have some fun with it.
  • 1B Kyle Petty remains the heart of the offense. In the month of June, Petty is 17-39 with 3 HR, 2 BB, and 3 K. He is 25 years old and will need to crush in Jackson before he even scrapes the surface of drawing consideration as a prospect, however.
  • SS Gianfranco Wawoe's bat hasn't cooled off in June. Wawoe has been terrific for the Blaze, collecting four hits on Sunday and another three on Friday. His wRC+ now sits on the edge of respectability at 97.
  • RHP Tyler Herb was a neat story at the beginning of the story, but he's cooled off plenty in recent outings. The walk-rate has soared up to 4.59 BB/9 in his last six outings while the strikeout-rate has dropped off considerably. His FIP now sits 4.03 and he's starting to blend in with the rest of the staff a little more.
  • LHP Tyler Pike has been perplexing. He rarely turns in dominant outings, but the numbers suggest he is difficult to hit. On June 2nd, Pike struck out twelve in five innings. On May 27th, he struck out nine in four innings. On Monday, he struck out eight in six innings. Strikeouts aren't the end all be all, but there is clearly talent there. A shift to the bullpen could be worth a shot.
***

Class-A Clinton LumberKings

(35-28, 2nd in Western Division)

The LumberKings have bounced back nicely from a long stretch that featured several one-run losses and quiet bats. Following consecutive series wins over Wisconsin and Beloit, Clinton is 9-4 in the month of June and sits just half a game behind Peoria in the standings.

  • RHP Zack Littell turned in the most notable week, striking out 17 over 14.0 shutout innings while winning the Midwest League Pitcher of the Week award. Littell has been in the system for a few years now, but he's still just twenty years old and has managed to ramp up his strikeout-rate while lowering his walk-rate a tick.
  • RHP Pablo Lopez is out to a good start in his full-season debut with the Mariners. Through three starts (17.0 IP), Lopez has posted a 2.63 FIP while running a 6.88 K/9.
  • RHP Nick Neidert has also kept up his stellar beginning to his 2016 campaign, surrendering just 2 ER over 6.0 IP in his most recent outing. It was the longest outing for Neidert in his professional career.
  • LHP Nick Wells has taken a step back recently. Over his last four outings, Wells has surrendered 21 runs in 15.2 IP.
  • OF Alex Jackson hasn't gotten out to the start we all would've liked to have seen in Clinton, but he's starting to get some balls to drop in. In his last four games, Jackson is 6-18 with just 3 strikeouts.
  • SS Rayder Ascanio has six multi-hit games in June. He's up to .278/.361/.321 for the year. He's also cut down on the strikeouts while walking more. A lot of good progress coming out of Ascanio.
  • CF Luis Liberato has finally enjoyed success in the month of June. In 46 PA, Ascanio has a 170 wRC+ and a .128 ISO. He's a neat prospect; a speedy outfielder with some surprising pop in his bat. It would be nice to see this continue.

The Draftees:

Some notes on the newest Mariners:

  • OF Kyle Lewis is a finalist for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award. You can vote for Lewis here.
  • Don't let SS Bryson Brigman's .058 ISO fool you, it's hard to find a college shortstop that consistently hits the ball as hard as he does. One reason for his incredibly high .402 BABIP this season is his extremely-high line drive rate. I got to see him in person at one point last year and he barreled up the ball in every single at-bat.
  • You can never have enough submarine pitchers, which is why I was so supportive of the 23rd-round selection of Jack Anderson out of Penn State. Anderson never gave up a home run during his time at PSU (166 IP)
  • The Mariners selected CF DeAires Moses for the second time in three years, this time using their 19th-round pick. He is going to sign this time. You can't escape destiny, DeAires. Also, what a freaking cool name.
  • After using most of their mid-round picks on college seniors with zero signability or expense concerns, the M's went on a run on prep players. I don't know how many will sign, Kenyon Yovan and Morgan McCullough are not going to sign unless the Mariners throw all of the money their way, and even that, in all likelihood, won't get the job done.
  • 20th-round pick Eric Fillia is perhaps the most interesting story to come out of the M's draft. Back in 2013, he seemed destined to be a top prospect in the 2014 draft, but an injury in the Cape Cod League and then later serious academic issues derailed his career at UCLA for two years. He was reinstated in 2016 and proceeded to hit .295/.415/.411 with a .116 ISO. He walked 41 times and struck out just 20 times in 201 at-bats over the course of the year. He's already twenty-three, which would be considered old for Class-A ball right now, but given his absence from the game, some patience is probably warranted.
  • Perhaps my favorite pick of all of the college seniors was the 9th-round selection used on Illinois C Jason Goldstein. Goldstein was praised for his work as the field general for Illinois and was a consistently decent hitter during his four years there.

To ceilings. goms.