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State of the Farm: 6/8/16

In which we look at an old friend's return to the Tacoma Rainiers and the continued dominance of the Jackson Generals

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The Mariners' farm system lost a little bit of its star power when Edwin Diaz was called up to Seattle this past week, but there is still a lot of fun going on down there. Two teams currently sit in first place, another is on an eight-game winning streak, and the other is 5-2 so far in June.

Let's break it all down.


Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers

(34-24, 1st in Pacific Coast League - Pacific Northern Division)

Perhaps the biggest news to come out of Tacoma this past week was the successful return of Patrick Kivlehan. Kivlehan–who was traded to the Rangers over the offseason, designated for assignment after initial struggles, and then sent back to the Mariners in late May–has been a big boost for the Rainiers' sluggish (of late) offense. In five games with Tacoma, Kivlehan has eight hits, including a walk-off home run against the Salt Lake Bees:

Interestingly enough, the outfielder who just missed robbing Kivlehan of the home run was Austin Cousino, who was very recently released by the Mariners after tremendous offensive struggles in Class-A and High-A ball. Anyway, Cousino is a Triple-A player for the Angels now.

Third baseman Zach Shank has been another big boost for the lineup, hitting .389/.432/.564 through 39 at-bats in his second stint with Tacoma. Shank has been enjoying a fairly BABIP-driven 2016, but if his bat can be at least decent in Tacoma, he'd be a nice piece of depth to have at third base.

The pitching staff has been a bit hit and miss to start the month of June; opponents have scored 5 runs in the Rainiers' four wins and 27 runs in their three losses. Newest Rainier (and UW product) Andrew Kittredge has been fine, surrendering one earned run in five innings since being bumped up from Double-A. Blake Parker, meanwhile, has surrendered just three hits since May 7th.


Double-A Jackson Generals

(37-20, 1st in Southern League - North Division)

Jackson continues to distance themselves as the most entertaining team in the system. The Generals have won eight of their last ten games, extending their divisional lead to nine games. Their magic number currently sits at four.

Even without Edwin Diaz, the rotation remains a big strength. Ryan Yarbrough has emerged as the ace of the staff, posting a 1.14 ERA and 2.73 FIP over his last five starts. Andrew Moore has turned in two decent starts (13.2 IP, 4 ER, 12 K) after struggling in his Double-A debut. Dylan Unsworth (45.2 IP, 1.18 ERA, 3.01 FIP in '16) returned from the DL on Tuesday, tossing a scoreless inning.

Offensively, Jackson seems to only be getting better. 1B D.J. Peterson continued his surprisingly quick rise back to prominence with a two-homer game on Sunday. You can watch him murder a baseball below:

His slugging percentage is trending up, and he'll definitely be a prospect to keep your eyes on moving forward.

The Generals have also gotten positive contributions from several other players. OF Leon Landry has slashed .306/.364/.449 since May 25th. C Steve Baron is sporting a .400 OBP for the year. OF Brock Hebert is even making the most of his second go-round with Jackson, running a .409 OBP through 6 games. And of course, what would a State of the Farm post be without a Tyler O'Neill update? Over the last ten games, O'Neill is 13 for 36 with 5 BB and 8 RBIs. The last home run he hit took roughly a millisecond to get out of the park.

Seven Generals were named to the Southern League All-Star Team: RHP Dylan Unsworth, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, RHP Brett Ash, RHP Edwin Diaz, RHP Emilio Pagan, OF Guillermo Heredia, and OF Tyler O'Neill.


High-A Bakersfield Blaze

(29-28, 3rd in California League - North Division)

The Bakersfield Blaze's eight-game win streak has launched them all the way back into contention for the North Division title. They still sit seven games back of the Visalia Rawhide as the first half nears its close, but dumber things have happened.

The Blaze have done it all during the win streak, receiving both timely hitting and clutch pitching all throughout the roster. Chantz Mack and Kyle Petty have turned into monsters in the middle of the order. Mack, a 29th round pick out of Miami back in 2013, is 12 for 39 with 2 HR, 12 RBIs, and 4 BB over his past ten games. Kyle Petty, meanwhile, has been even more absurd, going 18 for 41 with 3 HR, 8 RBIs, and 4 BB.

Even struggling behemoth Austin Wilson has joined in on the action, stringing together several good games to push his stats into a respectable territory.

LHP Jake Zokan's return from the disabled list has brought some much needed stability to the bullpen. The College of Charleston product is yet to surrender a run in 8.1 IP this season. RHP Tyler Herb's surprising 2016 season has continued, as well. Herb has thrown four consecutive quality starts, including a seven-inning, one-run outing in his last appearance. For the year, he's sporting a 9.35 K/9 and a 3.68 FIP.


Class-A Clinton LumberKings

(31-26, 3rd in Midwest League - Western Division)

The LumberKings have had a strong start to June, going 5-2 and putting themselves just a game back of first place in the Western Division.

Continuing the organizational-wide trend, the bullpen has been a big strength for Clinton. Since May 19th, Joey Strain, Darin Gillies, and Spencer Herrmann have combined to do the following to Midwest League hitters: 34.0 IP, 0 ER, 34 K, 11 BB.

Nick Neidert hasn't let up, either. The Mariners' first pick in the 2015 draft is currently sporting a 1.15 ERA and 3.06 FIP through his first three starts with Clinton. Neidert has been helped by a .192 BABIP, but it's hard to ask for much more from the 19-year-old.

Top prospect Alex Jackson's struggles persist; the 20-year-old is slashing .136/.247/.348 through his first 66 plate appearances. He does have three hits in his last two games, though. I have been told two games is a small sample size, but whatever.

Leading the LumberKings' offense lately has been INF Logan Taylor. Over the last ten games, Taylor has gone 13-39 with 3 HR, 6 BB, and 12 RBIs and is slashing .280/.403/.406 for the year. Rayder Ascanio has also been an important part of the offense as of late. The shortstop had a sluggish start to 2016, but recent hot streaks have bumped his line up to a respectable .279/.355/.326. Ascanio is a glove-first shortstop, so any signs of offensive prowess are welcomed.

Four LumberKings were named to the Midwest League All-Star team: RHP Art Warren, 1B Dalton Kelly, RHP Darin Gillies, and INF Logan Taylor.