This week on State of the Farm, we'll be switching back to the old format in order to check in and see how the affiliates have been performing. Long story short, everyone is either in first place or already has a playoff spot locked up (or both!). Wins and losses aren't much of an indicator of how much talent a farm system has, but it sure is nice to see all of those pretty records.
Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers
(64-46, 1st in Pacific Northern Division)
The Rainiers have held steady as the top team in the division for awhile despite the seemingly endless amount of roster moves they've endured (which, admittedly, happens to just about every Triple-A team over the course of a season). The heroes have changed, but the results remain the same: the Rainiers win often and authoritatively.
Some notes on the more interesting prospects in Tacoma:
- RHP Zach Lee, since coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers: 7 G, 5.48 FIP, 6.37 K/9, 3.31 BB/9. If Lee is going to find success following the change of scenery, it won't happen overnight, as all of the problems that plagued him during his career with the Dodgers still exist. He struggles to put hitters away and doesn't necessarily have a go-to pitch in his arsenal. The inflated walk-rate has only highlighted the problems all the more.
- LHP Paul Fry has settled down in recent weeks following a poor start to the season. In his last ten appearances, he's struck out twelve in 9.2 IP while allowing just two earned runs. The walk-rate is still higher than we've ever seen from Fry and very concerning, but it's nice to see him having some amount of success with the Rainiers after hitting a roadblock.
- RHP Emilio Pagan has finally settled down in Triple-A. After posting an astronomically-high walk-rate his first few appearances, he's lowered it down to a more respectable (but still hideous) 6.63 BB/9. The strikeouts are still there, but he's allowing home runs at an absurd rate (1.89 HR/9) and suddenly doesn't look like the dominant arm he's been through his entire career. Fastball-slider combo is still strong, but the ability to locate has diminished.
- 1B D.J. Peterson's comeback tour hasn't slowed down in Tacoma, where he's hit .277/.344/.479 with a 121 wRC+ in 127 plate appearances. The walk-rate has diminished slightly with the Rainiers, but other than that, he's been hitting just about as well as he was in Jackson (including identical wOBAs). He's flashed a decent glove at first base, as well.
- 1B Dan Vogelbach has hit .182/.321/.341 since joining the Rainiers a couple weeks ago. Peripherals are fine, Vogelbach has just had some poor BABIP luck to start out his career with the Mariners.
Double-A Jackson Generals
(22-15, 1st in North Division – 1st Half Champs)
The Generals have continued their relaxing cruise through the division in 2016, holding a small lead in the standings in the second-half just a few weeks after capturing the first half title. They've suffered a few big losses in talent in Edwin Diaz, Emilio Pagan, and D.J. Peterson, but call-ups and organizational guys having career years helped them keep pace.
- RHP Dan Altavilla has to be the best relief prospect in the system right now. The shift to the bullpen has his fastball and slider combination playing up to an impressive territory, and his command over the last two months has been as good as ever. From June to August: 10.44 K/9, 2.88 BB/9, 1.08 ERA, 3.00 FIP
- RHP Paul Blackburn only threw one inning in his Jackson debut (scheduled rest), but his first long appearance resulted in 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 K. Blackburn was acquired in the Mike Montgomery-Dan Vogelbach trade.
- RHP Andrew Moore threw his first shutout last night, allowing five hits and no walks in the complete game effort. He lowered his ERA with Jackson all the way down to 2.78 in the process and is starting to look like the kind of pitcher who could be making a start or two for the Mariners within the next twelve to thirteen months. Last night showed what he's capable of when his command is working.
- OF Tyler O'Neill has picked it up again after enduring a small slump, going 13-32 with 2 home runs and 9 walks over his last ten games. It's still possible he sees time in Tacoma before the year is up, but I'm sure the fine folks of Jackson would be fine with him sticking around for a little while longer.
High-A Bakersfield Blaze
(23-16, 1st in North Division)
The Blaze have been the best team in the California League's North Division for awhile now, but in the early stages of the season they dug themselves too deep of a hole to capture the first half title. Now, they've raced out to a five-game lead in the division just 39 games into the second-half. Their roster isn't bursting with future MLB talent and there aren't a ton of guys you can point to with dominant stats, but things just keep clicking for Bako.
- RHP Darin Gillies has been just about as good with Bako as he was with Clinton. The k-rate and walk-rates have both gone up since the promotion, and his FIP (3.33 - Clinton, 3.37 - Bako) is nearly identical. His command appears to be better than it ever was during his time at Arizona State.
- RHP Zack Littell finally had his first rough outing with Bakersfield, and it still was a pretty impressive one. Littell surrendered four runs in the second inning before settling in and shutting down the San Jose Giants for the next four innings.
- RHP Osmel Morales has ran a 3.11 FIP in 66.2 IP while posting a 10.13 K/9 and 2.30 BB/9. He's been impressive at each stop for the Mariners, but people start to take notice when you put up big numbers in the Cal League.
- LHP Jake Zokan finally had a poor outing with the Blaze, surrendering 6 hits and 3 runs in two innings last night. Yes, his numbers are still crazy good (1.27 ERA, 39K/2BB, 1.61 FIP).
- SS Drew Jackson has had an up-and-down season with the bat while committing 19 errors at shortstop. His stock has probably taken somewhat of a hit over the last few months, but the profile remains the same: defense-first shortstop who uses his athleticism to his advantage at the plate.
- OF Braden Bishop has struggled since his promotion to Bakersfield. In 27 games, he's hitting .234/.289/.297 with a 63 wRC+. The glove is still very good, but the bat was always the biggest question mark with him.
Class-A Clinton LumberKings
(25-13, 1st in Eastern Division)
Clinton clinched a playoff spot in the first-half, but seem hell-bent on capturing the division crown in the second-half of the season. Through 38 games, they hold a two-game lead over Cedar Rapids. Pitching has been and continues to be Clinton's biggest strength.
- LHP Luiz Gohara has finally translated potential and raw stuff into results, posting a 1.75 FIP and 11.62 K/9 in 28.2 IP. The command is good. The fastball is good. The breaking stuff is good. It's all good with Gohara. The bad news is that Gohara is 20-years-old and pitching in Class-A ball and there's an endless amount of things that could happen between now and when he takes the mound in a major league game. The good news is everything before that sentence.
- RHP Nick Neidert has posted a 0.96 BB/9 this season and has been better than anyone could have expected in his first year of full-season ball. Like Gohara, he's a long ways off, but he has the look of a potential mid-rotation starter. Considering there aren't a whole lot of those in the system at the moment, that's a great development.
- OF Alex Jackson cooled off a little in the month of July, but still maintained a respectable 120 wRC+ for the month. The overall numbers are poor due to his disastrous start to the season, but he's been one of the better bats in the lineup for a good two months now.
Low-A Everett AquaSox
(5-1, 1st in North Division)
The AquaSox have got out to a nice start in the second-half after just missing out on a playoff spot in the first-half.
- RHP Brandon Miller's pro career didn't get out to a great start, but he's bounced back over his last few outings and is now piecing together a strong debut season. Since July: 6.75 K/9, 1.13 BB/9, 1.88 ERA. He has received some good fortune from the BABIP Gods, however.
- LHP Thomas Burrows has posted a 2.99 FIP through the first fifteen innings of his pro career. He's also striking out hitters at a rate of 14.40 K/9. Wouldn't be shocked if he's up in Clinton before the year is over.
- C Jason Goldstein just seems happy to be here:
- INF Nick Zammarelli is starting to look like a nice get for the Mariners. The eighth-round pick has hit .322/.377/.461 and has showed an advanced approach at the plate so far this year. Don't know if he can stick at third, but the bat looks good.
- OF Eric Filia could be up for a promotion soon. A two-year absence from the game has him as one of the older guys in the Northwest League at 24-years-old and he's beat up on pitchers all year, slashing .316/.416/.451. He performed well in the Northwest League All-Star Game and Home Run Derby.
Rookie League AZL Mariners
(2-4, 2nd in Arizona League West – 1st Half Champs)
- OF Brayan Hernandez has hit .327/.339/.473 in 55 at-bats with the AZL Mariners this year. If he keeps hitting, you could see him skyrocket up prospect boards relatively soon.
- INF Joe Rizzo, this year's second-round pick, has flashed plenty of potential at the plate this year. He's hit .281/.320/.404 in 28 games.
- RHP Jack Anderson has been brilliant, surrendering just one run while striking out 10 in 11.0 IP. Anderson is 22-years-old and expected to dominate rookie leagues, but as a massive fan of submarine pitchers, I will cheer for Anderson wherever he goes.