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State of the Farm: 04/11/17

Moore and Povse sharp, Clinton’s bats quiet

England U17 - Training Session Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images

Baseball is back! Minor league baseball is back! State of the Farm is back! Here’s to another season full of Mariners prospects doing fun things, the occasional weird minor league moments, and, of course, precious farm pictures.

We don’t have much info to really dive into since we’re only a week into the minor league season, so most of what you’re getting this week is a stats dump. Regardless, it’s good to be back.

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 1-3, 4th in Pacific Northern Division, Pacific Coast League

Team Hitting: .214/.285/.274, 11 BB, 22 K

Team Pitching: 9.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 4.34 ERA

It’s been a bit of a rough start for the Rainiers. After suffering through two weather delays, they’ve opened up the season by dropping three of four to the Sacramento River Cats. Several hitters are out to slow starts, including middle of the order bats like Tyler O’Neill, Tyler Smith, Gordon Beckham, and D.J. Peterson.

  • On Monday, Chase De Jong made his first start since being sent down, and it was a good one. De Jong finished the night with a line of 5.1 innings, 2 hits, a run, and four strikeouts. The performance helped the Rainiers earn their only win of the season so far.
  • Top prospect Tyler O’Neill has started out 3 for 18 with a double and a home run. He’s also made a couple ugly plays out in the outfield, committing two fielding errors in a single inning on Saturday. Here’s hoping he gets things turned around.
  • Dylan Unsworth was just fine in his Triple-A debut, allowing just two runs in 5.2 innings. A lot of it was damage control, but Unsworth continued his trend of staying out of the middle of the zone and inducing soft contact.
  • LHP Paul Fry got beat up pretty badly in his first appearance of the season, surrendering 4 runs on 6 hits in two innings pitched on Monday.
  • RHP Evan Marshall made his debut with the Mariners organization, striking out two of the three hitters he faced in a scoreless debut.
  • RHP Tony Zych wasn’t sharp in his rehab outing. The hard-tossing righty suffered through a three-hit, three-run outing on Sunday. He did record two strikeouts, so there’s that.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 2-2, 2nd in North Division - Texas League

Team Hitting: .268/.340/.346, 15 BB, 43 K

Team Pitching: 7.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 2.75 ERA

The Travelers dropped a series to Corpus Christi before picking up a win in their opener with the San Antonio Missions. Their contest on Monday was rained out. Overall, it’s been a perfectly fine start from the Travelers, with signs of life emerging from both the offense and pitching staff.

  • OF Ian Miller and INF Jay Baum have been the heart and soul of the offense at the top of the lineup. Miller has settled in nicely as the everyday leadoff guy, slashing .333/.389/.467 with two stolen bases thus far. Baum, the No. 2 hitter in the lineup, is currently sporting a .471/.500/.529 mark. These are all small samples, of course, but they’ve been a ton of fun so far.
  • C Tyler Marlette, not to be outdone, is a smooth 7-for-14 with 3 doubles, a triple, and two walks. The Mariners’ top catching prospect is on his third stint in Double-A and could really use a big 2017 to keep himself on the map. So far, so good.
  • RHPs Max Povse and Andrew Moore were the biggest storylines to emerge from the first weekend in Arkansas. The two top pitching prospects’ starts combined: 13 innings, 3 hits, 3 walks, 12 strikeouts, no runs allowed. It was as dominant of starts as you could’ve hoped for the two biggest names on the team. Moore was phenomenal in keeping hitters off balance and inducing weak contact. Povse’s start was just seven innings of painting every edge of the zone there was to paint.
  • The group of legitimate relief pitching prospects–Thyago Vieira, Zac Curtis, Darin Gillies, and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Peter Tago–have all been fine so far. Vieira struck out two in a scoreless outing. Curtis worked around some trouble and managed a scoreless outing. Tago has been close to perfect, striking out three of the four batters he’s faced. Gillies has also added 1.1 scoreless innings
  • RHP Paul Paez–a reliever taken in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft this offseason, has surrendered 2 runs in 1.1 IP so far.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 2-3, 4th in North Division – California League

Team Hitting: .226/.314/.356, 19 BB, 43 K

Team Pitching: 7.9 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 3.40 ERA

A few brutal pitching performances have highlighted the start of the season for Modesto, who finds themselves at the bottom of the North Division standings after the first weekend. The offense has largely been fine, and you’d expect it to get even better as guys who are making the jump from short season ball (Filia, Walton) adjust to the league.

  • OF Eric Filia is out to a slow start after making that jump. The UCLA product is 1-for-17 with 2 walks through his first four games. I expect things will get much better for him.
  • RHP Reggie McClain has turned in the best start so far for the Nuts, surrendering just just one run in 6.2 innings with six strikeouts. Not only was it his first start of the season, it was his first start in full-season ball. Not a bad debut for the Mizzou product.
  • RHP Pablo Lopez, who snuck onto the radar after a big year in Clinton, struggled in his California League debut. The righty was tagged for 8 runs (5 earned) on 12 hits in just three innings pitched. He’ll be better.
  • Matthew Festa has also had no issues handling that Everett-to-Modesto jump, turning in 3.1 innings of shutout ball over two relief appearances. He’s struck out five in that time.
  • I don’t know if anyone is having a more fun start to their season than INF Jordan Cowan. Cowan is 6-for-11 with two doubles, three walks, and a stolen base while also turning in two shutout innings (and grabbing a win!) on the mound.

(A) Clinton LumberKings

Team Record: 1-4, 8th in Eastern Division, Midwest League

Team Hitting: .170/.261/.222, 17 BB, 45 K

Team Pitching: 9.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 5.50 ERA

It was a brutal start to the season for the LumberKings, who had to mount a furious eighth inning rally on Monday just to pick up their first win. The offense has been anemic, at one point suffering through a scoreless stretch that lasted 23 innings. The pitching has been fine, aside from a 13-3, blowout loss on Opening Day. I’d imagine they’ll be adding INF Nick Zammarelli soon, so some help may be on the way.

  • OF Gareth Morgan has struggled out of the gates, striking out in 10 of his 16 plate appearances. He was one of the more surprising assignments this year, especially considering he’s yet to prove himself against rookie league competition. If he doesn’t turn it around soon, his stay may not last long. The good news is that he’s been pretty strong in the field so far.
  • OF Luis Liberato has one of those fun early season slash lines, posting a .133/.381/.333 line through 15 at bats.
  • Bryson Brigman has played strictly second base thus far, so it appears the switch is indeed in full effect. Rayder Ascanio has handled the shortstop duties.
  • LHP Nick Wells had a strong debut, striking out 9 nine over 5.2 innings of one-run ball. The big lefty is looking to translate his raw tools into results this year after mostly struggling in 2016. Love his fastball-curveball combination.
  • Tim Viehoff had himself a day! He went five innings and allowed just three baserunners (1 H, 2 BB) and no runs in the LumberKings’ 4-2 loss on Sunday.