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State of the Farm: 4/18/17

The Rainiers won’t lose. Andrew Moore finally surrenders a run. Dean Kiekhefer smiles.

Lydiard Turkeys Prepare For Christmas Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Welcome to Week Two of State of the Farm 2017, your weekly Seattle Mariners minor league rundown. We’re not really at the point yet where we can start drawing conclusions or make any definitive statements, but we are starting to see new (and old) patterns emerge from players that are probably worth keeping an eye on moving forward. Is Ian Miller trying to hit for more power? Is Braden Bishop back to being a high OBP guy? Is Chris Mariscal just going to keep doing the darn thing? What in the living hell has gotten into Nick Hagadone?

We are starting to develop questions, and that’s kinda fun.

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 7-4, 1st in Pacific Northern Division, Pacific Coast League

Team Hitting: .222/.308/.306, 34 BB, 68 K

Team Pitching: 9.8 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 2.16 ERA

The Rainiers enjoyed a particularly pleasant week, going 6-1 since last week’s State of the Farm update. They’ve primarily won via dominant pitching, at one point winning three in a row despite scoring a combined seven runs in the contests. In total, Rainiers pitching surrendered eight runs over their last seven games. It’s been something. Perhaps their finest win came on Friday night, when they beat the El Paso Chihuahuas 2-1 after the Chihuahuas decided to play defense like a bunch of idiots:

If you take a gander at the scoreboard, you’ll notice it is a tie game with bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth. This wasn’t a weird hop or anything like that, either. It was a sky-high pop-up that landed in the bermudaest of triangles.

  • LHP Nick Hagadone is doing pretty okay so far:

He has a -1.97 FIP. Holy hell, Nick Hagadone.

  • RHP Casey Fien is officially with the Rainiers now. He’s recorded two scoreless outings, striking out two in 1.2 innings.
  • LHP Dean Kiekhefer has registered 3.2 scoreless innings to start the season. Which, cool, feel however you want about the guy, but mainly I’m trying to find a reason to post his super jolly team picture:
  • RHP Emilio Pagan has struck out 7 of the 11 batters he has faced. He has also walked two of them. He is developing quite the M.O.
  • RHP Mark Lowe has struggled thus far in his third tour with the Mariners organization. In 3.1 innings, the 33-year-old has surrendered 5 runs (3 ER) on 8 hits and 2 walks
  • LHP Paul Fry has been traded to the Orioles, in case you didn’t hear. If the Orioles love us, they’ll give Luke French a tryout now.
  • RHP Chase De Jong has now made two starts for the Rainiers and has been okay in both. Only two runs allowed in 10.1 innings, but he’s been walking a fine line with 7 hits and 5 walks over that stretch.
  • 1B D.J. Peterson showed signs of popping out of a slow start on Monday with a home run and a walk in the Rainiers’ 4-3 win over the Isotopes. He is now 5-for-30 with 5 walks and 7 strikeouts on the season.
  • OF Ben Gamel also managed his first dinger of the season in the win. He is now at .278/.357/.389 on the season.
  • OF Boog Powell is finally back! He’s gone 4-for-19 with 5 walks and 3 stolen bases since returning from suspension.
  • Despite looking a little shaky to start the year, 1B Daniel Vogelbach has put together a .297/.386/.351 line early on. He’s hit safely in four of his last five games and walked twice in the one game he didn’t. Still no signs of power at the moment, unfortunately.
  • OF Tyler O’Neill Watch: .220/.250/.463, 2 doubles, triple, 2 homers. Have only caught about four or five of their games, but he hasn’t been barreling up fastballs in the zone the way he did last year and breaking balls are still giving him issues. We’ll chalk it up to early season woes right now.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 5-6, 3rd in North Division, Southern League

Team Hitting: .249/.313/.315, 29 BB, 90 K

Team Pitching: 7.7 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 3.43 ERA

The Travelers continued being a bit up and down this season and currently find themselves at 5-6 on the season. Some days the offense shows up and some days it doesn’t. Some days the pitching shows up and some days it doesn’t. They march on.

  • RHPs Max Povse and Andrew Moore continue to be the story down there. The two combined this year: 31.2 IP, 27 K, 7 BB, 1 R. Moore was the first to allow a run this year, surrendering a home run to Nick Schulz on Monday night.
  • RHP Thyago Vieira has had one awful outing and three solid outings. On April 11th, he surrendered 6 runs on 4 hits and a walk. He’s allowed just two baserunners in the three outings aside from that. I haven’t had a chance to see him pitch with the Travelers yet, but I plan on looking back through the tape sometime this week and passing along some thoughts on him next week.
  • RHP Steve Cishek threw a rehab outing yesterday and recorded a clean, 1-2-3 inning. 11 of his 18 pitches were strikes.
  • CF Ian Miller and C Tyler Marlette continue to be the story on offense. Miller has hit safely in 7 of his last 8 games and is currently slashing .318/.327/.432. You really want to see more walks and less strikeouts, especially with his speed, but he’s also showing more pop than he ever has at any level, which is interesting. Marlette, meanwhile, is 12-for-29 with 3 doubles, a triple, three walks, and three strikeouts. Here’s hoping he truly, finally is ready for Double-A (and higher).

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 6-5, 4th in North Division, California League

Team Hitting: .263/.353/.373, 47 BB, 89 K

Team Pitching: 8.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.24 ERA

The North Division of the California League has been home to some great baseball so far this season, with all four teams sporting winning records. The Nuts’ loss on Monday dropped them from (theoretically) first place to sole ownership of last place. What fun!

  • RHP Nick Neidert had his first tough outing of the season on Monday, surrendering 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. It’s still been a really promising start to the season for the 20-year-old. He’s super young and he doesn’t throw 100 mph or have an unfair breaking pitch. It’s gonna be bumpy at times.
  • LHP Paul Paez, recently demoted from Double-A Arkansas, pitched 1.2 perfect innings in his Nuts debut.
  • Outside of Neidert, life has been rough for Modesto starting pitching. Nathan Bannister and Pablo Lopez have been hit hard and hit often. Anthony Misiewicz and Reggie McClain have both managed to post decent results despite high walk rates.
  • How about OF Braden Bishop? The UW product has bounced back from a rough 2016 and is hitting .310/.408/.357 to start the year. If he can maintain this new and improved plate approach, he’ll start to become a fairly intriguing prospect again, even if the pop he had in college never shows back up.
  • INF Chris Mariscal just keeps on hitting. He’s at .389/.489/.528 and has done everything to continue building on his successful 2016 season. It’s BABIP-fueled, I get that, but it’s impressive all the same.
  • OF Eric Filia’s struggles continue, as he’s slashing just .108/.233/.108 through his first 37 at-bats with Modesto. He’s still getting the ball in play frequently (<10% K-rate), just struggling to find green at the moment.

(A) Clinton LumberKings

Team Record: 5-6, 5th in Western Division, Midwest League

Team Hitting: .223/.299/.314, 35 BB, 105 K

Team Pitching: 9.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 3.96 ERA

Given the raw numbers, it feels like a miracle the LumberKings are hovering around .500 through their first eleven games. They haven’t hit at all. They haven’t pitched particularly well. Their biggest weapon is their defense. And yet, they’ve won six of their last eight and find themselves in good position to strike if the bats start heating up. The highlight of their season very well may have been on Monday, when they tagged Matt Garza (yes, that Matt Garza) for five runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings.

  • RHP Ljay Newsome had another good start on Monday, tossing six innings of one-run ball. He struck out six and walked none in the effort. Same thing as last week: aside from the literal first inning of his season, he has been very good.
  • RHP Brandon Miller, who might be my favorite pitching prospect after the big three of Neidert-Povse-Moore, had put up a 1.83 FIP through his first two starts. The advanced righty has struck out eleven and walked just two in eleven innings. In his last start he was stellar, allowing just four baserunners over six shutout innings.
  • The LumberKings have received a lot of strong performances from their relievers, including Jefferson Medina (1.28 FIP), Robert Dugger (2.05 FIP), and Jack Anderson (2.19 FIP).
  • LHPs Danny Garcia and Tim Viehoff have also provided some stability to the rotation, with Garcia yet to allow a run and Viehoff running a 2.88 FIP through his two starts.
  • 2B Bryson Brigman isn’t slowing down. He’s at .333/.429/.394 through 33 at-bats with seven walks and five strikeouts. The lack of pop is still an obvious concern, but his speed and ability to consistently put the ball in play are wreaking havoc in the Midwest League right now. Go get ‘em, Bryson.
  • OF Luis Liberato left the game on Monday with a leg injury. He had to be helped off the field.
  • INF Luis Rengifo got some time in the outfield as a result of the Liberato injury. It was his first ever professional game in the outfield; he has primarily shuffled between third base, shortstop, and second base. Rengifo’s 0-for-5 performance dropped his numbers to an ugly state, but overall he’s been fairly impressive so far.
  • OF Gareth Morgan Watch: .219/.278/.281. He has posted consecutive multi-hit games. Please don’t look at his strikeout rate.