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Moore, Neidert highlight Opening Day for Mariners affiliates

Gems and position players pitching and rainouts, oh my!

Seattle Mariners v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Baseball is back, which means, of course, that minor league baseball is back! All but one of the Mariners’ full-season affiliates opened their season yesterday, and already we’ve been treated to our first Andrew Moore gem, our first rainout, and our first case of a position player pitching (and winning!).

In case you missed out on the fun, here’s a rundown of all the opening day action.

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers vs Sacramento River Cats - Postponed

A whole bunch of rain washed out the Rainiers and River Cats on Opening Day. The teams will make up the contest on Monday, April 10th in what is now a doubleheader.

Having to squeeze this into a stretch where the Rainiers are scheduled to play 19 straight days seems brutal, but such is life in the minor leagues. Here is the lineup they were planning on trotting out before things took a turn:

(AA) Corpus Christi Hooks 2 - Arkansas Travelers 1

The Travelers wasted a stellar performance from starting pitcher Andrew Moore, dropping their opener to the Corpus Christi Hooks, 2-1.

Moore was outstanding on the mound, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before surrendering a two-out single to Garrett Stubbs. He’d finish the day with a line of 6.0 IP, H, 7 K, 2 BB, 0 R, and 58-of-93 pitches for strikes. The start was encouraging for a few reasons, with the main ones being A) he only gave up one freaking hit and B) he showed he can dominate hitters at this level even when his command isn’t at the level it typically is (which, honestly, is a very high bar to clear).

All of the Travelers’ offense on the night came immediately. Center fielder Ian Miller led off the bottom of the first by slashing a ball over the center fielder’s head for a triple. He’d come around to score two batters later on a Kyle Waldrop single. The Travelers wouldn’t score again, with their only other legitimate chance coming in the fourth when catcher Tyler Marlette was thrown out trying to go second-to-home on a Kyle Petty single.

Miller, Marlette, Petty, and Jay Baum all finished with multi-hit games for the Travelers.

  • The Hooks did all of their damage in the eighth inning, getting to RHP Blake Perry and LHP Zac Curtis for a combined three hits, a walk, and two earned runs.
  • The Travelers went with a lineup of Miller - CF, Baum - 3B, Waldrop - RF, Casteel - 1B, Marlette - C, Mack - LF, Petty - DH, Wong - SS, Law - 2B. If you like your minor league games with a side of intriguing hitting prospects, this is not the team for you.
  • Jon Singleton is now back in Double-A, I guess. Poor Astros just can’t catch a break with their prospects.

(A+) Modesto Nuts 3 - Lake Elsinore Storm 2

Hey, one of the affiliates won!

The Nuts took down the Storm in bizarre fashion, winning in fourteen innings after a two-out Gianfranco Wawoe grounder glanced off the third base bag and brought in Joey Curletta. Infielder Jordan Cowan–yes, infielder Jordan Cowan–picked up the win on the mound after providing two perfect innings of relief.

The Nuts’ other two runs came in consecutive innings early on, with Ricky Eusebio taking Lake Elsinore starter Joey Lucchesi deep in the third inning and Wawoe popping another in the fourth.

Top pitching prospect Nick Neidert got the start for the Nuts and pitched fairly well in his California League debut. The line wasn’t pretty–4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K–but he came within a step or two of finishing his day with five shutout innings. With two outs in the fifth inning, Storm outfielder Taylor Kohlwey scooted a ball past the mound and just managed to beat out shortstop Donnie Walton’s throw for an infield single. After a brief meeting at the mound, Nuts manager Mitch Canham opted to leave Neidert in for his third trip through the lineup. The very next batter–Padres top prospect Michael Gettys–proceeded to smash a ball out of the park to ruin Neidert’s debut.

  • The Nuts’ bullpen was absurd, twirling 9.1 innings of shutout baseball. They allowed just one baserunner over the final 7.1 innings, a lone walk surrendered by Art Warren over his three-inning appearance.
  • At one point, the Storm’s PA system decided it was a good idea to pump Flo-Rida into the stadium at full blast in the middle of an at-bat. This understandably angered Nuts hitter Eric Filia, who stepped out of the box before the music shut off.
  • The defense was out in force for the Nuts, with Braden Bishop, Chris Mariscal, and Logan Taylor all making multiple stellar plays throughout the contest.
  • Not a great start for the Everett-to-Modesto club; Filia and Walton were a combined 0-for-10. Pitcher Matt Festa did turn in 2.1 shutout innings.

(A) Clinton LumberKings 3 - Kane County Cougars 13

The LumberKings were blasted early and often in their opener, falling to the Kane County Cougars, 13-3.

Things started poorly and never really got any better; starter Ljay Newsome–making his full season debut–surrendered 7 runs on six singles and a home run in the first inning. While Newsome would go on to recover nicely, retiring ten consecutive batters at the tail end of his outing, the Cougars managed to get to the LumberKings’ bullpen fairly steadily, as well. After submarine reliever Jack Anderson turned in two shutout innings, Matt Clancy and Michael Koval were roughed up for a combined five earned runs on six hits and two walks over two innings.

The LumberKings’ lone moment of scoring came in the fifth inning when outfielder Luis Liberato launched a three-run homer to right field. Conner Hale collected the only other extra base hit for Clinton on an eighth inning double.

  • In his full season debut, OF Gareth Morgan went 1-for-3 with a walk. Morgan worked multiple long at-bats, a good sign for the prospect who’s struggled endlessly at the plate since being drafted back in 2014.
  • Tip of the cap to Jack Anderson, the only pitcher who managed to quiet Kane County today (2.0 IP, 3 K, 0 R). The submariner from Penn State, a 23rd round pick last year, has been pretty fun so far in his professional career.