clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

State of the Farm: 5/4/17

Bergman remains unbeatable, Tacoma on a tear, Miller and Taylor stay hot for Arkansas

Happy May! Ethan has relinquished Week Four of State of the Farm to me, and I’m determined to come up with something both readable and educational for you. Without further ado…

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 16-9, first in Pacific Northern Division, Pacific Coast League

Team Hitting: .247/.334/.381, 5th-lowest OPS in PCL

Team Pitching: 8.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 3.53 ERA. 4th-best ERA, 5th-best WHIP in PCL

The M’s wore out I-5 last Wednesday, shuffling six players between Seattle and Tacoma after a disappointing blowout loss to Detroit, and then recalling Boog Powell three days later. Tacoma took the first four of five consecutive games squaring off against the cellar-dwelling Sacramento River Cats, which propelled them to first in the Pacific Northern Division. They’ve since rebounded to take the first two of four against the New York Mets affiliate Las Vegas 51’s and are now tied for the most wins in the PCL. Yesterday they won a thriller in extra innings that featured clutch hits from DJ Peterson, Dario Pizzano, and Tyler O’Neill, as well as strong pitching performances from both starter Ryan Weber and the bullpen. The Rainiers are now 16-9.

  • Newly acquired 3B Seth Mejias-Brean has made an instant impact in Tacoma, notching two hits games in each of his first two appearances. The 26-year-old was running a 74 wRC+ for the second consecutive season in Triple-A in the Reds organization, and was slashing .262/.318/.279.
  • RHP Christian Bergman just won’t quit. He’s now started five games, and came out the winner in every one of them. He’s not necessarily overpowering hitters--he’s running a K/9 of 7.45--but he’s finding success by keeping the ball on the ground. He’s sporting a career low 0.31 HR/9 rate and career high ground ball rate of 56.0%. Despite having a few *rocky* (he played for the Rockies) stints in the majors, he’s making a legitimate case for himself as a big league rotation option should Chase De Jong struggle his next time out.
  • Tyler O’Neill snapped an 0-18 skid over which he struck out eight times by checking in with a 2-5, R, RBI day on Wednesday and I am praying that this is the start of some positive regression for the Canadian slugger.
  • Dan Altavilla has tossed 4.2 scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit, two walks, and racking up six strikeouts since we checked in on him last week. Good thing too, because the big league club bullpen is struggling hard.
  • Daniel Vogelbach has not started in either of the two games Tacoma has played since he was optioned back to the Triple-A club. He made a pinch hit appearance in Wednesday’s extra-innings win and worked a walk.
  • Chris Heston went 5.2 innings, striking out five, and allowing two hits and two walks in his first start since rejoining Tacoma. He figures to factor into the rotation conversation should for Seattle should a spot re-open.
  • RHP Ryan Weber’s scoreless innings streak ended just shy of 22 innings. He’s not an overpowering pitcher (are you seeing a trend here?), but had posted a 70.0% ground ball rate entering Wednesdays start. His ERA now sits at 1.09.
  • Rob Whalen made is organization debut on Monday, going 4.2 IP, allowing seven baserunners while striking out four without allowing a run.
  • Steve Cishek is with the Triple-A club, but is yet to appear in a game for them. He last pitched one week ago. Last we heard, he was in Seattle throwing bullpens for Stottlemyre, trying to fix a mechanical issue.
  • 5’7” LHP Paul Paez, who was selected in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft, has wound up in Tacoma after appearing in one game at High-A and one game at Double-A. He pitched two perfect innings last night, fanning two in high Triple-A debut in his obligatory one game at that level. Obviously his next appearance will be his one game at the big league level. Who knows what comes after that?

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 11-13, third in North Division, Texas League

Team Hitting: .257/.334/.358, second-lowest OPS in Texas League

Team Pitching: 8.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 4.54 ERA, highest ERA in Texas League

The first thing that stuck out to me here is that the Travs went first to worst in the team ERA category over the span of seven games, a result of surrendering 45 runs in seven games.

  • OF Ian Miller certainly doesn’t seem long for the Double-A level. He’s slashing .361/.383/.485, while leading the Texas league by a wide margin in steals (11 in 23 games) and trails the league leader in hits by one.
  • Minor league Rule 5 draftee OF Chuck Taylor is 9-22 (.409 AVG) over his last five games. He’s OPS’ing over 1.000 in 16 games since joining the Double-A squad, and is running a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
  • Shortstop turned catcher Marcus Littlewood’s bat has caught fire in the last week-plus, registering 11 hits in 21 at-bats spanning his last five games. His season slash line sits at .348/.388/.500, although he’s running a relatively high K% of 20.4%. He’ll continue to split time with Tyler Marlette for the time being.
  • RHP Andrew Moore rebounded nicely from his first non-quality start, posting a line of 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO on Friday. His 1.76 ERA is nothing to sneeze at, but a 92.7% LOB rate has played no small part in him posting an xFIP of 3.88. Regardless, he’s been Arkansas’ most dependable starter, and a callup to Tacoma seems to be in the cards yet for the Oregon State product.
  • After registering just one run in 18.2 IP to start his Mariners organization career, RHP Max Povse has allowed 11 runs on 13 hits over his last 9.2 IP while striking out just 3, including zero in his most recent start.
  • RHP Peter Tago has been a nice surprise out of the bullpen, posting a K/9 of 14.54, although his 5.19 BB/9 may be what really dictates any potential promotion to the Triple-A level.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 16-11, first in North Division, California League

Team Hitting: .265/.352/.381, third-best OPS in California League

Team Pitching: 8.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 4.07 ERA, fourth-best ERA in California League

High-A Modesto lacks a surplus of top organizational prospects, but they do have a few of my favorite guys to follow in the organization.

  • One of the guys currently with Modesto--although perhaps not for long--that is near the top of the M’s prospect rankings is OF Braden Bishop. So far, he’s living up to the hype. His 2017 wRC+ currently sits at 147, and he’s shown a career best walk rate of 12.4% and a strikeout rate of just 14.9%. What shocked me the most about Bishop: He’s played in just three games this season that he didn’t score a run in. His 34 runs scored in just 26 games this season is 13 more than the next closest guy. For a little frame of reference, scoring 13 runs less than the man in 2nd place would put you firmly in a tie for 55th in the league in runs scored.
  • 2012 2nd round pick Joe DeCarlo has been playing a little catcher since being activated from extended spring training. He’s posted a wRC+ >100 at every level he’s played at, so if he can stick at the position, it could really help the organization’s depth behind the plate.
  • RHP Lukas Schiraldi has been a pleasant surprise out of the bullpen to this point in the season. The 2014 15th round pick has been used as a starter in 48 of his 78 minor league appearances, but in nine games exclusively out of the pen this season, Schiraldi has thrown 12.1 innings, logging a 14.3 K/9. He also struggles with walks, however, with a 5.6 BB/9.
  • Top pitching prospect Nick Neidert has continued to limit runs and strike batters out, but has not pitched as deep into ballgames as you’d like to see, averaging just a touch under 5.0 IP per game. That said, he just turned 20 back in November, and should have plenty of time to build up stamina and learn to pitch deeper into games. His career high 8.8 K/9 rate leaves plenty to be excited about.
  • Left handed reliever and Washington State University product Joe “Pistol” Pistorese continues to impress, and has managed to keep his career ERA under 2.00 after 91.2 IP. Pistorese has pitched largely in a multi-inning role, and is still managing an impressive 10.38 K/9 strikeout rate.
  • RHP Reggie McClain is holding his own after an aggressive promotion to Modesto. Last year at Everett he posted a K/9 of over 10; that’s dropped this year to around 6, and his walk rate has increased, but the Nuts are 4-1 in games he’s started. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any of his starts this year.

(A) Clinton LumberKings

Team Record: 10-14, 6th in Western Division, Midwest League

Team Hitting: .237/.305/.344, fifth-lowest OPS in Midwest League

Team Pitching: 8.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 4.64 ERA, fourth-highest ERA in Midwest League

Clinton lacks any real sexy pitching prospects, but there’s a few hitting prospects who should be on M’s fans radars.

  • RHP Ronald Dominguez has been in the Mariners organization since 2011, and has logged more than 320 innings. The most interesting thing about the for me personally is that he’s been pretty serviceable, yet I’ve never once heard his name. In 320.2 IP, he’s got 8.4 K/9, 1.71 BB/9, an ERA of 2.36 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. He’s still just 23 years old, and his ability to keep runners of base (0.65 WHIP) this season makes a case for him as a legit relief prospect. He’s worth keeping an eye on going forward.
  • RHP Ljay Newsome has been the most intriguing starter in Clinton to this point. The 20-year-old was a 26th round pick in 2015, and his career high strikeout rate of 10.4 K/9 and 0.35 BB/9 equate to a 2.62 xFIP this season in 26.0 innings. He’s allowed just four runs in 17.0 innings while striking out 18 over his last three starts.
  • Nick Thurman is a big-bodied, left-handed hitting catcher (for now) out of Louisiana-Lafayette who enjoyed some success through 65 games at short season Everett in 2016. He posted a slash line of .267/.355/.384 and 111 wRC+ in 2016, and has bumped those numbers up to .324/.390/.541 and 164 wRC+ in a very limited sample size of 13 games so far in 2017. Largely due to my affinity for left-handed hitting catchers, I’ll be keeping an eye on this one this year.
  • 3B Joe Rizzo is the #4 offensive prospect for the Mariners, and at just 19-years-old, is more than two years younger than league average for this level. He posted a 112 wRC+ in rookie ball last season, and is off to a nice start in seven games since his late assignment from extended spring training. He’s been batting in the middle of the LumberKings order, and success at the A level in 2017 would be huge for his development.
  • Rizzo isn’t the only third baseman to be activated recently after a successful 2016 campaign in the organization. Left-handed hitting Nick Zammarelli has been used exclusively at first base this season after being used at first, third, and in the outfield last season. He’s notched hits in six of his seven games to date this season, although he’s going to need to improve upon his 35.5% strikeout rate pretty significantly if he’s going to contribute much at the higher levels.

Notable Transactions

  • RHP Rob Whalen -- reinstated from disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. Whalen figures to factor in to the midseason battle for a rotation spot at some point, whether that is right now, or after a couple other guys get a crack at the big leagues.
  • 3B Seth Mejias-Brean -- acquired from Cincinatti Reds via trade. Mejias-Brean was a former fringe prospect for Cincinnati. After a few successful seasons from 2012-2014 where he posted a wRC+ between 131-137 each year, he’s struggled to top 90 three of the last four seasons.