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State of the Farm: 6/30/17

And the farm has grown with the addition of our draft picks

Hello! It’s been a while since we updated you on the goings-on on the farm in a comprehensive way other than just daily score updates. The farm has a whole new orchard of players plucked from the college and high school ranks, and soon there will be another influx of international free agent signings, so these updates might get kind of loooooong for a while. Brew a cuppa and settle into your favorite prospect-picking chair.

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 41-37, second in Pacific Northern Division, Pacific Coast League

Team Hitting: .265/.343/.419, 5th-lowest OPS, tied for second-most walks in PCL

Team Pitching: 7.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 4.47 ERA. fewest hits allowed in PCL

The Rainiers have been riding some hot bats to some high-scoring ballgames lately. The continued shuffling of pitchers has plagued the pitching staff, but things have calmed down a bit on the offensive front and the Rainiers position players have mostly been able to settle into their roles in the lineup. In short, the output has been satisfactory.

  • First things first. OF Tyler O’Neill. The Canadian Slugger did this last night:

In case you missed it, our fearless leader Kate recently posted this gem to dry the tears of Mariners fans, and right on cue, O’Neill has started driving the ball all over the ballpark. He’s slashing .306/.438/.694 over his past 10 games, and has even swiped seven bags already this season. O’Neill returning to form could be a huge boon to the M’s farm system as we approach the second half of the season. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 2

  • Mariners Opening Day center fielder and current Rainiers OF Leonys Martin has been unreal over the last 10 games. He’s slashing .357/.417/.619 while stealing six bases. His season line is now at .298/.354/.489 with 16 stolen bases while being caught only once. Another nice sign is his .254/.323/.458 slash line against left-handed pitching. Should the injury bug bite another M’s outfielder *knock on wood* Martin could very well find himself back up in the majors. That said, fellow outfielder Boog Powell is already on the M’s 40-man, unlike Martin. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: Not Eligible

  • Recently announced Triple-A All-Star and Home Run Derby participant 1B Daniel Vogelbach, like his teammates, has been tearing the cover off the ball lately. He’s continued to show an ability to mash minor league pitching, and has been slashing .359/.426/.513 over his last 10 games. Danny Valencia’s success up at the major league level seems to lock Vogelbach in his role in Tacoma for the foreseeable future. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 8

  • If you haven’t noticed, the M’s have a whole ton of young, cost controlled outfielders who are performing well. OF Boog Powell has effectively added his name to that pool of players with a nice bounceback season after facing a lengthy suspension last season. His 139 wRC+ is impressive on its own, and doesn’t even take into account his elite defensive capabilities:

Not to wear out the whole “10 day slash line thing,” but this one is just too great not to share. Over his last 10 games, Boog is slashing .475/.488/.825. Not sure I have seen an average or slugging percentage that high over a 10 day period. The slugging percentage is being driven by the three doubles, a triple, and three home runs Boog has hit over his last forty at-bats. Small sample size aside, it’s pretty cool to see a guy who’s not known for his power put up a season .481 slugging percentage. Depth is always great to have of course, but it’s getting hard to imagine what the organization plans to do with all these breakout outfield prospects. However, it should be super exciting to see what type of player Powell emerges as when he finally gets an extended opportunity at a starting gig. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 21

  • 3B/1B D.J. Peterson has been something of a disappointment each time he’s been tested with the Triple-A level, and until June of this season, that had continued to be the case. He’s currently putting the finishing touches on a month that saw him slash .294/.362/.412, scoring 19 runs and driving in 16. The overall season numbers have been by no means overwhelming, but he’s upped his walk rate two full percentage points from 5.7% at Triple-A last season to 7.7% this year while also cutting his strikeout rate from an “awful” rate of 26.6% to an “average” rate of 18.3% to date, a mark that is far and away his best since his debut 29 game stint with Short-Season Everett back in 2013. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 9

  • RHP Emilio Pagan has been lights out since being sent back down to Tacoma on June 12th. Over his last 10 appearances, he’s allowed just six baserunners over 12.2 IP compared to 14 strikeouts. If Emilio is trying to punch his ticket back to Seattle, a 0.47 WHIP is a damn good place to start. He struck out the side to nail down a win for Tacoma in an epic eight-run comeback on the 26th, and yeah, he was pretty fired up: Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • The Rainiers’ lone All-Star pitcher is RHP Jean Machi, and if they waited to announce All-Star rosters until the day of the game, that might not be the case. Machi has been getting hammered lately, surrendering eight runs on five walks and 15 hits over 10.1 innings. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record:34-43, last in North Division, Texas League

Team Hitting: .268/.339/.371, second-highest OBP in Texas League

Team Pitching: 7.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.37 ERA, tied for fourth-best WHIP in Texas League

After finishing dead last in their division in the first half, the Travs have started out the second half the same way. They currently sit at 2-5 this half, and things could be getting even worse here shortly if some of their few bright spots receive their well-deserved callups in the near future.

  • OF Ian Miller has given himself some breathing room atop the league leaderboard in the batting average department. His mark of .342 has him 21 points ahead of the next closest player, and his bat is only getting hotter and hotter with each passing day. Miller batted leadoff for the Texas North All-Star Team back on Tuesday, and of course, he legged out a triple in the showcase game. Miller certainly seems deserving of a promotion to the Triple-A level, but it’s hard to carve out a clear role for him in Tacoma with an outfield currently consisting of Leonys Martin, Boog Powell, and a recently surging Tyler O’Neill. Should the Mariners deal from their plethora of fringe major league outfielders, Miller would likely get a much-deserved call to Tacoma. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 29

  • Back on June 12th, I interviewed OF Chuck Taylor. Since then, he’s slashing .150/.209/.233. Taylor, who also represented the Mariners organization in the Texas League All-Star Game, started in right field and swatted a two run homer. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • 1B Ryan Casteel, a member of the championship Jackson Generals squad, is on his second year in Double-A in the Mariners system. Casteel, who is a little undersized for a first baseman--he’s 5’11”--has just returned to the team after a month on the disabled list, and he’s hit in all six games since returning. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • After starting strong upon his demotion to Double-A Arkansas, OF Dario Pizzano--who perhaps has the most Boston-native-appropriate name of all time-- has scuffled lately, batting .147 over his last 10 games while receiving consistent starts in left field. Pizzano’s saving grace to this point has been the fact that he’s walked equally as much as he’s struck out (25:25). Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • 1B/OF Kyle Waldrop was the third of four starters representing the Travs in the All-Star Game. The lefty slugger has come on strong as of late, batting .342 over his last 10 games despite being sat down on strikes nine times compared to just one walk. The 25-year-old’s ability to man first base in a system with few legitimate options there should help him stick in the organization. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 26

  • 2011 draftee C Tyler Marlette was the Trav’s fourth and final starter in the All-Star Game. Almost by default, Marlette is establishing himself as the top catching prospect in the organization, although the may have changed with the M’s selecting three catchers in this year’s draft. The 24-year-old Marlette has posted a 120 wRC+ in Double-A this year. Marlette is likely entrenched behind both Tuffy Gosewich and Steve Baron for any shot at major league at-bats, but his continued offensive output is a welcome output from an organization lacking much catching depth. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 22

  • I am pretty positive I have never spoken or written about RHP Tyler Herb. Well that changes today! The former 29th round pick has been Mr. Dependable for the Travs this season, leading all Mariners minor leaguers in innings pitched with 91.0. Herb just finished out the month of June going 3-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 1.26 WHIP, which lowered his season marks to 3.36 and 1.34, respectively. He has actually just baaarely pitched better than his peripherals, currently possessing a 3.33 xFIP. His 8.3 K/9 is a marked improvement over last year’s 6.7, and he’s coupled that with a decrease in walk rate from 4.39 BB/9 to 2.9 repeating the Double-A level this year. My favorite stat on Herb though: He’s turned in quality starts in 11 of his 15 starts, including 10 of his last 11 games. That ability to consistently go deep into games will certainly help his ability to stick as a starter as he progresses through a system that needs starting pitching. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Speaking of quality starts, RHP Dylan Unsworth has also been racking ‘em up lately, qualifying for six in his last seven games. Unsworth’s 87.0 innings pitched is good for third in the organization. The South African slinger has had a pretty stark contrast from May to June:

After an impressive spring that saw Unsworth toss 12.0 shutout innings against major league competition, it’s nice to see him returning to form as of late. Fun fact: Dylan Unsworth posted a 1.16 ERA in nine starts in an injury-interrupted 2016 season last year. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • RHP Thyago Vieira hasn’t really been striking guys out at a rate you might expect from someone who consistently hits triple digits on the radar gun, but that hasn’t stopped him from being effective out of the Travs bullpen this year, or being named as a representative for both the Mariners and his native Brazil in the upcoming Futures Game. Over his last 10 appearances, Vieira has lowered his ERA over one entire point from 4.66 to 3.56. The most exciting development in that timeframe: he’s issued just three free passes in 12.0 innings over that span. His season xFIP now sits at 3.89, but that should continue to drop as long as he’s able to rein in his control through the back half of this season. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: 10

  • On the opposite end of that spectrum, we have RHP Peter Tago, who, like Vieira, can gas it up to triple digits. Unlike Vieira, however, Tago’s walk issues have actually gotten worse recently. He’s surrendered 12 of them in his last 10 games, raising his walk rate to 5.22 BB/9. He was, however, able to ride his phenomenal 12.0 K/9 to an All-Star appearance. Fittingly, he struck out one and walked one in his lone inning in the minor league midsummer classic. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Over the last two seasons, RHP Darin Gillies has tossed 96.1 innings over 58 games out of the bullpen. Over that span, he’s logged a 1.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9. After beginning his career as a starting pitcher, Gillies has found success and fast tracked his minor league career with his move to the bullpen. He’s thrown two or more innings in almost half of his appearances, making him a candidate for a multi-inning relief role in the future. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Rounding out the list of M’s representatives in the Texas League All-Star Game is LHP Zac Curtis. Curtis, who has logged 4.2 innings in Seattle this season that you may have missed if you blinked, threw one clean inning in the All-Star game. Through 21 games serving primarily as the Trav’s closer this season, Curtis has shown a knack for missing bats, something of a rarity for lefty relievers. His K% of 29.2% and BB% of 4.4% both qualify as “elite” by Fangraphs metrics. It’s a good thing Curtis does such a good job of limiting walks--he’s issued just 6 in 32 innings--considering he tend to give up hits at an undesirable rate, allowing 26 over those same 32 innings. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 45-33, first in North Division, California League

Team Hitting: .266/.346/.398, second-best batting average in California League

Team Pitching: 8.9 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 4.23 ERA, second-fewest walks in California League

The Nuts secured the first half division title, and have come out to defend their title in the second half, leading the way through eight games. They’ve used their starting rotation to start all but six of their games this season, which is a testament to the durability of their arms. Breakout seasons from a variety of their offensive players have helped Modesto go nuts this season. They’re currently riding a five-game win streak.

  • Somewhat surprisingly, OF Luis Liberato was promoted to High-A Modesto after posting a wRC+ of 108 through 57 games in Clinton. Liberato has quickly silenced any doubters, reaching base 15 times through his first 10 games at the new level. He’s dealing with an extremely small sample size, but with a BABIP north of .400 and K% on the wrong side of 30%, coupled with a BB% that starts with “5”, Liberato needs to get his rate stats ironed out if he wants to stick at High-A. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 18

  • OF Eric Filia has become a favorite around this site, and no doubt of Jerry Dipoto as well, thanks in large part to his insane, Gwynn-esque walk and strikeout rates. He followed the unbelievable feat of doubling his strikeout rate with his walk rate last season, and has nearly done it again to this point this year (11.1% to 6.0%). Since becoming a professional, Filia has walked 75 times, and struck out just 39 times. After a crazy slow start in April where he OPS’d just .547, he’s rebounded to post OPS’s of .983 and .922 in May and June. His clear understanding of the organizational philosophy in regards to hitting should accelerate his time in the minors. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Since we last checked in on him, OF Braden Bishop earned MVP honors at the Cal North All-Star Game, going 4-4 with a triple, double, and two stolen bases. It’s starting to look like he *might* end the year with more games played than runs scored after all, but hey, you never know. The kid just continues to show off an impressive ability to apparently just turn on the “walk” skill at will, as he’s almost doubled his walk rate from last season. Bishop has always been described as a “glove-first, light-hitting outfielder,” and he seems intent on burying that description for good this year. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: 13

  • RHP Reggie McClain has seen regression rear its ugly head a bit recently, with his numbers inching closer to his peripherals through his last few starts. Over his last 10 outings, he’s gone 4-4 with a 4.69 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. That said, he punched regression right in its big dumb mouth last night, turning in his most impressive start of his career. Against Visalia he allowed just six hits and no walks over a complete game, one-run effort, needing only 92 pitches to accomplish the feat. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • It’s a beautiful thing when your #1 pitching prospect suddenly develops an ability to miss bats before he can even legally drink, and that’s exactly what RHP Nick Neidert has done in 2017. After striking out just 5.9 K/9 in his first professional season, the 6’1” righty bumped that number up to 6.8 last season before shooting it all the way up to 9.9 K/9 through 81.1 innings pitched this season. He went 8.0 innings in his most recent outing, and has allowed more than three runs in just one of his 15 starts this year (and he allowed only four runs in that one). Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: 3

  • LHP Anthony Misiewicz’s surface numbers have been mostly underwhelming, but when you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that his BABIP of .357 has inflated his ERA quite a bit. His xFIP is 3.84 for Modesto this season--almost a full point and a half lower than his ERA--is thanks largely to his strikeout ability. His 90 strikeouts leads all Mariners minor league pitchers, and if he keeps it up, his that ERA should drop a bit towards his xFIP. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Just the second left-handed reliever on this entire list, LHP Spencer Hermann just keeps going multiple innings, and keeps limiting runs at an impressive rate. Over his past 10 appearances, he’s thrown 22.1 innings, fanning 22 hitters while allowing just five runs (2.01 ERA). A 36th-round pick, Hermann wasn’t really supposed to be much of anything, so if he develops into a useful left-handed reliever, that would be a huge win. He’s also one of Ethan’s pet prospects, and since his last one was Emilio Pagan, who also rose out of relative obscurity, maybe hop on the Hermann bandwagon if you want to look super-smart in a couple years. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

(A) Clinton LumberKings

Team Record: 33-42, last in Western Division, Midwest League

Team Hitting: .251/.321/.379, second-most stolen bases in Midwest League

Team Pitching: 8.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 4.43 ERA, fifth-highest WHIP in Midwest League

The LumberKings have suffered injuries to key players lately, and as such, have had a couple of freshly drafted players joining them a lot earlier than you typically would see. Unsurprisingly, the ‘Kings have probably the fewest names familiar to M’s fans of any of these minor league teams.

  • Venezuelan C Yojhan Quevedo is doing something Mariners fans haven’t seen a minor league catcher do in a long time, and that’s bat .300. The 23-year-old backstop has posted a wRC+ of 104 to this point in his first season of full-season ball. His offensive value would be heightened if he ever walked at all, but as it stands now, his walk rate is just 3.0%. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Back on Tuesday, OF Anthony Jimenez, who had been enjoying a breakout season, was placed on the disabled list. The 24-year-old product of Venezuela is running mad, currently tied with friend of the site Ian Miller at 24 steals, leading the organization. His 137 wRC+ and .845 OPS are supported by 26 extra base hits, including a career-high seven round-trippers to date this season. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: 17

  • 2016 6th round pick RHP Brandon Miller continues to show stuff advanced for this level, routinely throwing 6-7 innings in many of his starts. His ERA and xFIP are mirror images of each other, both currently sitting at 3.69. He doesn’t have particularly overpowering stuff, but he limits walks and keeps the ball in the ballpark, which should be good enough to bump him up to Modesto by next year should he keep it up. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: 16

  • RHP Robert Duggar recently made the move back to the starting pitching rotation, and has responded by tossing 16.0 innings of three-run baseball. He’s racked up 36 strikeouts over 33.2 innings through his last 10 games, and has posted a miniscule ERA of 1.60 over that span. Duggar finished last season as a starter before opening 2017 as a relief pitcher, but has now been used as a starter once again for his last five appearances. We’ll have to keep an eye on his usage going forward. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • Submariner RHP Jack Anderson continues to prove himself as another vital piece of an overpowering LumberKings bullpen. He’s allowed just two runs over his last 26.1 innings. Also, shockingly, according to Fangraphs he is the only “Jack Anderson” to ever play professional baseball. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

  • For whatever reason, the LumberKings have a ton of Venezuelan players, and RHP Jefferson Medina is another one of them. He’s making an appearance at Clinton for the third straight season, but this is the first time he has done so exclusively as a relief pitcher. So far, the results have indicated that that’s where Medina’s future will be. After a rough first handful of appearances, he’s settled into his new role nicely, and has posted a 0.81 ERA with 21 strikeouts over his last 10 games. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: NR

(A-) Everett AquaSox

Team Record: 7-8, 3rd in North Division, Northwest League

Team Hitting: .259/.320/.430, most home runs in Northwest League

Team Pitching: 9.4 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, 4.42 ERA, third-highest WHIP in Northwest League

The AquaSox just kicked off their season two weeks ago, and have had an influx of recently drafted players here with the last week, headlined by 1st round pick 1B Evan White. Any PNW M’s fans who want to get an early look at some of the new prospects will be happy to hear that many of them have landed in Everett.

  • 1B Evan White has been hampered by a quad injury, but has been playing through it. He collected his first professional base hit just last night. He has played just half of the game in each of his last two games in order to lessen the workload on his healing quad.
  • OF Greifer Andrade had played exclusively second, third, and shortstop for his entire minor league career through 2016. This year, he has appeared exclusively as an outfielder in all 13 of the AquaSox games. The position change hasn’t shown any signs of slowing his offensive game, as he’s started hot, slashing .346/.357/.519. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: No. 20

  • 2B Joseph Rosa, who appeared in six games between Tacoma and Arkansas when they were in need of bodies, has been slugging since being assigned to Everett. He’s already racked up 11 extra base hits and driven in nine runs while scoring 8 of his own in just 14 games.
  • The M’s plucked left-handed hitting OF Johnny Slater out of the University of Michigan in the 28th round last week. He’s promptly reported to Everett and slugged homers in his first three games in what proved to be (temporarily anyways) his only three game for the ‘Sox. Slater was called up to Clinton, perhaps only to fill in as the LumberKings are currently short on outfielders.
  • OF Billy Cooke, who was nice enough to let Kate interview him practically seconds after the M’s drafted him, made the trip from Everett to Clinton with Slater. Either or even both of them could wind up back down in Everett once the ‘Kings get healthier, but both are fairly seasoned college products who could theoretically stick at Clinton. Cooke’s bat has been slow to heat up, but he’s still received just 24 at-bats.
  • OF Brayan Hernandez makes his full season ball debut for this year at the ripe age of 19. The 6’2” 175lb outfielder has “projectable” written all over him, so it’ll be exciting to see how the bat plays against some top young pitching prospects. Hernandez got a brief look in Tacoma while they were waiting for Everett to start, and held his own remarkably well against Triple-A pitching. Top 30 Organizational Prospect Ranking: 6

  • Speaking of “projectable”, 21-year-old Andres Torres also makes the step up from rookie ball to Short-Season A in 2017, and he’s got a lot to be excited about. He toes the rubber at 6’4”, and is fresh off a season in the DSL that saw him go 10-3 with a 1.26 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 14 starts. The strikeout numbers weren’t particularly eye-popping--he had 55 in 78.1 IP--but those have seemed to come around a bit in Everett. So far in three starts, he’s racked up 13 in 16.1 innings. He’s also managed to go at least five innings in each of his three starts, something of a rarity for this level.
  • RHP Adonis De la Cruz out of the Dominican Republic has tossed 9.0 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for the AquaSox, striking out 10 while walking just one.
  • LHP JP Sears, who was an 11th round pick out of The Citadel, has been nearly perfect as perfect can be in his two appearances so far. He’s logged 3.1 innings and struck out nine while allowing just one walk and one hit. Sears was the NCAA Division I regular season leader in strikeouts, which is kind of amazing considering he’s 5’11” and 75% of hitters should theoretically have a platoon advantage on him. Also, I’ve got a hunch he’s gonna be a good friend of the site, so give him a follow here if you haven’t @jpsears24.
  • LHP Oliver Jaskie is another lefty arm from the college ranks, and also the second player AquaSox player that was just selected out of Michigan. He’s already thrown 2.2 scoreless innings and allowed two hits and one walk while striking out four. In a start last night, he flashed a pretty sweet changeup batters whiffed at:
  • 4th round pick RHP Seth Elledge was drafted out of Dallas Baptist as a relief pitcher. His line to date: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 2 R, 4 K.
  • Local product and Gonzaga alum RHP Wyatt Mills has slid right into the closer role for the AquaSox, something he did during his time at Gonzaga as well, and hasn’t skipped a beat. He’s 2 for 2 in save opportunities, striking out five over 2.0 innings. The M’s nabbed Mills earlier than many expected, selecting him in the 3rd round largely due to his signability, but also is impressive production as a sidearm reliever at Gonzaga.
  • Mariners top prospect OF Kyle Lewis made his long awaited return from last year’s season ending injury with a brief stint with the Modesto Nuts, but after crashing in to the outfield wall making a catch, was placed on the disabled list and eventually sent to the AZL Rookie League Mariners to restart is in-game rehabilitation. So far, so good.