Official All-Star week activities come to a close tonight in Tacoma with the All Star Game. If you won’t be in attendance at Cheney tonight, you can still follow along with the game action on MiLB.tv, where it will be streaming free. If you decide you might want to go, there are still select tickets available, or there’s the always-popular “climb up on the hill by the high school and peer over the fence” option. Monday’s Home Run Derby was a blast, even for this dinger-indifferent blogger, and everyone over at the Rainiers has done such a beautiful job getting things ready, from the impeccable grounds to the special beer to planning on-field entertainment. I’m very proud to have our home ballpark represented so well, and you should be too.
Gametime: 6:05 PM PST, streaming free on MiLB.tv
Even though the Triple-A ASG doesn’t get quite the hype of the Futures Game, there are still some big prospect names who will be involved, a few old friends, and some under-the-radar players who are worth keeping an eye on (yes, I’m talking to you, fantasy baseball types). For the home team, Daniel Vogelbach and Jean Machi will be representing the Rainiers; Ethan wrote them up here.
Willy Adames, SS, Durham Bulls (Rays) - The top-ranked prospect for Tampa Bay and tenth-ranked by Baseball America, Adames was the centerpiece of the David Price trade with Detroit. Adames’ stat line won’t jump off the page at you, but he’s just 21 years old, and about as defensively talented at shortstop as you’ll see.
Ozzie Albies, 2B, Gwinnett Braves (Braves) - 11th-overall ranked in the preseason by Baseball America, Albies, at 20, is the youngest player represented in the ASG. He leads the IL in triples, with 8, thanks to his elite speed, and ranks top ten in all offensive categories. And he still only ranks second in the Braves system! That must be fun for them.
Chance Sisco, C, Norfolk Tides (Orioles) - Unlike superprospect Yoan Moncada, also invited to both the Futures Game and the Triple-A ASG, Sisco is attending both, just days after tripling in a key run in the Futures Game. Cisco is one of the best hitting catchers in all of minor league ball; the question mark for him has always been his defense, but that’s seen a notable uptick this year, and he might reward the Orioles for sticking with him at catcher. Sisco maybe doesn’t get as much national attention as the Rosarios and the Moncadas—he was ranked as #57 in BA’s preseason rankings—but he’s absolutely someone to keep an eye on for you fantasy baseball types.
Pacific Coast League:
Amed Rosario, SS, Las Vegas 51s (Mets) - If Mets fans had their way, Rosario would already be in NYC, and it’s likely he gets the call after the break as the torch is passed from Reyes to Rosario. Rosario is an excellent shortstop, but to be honest, I haven’t been impressed with his ability to handle off-speed pitching the few times I’ve seen him in Tacoma. Andrew Moore was able to defeat him with relative ease, and even Chase De Jong managed to strike him out.
Derek Fisher, OF, Fresno Grizzlies (Astros) - Oh look, an Astros prospect. How nice for them. The 23-year-old Fisher is the highest-ceiling Astros prospect left who’s anywhere close to the majors. He had a brief call-up earlier this season while Josh Reddick recovered from a concussion, but there’s just no place to play the hard-hitting outfielder right now. Gotta get Aoki those outfield reps, you know. Fisher is a good candidate for a trade as the Astros need to strengthen their rotation.
Alex Verdugo, OF, Oklahoma City Dodgers (Dodgers) - Verdugo is the top prospect in the Dodgers system not named Cody Bellinger or Yadier Alvarez. He’s put up a 132 wRC+ this year in Triple-A at just twenty-one years of age, where he’s walked more than he’s struck out. The Dodgers OF is crowded, so look for Verdugo to be prime trade bait as the Dodgers try to shore up their injury-plagued rotation.
Pacific Coast League:
Christian Walker, 1B/DH, Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) - After spending his entire career in the Orioles system, Walker was DFA’d by Baltimore this off-season. He was then claimed off waivers by the Braves, DFA’d again, claimed by the Reds, DFA’d for Scooter Gennett (ouch), and then claimed by the Diamondbacks towards the end of spring training this year. A change of scenery has done the 26-year-old a world of good, as he’s slashing a career-best 303/.363/.600, and his 22 home runs are the second-highest in all of minor league ball.
Garrett Cooper, 1B, Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers) - The 26-year-old is on his second tour of Triple-A (first full tour, though), but he’s taken some broad strides forward since his first year at the level. Cooper is walking more while keeping his strikeouts in check, leading to an OBP about 100 points higher than what he put up last year. But the real improvement is in his slugging percentage, which is up over two hundred points in his first long-term exposure to Triple-A pitching, thanks to his 17 home runs.
Jason Leblebijian, 3B, Buffalo Bison (Blue Jays) - Leblebijian, son of Middle Eastern immigrants, has had a long and arduous path through the Blue Jays’ system, putting up solid but unspectacular numbers at every level. He definitely wins my most likable prospect award.
Bryce Brentz, OF, Pawtucket (Red Sox) - At 28, Bryce Brentz isn’t so much a prospect. He’s had a long and winding path through the Red Sox organization, which he’s been with his whole career. But Brentz has a new swing this year that’s resulting in tons of home runs—he won the Home Run Derby on Monday, rifling off dinger after dinger—and for the Ortizless Red Sox, could be a helping hand.
Rusney Castillo, OF, Pawtucket Red Sox (Red Sox) - It’s weird to call a guy like Castillo, signed to a high-profile, high-dollar contract just a few years ago, under-the-radar, but here we are. Despite sniffing the majors a few times, the Cuban-born prospect remains in some weird limbo. Despite spending a significant chunk of change to acquire his rights, Castillo has spent most of his time with Boston in the minors after an unimpressive 80-game tryout in 2015. Trade rumors have circulated around him since last season, but apparently teams didn’t want to be saddled with that heavy a contract, and Castillo found himself back in Triple-A to start this year. To his credit, he’s made the most out of that, putting up career numbers. He doesn’t take a walk, like at all ever, but he also rarely strikes out (12%) and is slashing .302/.339/.473.
The Intriguing Arms:
Tom Eshelman, RHP, Reading Fighting Phils (Phillies) - Eshelman is the starting pitcher for the IL. A command artist acquired from Houston in the Ken Giles trade, Eshelman doesn’t strike a ton of batters out, but he also doesn’t walk anyone, and he gives up barely any home runs. The 23-year-old has an FIP of about 3 and generates a ton of groundball and flyball outs.
Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis Indians (Pirates) - Brault has an average fastball that plays up thanks to his ability to locate it, and while none of his pitches will blow anyone away, they’re all solid and he’s able to throw them all for strikes. He didn’t have a sterling debut last year for the Pirates over eight games, but his peripherals suggest he’s a better pitcher than what he showed there. He’s improved this season from where he was last season in Triple-A and will probably get another shot to help out the Pirates’ beleaguered rotation.
Lucas Sims, RHP, Gwinnett Braves (Braves) - I remember Sims from when the Jackson Generals used to play him as part of the M-Braves (get a little less creative with naming your minors teams, Braves, sheesh). In his second year in Triple-A (first full year), Sims has cut his walk rate in half while bumping up his K rate slightly to an impressive 24%. He’s been touched up a little for the longball, leading to a slightly higher ERA/FIP than I think reflects the true measure of his skills. He has a big fastball that sits 93-95 and he can run up to 97-98, plus a nasty curve and a developing changeup and I WANT HIM JERRY GO GET HIM.
Pacific Coast League:
Matt Carasiti, RHP, Iowa Cubs (Cubs) - Carasiti is a former member of the Rockies organization who struggled in his brief big-league appearance in 2016. After a strong start to his season, Carasiti has been untouchable in his five innings out of the I-Cubs bullpen, running a K/9 north of 12 while walking hardly anyone.
Troy Scribner, RHP, Salt Lake Bees (Angels) - Yes, Scribner is the little brother of our own Evan Scribner, only this brother is a starter. Scriblet’s FIP of 4.79 doesn’t look impressive, but he has to pitch in Salt Lake, which has been killing his HR numbers. He’s cut his walks down this year, but they’re still too high (3.53 BB/9), although he has lifted his strikeouts up to an impressive 9.35/9. In an Angels system that’s thin on pitching, it’s likely we see him at the big league level at some point.
Old Friends division:
Richie Shaffer, OF, Columbus Clippers (Indians) - remember when he was a Mariner for like five seconds this offseason?
Edgar Olmos, LHP, Pawtucket (Red Sox) - Made 20 appearances as a Rainier in 2015. Olmos was involved in the HR derby on Monday, coming out to fan his teammate Brentz during his timeout, and “rolling out” with a foam roller another player’s bat when it had gone cold.
Andrew Kittredge, RHP, Durham Bulls (Rays) - University of Washington product drafted by the Mariners in 2008 in the 45th round. Has played 54 games as a Rainier.
Other players appearing with local ties: Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) C Carson Kelly went to high school at Westview in Portland...Jimmie Sherfy, RHP for Reno, is a University of Oregon product who carried the nickname “Wild Thing”...Danny Hayes, 1B for the Knights (White Sox), played his college ball at OSU with current Mariners Andrew Moore and Sam Gaviglio.