With the exception of the Clinton LumberKings, the Mariners minor league squads continue to hover around .500 on the season, but each level has several interesting prospects. The 2017 draft class continues to be the gift that keeps on giving, even with the departure of late-round gem RHP Tommy Romero.
(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers
Team Record: 27-27 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)
.254/.354/.409, 3rd in PCL in caught stealing (in the bad way)
4.88 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 6th-fewest home runs allowed in PCL
Law Off to Hot Start
Upon the recent news of Taylor Motter being DFA’d, 28-year-old UTIL Adam Law was promoted from Double-A Arkansas to make his Triple-A debut with the Rainiers back on Sunday. A BYU graduate, Law started his professional career at the age of 23 on account of serving his two-year mission between his freshman and sophomore seasons. The utilityman established himself as the star of the Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League over the offseason, slashing .338/.456/.477 through 21 games. Law was running a wRC+ of just 95 for the Travs, but is off to a hot start for the Rainiers, collecting eight hits through three games. After starting twice in left field for Tacoma, he may be hard-pressed to find at-bats with the return of John Andreoli to the lineup.
Mejias-Brean's Weekend Power Surge
After opening the season with the Travelers, 3B Seth Mejias-Brean received a May 14 promotion to Tacoma despite posting an underwhelming 72 wRC+ through 33 games, benefiting from the trickle-down effect of Robinson Canó’s injury/suspension. The 27-year-old former Reds farmhand has made the most of his opportunity, slugging seven extra-base hits—including homers in three consecutive games last weekend—through 54 at-bats. He figures to continue battling INF Danny Muno—who is currently boasting a .352 OBP despite batting .194 thanks to a career-high 18.4% walk rate—for starts at third base, at least until the return of Dee Gordon potentially prompting a Gordon Beckham-Rainiers reunion.
Perkins Packing Punch on Offense
While fellow outfielder John Andreoli was busy making his big league debut and enjoying a five-day cup of coffee with the Mariners, 1B/OF Cameron Perkins carried the load on offense. With eight hits over his last four games, his boosted his season slash line to .293/.367/.466 and now leads the Rainiers in runs (31) and runs batted in (25). Our suspicion of Perkins’ positioning behind Andreoli on the depth chart was all but confirmed when he was passed over for fill-in duties when Mitch Haniger was banged up in Oakland, but he continues to be a valuable depth piece and cog in the Tacoma lineup.
(AA) Arkansas Travelers
Team Record: 25-26 (3rd in Texas League North Division)
.271/.358/.386, third-fewest strikeouts in Texas League
4.39 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 3rd in Texas League in ERA
Filia Joins Travs
Perhaps no Mariners farmhand gained more prospect hype over the last calendar year than OF Eric Filia. Fresh off of winning the Arizona Fall League batting title by slashing .408/.483/.605, Filia was handed a 50-game suspension for smoking marijuana, delaying his start to the season. He was immediately plugged into the #2 spot in the Travs lineup last night and immediately made his presence felt, homering on the first pitch he saw.
His addition to a lineup that already leads the league in walks by a landslide should continue clogging the basepaths for Arkansas and kickstart run production.
Bishop Regressing to the Mean (In a Good Way)
After a brutal first month of the season, OF Braden Bishop has been swinging a hot bat since the calendar flipped to May, headlined by a 4-5 performance Tuesday night during which he homered, walked, drove in three runs, and scored four and a 3-5 effort last night.
His wRC+ currently stands at 87, but he’s continued to have some bad (by his standards) batted ball luck, and is running a career-best 11.1% walk rate. The addition of Filia gives Arkansas a potent 1-2 punch atop their lineup that, if all goes according to plan, could be manning outfield spots in the big leagues within the next couple of years.
Curletta Breaking Out in Double-A Repeat
1B Joey Curletta opened the season with Arkansas, his first time starting the season at the Double-A level, and has posted career bests in walk rate (18.5%), slugging percentage (.512), and wRC+ (148). The 24-year-old is one of the larger guys in the system, checking in at 6’4” 245lb. He ranks third among Mariners affiliate players with eight home runs, and checks in at second in OPS at .918. His .371 BABIP suggests we can expect his .290 average to fall a bit as the season wears on, but he can afford to sacrifice a little average if the power sticks. He’s been a nice breakout prospect so far this season, especially considering the Mariners were able to land him on the cheap.
McKay Proving to be a Worthwhile Flyer
Back on February 14, RHP David McKay was cut loose by the Royals less than two years after they made him a 14th round pick out of Florida Atlantic University. The M’s scooped him up exactly one month later, and he has flourished in the M’s system. Through 16 appearances across primarily High-A and Double-A, he’s logged 23.0 innings, striking out 35—including no less than two strikeouts in seven of his last eight appearances.
After working primarily as a starter throughout college as well as his first two professional seasons, the Royals transitioned him to a relief role upon his assignment to A-ball last year, and while the walks shot up, he flashed serious strikeout upside. Despite some rough surface numbers, posting an xFIP of 4.45 through his first 9.2 innings in a new role doesn’t particularly seem to justify his release by the club that drafted him. Needless to say, if he keeps it up, the Royals will no doubt be wishing they gave him a longer leash.
(A+) Modesto Nuts
Team Record: 23-30 (4th in California League North Division)
.253/.334/.378, third-fewest home runs in Cal League
4.60 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, second-most hits allowed Cal League
White Going Streaking
The Mariners most recent first-round pick 1B Evan White has been looking every bit worth of the draft capital invested in him as of late, as he’s riding a 12 game hitting streak through Wednesday night. The strikeouts have crept up this season while the slugging percentage has taken a significant dip, but as he moves further along into the summer and further away from the injuries that kept him out the first couple weeks of the season, look for some extra-base hits to start coming his way.
Lewis Erupts for Monster Night
OF Kyle Lewis got his season back on track in a big way Tuesday night when he went 4-5 with two home runs, five runs batted in, and three runs scored in addition to making a couple spectacular plays in center field. He’s running an ugly BB:SO ratio of 1:17, but his wRC+ is up to an impressive 122. Also, it’s worth noting that 10 of his 17 strikeouts came through his first five games of the season, but still, you’d like to see that walk rate closer to 10%, where it’s been for the majority of his professional career.
McCaughan Gunning for ERA Title
2017 12th-round-pick RHP Darren McCaughan has emerged as an out-of-nowhere pitching prospect for the Nuts this season. He’s produced a 2.04 ERA this season, good for second in the California League and tops in the Mariners farm system, despite lacking elite strikeout stuff—his strikeout rate is just 8.0 K/9. The Long Beach State product is yet to yield a home run in his professional career through 69.1 innings and has issued just 12 walks, good for 1.6 BB/9. Through 19 career games (10 starts), he’s never allowed more than three earned runs in an appearance, and never walked more than two batters. After working 5+ innings in each of his last seven outings, topped off by an 8.1 inning gem his last time out, McCaughan is making his case to fill a rotation spot for Arkansas, who’ve lost Andrew Moore (trade) and Anthony Misiewicz (injury) within the last week.
Elledge Flashing Elite Strikeout Stuff
It’s fairly hard for a relief pitcher to justify being drafted in the fourth round, but it’s difficult to argue that RHP Seth Elledge hasn’t done just that. The right-hander out of Dallas Baptist has moved quickly since being selected by the M’s, and could likely wind up in Arkansas (or higher) before season’s end. He’s racked up 32 strikeouts in 21.0 innings, good for a rate of 13.7 K/9, which puts him third among Mariners minor leaguers. He hasn’t allowed a run in his last 12 outings and hasn’t allowed a hit in his last six. His 4.3 BB/9 seems to be the only chink in his armor to this point, and once he gets that reeled in, it’s hard to imagine him sticking around in Modesto much longer.
(A) Clinton LumberKings
Team Record: 29-23 (2nd in Midwest League Western Division)
.242/.325/.371, 4th in Midwest League in runs scored
4.15 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 2nd in Midwest League in strikeouts
Exiting Eastern Michigan University with a strikeout rate of 9.5 K/9 and walk rate of 4.5 BB/9 through four years, RHP Sam Delaplane profiled as a fine, yet unexciting relief arm. Since joining the professional ranks, the 23rd-round-pick as seemingly put it all together, as he’s currently boasting career marks of 14.0 K/9 and just 2.8 BB/9 through 54.2 innings. While the production has far exceeded what I think anyone expected from his 5’11” 175lb frame, but he’s quickly establishing himself as one of the early success stories from a 2017 draft class that has hit on a handful of late round picks.
Larsen Back on Track
Following a brief slump during which OF Jack Larsen slashed .091/.130/.136 through seven games, he’s re-found his stroke at the plate over his last 12 games, slashing .294/.390/.382 and driving in six runs. His 35 RBI’s on the season are second to only teammate Ryan Costello in the organization, and while he’s starting to show some signs of falling victim to traditional platoon splits—he’s slashing .269/.321.385 vs. LHP’s and .305/.438/.539 vs. RHP’s—he hits lefties well enough to have a chance to stick as an everyday player going forward.
Costello Showing Knack for Plating Runs
The Mariners used the 933rd pick of last June’s draft of 1B Ryan Costello, a 6’2” 200lb left-handed hitting first baseman out of Central Connecticut State University. He’s since split time between the AZL Mariners and Clinton LumberKings, and he’s done more of what he did for three years in college—hit for average, steadily increase his power output, and walk nearly as much as he strikes out. His current 144 wRC+ and .279/.383/.509 actually seem pretty sustainable considering he’s running a very manageable .308 BABIP on the season. His 37 RBI leads all Mariners minor leaguers, and he’s now plated 75 runs in 94 career games. After working exclusively as a third baseman in 2017, he’s been deployed as Clinton’s first baseman all season long, indicating that’s where the organization sees his future, however, his advancement through the system may depend more on Evan White’s development than his own, as he’s currently manning first in Modesto.
Moore and Romero to Tampa
The M’s sent their second-most highly regarded pitching prospect and arguably their most exciting pitching prospect packing last week as RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero were sent to Tampa Bay. While the trade has been viewed as a win for the Mariners by a majority of the M’s community, it further depletes an already weak crop of pitchers in the Seattle system. The organization will likely lean heavily on pitching talent in the upcoming draft, likely favoring college arms who can jump right into action considering the organization has had a hard time fielding a pitching staff in extended spring training games.
Blister Lands Miranda on DL
LHP Aríel Miranda was placed on the 7-day disabled list following his most recent start last Wednesday. Apparently, it was due to a blister, which is not thought to be an issue going forward. He’s already eligible to return, so we’ll have to stay tuned to see if he starts this weekend.
Motter Sent Packing
UTIL Taylor Motter’s seemingly inevitable exit from the organization was finalized over the weekend when he was claimed off waivers by the Minnesota Twins. The organization and Motter appeared to be equally fed up with one another, as demonstrated by his passive-aggressive tweets and, well, the fact that he was DFA’d so a fourth catcher could be added to the 40-man.