We’ve reached the halfway point for the MiLB season with High-A Modesto and A-Level Clinton reaching their respective all-star breaks, while Double-A Arkansas clinched a playoff spot with a first place first-half finish becoming official Tuesday night. Short Season-A Everett just opened their season over the last week however, so there’s plenty of new and exciting prospects to turn your attention to this summer, as well as some of the first half’s top performers potentially in line for promotions in the near future.
(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers
Team Record: 38-34 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)
.250/.349/.393, Last in PCL in hitting
4.50 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7th in PCL in ERA
Marjama’s Bat Heating Up
With Tacoma’s recent addition of David Freitas, who’d been the primary backup at the big league level for a majority of the season, C Mike Marjama picked an ideal time to get his bat going, as he’s recorded multi-hit games in each of his last four starts. He’s slashing .319/.360/.447 through 47 at-bats in June, but was lifted from Tuesday night’s game after taking a pitch to the chin while catching and was placed on the 7-Day DL following the game.
Beckham Receiving Reps at SS and 1B
Perhaps in preparation to return to the major league club and claim Andrew Romine’s utility role on the 25-man roster, INF Gordon Beckham—whose natural position is second base—has been alternating receiving starts between shortstop and first base recently down in Tacoma. Beckham as never played first in the majors, and has received just 158.1 innings at short, so his continued assignments at those positions despite the presence of a “natural” first baseman in Dan Vogelbach, and a solid defensive shortstop in Zach Vincej seems to be indicative of a potential promotion coming for Beckham. He’s posted a wRC+ of just 87 in 15 games since returning to Tacoma, but has outperformed Romine offensively in limited opportunities in the majors this season.
Armstrong Thriving in Closer Role
Since the Mariners summoned then-Rainiers closer Mike Morin for big league duty back on June 8, RHP Shawn Armstrong has stepped in as the ninth-inning-man, and has done an admirable job. Over his last 14.1 innings, he’s been able to slightly correct his control issues that plagued him early on in the season, cutting his walk rate to 2.5 BB/9 over that span while recording 12.6 K/9. Particularly with the recent return of Juan Nicasio and impending return of Nick Vincent, it’ll be difficult for Armstrong to work his way on to the Mariners roster any time soon, but he’ll almost certainly get a look come September.
Higgins Contributing Effective Innings
At the time of his June 2 signing with the organization, RHP Tyler Higgins was viewed as little more than a career minor-leaguer and depth arm out of the bullpen, but he’s been impressive to date for Tacoma. He’s yet to allow a run through 7.0 innings of work, and has allowed just four hits and two walks while striking out nine. He still doesn’t figure to factor into the big league picture quite yet, but a continued run of success with Tacoma will at least keep him in the organization.
(AA) Arkansas Travelers
Team Record: 36-35 (Texas League North Division 1st Half Champions)
.281/.363/.393, 2nd in Texas League in hitting
4.34 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 3rd-most HR allowed in Texas League
Bishop Succeeding Since Cinco
Following a shaky opening to his 2018 campaign that saw OF Braden Bishop post a wRC+ of 44 through the first month+ of the season, the Texas League All-Star has slashed .375/.431/.527 with a 159 wRC+ since May 5. His isolated power is at a career-high mark of .138, and he’s leading all Mariners minor leaguers in hits with 83 and is tied with Ryan Costello for the lead in doubles with 17.
Taylor’s Offensive Output Garnering Attention
Travs OF Chuck Taylor was announced Monday as the Texas League Player of the Week after he slashed .400/.452/.600 including a home run off of the rehabbing Greg Holland. The 5’8” former high school football star is batting a career-best .302 on the season, but is struggling to collect extra-base hits, as 62 of his 77 hits on the season are singles. On the bright side, he’s cut his strikeouts to a career-low rate of 11.0%, and he’s walking (10.3%) nearly as often. Taylor, who is a switch-hitter, is slugging .402 when facing right-handed pitchers, potentially minimizing the issue of his lack of extra-base power.
Warren Back in Action
After missing more than a month of the season, RHP Art Warren is back to pitching out of the Arkansas bullpen, and has appeared in three games over the last 10 days. It’s been a rocky three outings for the pop-up prospect, but he did manage to strike out two in his last appearance.
Curletta Caps Playoff-Clinching Victory
With the Arkansas Travelers finishing the first half of the Texas League season tied with the NW Arkansas Naturals for the division lead, the two teams’ Tuesday night face-off determined the winner of the division and recipient of a playoff spot. No player factored into the Travs victory more so than 1B Joey Curletta, who went 3-3 with a two-run home run and two walks. The big night bumped Curletta’s season-long walk rate to 17.2% and wRC+ to 149 as he continued a breakout campaign that his putting him firmly on the map among Mariners prospects.
(A+) Modesto Nuts
Team Record: 30-40 (4th in California League North Division)
.253/.331/.374, 3rd in Cal League in OBP
4.57 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 2nd-fewest walks in Cal League
Lewis Settling In
After missing roughly the first six weeks of the season, OF Kyle Lewis came out of the gates perhaps trying a little too hard to make up for lost time, as he ran a 20:1 SO:BB ratio through 16 games in May. He’s reigned in the strikeouts so far in June, cutting that ratio to 11:5 while hitting at an identical .277 clip. He carries a seven-game-hitting-streak, over which he’s slashing .333/.375/.533, into the break where he’ll be one of seven Nuts representaives in the Cal League All-Star Game.
Elledge Fine-Tuning Control
While he’s been dominant all season long—and really for his entire professional career to date—RHP Seth Elledge struggled with his control early in the 2018 season, walking eight through his first 15.1 innings on the year. He’s issued just three free passes in 11.2 innings since, and now sports a minuscule 0.78 WHIP through 27.0 innings on the season. Tuesday marked two months since allowing an earned run, a stretch during which he’s struck out 40.0% of opposing hitters and allowed just three hits.
Mills Having Success Between Multi-Run Outings
Since surrendering five earned runs in a 2.0 inning appearance back on May 10, RHP Wyatt Mills reeled off nine straight scoreless appearances before being being touched for two runs last Wednesday. He responded well, striking out three over two one-hit, shutout innings on Saturday. After struggling slightly with walks during the back half of May, he seems to have corrected the issue, having issued just one over his last 8.1 innings. It appears the Gonzaga alum has deferred to Elledge as the Nuts’ closer, however he could reclaim the role if/when Elledge is moved up to Arkansas. That said, the team has used him in a multi-inning role in nine of his 23 appearances, and could instead opt to develop him in that mold instead.
(A) Clinton LumberKings
Team Record: 39-31 (T-2nd in Midwest League Western Division)
.240/.323/.370, T-2nd-worst in Midwest League in hitting
3.93 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6th in Midwest League in WHIP
Kerr Clicking in Rotation
Following a pair of sub-par outings in the front half of May, LHP Raymond Kerr has rebounded nicely over his last six starts, logging 32.1 innings with a 1.95 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 1.18 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, and 1.7 BB/9. Kerr, who was a two-way player in 2017 for Lassen Community College, had pitched 23.0 consecutive innings without issuing a walk before issuing two during his last outing.
Helder Salvaging Season With Hot Streak
LumberKings 3B Eugene Helder saw his success with the DSL Mariners translate stateside in 2017 with the Everett AquaSox, and after a shaky start with Clinton this season, he’s been one of the team’s hottest hitters of late. Over his last 16 games, the Aruba-native has slashed .340/.417/.585 and posted a 178 wRC+, bumping his mark on the season to 86. After being used often in the outfield for Everett last season, he’s back to manning the infield, playing third exclusively in each of his 56 games this season.
Costello Continues Clutch Hitting
2018 Midwest League All-Star 1B Ryan Costello but a bow on the first half of his season by hitting 3 HR and picking up 9 RBI in his last six at-bats. He’s now driven in and organization-high 53 RBI on the season, tying him for 11th in all of Minor League Baseball. His 152 wRC+ his second among Mariners farmhands to only Dan Vogelbach, and he’s third in the organization in walks while striking out just 19.8% of the time, which is fantastic if he maintains the power output.
(A-) Everett AquaSox
Team Record: 2-3 (T-1st in Midwest League Western Division)
.255/.337/.436, 2nd in NWL in hits
5.20 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 1st in NWL in WHIP
With the AquaSox’ season just five games in, there’s too many hot starts write them all up, so for the purpose of brevity:
- RHP Dayeison Arias has been perfect in two 2.0 inning relief outings, striking out eight without allowing a baserunner.
- INF Connor Kopach is slashing .538/.571/.846 with a stolen base in each of his three games as a professional since being selected by the Mariners in the 25th round earlier this month.
- OF Josh Stowers, who the Mariners used their 2nd round selection on in this month’s draft, made his debut Tuesday night and slugged a two-run home run.
- 2018 4th-round pick LHP Michael Plassmeyer, fresh off a successful season as a starter for Missouri, made his debut Tuesday night, tossing a perfect inning, striking out two. All indications are that he’ll continue to be developed as a starter, but will be brought along slowly after logging 91.0 innings for Mizzou.
- RHP Jamal Wade, who was a starred out of the AZL Mariners’ bullpen in 2017, posted his second scoreless 2.0 inning relief outing on Tuesday, and now has a 2.37 FIP and 12.2 K/9 through 23.2 career innings.
- RHP Joey Gerber, who was named a candidate to potentially move extremely quickly through the minors due to his dominance as a closer in college, has struck out three through two perfect 1.0 inning outings and appears to be slotted in as Everett’s closer for the time being.
- Power-hitting backstop and 2018 7th-round-selection C Jake Anchia slugged a homer in his first game as a professional after swatting 22 long balls Nova Southeastern University during the collegiate season.
- RHP Logan Gilbert, who the Mariners used the 14th overall selection of the 2018 draft on, has been assigned to Everett, and will reportedly be brought along slowly following a heavy workload with Stetson last season.
Nuts in the Cal League All-Star Game
The M’s High-A affiliate Modesto Nuts ended up sending 3B Joe Rizzo to join teammates Kyle Lewis, Evan White, Darren McCaughan, Seth Elledge, Wyatt Mills, Bryson Brigman, and Nick Zammarelli. Rizzo replaced IF Donnie Walton on the roster, who was promoted to Arkansas following his all-star selection.
- Evan White: 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, R
- Kyle Lewis: 1-3, R
- Nick Zammarelli: 1-5, R
- Bryson Brigman: 1-5
- Joe Rizzo, 2-2, 2 2B, R
- Seth Elledge: 1.0 IP, BB
- Wyatt Mills: 1.0 IP, H, 2 SO
- Darren McCaughan: did not appear (scheduled to start Thursday)
LumberKings in Midwest League All-Star Game
Ryan Costello, Jack Larsen, Ryne Inman, and Collin Kober were selected to represent Clinton in the Midwest League All-Star Game.
- Ryan Costello: 0-2
- Jack Larsen: did not appear (injured)
- Ryne Inman: did not appear (pitched Saturday)
- Collin Kober: 1.0 IP, SO
Filia Returned to Mariners
In last week’s State of the Farm, the wound left by the departure of OF Eric Filia was very fresh, but before it ever had a chance to scab over, surprise! Filia apparently failed his physical with the Red Sox and was returned to the Mariners as Boston opted to take cash instead. Filia has since reported back to Arkansas, where he’s gone 2-8 with four walks and no strikeouts.
Vincent Nearing a Return
After experiencing a setback in rehabbing his groin injury that has sidelined him since May 26, RHP Nick Vincent made his first rehab appearance Monday night, allowing one hit in a scoreless inning for Double-A Arkansas. Per Greg Johns of MLB.com, Vincent is set to make another rehab appearance Wednesday and then return to the Mariners Friday in Boston.
Misiewicz Strong in Rehab Start
LHP Anthony Misiewicz, who opened the season with the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, made his first appearance since May 30 on Monday night, tossing 2.0 innings allowing just one hit and striking out three.