With the Double-A Arkansas Travelers now on the other side of their all-star break, several teams have no embarked on the second half of their seasons, with several players getting off to strong starts.
We continue to see new multi-inning relievers emerging seemingly out of thin air throughout the system, and it’s making me wonder if Jerry is taking a new approach to address pitching in an era where tradition starting rotations are seemingly going by the wayside...
(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers
Team Record: 41-37 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)
.253/.353/.396, 6th in PCL in stolen bases
4.41 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, T-3rd fewest HR allowed in PCL
Lawrence Sparkling Over Last Four Outings
Since being touched up for five earned runs through 5.2 innings back on May 30, RHP Casey Lawrence has posted a 0.99 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 0.77 WHIP, and BAA of .172 through 27.1 innings over four starts. He’s been effective as a starter in Tacoma, posting a season-long ERA of 2.37 to go with a WHIP of 1.00, but his peripherals (3.43 FIP, 3.74 xFIP) suggest he’s been the beneficiary of some good luck. Regardless, he continues to make a case for himself as the next-in-line should the M’s find themselves in need of a long term fill-in.
Beckham Applying Pressure to Romine
The Rainiers continue working INF Gordon Beckham into first base regularly, and the 31-year-old’s bat hasn’t skipped a beat while he learns the demands of a new position, posting a .435/.481/.609 slash line over the last week while walking (3) more than he’s striking out (2). Had Andrew Romine not contributed offensively over the weekend, Beckham may well have joined the big league club in his stead for the current series in Baltimore, or when the team returns home this weekend. For now, Romine appears to have bought himself a little more time on the roster, but Beckham and his 128 wRC+ aren’t making the decision any easy one.
Detwiler Impressive in Monday Start
Former-6th overall pick (in the 2007 draft) LHP Ross Detwiler spun an impressive 7.1 innings Monday night allowing just one earned runs on two hits and two walks while recording nine punchouts. The longtime-Washington National has recorded quality starts in each of his two prior outings, but had just five strikeouts combined in those two efforts, so the breakout performance Monday came as a bit of a surprise. Detwiler last appeared in the big leagues in 2016, splitting time with the Indians and A’s, posting 0.3 fWAR despite posting a 5.40 xFIP.
(AA) Arkansas Travelers
Team Record: 39-36 (1st in Texas League North Division)
.278/.362/.389, 1st in Texas League in OBP
4.31 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 4th in Texas League in WHIP
Taylor Rides Streak Into Break
Entering this week’s Texas League all-star break, perhaps the only player swinging a hotter bat than Travs’ OF Braden Bishop is the man regularly playing to his right, OF Chuck Taylor. Taylor, now in his second season as a member of the Mariners organization since being selected away from Arizona in the minor league phase of the 2016 Rule 5 Draft, enters the break on a 12-game-hitting-streak over which he’s posted a line of .413/.464/.587, 5 2B, HR, 15 RBI, 9 R, 6 BB, 5 SO. After posting a 66:90 BB:SO ratio in 2017, he appears to adapted a new plate approach over the offseason, closing that gap as he posted a mark of 27:30 during a stint in the Venezuelan Winter League, and now 32:37 to date this in 2018. He’s managed to post a career-best 11.7% strikeout rate while increasing his LD% for the third straight season. His current mark of 28.3% is a personal best, while his GB% is down to a career-low 37.5%. The recent uptick in slugging is a promising sign for Taylor, who’s long been held back by a lack of extra-base power, but he figures to have a hard time moving up to Tacoma as the organization has yet to provide Bishop the opportunity despite his status as a top organizational prospect and MVP-level performance over the last two months.
Bishop Finishes First Half On Fire
Heading into the final week of June, OF Braden Bishop is slashing .400/.457/.579 on the month, and checked in with three three-hit games in four games before going 0-3 in the first half finale. He’s got his season-long wRC+ up to 123, and provides defense in center field that could play at the big league level today, so he figures to get a crack at Triple-A duties as soon as the team elects to move on from one of the Aplin/Nieuwenhuis/Perkins trifecta.
Povse Dominant in Most Recent Start
After walking 17 over three outings, RHP Max Povse made hit seven straight starts without walking more than two, logging 6.0 innings of five-hit, one-run ball with no walks while striking out seven on Friday. His xFIP since joining Double-A Arkansas is now down to 3.37 through seven starts while his walks are down from 6.9 BB/9 in Triple-A to just 2.0 BB/9 with the Travelers.
Festa Dominating as Travelers’ Closer
Following a disappointing stint in the Arizona Fall League, RHP Matt Festa has found far better success with the Travelers. His 2.96 xFIP is a career-best, and his 12.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 make him a tough match-up for opposing hitters at the end of ballgames. He’s posted zeros in 15 of his last 18 appearances while recording two strikeouts half of those outings. His ability to rack up strikeouts while avoiding walks makes him a prime candidate to move through the system quickly, or potentially be a valuable trade chip as the July 31 trade deadline approaches.
(A+) Modesto Nuts
Team Record: 30-46 (4th in California League North Division)
.251/.328/.369, Last in Cal League in OPS
4.69 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, Last in Cal League in strikeouts
White Starting Second Half Strong
While the Nuts have drug their feet to an 0-6 start here in the second half of the Cal League season, the offense has been a bright spot, with 1B Evan White leading the charge. Through five games, he’s posted a 207 wRC+ and gotten on base at a .500 clip. He’s flirting with batting .300, and has his season-long slash line sitting at .297/.362/.418.
Lewis Packing Punch Post-Break
The organization’s top prospect came out of the gates swinging after his all-star appearance, swatting homers in back-to-back games over the weekend. He’s just 5-24, but has had some poor batted ball luck (.167 BABIP) over that span.
Garcia Dominant in Pair of Three-Inning Outings
LHP Danny Garcia has been largely unimpressive throughout his professional career—he’s got a 5.71 ERA and 1.54 WHIP in 236.1 innings at the lower levels of the minors—but was anything but that over his last two appearances. He’s racked up nine strikeouts over 6.0 innings, allowing two hits and no walks. He’ll be worth keeping an eye on over his next couple of outings to see if he’s perhaps made a mechanical change that has revolutionized his stuff out of the Modesto ‘pen.
(A) Clinton LumberKings
Team Record: 43-33 (T-1st in Midwest League Western Division)
.240/.324/.366, 5th in Midwest League in HR
4.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 2nd in Midwest League in strikeouts
Kerr Solid Again In Most Recent Start
After impressing yet again in his 6.1 inning start on Saturday during which LHP Raymond Kerr allowed just four hits and no walks or runs while striking out six, he’s established himself as the most dependable member of the LumberKings starting rotation. Over his last seven starts, he’s logged 38.2 innings, posting a line of 1.63 ERA, 2.85 FIP, 1.09 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9.
Here’s what the 2017 draftee had to say about his recent run of success:
“I’m making adjustments everyday that’s making me better. And I just was pitching scared of contact in the first half of the season. Lately, I decided to let me body take control and just throw like I know how. I’ve gained 15-20 pounds in the weight room, and I think that’s helping me velo. I’m still learning so many things that I’ve never learned before and I love it. I plan on getting way better than I am now.”
Kober Brings Scoreless Streak Into Second Half
Continuing a trend of dominant relievers emerging at the low levels of the Mariners minors, RHP Collin Kober, fresh off a flawless one inning appearance in the Midwest League All-Star Game, carries a 13.2 scoreless inning streak into the second half of the season. He’s allowed just one home run in 35.0 innings this season, and hasn’t allowed any through his last 17.0 innings, over which he’s posted a 0.53 ERA and 1.33 FIP while registering 14.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. He’s also worked 2+ innings in 12 of his 20 outings this year, adding to the pile of emerging dominant multi-inning relievers in the system.
Boches Rediscovering Control
Working as a starter as a junior at Marist College in 2017, RHP Scott Boches posted a solid season (2.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) while managing to avoid walks for the most part, posting a rate of 2.9 BB/9. In his debut 2017 professional season, the 6’5” right-hander saw that walk rate nearly double at 5.6 BB/9 through 25.2 innings, although many of those walks came when he was prematurely thrust into duty at the Double-A level. He’s had a much softer landing this year, opening the season with Clinton, where he’s reeled the walks in to the tune of 1.6 BB/9. He’s also seen the strikeouts shoot up this year, posting a rate of 11.6 K/9 and has yet to allow a home run through 28.0 innings on the year. His 2.23 xFIP and 11 outings of 2+ innings in 15 appearances cement him in the same “dominant multi-inning arms” category as Kober.
McGovern Finding Footing
Following his breakout 18-home run senior season at Georgia, the M’s made OF Keegan McGovern their selection in the 9th round of the draft earlier this month, and after essentially leapfrogging rookie ball and short-season A—he played just four games with Everett—he’s holding his own with Clinton, posting an 87 wRC+ through six games. He collected a walk, a home run, and a two-run double in a 2-3 effort on Sunday, and appears to be penned in square in the middle of the LumberKings’ lineup.
(A-) Everett AquaSox
Team Record: 7-5 (1st in Northwest League North Division)
.248/.326/.400, 2nd in NWL in OPS
3.96 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 1st in NWL in WHIP
- The M’s 2nd-round-pick OF Josh Stowers is already showing off his five-tool skill set, slashing .300/.417/.600 with a home run and three stolen bases through six games while continuing to man center field for the Frogs.
- 4th-rounder LHP Michael Plassmeyer worked two innings in his most recent appearance, striking out four over two two-hit innings without walking a batter.
- LHP Max Roberts, who the Mariners selected in the 7th round in the 2017 draft, carried a perfect game through six innings last week, and allowed just one run through five innings his hist most recent outing. He’s got a 3.13 xFIP on the young season, but cutting his walks from 3.3 BB/9 last season to 1.8 BB/9 this year his a welcome sign of improvement.
- 25th-round INF Connor Kopach has swiped a bag in five of his seven games this season, and is slashing .387/.441/.581.
- 12th-rounder INF Ryne Ogren got a little national attention following a 4-4 night over the weekend.
- Dominican RHP Dayeison Arias has been seriously impressive out of the AquaSox bullpen, striking out 13 through 6.2 innings, good for a 1.06 xFIP.
- 8th-round-pick RHP Joey Gerber is yet to allow a hit, and has allowed just one walk while striking out five through 4.0 innings.
Travelers in the Texas League All-Star Game
The Travs had six representatives on the Texas League North Division All-Star Team, including RHP Nathan Bannister, RHP Chase De Jong, RHP Johendi Jiminian, 1B Joey Curletta, INF Chris Mariscal, and OF Braden Bishop.
- Nathan Bannister: did not appear
- Chase De Jong: 1.0 IP, R, HR
- Johendi Jiminian: 1.0 IP, SO (starting pitcher)
- Joey Curletta: 1-4, 2B, R (started, batted cleanup)
- Chris Mariscal: 0-1
- Braden Bishop: 2-4, 2B (started, batted leadoff)
Perez to Tacoma
Major league veteran RHP Williams Perez was promoted to Triple-A Tacoma and tossed 6.0 innings of shutout ball in his debut on Tuesday
Evans Brought Back to System
RHP Bryan Evans, who had been pitching in the Mexican League this season, was signed to a minor league deal to reunite with the organization after appearing in seven games across Double-A and Triple-A last season. He’s allowed seven earned runs through two starts for the Rainiers.
Miranda Activated, Miller Inactivated
LHP Aríel Miranda was re-activated from the DL after being placed on it following a two inning first outing back on June 9. In a corresponding move, OF Ian Miller was placed on the temporary inactive list for “personal business”.
Whalen DL’d as Perkins Activated
A six-pack of Rainiers roster moves.— Mike Curto (@CurtoWorld) June 25, 2018
ADD: RHP Ryan Cook (reports from SEA), INF Adam Law (from AA), OF Cameron Perkins (off DL)
Remove: INF Danny Muno and RHP Rob Whalen (both to DL), INF Logan Taylor (to AA)
Raleigh Still Unsigned, Gilbert Still Unassigned
With each day that passes, it looks more and more like 3rd-round selection C Cal Releigh might not end up a Mariners farmhand after all. RHP Logan Gilbert was said to be ticketed for Everett, but is still not listed on their active roster, and is expected to be brought along slowly.
Werth Hangs ‘Em Up
Former all-star and longtime Major Leaguer OF Jayson Werth has decided to call it a career, walking away from his spot with Tacoma.