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State of the Farm: 7/12/18

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It’s officially time to start getting nervous that your favorite pet prospects could be on the move...

RHP Collin Kober has been a breakout reliever in 2018, posting a 2.11 ERA through 42.2 innings in Clinton.
Clinton LumberKings

Many of the Mariners’ top offensive prospects have struggled to open the second half of the season but, continuing a trend we’ve seen all season, the bullpen arms down on the farm are looking strong as ever. As we approach the July 31 trade deadline, I’d expect a few guys mentioned here to be on the move.

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 48-42 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)

.258/.355/.3978, 7th in PCL in runs

4.41 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 4th in PCL in strikeouts

Pérez Eying Return to Bigs

It’s been nearly two years since Venezuelan RHP Williams Pérez last appeared in a major league game, but the 27-year-old may not have to wait much longer to return if he keeps pitching like he has been. Since signing with the Mariners on June 5, Pérez has posted a 2.37 ERA and 1.16 WHIP through 38.0 innings across Double-A and Triple-A. He spent the 2017 season pitching in Triple-A in the Cubs’ organization and had a rough go of things, but continued a career-long trend of getting opposing hitters to hit the ball on the ground, which just might be his ticket back to the majors.

Vogelbach Stays Hot

Another multi-homer week for Dan Vogelbach, whom the Mariners appear to have officially decided is a designated hitter, since we last checked in. While he’s appeared in just eight games during July, he’s started this month on an interesting trend that counters the approach he’s had at the plate this season as he’s accrued just four walks while striking out eight times. Vogelbach, who has walked a career-high 20.9% of his trips to the plate in Tacoma this year, has been a bit more of a free swinger so far this month, and rather than hurting his performance, it’s actually resulted in a 165 wRC+ on the month to date. It’ll be interesting to see if he comes out of the PCL all-star break swinging, or if he’ll gravitate back towards the patient approach the organization has place such an emphasis on, as he has found success in doing all season.

Alvarez Rehabbing

Having plucked their only two left-handed pitchers currently on their active roster out of independent ball earlier this season, the Rainiers are no-doubt anxiously awaiting the return of LHP Dario Alvarez, who has been on a rehab assignment with Short-Season Everett since July 9. With Tacoma headed into the break on July 8, Everett was the logical choice for Alvarez to get some work as he returns from an injury that’s kept him sidelined since May 31. At the time of his placement on the DL, the former-Mets/Braves/Rangers reliever was one of the more dependable bullpen arms for the Rainiers, boasting a 1.50 ERA through 23 appearances. His peripherals indicate he’s been the beneficiary of some pretty good luck—he’s rocking a 4.35 FIP and 5.06 xFIP—but he’s been lights out over three hitless, four strikeout appearances with Everett.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 44-42 (2nd in Texas League North Division)

.273/.357/.381, Last in Texas League in HR

4.28 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 3rd-fewest walks allowed in Texas League

Bishop Starting Second Half Slow

Heading in to the Texas League all-star break, OF Braden Bishop was the hottest hitter in the Mariners’ organization, but he’s struggled through 36 at-bats on the other side of the break, slashing .139/.220/.167 with a 6 wRC+ and tree walks to 14 strikeouts. He’s already showed off an ability to turn a season around on a dime, so look for the system’s #5 prospect to heat back up in the near future, which could lead to a Triple-A debut later this summer.

Curletta Pacing League in Walks Department

It’s taken Travs’ 1B Joey Curletta just 80 games to match his 2017 season-long totals of 15 home runs and 62 walks, and he’s still building on both of those numbers. His league leading 62 free passes is 18 more than the next closest guy in the Texas League, which is the same difference as from 2nd place to 30th place. Curletta is emerging as a real “three true outcomes” guy, having either walked, homered, or struck out in 47.6% of his plate appearances this season. With Dan Vogelbach seemingly transitioning to a full time DH role in Tacoma and Gordon Beckham currently traveling with the big league club, a path appears to be carved out for the 2018 breakout at the next level if Beckham stays up when Tacoma opens the second half of their season.

Misiewicz Turns In Strong Outing

Making his third start back from injury with Arkansas on Sunday, LHP Anthony Misiewicz contributed 5.0 strong innings against San Antonio, walking just one while striking out seven. He’s walked only one batter in each of his three starts back, and has racked up 19 strikeouts through 9.0 innings. His 7.9 K/9 is the highest we’ve seen from him since his time with Modesto last season prior to being dealt to Tampa Bay, when he post 9.8 K/9 through 16 starts. It’ll be worth keeping an eye on him as he continues gaining strength post-injury to see if the strikeouts might be back for good, which would go a long way towards re-establishing the organization’s top left-handed pitching prospect.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 36-54 (4th in California League North Division)

.249/.323/.372, Last in Cal League in OPS

4.62 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, fewest strikeouts in Cal League

Power Breakout Continuing for Liberato

Once highly-touted Dominican OF Luis Liberato is on track to best the personal best 14 home runs he posted last season, collecting nine—including three this last week—through 43 games this season. The left-handed hitter has had some absolutely dreadful luck this season, posting a .231 BABIP that while certainly abnormally low, can be at least partially explained by his GB% increasing and FB% decreasing for the second straight year. The 22-year-old that FanGraphs grades with a 50 future value power tool and 70-grade speed could be poised for quite the offensive explosion as his BABIP regresses to the mean in the second half.

Liberato connecting for a homer off Giants prospect Carlos Sano.
MiLB.com

Jimenez Strong Post-DL Stint

Once one of the Mariners’ top regarded outfield prospects, OF Anthony Jimenez has seen his star fade a bit over the last couple of season, largely due to reoccurring injury issues, something that’s plagued him this season as well. Since returning from his most recent stint on the disabled list on June 30, the Venezuelan outfielder has posted four multi-hit outings. His 12:0 strikeout to walk ratio over that span makes one wince a bit, and his season-long wRC+ of 78 is nearly 50 points worse than his worst stop at any level. All that said, he’s less than a year removed from posting a 138 wRC+ in 64 games with Clinton, so staying healthy the rest of this season could reclaim some of his prospect status and set him up for a nice rebound year in 2019.

Mills’ Recent Outings Coming in Ninth Inning

After being used in a variety of different innings this season, RHP Wyatt Mills has been deployed to finish the game in his last four appearances, the most recent of which came in a game that team leader in saves Seth Elledge pitched in front of him. His strikeouts are still down by his standards (10.2 K/9) but his 3.07 xFIP and 56.0% ground ball rate are making a strong case for him to see some time against Double-A hitting in the near future.

Anderson Stepping Up After Slow Start

Following a pair of rough outings during which he surrendered a combined nine earned runs through just one inning, RHP Jack Anderson faced a long road back from correcting his 7.71 ERA on May 9. Since that day, Anderson has outperformed fellow-relievers Wyatt Mills and perhaps even Seth Elledge, posting a 0.81 ERA, 2.15 FIP, and 11.3 K/9 through 22.1 innings. The 24-year-old submariner is firmly in the conversation with the formerly mentioned Elledge and Mills for an opportunity to be promoted in the near future, but could also be a valuable trade chip considering the sudden abundance of quality relief arms in the “A” levels of the system.

(A) Clinton LumberKings

Team Record: 48-41 (3rd in Midwest League Western Division)

.242/.325/.374, 3rd in Midwest League in HR

4.07 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 2nd in Midwest League in SO

Larsen Heating Back Up

On the heels of a down June, OF Jack Larsen has gotten off to a scorching hot start in July, slashing .323/.432/.581 through eight games, continuing to build upon his already-strong case for a bump to the High-A level. His strikeouts have crept up slightly over his last 20 games, but his continued display of extra-base power makes him one of the most interesting bats at the lower levels of the M’s system.

Larsen connecting for the eventual game-winning home run on July 2.
MiLB.com

Late-Rounder Scott Impressing

The M’s 32nd-round-pick from last month’s draft, 2B Zach Scott, hasn’t missed a beat despite bouncing between the higher “A” levels of the minors upon being drafted. Through 17 games with Clinton, he’s posted a 143 wRC+. Scott slashed .312/.386/.570 as senior for Saint Leo University, so we’ll continue to wait-and-see if any of that power—he hit eight homers in 49 games for the Lions—plays at the professional level.

Delaplane and Kober Continuing Dominance

The LumberKings have gotten big time production from the bullpen tandem of 2017 “20’s” round picks RHP Sam Delaplane and RHP Collin Kober. The duo has combined for 80.1 innings this season, posting 2.24 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, and 2.80 BB/9. Each has shown an ability to consistently work multiple innings out of the Clinton ‘pen, and could be strong candidates to be bumped to High-A Modesto if/when Seth Elledge, Wyatt Mills, or Jack Anderson get moved to Double-A.

(A-) Everett AquaSox

Team Record: 13-13 (T-1st in Northwest League North Division)

.220/.302/.337, 3rd in NWL in walks

3.81 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, Leading NWL in strikeouts

Stowers Breaks Out of Slump With Big Game

After a slow start to the month of July, OF Josh Stowers erupted with a big game Wednesday night, going 3-4 with a two-run-home run, a walk, two runs scored, and a stolen base. The second rounder mentioned on Twitter he feels he’s been barreling the ball up lately, so hopefully the Wednesday breakout is the start of a hot streak.

Plassmeyer Strong Again Out of Bullpen

4th-round-pick LHP Michael Plassmeyer made his first professional appearance out of the bullpen Wednesday night, and for the second straight time, tossed 2.0 shutout innings, surrendering just one hit and striking out four. He’s now got a -0.06 FIP, 0.77 xFIP, and 17.7 K/9 through 8.2 professional innings, and is gaining steam as perhaps the new top left-handed pitching prospect in the system.

Gerber Thriving as Closer

After dominating last season as University of Illinois’ closer, RHP Joey Gerber has continued overpowering opponents in a ninth inning role for Everett, racking up 13 strikeouts through 8.2 innings while converting 4 of 5 save opportunities. He’s been used mostly in a one inning role so far this season, but went 1.1 innings on two separate occasions. As of right now, he appears to be getting groomed for a traditional one-inning closer role as opposed to being viewed as a multi-inning guy like many of the organization’s top relief prospects.

Arias Continues to Pile Up the K’s

A relative unknown heading into the 2018 season on account of spending 2017 in the thinly covered DSL, RHP Dayeison Arias is quickly becoming a main attraction for the Aqua Sox, racking up a ridiculous 19.2 K/9 as he leads all NWL relievers in strikeouts. The 21-year-old has struck out a minimum of four batters in five of his six appearances this season despite never working more than 2.0 innings in an outing. His electric stuff makes him perhaps the best candidate in Everett’s pen to move through the system quickly.

Notes:

Marjama Calls It a Career

Mariners fan-favorite C Mike Marjama announced on Twitter that a combination of injuries and a newfound passion for working for a cause close to his heart have pushed him to retire from baseball.

Andrew Aplin Made This Ridiculous Catch

Wow.

Goudeau Working As Starter In Modesto

RHP Ashton Goudeau, who has seen action in 20 games with the Rainiers this season—18 of which as a reliever—was optioned to High-A Modesto and has been building up his innings as a starting pitcher. He was acquired from Kansas City back in March.

Honeyman Movin’ On Up

2018 29th-round-pick SS Bobby Honeyman was moved up to Modesto after slashing .311/.358/.377 through 17 games with Everett.

Whalen Rehabbing With Everett

RHP Rob Whalen has struggled in a pair of rehab starts with Everett over the last week, allowing five runs on nine hits through 4.2 innings.

Branton On Fire to Open Career

SS Beau Branton, who the M’s selected out of Stanford in the 28th round last month, has opened his professional career on a tear down in the AZL, slashing .392/.466/.490 and swiping eight bags in 15 games.

Rodriguez and Ozoria Named DSL All-Stars

The system’s #4 prospect OF Julio Rodriguez landed on the DSL All-Star Team after slashing .323/.417/.472 and going 5-5 in stolen base attempts through 34 games. He’ll be joined by RHP Jesus Ozoria, who has allowed just one earned run in 23.0 innings this season while striking out 26 and issuing just two walks.

Mercedes Turning Heads

18-year-old RHP Juan Mercedes has been a breakout starting pitching prospect this season, posting a 1.86 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and .185 BAA in 29.0 innings for the DSL Mariners.