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State of the Farm: 7/19/18

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We’re ready for some minor league promotions aaaany day now!

2018 2nd-round-pick Josh Stowers has been on fire for Everett over the past week.
Everett AquaSox

We’re just 12 days away from the July 31 trade dealine, and while the Mariners’ system lacks flashy high-end prospects, the system is plentiful with guys that could net the type of players we expect to hear the Mariners linked to. Now we wait and see which players, if any, are sent to join new organizations before the minor league shuffling begins!

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 51-46 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)

.259/.356/.398, 3rd in PCL in OBP

4.54 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 2nd in PCL in saves

Trio of Relievers Anchoring ‘Pen

The combination of right-handers Shawn Armstrong, Ryan Cook, and Ryan Garton has been lights out for the Rainiers at the back end of ballgames this season. That group has combined for 86.1 innings this season, posting a 2.09 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9. With the Mariners’ bullpen struggling hard as of late, particularly against right-handed hitters against which they’ve posted a 4.81 xFIP since July 4 (2nd-worst in MLB over that span), the big league team could use some new blood to help bridge the gap to Edwin Diaz. Enter Armstrong. He’s been a nightmare for RHH’s this season, holding them to a .122 average and striking them out at a rate of 13.9 K/9/. Fresh off of a Triple-A all-star appearance during which he struck out the only batter he faced, he struck out the side in first outing back with Tacoma and tossed another shutout inning three days later. GM Jerry Dipoto obviously saw something he liked enough about the 27-year-old to ship $500,000 in international bonus pool money to Cleveland for him, and with the trade deadline looming, auditioning Armstrong at the major league level could potentially solve (at least in part) the club’s bullpen woes without having to invest any further resources into acquiring another reliever. With no options remaining, the front office is likely exercising caution as to not have to expose him to waivers should he prove initially ineffective in the bigs, but there should be other candidates to be either optioned or DL’d to extend his stay with the club.

Aplin Continues to Impress

In addition to playing his typical spectacular defense in the center field, OF Andrew Aplin has been hitting the cover off the ball since joining Tacoma and is now slashing .321/.418/.473 through 112 at-bats and has walked more often than he’s struck out. Interestingly, he’s hit left-handers better than righties—although he holds his own against RHP’s as well—throughout his career, adding quite a bit of versatility to his arsenal.

Law Thriving With Tacoma

Despite receiving a promotion due largely to positional need (he posted a wRC+ of just 80 through 49 game at Double-A), UTIL Adam Law has been one of the Rainiers hottest hitters in 27 games since joining the club. He’s now sitting on a 146 wRC+ and .359/.394/.544 slash line and batted .440 with eight extra-base hits over the last week. He’s a bit buried behind the likes of Andrew Romine and Gordon Beckham, but he could be a Beckham opt-out away from having a legitimate chance of receiving his first big league call-up come September.

Vogel-bach to Walking Ways

After a very brief swing towards strikeout proneness—he ran a 1:8 walk to strikeout ratio from July 5 -12—DH Dan Vogelbach has returned to padding his PCL-leading walk total over the past week, flipping that ratio to 8:2 over his last five games. He boasts a league-best .456 OBP and 1.038 OPS after slashing .524/.655/.762 since last Friday.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 49-45 (2nd in Texas League North Division)

.273/.356/.387, 2nd in Texas League in hitting

4.39 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 4th in Texas League in ERA

Filia Heating Up Slightly

OF Eric Filia has struggled to the tune of a 63 wRC+ in a month since being returned to the organization from Boston, but his bat has gotten going a little bit lately. His wRC+ over the last eight days is up to 116, and he’s picked up his second, third, and fourth extra-base hits after having recorded just one in his previous 77 plate appearances (when he rejoined the Travs).

Curletta Continues Power Surge

1B Joey Curletta homered twice on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, bringing his season-long total to a new career-high of 18. He’s also posting a career best 152 wRC+ with the Travs this season, and even though the walks have disappeared lately—he’s running a 1:10 walk to strikeout ratio through his last 10 games—he’s established himself as perhaps the most interesting breakout prospect in the Mariners’ system this season. He continues to be blocked by Vogelbach (kind of) at Triple-A, but could see an opportunity open via a trade of someone off Tacoma’s roster between now and the July 31 trade deadline.

Curletta connects for the go-ahead three run home run, his second of the game, Tuesday vs. Tulsa.
MiLB.com

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 39-58 (4th in California League North Division)

.247/.318/.366, Last in Cal League in hitting

4.50 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 2nd-highest ERA in Cal League

Newsome Back on Track in Return

After tossing a career-high 8.2 innings of shutout ball on May 18, RHP Ljay Newsome allowed 31 earned runs over his next 42.0 innings leading up to an eventual July 4 placement on the 7-day DL. In his first start back last Thursday, he tossed 5.0 innings of three-hit, scoreless baseball. He followed that up Wednesday by working 5.1 innings, scattering nine hits (but no walks) and allowing three earned runs while striking out six.

White a Steady Contributor on Offense

At a position traditionally manned by lumbering sluggers, 1B Evan White has been a little more hit tool and a little less raw power to this point in his career, posting a .286 average but .406 slugging percentage. So far, the Eric Hosmer comps we heard when White was drafted last year out of Kentucky appear to be pretty accurate, which is by no means a bad thing. Hosmer did after all give the Royals three 3+ fWAR seasons at a very team-friendly price, however the addition of Ryon Healy since White’s drafting could eventually lead to White seeing some reps in the outfield, which we’ve occasionally heard rumblings of.

(A) Clinton LumberKings

Team Record: 53-42 (3rd in Midwest League Western Division)

.240/.325/.374, 2nd in Midwest League in HR

4.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6th-fewest walks allowed in Midwest League

Boches’ Transition to Rotation Off to Strong Start

Following a shaky professional debut in 2017 after being selected in the 30th round out of Marist—he posted a 5.61 ERA and 1.75 WHIP over 25.2 innings—RHP Scott Boches opened the 2018 season in the LumberKings bullpen. Through 28.0 innings in relief, he owned a 2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .250 BAA, 11.6 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9 while averaging nearly two full innings per appearances (1.87 innings to be exact). His success in that multi-inning role combined with a severe lack of starting pitching depth led to Boches, who experienced some success as a starter in his time at Marist, being stretched back out for starting duties over his last four appearances, and the results have been impressive. Through four starts, he’s logged 18.0 innings (he’s logged 5.0 in each of his last three starts), posting a 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, .179 BAA, 9.0 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9.

Wilcox Continues to Rack Up K’s

The system’s top strikeout arm this season has been a bit of surprise, although perhaps it shouldn’t be. After posting 14.0 K/9 through 33.1 innings with Clinton last season, RHP Kyle Wilcox has one-upped himself this year as he’s currently running a mark of 15.0 K/9 through 33.0 innings in his third tour of duty with the LumberKings. Wilcox continues to struggle with walks—he’s got a rate of 5.2 BB/9—but is fanning enough batters that his xFIP still sits at an impressive 2.65. The 2015 6th-rounder was roughed up after opening the season with Modesto, but may well be ticketed for another trip there as the summer progresses.

Larsen Picks Up Another Pair of Homers

LumberKings OF Jack Larsen has seen his stock rise perhaps as much as any M’s prospect over the last calendar year as he’s quickly emerged as a legitimate outfield prospect. Through 110 career games, he’s slashing .2886/.426/.527 with 21 2B, 11 3B, 15 HR, 78 RBI, 18.6 BB%, and 27.5 K% and while a little three-true-outcomesy, indisputably provides some much-need pop to the farm system’s outfield ranks.

McGovern Erupts with Huge Game

9th-round OF Keegan McGovern stole the show for the LumberKings on Wednesday night, plating five runs in a 3-5, R, HR, 5 RBI effort. He’s an early success story from last month’s draft as he’s already up to a 140 wRC+ having essentialy skipped Rookie Ball and Short Season-A.

(A-) Everett AquaSox

Team Record: 17-16 (T-1st in Northwest League North Division)

.228/.312/.348, 2nd-fewest hits in NWL

3.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, most home runs allowed in NWL

  • OF Josh Stowers has heated back up after a brief cold spell and is slashing .400/.500/.840 with a 263 wRC+ over the last 10 days.
  • 3rd-round-pick C Cal Raleigh was assigned to Everett and made his debut on Wednesday, going 2-4 with 2 RBI.
  • For the third straight time, LHP Michael Plassmeyer tossed 2.0 innings of shutout, one-hit ball while recording multiple strikeouts. He’s up to 16.9 K/9 and just 0.8 BB/9 through 10.2 innings as the team continues to manage his workload.
  • 5th-round sidearm right-hander Nolan Hoffman was moved to the AquaSox after six games with the AZL Mariners. Between the two teams, he’s up to 8.2 innings and has allowed just one earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out nine.
  • RHP Joey Gerber, who was selected in the 8th round, converted two more saves over the last week and is now up to six on the season while posting 13.1 K/9 and a 2.31 xFIP.
  • Venezuelan RHP Carlos Hernandez has now posted back-to-back 6.0 innings, two-hit starts in which he surrendered just one earned run and one walk.
  • 2018 22nd-round-pick INF Nick Rodriguez has been on a tear offensively, posting a 237 wRC+ over his last seven games.

Notes:

Rupp Signed

The Mariners signed longtime Phillies C Cameron Rupp to a minors deal on Monday to provide another veteran in Tacoma.

Bishop Absent Post-HBP

Braden Bishop returned to action on Wednesday, going 1-5 after missing four games following being struck by a pitch on the hand back last Friday.

Rosario to AZL

#23 prospect OF Ronald Rosario was sent to join the AZL Mariners after posting a -47 wRC+ through 13 games with Everett.

Lewis Participates in Future’s Game

The system’s #1 prospect OF Kyle Lewis represented the U.S. Team in the Future’s Game over the weekend and went 0-1 with a walk and a run scored.

Ramirez Reportedly Set for Rehab Assignment Soon

After making just two starts for the Mariners back in April, RHP Erasmo Ramirez was placed on the disabled list. Now nearly three months later, it’s being reported that he’s expected to be sent out on a rehab assignment in the near future.

  • Stanford alum INF Beau Branton continues his season-long hot streak as he’s collected two hits in each of his last four games and seven of his last nine. His season-long slash line is up to .431/.526/.569 through 19 games.
  • Large Adult (Pitching) Son J.T. Salter is 3-3 in save chances for the AZL Mariners, and has allowed just one hit through 8.0 innings. He’s somehow got a 1.13 ERA and .040 BAA despite having walked nine guys in eight innings. He was also added to Modesto’s roster on Wednesday.
  • Japanese-born RHP Joey O’Brien, who was a successful two-way player at the College of Southern Nevada before the Mariners drafted him in the 6th round last month, pitched two perfect innings Saturday, striking out two. He’s started all five games he has appeared in.
  • 17-year-old OF Julio Rodriguez has five multi-hit games in his last nine, and is now slashing .326/.412/.504 on the season. He’s also picked up four stolen bases and is 5-5 in stolen base attempts in 37 games.