The M’s minor league squads are approaching the end of their seasons with most teams wrapping things up the first week of September. Arkansas and Everett have already claimed a spot in the postseason, and Modesto appears to be right in the thick of things as we come down the stretch. Several leagues have already distributed end-of-season awards, with a couple of Mariners farmhands getting in on the honors.
(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers
Team Record: 64-70 (3rd in Pacific Northern Division)
.257/.351/.391, most walks in PCL
4.46 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 6th in PCL in strikeouts
Evans Making Most of Second Chance in Org
After wrapping up last season with five starts as a member of the Mariners’ organization, RHP Bryan Evans spent some time in the Mexican League before re-upping with the organization back in mid-June. He’s been mostly average through 13 starts with Tacoma and has done a solid job gobbling up innings. The 31-year old has stepped up his game lately in particularly, logging back-to-back 6.0 inning, four hit, no walk outings while recording 15 strikeouts through those 12.0 innings. 10 years after being drafted, he’s still fighting to make his major league debut, although he’s on the outside of the 40-man roster looking in right now, which certainly doesn’t help his cause.
Grimm Wreaking Havoc on PCL Hitters
Longtime big league arm RHP Justin Grimm joined the Mariners’ system as a minor league free agent back on July 19, and has been dominant since joining the Rainiers bullpen. He’s currently riding a seven game scoreless streak, logging 9.0 innings and allowing just five hits and two walks while recording 15 strikeouts. Like Evans, he’s not on the 40-man which hurts his chances of cracking the big league roster, but if/when Juan Nicasio is transferred to the 60-day DL, Grimm’s got as much of a case as any reliever to be added to the roster, particularly if the club decides they want to carry someone with a little postseason experience.
(AA) Arkansas Travelers
Team Record: 69-65 (2nd in Texas League North Division)
.265/.348/.375, most walks in Texas League
4.20 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 5th in Texas League in ERA
Misiewicz Finishing Strong
Following a horrendous month of May during which opponents batted .404 against him, LHP Anthony Misewicz was placed on the disabled list and went on to miss the entire month of June. Upon his return, he was greeted by a rough month of July as he returned from injury, but seems to have turned a page as the month came to an end. Since allowing 17 earned runs over a three start span, he’s posted a 2.27 ERA, 3.25 FIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 over his last six starts spanning 31.2 innings. Listed by MLB.com’s Prospect Pipeline as the system’s top left-handed pitching prospect, it’s hugely relieving to see him succeed at one of the higher levels of the minors.
Lewis Posts Pair of Powerful Games
Following a Sunday golden sombrero, OF Kyle Lewis went 5-9, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI over his next two games to boost his Double-A average from .179 to .209 and his wRC+ from 43 up to 76. His BABIP since joining the Travs still sits at uncharacteristically low .247—he’s never posted a mark lower than .299 at any level—through 32 games, so you’d expect the pendulum to swing back the other direction as the season wraps up, which would certainly make the org feel better about his prospect standing as he heads into his third offseason in the system.
McKay Continuing Run of Dominance
In a season filled with breakout relief arms, perhaps the most pleasant surprise this year has been RHP David McKay, who just six months ago was released by the club that drafted him in the 14th round of the 2016 draft. After allowing 14 earned runs through 9.2 innings as a reliever with the A-Level Lexington Legends, he was demoted to rookie ball, where he posted a 5.12 xFIP through 14 games as a starter before Kansas City cut him loose, with his professional baseball career looking like it had hit a dead end. Flash forward to April 6 of this season, and McKay is making his organizational debut, tossing 1.2 scoreless inning while striking out four for the High-A Modesto Nuts. After posting 16.4 K/9 and a 0.97 xFIP through six appearances, McKay was promoted to Double-A Arkansas, where’s he been a relief ace for the Travelers all season. Through 49.2 innings at the Double-A level, he’s posted 12.7 K/9 and a 3.35 xFIP despite being a little more than a year younger than the league average player. The 21-year old has made a habit of coming into games and striking out multiple hitters, which he’s done in 27 of 41 appearances this season. His 58.1 innings pitched on the season is about 20 innings shy of his 2017 mark, and he’s certainly not showing any signs of fatigue, as he’s riding an 11-game scoreless streak over which he’s fanned 25.
(A+) Modesto Nuts
Team Record: 59-76 (3rd in California League North Division)
.249/.322/.366, 5th in Cal League in triples
4.33 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, fewest strikeouts in Cal League
White Bagging Some Mid-season Awards
As 1B Evan White finishes a scorching hot month of August during which he’s slashed .375/.463/.725 and wRC+’d 212, his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed as he was the recipient of both Player of the Week honors and received a Postseason All-Star nod within the last week. He’s got his season long wRC+ all the way up to 124, and combined with his typically spectacular defense at first, he’s looking like a surefire candidate for a promotion next season.
Kober Bringing Boost to Nuts ‘Pen
While McKay was making waves in Arkansas, RHP Collin Kober was breaking out in a big way for Clinton in 2018. The righty out of McNeese State appeared in 27 games for the LumberKings, averaging just over 1.2 innings per appearance, and posted 12.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.2 HR/9, and a 2.35 xFIP. After getting off to a shaky start after being promoted, he’s rebounded nicely and is now running a 3.35 xFIP, although most of his peripherals look darn near identical to his numbers from Clinton. Dating back to his junior season at McNeese State, he’s improved his strikeout rate every season which is particularly impressive considering he also doesn’t walk many hitters, indicating he lives around the strike zone. The 23-year old has already more than doubled his innings total from all of last season but is still going strong—he’s allowed just one hit and one walk through his last four outings while striking out five.
McCaughan Cementing Himself as Nuts’ Ace
Last year’s 12th round selection RHP Darren McCaughan is finishing the season strong after being one of the more dependable starting pitchers in the system, but then having a rough month of July. Through his last seven starts, he’s recorded a 1.99 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 9.3 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 through 40.2 innings. His 145.1 innings pitched leads all Mariners minor leaguers, and is more than he’s thrown at any points during his professional or collegiate career. Any questions about his ability to eat innings should be silenced by him tying his season-high in strikeouts last week with nine K’s, and posting eight the start before that.
Santa Scorching Hot During Strong Second Half
Somewhat lost due to his fellow infielder’s recent offensive stretch has been an incredible run by INF Kevin Santa. The 2017 standout has slashed .328/.376/.421 with a 119 wRC+ since July 1 and continues to see his named penciled in atop the Modesto lineup. It’s been a bit of a disappointment to see his 10.7% walk rate of last year drop to just 5.8% this season as well as a jump in his strikeout rate, but if he can add a little power and rediscover his patient plate approach, the switch-hitting Puerto Rican should continue to develop as one of the more interesting infielders in the system.
(A) Clinton LumberKings
Team Record: 67-68 (5th in Midwest League Western Division)
.235/.315/.361, 4th in Midwest League in walks
4.09 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 2nd in Midwest League in strikeouts
Delaplane Performing as Good as They come
No conversation regarding the organization’s breakout player of the year would be complete without mentioning RHP Sam Delaplane, who has claimed the lead in strikeouts among Mariners minor league relievers with 96 through 58.0 innings. It’s hard to perform much better than he has over the last week, logging 4.0 spotless innings—he hasn’t allowed a single base runner—while striking out 10, including striking out the side in back-to-back innings last weekend. His xFIP on the season is down to 1.82 thanks in no small part to a crazy strikeout rate of 14.9 K/9 on the year.
Gerber Racking Up Multi-strikeout Performances
Make it five consecutive outings that RHP Joey Gerber has recorded multiple strikeouts without allowing an earned run. Over those five games, he’s punched out 13 over the span of 6.2 innings while issuing just one free pass. He’s seen both his strikeout rate (15.8 K/9) and walk rate (4.7 BB/9) tick up since joining Clinton, but his xFIP is actually down a touch to 2.25. On top of that, he’s yet to surrender a home run through his first 23.2 professional innings.
(A-) Everett AquaSox
Team Record: 33-37 (4th in Northwest League North Division)
.251/.328/.382, 4th in NWL in SLG%
4.09 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 4th in NWL in strikeouts
Raleigh Proving to be Worth the Wait
It didn’t take long for C Cal Raleigh to move himself to the top of nearly all the AquaSox’ offensive leaderboards, as he’s already claimed the lead in HR, SLG% and OPS. The switch-hitting backstop went deep on both Sunday and Monday as he continues to be a key contributor from the #3 spot in the Everett lineup. His professional career is just 33 games old, but he’s looking every bit as advertised to the this point, and is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack of Mariners catching prospects.
Arias Running Right Through NWL Hitters
The standout relief arm among a plethora of strong options for Everett all season long has been Dominican RHP Dayeison Arias, who is currently riding a 10-game scoreless streak. He’s running a strikeout rate of 12.3 K/9 and a 2.92 xFIP, although it’s worth monitoring his workload down the stretch for the playoff-bound AquaSox as Arias has already surpassed his career high 29.0 innings he tossed in the DSL last season.
Stowers Finding His Way On During Cold Spell
Although he’s slugging just .321 during the month of August—his lowest mark through his first three months as a pro—OF Josh Stowers is finding other ways to make his presence felt, as he’s positioned himself as the club leader in walks with 32 and stolen bases with 16. He’s flashed all five tools he was rumored to have coming out of Louisville, and has paired nicely with Raleigh atop the AquaSox lineup and has represented the 2018 draft class well.
Eight Prospects Named to Arizona Fall League
Evan White headlines M’s prospects selected for the Arizona Fall League pic.twitter.com/qvdJxri9f5— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) August 30, 2018
Curletta Named MVP
Evan White isn’t the only M’s’ farmhand to take home some hardware recently, as 1B Joey Curletta was named the Texas League Most Valuable Player on Wednesday. The 6’5” slugger is 2nd in the league in HR, 1st in RBI, 1st in BB, 2nd in OBP, 4th in SLG%, and 1st in OPS.
Rodriguez Named DSL MVP
17-year old phenom OF Julio Rodriguez capped off his strong professional debut by taking home the DSL Mariners MVP award after posting a 161 wRC+ and leading the team in essentially every offensive category.
Ozoria Impressive in Sophomore Season
On the heels of a real rough debut season in 2017, RHP Jesus Ozoria opened some eyes in 2018, posting a 2.19 xFIP, 10.8 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and 0.4 HR/9. He put an exclamation point on his season by posting back-to-back outings of 4.0 innings, one earned runs, and eight strikeouts.