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Midshipmen’s Log: April 9, 2019 - Gilbert and Newsome shine, Evan White powers up, Tito Polo sends Rainiers fans home happy

Your tri-weekly minor league highlights roundup

Seattle Mariners Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Mariners farm is both more exciting and more functional than it’s been in a long time, which means it’s worth paying attention to how the prospects are performing down at the lower levels of the organization. In addition to our stalwart State of the Farm weekly roundup that takes a longer view on the farm, we’ll have minor league roundups thrice a week or so to share some highlights, gifs, and notes in our Midshipmen’s Log (it’s a baby sailor, get it? **waits patiently for ‘ba dum tiss’ on the drums** yeah yeah).

We’re yet to complete a perfect day on the farm with all affiliates winning, but yesterday boasted a bounceback for a few clubs that didn’t fare so well on Sunday. Tuesday also featured a few of the best arms in the system pitching, with a total of 62 strikeouts across the four levels.

West Virginia Power (3-3) defeat the Lexington Legends (2-3), 4-0

Link to full box score

Julio Rodriguez continued his impressive start to full-season ball with two walks and a ground ball single and has now recorded at least one hit in all six of the Power’s games. Today he got a boost from recently-converted catcher 1B Onil Peña, who doubled him home, and he also scored on OF Cesar Trejo’s three-run home run. If you don’t recognize Trejo’s name, he’s an interesting case: Venezuelan-born, the Mariners drafted Trejo last June in the 17th round out of UNC-Greensboro, where he was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. Trejo also took over the Power’s Instagram yesterday and posted some entertaining peeks behind-the-scenes.

With four runs, the Power’s pitching staff was able to stultify the Legends’ offense. Logan Gilbert looked even sharper in his second start of the season, working quickly and gaining a feel for his biting curveball as he went along. His fastball velocity wasn’t quite the mid-90s that it’d been in his last outing, but with excellent location and movement, he still racked up nine strikeouts in just five innings while giving up just one hit, no runs, and no walks. You can see several of Gilbert’s pitches in this Twitter thread John put together while we were driving to Tacoma for their season opener:

David Ellingson and Bryan Pall combined to finish off the shutout, striking out a combined five batters over their four innings of work. Look for Pall, who has gotten a slow start to his career because of injury, to be a quick mover if he continues posting impressive outings like this.

Modesto Nuts (4-1) lose to the Inland Empire 66ers (3-3), 2-0

Link to full box score

The Nuts wasted a supreme start from Ljay Newsome, seemingly having forgotten their bats in Lancaster. Newsome, as Nick theorized the other day, was in fact a participant in the Mariners’ Gas Camp this off-season, and it’s paying dividends already. Ljay looks like he’s added some significant muscle to his lower half, which might be helping him push his fastball up into the 90s and absolutely stymie Cal League batters. Newsome entered this game with a K/9 of 16.20 after striking out a career-high nine batters in a five-inning appearance in his season debut; on Tuesday, he was even better, striking out eleven over five innings.

Unfortunately, Newsome walked a batter who would eventually come around to score, giving him an unearned run, and the Nuts offense wasn’t able to get anything going. In brighter news, Cal Raleigh continues to look like he belongs at the level, and while he had a quiet night at the plate (no hits, two walks), he showed off a pretty good arm behind the dish:

Arkansas Travelers (5-1) defeat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (4-2), 4-3

Link to full box score

Justin Dunn made his second start today and wasn’t as crisp as he was in his last outing, only going 3.2 innings while giving up three runs (two earned), but striking out six. Luckily, the bullpen picked him up, with Darin Gillies, Parker Markel, and Art Warren all posting scoreless innings among them. Especially impressive was Markel, a former indyballer who struck out the side in each of the two innings he worked.

With the pitching staff holding off the Naturals’ offense, the Travelers bats woke up in the seventh, when they tied up the game. Donnie Walton and Aaron Knapp opened the inning with singles, and then Evan White showed off some of the power that he was starting to show in Modesto last year:

White would double again in the ninth, narrowly missing a home run:

And then Dom Thompson-Williams, who continues to swing a hot bat, would knock in what would be the eventual game-winning run on a nice piece of hitting:

Tacoma Rainiers (2-5) defeat the El Paso Chihuahuas (1-5), 5-4

Link to full box score

Erik Swanson’s sudden promotion to the majors cost Tacoma their home opener starting pitcher, so it was a bullpen day in the South Sound. The most outstanding of the various parade of arms was South African righty Tayler Scott, who went three hitless innings with six strikeouts and seemed to overwhelm the El Paso batters. 2018 draftee Penn Murfee came up from extended Spring Training and while he struggled some with his command over two innings, walking three, he also struck out four and allowed no hits, showing much better stuff than his stint at Everett last season would indicate.

On the hitting side, Braden Bishop continued to impress, hitting a go-ahead double down the left field line. Tito Polo was the hero of the night, collecting two hits including the game-winning single.

Tomorrow’s Games:

Tomorrow there’s some early breakfast baseball for those of you able to follow along. You can listen for free on TuneIn. It’s a lefty-heavy day in the system:

West Virginia @ Lexington, 7:35 AM PT (RHP Clay Chandler)

Modesto @ Inland Empire, 10:30 AM PT (LHP Ian McKinney)

Arkansas @ Northwest Arkansas, 5:05 PM PT (LHP Ricardo Sanchez)

Tacoma @ Sacramento, 6:05 PM PT (LHP Tommy Milone)