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We got the Power: 2019 West Virginia Power (A) Preview

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Seattle’s newest affiliate might also be its most exciting

just two pals talkin hittin

For the first time since at least 2013, the most important developments in the Mariners organization will be in the minor leagues, not in the majors. So far we’ve covered the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers, the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, and High-A Modesto. The next step down the ladder (and the last one for a while, until we get an idea of who will be headed to Everett post-draft) is the final full-season club outside of Rookie ball, the A-level West Virginia Power. This is the first year of the partnership between the Mariners and their most far-flung affiliate since the 2014 Pulaski (VA) Mariners at Rookie ball, and before that, the Double-A New Haven Ravens (CT) way back in 2000. You can read a brief recap of the switch here, or click the article below for a more in-depth explanation.

2018 in Review:

2018 record: 69-70, 6th in the Midwest League West, tied for 8th out of 16 overall; 7th in the league in hitting, 13th in the league for pitching.

The Power will replace the Clinton LumberKings as the Mariners’ A-ball affiliate. The LumberKings didn’t have a great year last year—part of the reason Modesto stacks up as one of the weaker affiliates this year. With Denny Hocking moving up to Modesto, former Rainiers hitting coach Dave Berg will try his hand at managing. Moving up from Everett is hitting coach Eric Farris, himself a former member of the West Virginia Power back when they were a Brewers affiliate (2000). Alon Leichman, a former coach of the WBC’s Team Israel, will handle the pitching coach duties.

Projected Lineup:

Projected Lineup, 2019 West Virginia Power

Position Name Age Highest Level 2018 wRC+
Position Name Age Highest Level 2018 wRC+
C Jake Anchía 22 A- 89
1B Ryne Ogren 21 A- 101
2B Joseph Rosa 22 A 72
3B Bobby Honeyman 22 A- 139
SS Cesar Izturis Jr. 19 R 78
LF Charlie McConnell 23 A- 93
CF Jarred Kelenic 19 R 152
RF Julio Rodriguez 18 R 161
DH Ryan Ramiz 23 A- 103

Names to watch, position players:

Initially we had projected both 7th-round draft choice Jake Anchía and 19th-rounder Dean Nevarez to initially split the catching duties in West Virginia, with the idea that one might be re-assigned to Everett once their season is underway to get both max reps. However, it looks like Nevarez might start in Arizona and be sent on to Everett post-draft, although that doesn’t seem ideal for Nevarez’s development. If Cal Raleigh destroys the Cal League, there’s a slim chance the Mariners could aggressively promote him to Double-A midseason, leaving a spot at High-A open for either Anchía or Nevarez. Too many catchers! What a concept!

After leading the NWL in hitting and proving nearly impossible to strike out, 2018 29th-rounder Bobby Honeyman got a long look in ST with both the High-A squad and made several appearances with the big-league club. If not for Joe Rizzo needing another year at High-A after a disappointing 2018, “Honey” would be a lock for Modesto, and due to the fact that he got a small taste of High-A last season, he may still be destined to go there if the club is willing to move Rizzo off the hot corner, where Honeyman is the superior defender. Honeyman has also logged innings all over the infield, so it’s possible he could be the one to move, although that seems short-sighted considering the lamentable state of third base across the organization. Cesar Izturis Jr. gets an aggressive promotion from rookie ball after the Mariners sent him all over the organization in 2018 to fill holes; he’s a plus defensive shortstop but the bat is a question. Joseph Rosa has been in the organization since 2015 and will spend his second consecutive year in single-A, where last year injuries sapped him of the pop in his bat. Hopefully the 22-year-old will find the Sally League more to his liking and be able to move up quickly.

Of course, it’s the outfield that has garnered the most excitement for the Power, with top prospects Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic—both still actual teenagers—patrolling the expanses of Appalachian Power Park. We’re not entirely sure who the third starter in the outfield will be, although 2018 13th-rounder Charlie McConnell makes sense due to age and experience. The combo of Julio and Jarred, however, is tantalizing. Both are strong outfielders, with plus arms and plus speed for Kelenic, who is a superior route-runner and profiles to stick in center. Rodriguez bats right-handed and Kelenic left-handed, meaning opposing pitchers will get to pick their poison with the two of them in the lineup. While Kelenic has been tested some in the advanced Rookie leagues, this is an aggressive assignment for Julio, who will be facing a quality of pitching that’s significantly higher than he saw in the DSL. His excellent bat speed should help him keep up with plus velocity, but adjusting to stateside pitching will be a process.

Projected Pitching Staff:

2019 West Virginia Power Pitching Staff

Position Name Age (in 2019) Highest Level IP ERA FIP K-BB%
Position Name Age (in 2019) Highest Level IP ERA FIP K-BB%
SP Logan Gilbert 22 College N/A N/A N/A N/A
SP Oliver Jaskie 24 A 76.1 6.60 4.74 7.70%
SP Clay Chandler 25 A 136.2 3.89 4.7 12.00%
SP Max Roberts 21 A- 42.1 4.25 3.98 16.70%
SP Ryne Inman 23 A 112.1 4.57 4.11 15.00%
SP/RP Steven Moyers 25 AAA (but #s from A) 75.0 3.24 3.67 13.50%
SP/RP Elias Espino 22 A+ (but #s from AZL) 38.1 3.76 4.57 6.30%
RP Dayeison Arias 22 A- 32.0 1.69 3.90 27.60%
RP Devin Sweet 22 A- 8.0 3.38 1.55 25.00%
RP Bryan Pall 23 College N/A N/A N/A N/A
RP Jamal Wade 23 A- 30.1 4.15 5.23 14.60%
RP Cody Mobley 22 A- 35.1 5.09 4.54 13.60%
RP J.T. Salter 22 A+ 4.0 0.00 2.51 23.10%

Names to watch, pitching staff:

The starting rotation breaks down into two fairly distinct groups. If you recognize these names, there are the folks you recognize from prospect lists and then the folks you’ll know from watching a lot of Mariners minor league baseball over the past couple years. It’s been hinted that Logan Gilbert will probably hop right into full-season ball with the Power, giving West Virginia an up-close look at the farm’s most-promising starter below AA-Arkansas. Michigan product LHP Oliver Jaskie spent his offseason working with Driveline to refine and strengthen his repertoire. He’s got promise if his improved stuff and velocity can be paired with a step forward in command. Max Roberts and Sam Carlson are a pair of talented arms with a good shot at seeing time in WV if healthy, but both are rehabbing injuries still and will begin their seasons rehabbing in Arizona.

As for the bullpen, it’s almost an entirely new group. Between promotions, retirements, releases, and the minor league Rule-5 draft, there’s as much guesswork here as anywhere in these projections. Dayeison Arias was a force as a reliever in Everett last year, with a slender frame that still emits 92-95 mph heat and solid command. Elias Espino is a stringy righty who bounced up a few levels to spot start last year but is an interesting young arm. He pairs entertainingly with J.T. Salter, who is a goliath of a lad that gets similar velocity on his heater but may start the year in Everett or the AZL. Bryan Pall has yet to pitch in two seasons due to injury but the former Wolverine is a good bet to join his former teammate Jaskie in WV’s pen. Jamal Wade was a late convert to pitching, still listed as an outfielder in his final season at Maryland in 2017. He’s had strikeout stuff in Everett and the AZL, but his command and mechanics are still a work in progress.