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).
Looking at the MiLB First Pitch app (which is an app you should have if you’re reading this article) I see a lot of “TBD” listed in starting pitcher slots, which means moves ahoy for our young sailors. I’ve put a few of my best guesses for who might be headed where in today’s recap, but scroll to the end for the full summation.
West Virginia Power (11-6) defeat the Columbia Fireflies (7-11), 10-3
The Power continue their winning ways, but frustratingly remain in third in their division behind the Delmarva Shorebirds, who have an outrageous .875 winning percentage, and the Hickory Crawdads, neither of whom the Power are scheduled to play until the Sally League All-Star Break. The Power lineup has gotten some fresh reinforcements lately in talented, young RHP Damon Casetta-Stubbs, who’s yet to pitch, a 1B/DH type in Nick Rodriguez, and catcher Dean Nevarez, who’s gotten off to a hot start in full-season ball. Nevarez recorded two doubles in Tuesday’s contest, when the Power jumped all over Mets prospect Jaison Vilera early, forcing the 21-year-old who posted a 2.68 FIP in short-season ball last year to throw forty pitches over the first two innings, tagging him for seven runs, five earned. Jarred Kelenic continued to rake, with a two-hit day including a double; he also walked, reached on an error, and ran the bases well, taking advantage of some sloppy play by the Fireflies. Joseph Rosa had a three-hit day, Ryne Ogren hit his second homer of the season, and the only member of the Power lineup without a hit was curiously Onil Peña, whose bat has been scorching hot lately. On the pitching side, 22-year-old RHP Ryne Inman was again excellent, recording a new career-high in strikeouts with 10 and giving up no hits over his 5.2 innings. Inman has always posted respectable K-BB numbers but his strikeouts are on another level this year; since he spent all of last year at A ball, it wouldn’t be surprising to see either him or Clay Chandler moved up now that Casetta-Stubbs is on board. (My instinct is the first move will be Chandler, who is the older of the two, with Inman eventually being replaced by someone from extended spring once they’re healthy; Jorge Benitez, Chang Ching-Yu, Max Roberts, and Sam Carlson are all in varying stages of readiness/rehab).
Modesto Nuts (9-10) defeat San Jose Giants (8-11), 9-4
The Nuts are maybe the most feast-or-famine team in the farm; either the bats are alive or totally asleep. Today was happily the former as the Nuts went right to work on 2017 fourth-rounder Garrett Cave, who was one of my favorite D-2 arms in that draft, but struggled some with command in the Sally League. The Giants decided to promote him on up to the Cal League anyway, where he got roughed up pretty badly by the Ports’ prospect-packed lineup before getting fed to the Modesto batters, who took advantage of Cave’s command issues (42 strikes in 77 pitches over 4.1 innings) and got to him for five earned runs. Eugene Helder, who is just 23 but has been in the system since 2014, continues to heat up, with two solo home runs and a bases-loaded walk on the day. Cal Raleigh also had a two-RBI double. On the pitching side, the bullpen worked four scoreless innings in relief of Nick Wells; Reggie McClain continued to make a case for a promotion to Arkansas with two scoreless innings during which he struck out three batters, and Joey Gerber had a scoreless inning in which he struck out two and didn’t walk anyone, a good sign for the occasionally command-challenged hurler.
Arkansas Travelers (12-6) lose to the Frisco RoughRiders (12-7), 1-0
The last time we did this update the Travs were 11-3; they’ve since won only one of their last four games and are no longer looking like the juggernaut they were in the early season. It’s not the fault of the pitching; Anthony Misiewicz went the full nine today, surrendering just six hits and the one run while striking out nine. When Ljay Newsome is inevitably promoted from the Cal League, Misiewicz should be granted the promotion to Tacoma as an apology for this game alone. To his credit, Dom Thompson-Williams did have a home run robbed from him at the wall that would have tied the game. Jake Fraley and Nick Zammarelli also had hits on the day, keeping the Travs from being no-hit, but overall it was another flat offensive performance from the Travelers, who were also blanked on Monday by Frisco, again wasting a stellar outing from Ricardo Sanchez, who gave up just one run over 6.2 innings. Evan White is set to return to the team today, which will hopefully put a spark into the rest of the lineup, but the Travs bats are currently ice-cold and they’ll have to work hard in the final game of the series not to get swept without scoring a single run.
Tacoma Rainiers (6-9) squeak by the El Paso Chihuahuas (7-7), 7-6
The Rainiers were off on Tuesday, traveling back to Tacoma to begin a new homestand, but they managed to eke out a win against Albuquerque before they left (I, however, was defeated by trying to spell “Albuquerque” and had to go look it up). Braden Bishop homered [glares in Mallex Smith’s direction], as did Shed Long, and the bottom half of the lineup put in work late in the game while Parker Markel, making his Tacoma debut, locked down the save. The Rainiers used the “Opener” strategy in this game, with lefty Matt Tenuta working a scoreless inning ahead of Justus Sheffield, possibly to condition Sheffield for fulfilling a similar role behind Yusei Kikuchi.
Frisco at Arkansas, 9 AM PT (RHP Darren McCaughan)
Columbia at West Virginia, 4:05 PT (TBD, maybe Casetta-Stubbs?)
Sacramento at Tacoma, 6:05 PT (RHP Christian Bergman)
Modesto at San Jose, 6:30 PT (RHP Raymond Kerr)
Teeny tiny thing to maybe monitor here: Justin Dunn was supposed to make a start for Arkansas on April 20, which Jorgan Cavanerio wound up making. Dunn hasn’t pitched since April 15, although I have spotted him in the Travs dugout before games, so it’s possible he just has a minor issue that’s getting some rest and treatment. I also haven’t seen Zac Grotz in Arkansas since April 17, when he went five innings and struck out seven; the 26-year-old would be a natural replacement for Sheffield/Swanson in Tacoma’s beleaguered rotation.