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State of the Farm: 5/16/19

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We’ve got a few first-timers here this week!

New week, same story. The big league club isn’t doing anything that’s going to excite Mariners fans, but guess what? We’ve got plenty going on down in the minor leagues for you to look forward to!

Click here for a sortable list of stat lines on all the system’s top 30 prospects, per’s Prospect Pipeline.

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 14-19 (4th in Pacific Northern Division)

.274/.347/.433, 2nd in PCL in stolen bases

6.22 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 3rd-highest ERA and WHIP in PCL

Lopes Riding Nine-Game Hitting Streak

Former Mariners prospect-turned-current Mariners prospect INF Tim Lopes debuts in this year’s State of the Farm series riding a nine-game hitting streak over which he’s posted a line of .444/.545/.963, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 9 R, 6 BB, 4 SO. The 24-year-old rejoined the Mariners organization on a minor league deal over the offseason after being dealt from Seattle to Toronto back in September of 2016 to complete a deal that netted the Mariners Wade LeBlanc. Primarily a second baseman, he’s posting career-highs in a variety of categories so far this season, including slugging (.518), OPS (.880), ISO (.214), LD% (23.9%), and Pull% (49.5%). After topping out as the organization’s #18 prospect back in 2013, considering he only turns 25 next month, he could theoretically work his way back onto that list here six years later for the M’s if he keeps up the hot hitting.

Miller Flexing Muscles

After years of demonstrating blazing speed and above-average outfield defense but consistently being knocked for his inability to hit for extra bases, OF Ian Miller has taken note and adjusted accordingly for the 2019 season. Currently in his seventh minor league season since being selected by the M’s in the 14th round back in 2013, he’s already matched his extra-base hit total from all of last season and is posting career bests in slugging at .512 and ISO with a mark of .232. Perhaps most importantly, he’s been hitting the ball on the ground far less than ever before, posting a GB% of 32.6% after never posting a mark under 50% at any point in his career. With his fly ball and line drive rates at all-time highs, it appears the 27-year-old may have taken the final step in his development to earn his long-awaited big league call-up. He’ll just have to wait for an opportunity at this point.

Scott Emerging as Latest Strikeout Artist

It always seems a little overly-optimistic to add the caveat of “if you take away these two outings,” but that is exactly what I’m about to do. If you pretend two of the worst outings you’ll ever see from a reliever didn’t happen for RHP Tayler Scott—he allowed a combined 14 earned runs over 2.1 innings in a pair of mid-April outings—he’s actually had a helluva season out of Tacoma’s bullpen. Subtracting those outings during which he completely lost command of the strike zone and walked seven hitters, he’s logged 19.2 innings this year and posted a 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12.8 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9.

During the month of May, the South African hurler has posted four clean two-inning outings, totaling 15 strikeouts and allowing just three hits and two walks over eight innings of work. He hasn’t issued more than one walk in an outing since April 21 despite averaging nearly two innings per appearance over that span. If he continues demonstrating a refined control of his arsenal, he could find himself in the majors the next time the big league club plays relief pitcher roulette.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 23-14 (1st in Texas League North Division)

.243/.335/.367, most strikeouts in Texas League

3.27 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, fewest walks in Texas League

White’s Peripherals Pointing Towards Improvement

The Travs have reaped the benefit of adding a potent bat back into their lineup this month with 1B Evan White returning back on May 2. In nine games since returning, he’s slashed .333/.400/.528 and posted a 153 wRC+. While his surface numbers provide plenty to be excited about, his batted ball data is the true cause for optimism. Indicating a subscription to the “elevate and celebrate” approach at the plate, the 2017 first-rounder is sporting career high fly ball and line drive rates of 35.1% and 24.6% respectively. Coming out of the University of Kentucky, scouts said “He has good bat speed and a long frame built to create leverage, so power should come once he adds more strength to his body and more loft to his swing.” It appears that we’re seeing the beginnings of an attempt to improve his launch angle, but it remains to be seen if the power follows suit.

Dunn Bounces Back in Big Way

After struggling last time out in what was his first real disappointing start since joining the organization—he surrendered four earned runs on five hits through two innings—RHP Justin Dunn turned in perhaps is best start to date on Wednesday. Through 6.0 innings, he allowed just four hits without walking a batter and struck out seven. He’s now issued just one walk over his last 18.0 innings pitched and is running career-best marks in strikeout rate (12.2 K/9) and walk rate (2.4 BB/9). As sample sizes grow larger, he’s pulling away from the rest of the Travelers’ starting pitchers as the clear standout among the group, and could provide reinforcements to a battered and bruised Tacoma rotation in the not-so-distant future.

Anderson Reeling it In

After continuing a trend of opening seasons with shaky starts, RHP Jack Anderson has righted the ship and has been Arkansas’ most dependable relief option to date this season. Since coughing up three walks in one-third of an inning of work back on April 10, the submariner has run a 16:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 13.1 innings, yielding just one earned run. He’s been an extreme ground-ball producing machine his entire career, and that hasn’t changed this season as he’s posted a GB% north of 70% for the second time in four seasons and has extended his career-long innings-without-allowing-a-home-run streak to 162.2 innings.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 18-21 (2nd in California League North Division)

.240/.324/.372, 4th in Cal League in AVG/OBP/SLG

3.59 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2nd in Cal League in strikeouts

Gilbert Better in Second Start

After needing 93 pitches to make it through 4.1 innings in his first start with the Nuts back on May 2, RHP Logan Gilbert looked a bit better on Tuesday. Although he scattered nearly the same amount of baserunners—he allowed four hits and two walks on Tuesday—he held the opposition scoreless compared to the three earned he allowed his first time out.

Last year’s first-round pick, the organization has been able to be fairly aggressive with him as he ate up plenty of innings over three years at Stetson University. Gilbert’s last turn in the rotation was skipped after he tweaked his ankle doing agility drills, so it’s nice to see that didn’t appear to affect him this time out.

Raleigh Has Homer-Happy Weekend

Following a breakout debut season in Everett last summer, C Cal Raleigh has produced nearly identical batted-ball rates through 32 games for the Nuts this season, somewhat impressive considering he’s skipped a level between then and now. The slash line doesn’t look quite as pretty this year—he entered Wednesday with a line of .213/.286/.433—but his .225 BABIP indicates there are good times ahead for the switch-hitting backstop.

Over the weekend, he collected just three hits but all three were homers and he’s now up to seven on the year.

Murfee and Salter Welcome Additions to Nuts’ ‘Pen

Modesto’s bullpen recently received a shot in the arm in the form of a pair of 2018-drafted pitchers. RHP Penn Murfee and RHP J.T. Salter each made their professional debuts last season, pitching primarily for Short Season Everett. Murfee made five appearances for a depleted Tacoma club during April before being reassigned to High-A Modesto towards the end of the month. Though 14.0 innings of work with the Nuts he’s been nearly untouchable, posting a slash of 0.64/1.09/1.70 and adding a whopping 22 strikeouts.

Salter, who tips the scales at 6’8” 295, racked up strikeouts at a ridiculous pace last summer, posting 12.2 K/9, although he struggled badly with walks as well, as indicated by his 7.8 BB/9 mark. The walks have been a non-issue this season however, as he’s surrendered just one free pass through 4.0 scoreless, no-hit innings while striking out five after joining the Nuts just over a week ago.

(A) West Virginia Power

Team Record: 20-18 (4th) in South Atlantic League North Division)

.226/.322/.354, 4th in South Atlantic League in OBP

3.41 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 3rd in South Atlantic League in strikeouts

Maybe the Catching Depth Isn’t as Bad as We Though...

Cal Raleigh isn’t the only catcher crushing bombs down on the farm. 2018 7th-rounder C Jake Anchia has been making a huge impact of late, homering four times in his last five games. Over the last week, he’s boosted his slash line from .169/.253/.254 to .223/.291/.415. For the second time in as many seasons—he appeared in 15 games for Everett last season before being shut down due to injury—he’s running some pretty unsightly walk and strikeout rates. He’s been hitting the ball in the air more than half the time he puts it in play, and he’s shown he clearly has the power to but it over the fence. Coupled with his strong defensive abilities, this profile is starting to sound very familiar...

Pena Slugging of Late

Undersized Power 1B Onil Pena has been breaking out the lumber over his last few games, going deep in back-to-back contests this week before collecting another two hits Wednesday night. Although he’s in his sixth minor league season, he’s still just 22 years old as he got started playing pro ball at age 17 playing in the DSL. He’s flashed many different offensive skills throughout his storied minor league career, but one constant has been an inability to lift the ball off the ground. Every single season of his career, he’s posted a GB% north of 50%, which is going to make it difficult for him to become much of a power threat. Could his four extra-base hits, two of which cleared the fence for homers, be a sign of a changed batted-ball profile moving forward? Only time will tell.

Florido Impressing in Stateside Debut

18-year-old Los Puertos de Altagracia, Venezuela native RHP Deivy Florido opened this season with a two-inning appearance for the Tacoma Rainiers, but has seemingly found a longer-term home in West Virginia. Through 13 appearances last summer in the Dominican Summer League, he was effective although not necessarily overpowering. In a start for the Power over the weekend, he turned in an excellent performance, tossing 5.1 innings of one-run ball while recording five K’s. Strangely, his next appearance was a one-inning relief appearance back on Monday. It remains to be seen if he’ll move into a full-time starting role with the club, but his one run allowed through 8.1 innings is impressive regardless.


Bonnell Released

RHP Bryan Bonnell was released by the organization on Saturday, one day after tossing three innings of one-hit, shutout ball and striking out four with Arkansas. He’s since been snatched up by the Nationals and assigned to their High-A club.

Wade Set for Tommy John

Promising RHP Jamal Wade, who struggled last season after an impressive 2017 debut season for the AZL Mariners, announced via his Instagram that he’s suffered a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery.

Mariscal Returns

INF Chris Mariscal, who was ranked the organization’s #33 prospect in our preseason site prospect rankings, returned from a one month absence to the Travelers’ lineup on Friday. He slugged homers in consecutive games earlier this week.