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).
Today was a tough day on the farm despite being highlighted by some of the more intriguing starting pitchers in West Virginia’s Damon Casetta-Stubbs, Arkansas’ Ricardo Sanchez, and Modesto’s Ljay Newsome, who did strike out 21 between the three of them. At least Tacoma brought home a win.
West Virginia Power (20-19) mauled by the Charleston RiverDogs (23-17), 5-0
The Power have played the division-leading RiverDogs fairly closely, but they were blown out today against starter Luis Gil, enjoying a breakout season in his fifth year in organized baseball. Gil’s one flaw is he can struggle with command, but the Power didn’t work very good at-bats against him, taking no walks and only managing five weak hits, advancing a runner to third but never scoring.
Power starter Damon Casetta-Stubbs doesn’t look like he has a great line with four runs on nine hits over five innings, but he was the victim of some particularly harsh batted ball luck. Casetta-Stubbs is a groundball pitcher, and these ground balls kept finding holes; the only real hard hit against DCS was a two-run homer. This isn’t to say DCS was perfect; he’s continuing to develop as a pitcher, and today his normally pinpoint command was a little shaky (two walks; he’d only given up one walk in his previous three starts). DCS had some trouble locating his fastball, but the curve had a nice hook. His best pitch, though, which he used to get a career-high 5 Ks, was this nasty slider:
DCS also has one of the nastier pickoff moves I’ve seen, and I saw it for the first time today:
DCS is battling. Other than a HR, almost all the hits against him have been groundballs that have found holes. He helps his own case in a 1-2-3 4th inning with this pickoff move: pic.twitter.com/rGSHUjMzsE— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) May 17, 2019
John Trupin loves a pickoff move more than anything (Julio Teheran is one of his favorite pitchers just because of his pickoff move, and John himself has a pretty nasty pickoff move), so as soon as I saw this I sent him these gifs, to which he replied HEART EYES.
Arkansas Travelers (23-15) ground down by Tulsa Drillers (21-18), 8-2
The drawback of the Texas League is that it’s tiny—just eight teams—so this is approximately the 24594th time this season the Travs have faced the Drillers. Ricardo Sanchez did not fare as well this time out; while striking out seven batters in four innings, he also surrendered nine hits and four runs, and had to throw a lot of high-stress pitches. His pitch count was at 85 pitches at the end of the fourth.
Aaron Knapp contributed a solo home run but the rest of the team struggled to come up with hits against seasoned righty Justin DeFratus, who they had just touched up in their last meeting. Donnie Walton contributed the only other run on an RBI single.
Modesto Nuts (18-23) dried out by the Visalia Rawhide (28-13), 1-0
Despite a lockdown start from Ljay Newsome, the Nuts were unable to scrape a single run across, falling as Visalia walked it off against reliever Kyle Wilcox. After a couple of rough outings, Ljay dominated against a team that hasn’t seen him as much as some others, giving up three hits over six innings but no runs, walking one, and striking out NINE to move back into the MiLB strikeout lead. There’s a point at which throwing Ljay out against clubs that have had ample time to study him just isn’t a good measure of his skills anymore, and with Ljay leading the Cal League in innings pitched, that point is getting very close.
Tacoma Rainiers (20-21) bust the Reno Aces (14-26), 14-5
This game started on a Braden Bishop solo HR, and the Rainiers didn’t look back, racking up 23 hits en route to routing the Aces on their home turf. Starter Tommy Milone wasn’t great, allowing four runs over five innings of work, but the Rainiers forcefully removed him from the hook for this game with an eight-run fourth inning, started with an Ian Miller PCL-leading 17th double scoring a run, and then five straight singles from Tacoma’s batters; when the dust finally cleared Tacoma was ahead 9-3. The Rainiers would add another run on a Bishop RBI single, another on a Shed Long solo homer, another two thanks to Jose Lobaton, and another on a Ryan Court RBI single. David McKay and Aaron Northcraft combined to throw three scoreless innings, and Chasen Bradford allowed a solo HR but limited the damage to that in the 9th.
If you love southpaws (LIKE ME), you’re in luck, because it’s an all-lefty lineup tomorrow in the minors. It hasn’t been an easy road for Justus Sheffield, and throwing baseballs in Reno’s homer-happy environment doesn’t sound like...the best time? Don’t get too concerned with balls sailing over the fence, but watch for Sheffield to continue refining his command and mixing in his secondary stuff.
West Virginia at Greenville: 4:05 PT (LHP Steven Moyers)
Arkansas at Tusla, 5:05 PT (LHP Anthony Misiewicz)
Tacoma at Reno, 6:35 PT (LHP Justus Sheffield)
Modesto at Rancho Cucamonga, 7:05 pm PT (LHP Ian McKinney)