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State of the Farm: 5/23/19

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Do Mariners prospects not wash their faces or what because they’re breaking out all over the place!

It’s been another week of strong performances up and down the Mariners farm system, with guys getting it done at every level of the organization. There’s a few major league talents rehabbing—primarily in Tacoma—but as this is intended to be a prospect-focused series, we’ve left those guys out.

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

(AAA) Tacoma Rainiers

Team Record: 23-24 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)

.292/.363/.467, 3rd in PCL in hitting

6.29 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 3rd in PCL in strikeouts

Nola Punishing PCL Pitching

Every time you expect longtime minor league veteran C Austin Nola to come crashing back to earth this season, he seems to take another step forward. The 29-year-old backstop has posted career highs nearly across the board, including his walk rate (13.0%) and wRC+ (159). Over his last eight games, he’s posted a 192 wRC+ while slashing .414/.514/.655 with 7 R, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 5 SO. Had the Mariners not acquired Tom Murphy as early on in the season as they did, there’s a strong chance they would have found room for Nola on the 40-man by now. As things currently stand, he may have to wait until one of the big league catchers is forced out of action; however, he has received run at first base as well.

Bishop Breezing Through Triple-A

After opening the season with the Mariners in what was an expectedly short stay, OF Braden Bishop was recalled for a separate two-week stint before rejoining Tacoma on May 12. He’s averaged nearly two hits per game since sliding back into the Rainiers’ lineup, going 15-42 (.357) over nine games. While he’s struggled in limited opportunities in the bigs, he’s performed well enough in Tacoma that he’s likely suffering from the same fate as Nola in that he’d be with the big league club were it not for some veterans blocking his way. That shouldn’t be the case for long.

Court Endearing Himself to New Club

More of a veteran depth piece than a legitimate prospect, 1B Ryan Court has performed well enough through his first 15 games in the organization to warrant a mention here. Signed as a 30-year-old minor league free agent on May 7, the utilityman has filled the void left by Joey Curletta admirably, slashing .327/.438/.615. He’s been particularly hot over his last eight games, going 13-27 (.482) with 9 R, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 7 BB, 7 SO.

Sheffield Takes a Step Forward

It continues to be a somewhat mystifying season for the guy who has perennially been considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Wednesday’s start for LHP Justus Sheffield in which he posted a line of 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO was his best start yet as a member of the Mariners organization, although with a low strikeout total. It came on the heels of a start in which he fell one out shy of a quality start, bringing his total for the week to 12.2 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO. The seven innings pitched Wednesday ties a career long. His peripherals suggest he’s still benefiting from some good batted ball luck, which makes the so-so surface statistics even less encouraging, although there’s certainly the chance that Wednesday’s outing was the start of hot stretch for the prize arm of last offseason.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 27-15 (1st in Texas League North Division)

.241/.329/.358, last in Texas League AVG and SLG

3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 1st in Texas League in ERA and WHIP

Fraley Leading Hit Parade

With each passing week, OF Jake Fraley separates himself further from the pack of high-upside outfielders on Arkansas’ roster. Over his last six games, he’s gone 12-23 with 5 R, 5 2B, and 6 RBI, bumping his already-impressive slash line up to .321/.394/.506. In his first crack at Double-A, he’s shown little difficulty adapting to the level of competition as he is posing a serious threat for the Texas League triple crown. He’s maintained a career-best FB% and GB%, lifting the ball in the air at a clip of 41.7%. Despite playing now just 40 games at the level, He’s priming himself for a second-half promotion to Tacoma.

Crismatt Proving a Worthwhile MiLB FA Signing

Although his stuff didn’t play during a three-game stint with the Rainiers to open the season, RHP Nabil Crismatt has been seriously impressive this month for the Travs. After racking up 13 strikeouts two outings ago, he piled up eight more on Sunday in an outing that he allowed three earned runs through seven innings. The 24-year-old Columbian has walked just three batters through 29.0 innings of work since joining the Travelers, and likely will be rejoining Tacoma in the near future.

Grotz Continues to Impress

Good luck hitting the ball in the air off of RHP Zac Grotz, or really hitting the ball at all for that matter. The 26-year-old has been absolutely lights out this season, slashing 1.01/1.91/1.97 and posting rate stats of 13.5 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9. His given the opposition virtually no chance to lift the ball, posting a GB% of 60.4% and a FB% of 18.9%. While he’s a tad old for the level and has big league experience under his belt, his success this year is impressive nonetheless as he’s changed roles numerous times throughout the season. He’s averaged 2.2 innings per appearance on the year, and has posted nine punchouts in the past week between a pair of outings of 2.0 and 3.2 innings.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 20-25 (3rd in California League North Division)

.239/.320/.361, 3rd in Cal League in home runs

3.61 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 2nd in Cal League in strikeouts

Third Time’s the Charm for Gilbert

After logging a good but by no means eye-popping outing in his second start for Modesto, RHP Logan Gilbert looked every bit the future ace he was drafted to be on Sunday. In just his seventh professional start, he logged 7.0 innings of shutout work, surrendering just two hits and striking out 11. His performance earned him attention from Baseball America has the hottest prospect in baseball last week. His 13.3 K/9 and 0.81 WHIP lead all Mariners starting pitching prospects.

Newsome Awesome in Latest Outing

Not far behind Gilbert on the Mariners’ starters strikeout rate leaders is RHP Ljay Newsome, who’s sporting a 12.7 K/9 rate. After seeing his strikeouts dip over a pair of recent starts—mind you that nine in 9.0 innings is low by his standards—he looked like the Newsome of early this season in his most recent outings last Thursday and again last night. Through 12.2 combined innings of shutout work, he’s fanned 19 hitters, walked one, and allowed just eight hits. He entered last night’s start with a pitcher’s slash of 2.26/1.94/2.29, and that’ll be lower after Wednesday’ gem.

Kober Continuing Excellent Streak

One of last season’s breakthrough relief arms is proving that last year was no fluke. RHP Collin Kober is riding a hot streak this month, working 10.1 scoreless innings over which he’s posted a line of 0.00 ERA, 0.85 FIP, 0.87 WHIP, 16 SO, 1 BB. The sidearmer had a rough start to the season, but has been one of the Nuts’ most dependable bullpen options of late.

(A) West Virginia Power

Team Record: 22-22 (4th in South Atlantic League North Division)

.228/.318/.359, 3rd in South Atlantic League in home runs

3.62 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 5th in South Atlantic League in WHIP

McConnell Making Most of Starting Role

With top tier prospect Julio Rodriguez still on the shelf, OF Charlie McConnell, whom the Mariners selected in the 13th round last season, has moved into a starting role for the Power. Over an eight game stretch starting May 10, he slashed .344/.382/.625 and posted a 187 wRC+. He’s had fairly significant strikeout issues this season and didn’t land in the organization’s Top 50 prospects in our preseason site prospect rankings, but his hot streak has been noted.

Kelenic Carrying Power

There’s been little to be excited about in West Virginia’s lineup, but OF Jarred Kelenic has been the exact opposite of that. Following his 2-3 performance on Wednesday in which he tripled, homered, and walked, he’s slashing .305/.393/.551. Many people are clamoring for him to follow Logan Gilbert to Modesto, and it’s not hard to imagine a promotion will come shortly after the all star break next month.

Anchía Coming on Strong

C Jake Anchía is doing everything he can to compliment Kelenic in the West Virginia lineup, slashing .361/.410/.833 with five home runs over his last 10 games. Between Anchía, who the Mariners grabbed in the 7th round last June and Cal Raleigh, a 3rd round pick, it’s starting to look like the organization may not have to use an early-round selection on a catcher in this year’s draft after all.

Notes:

Mariscal Promoted

INF Chris Mariscal received a bump to Triple-A Tacoma after a successful 17-game stint with the Travs. He’s gone 2-6 since joining the Rainiers on Tuesday.

Andrew Moore Returns

The Mariners brought back 2015 competitive balance pick RHP Andrew Moore last week, claiming him off waivers from the San Francisco Giants. Moore has reported to Double-A Arkansas.

Wright and Rumbelow Clear Waivers

Both RHP Mike Wright and RHP Nick Rumbelow cleared waivers earlier this week and were assigned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Misiewicz Joins Rainiers

LHP Anthony Misiewicz, who had been turning an a strong season at Double-A, was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Tacoma on Saturday. He was roughed up a bit in his first outing, surrendering six earned runs through 1.2 innings.