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).
It was a bad day for the big-league team, but the minor league clubs (with the exception of Modesto) all won, with both Arkansas and Tacoma sweeping their doubleheaders, so on balance, it’s still a win.
West Virginia Power (26-26) strand the Asheville Tourists (24-27), 8-3
The Power showed no ill effects from losing their All-Star Kelenic, with 7/9 members of the lineup contributing hits. OF Keegan McGovern made his 2019 debut a level beneath where we thought he’d be, most likely just to bide time until Julio Rodriguez is able to return, and recorded two hits, including a double. 3B Bobby Honeyman also continued to right the ship, with two hits and a double of his own. Honeyman had a dreadful April (.149/.238/.230), but his May has been much more indicative of the kind of player he is (.278/.320/.380). The Power were given a strong start from RHP Clay Chandler, who gave up three runs over 6.2 innings of work, and RHP Dayeison Arias contributed a scoreless, hitless 1.1 innings. RHP Elias Espino, back from the IL, also worked a scoreless inning in his return from the IL.
Arkansas Travelers (34-17) double down on Northwest Arkansas Naturals (21-31), 7-4 and 10-7
The Travs continue to be the bullies of the Texas League, with the hapless Naturals their latest victims. Game One was started by reigning Texas Pitcher of the Week Andrew Moore, who wasn’t quite as effective as he’d been last week, going 5.2 innings of 8-hit, 4-run ball, and surrendering a strikeout. Moore did strike out 7, while walking no one, per usual, and Dan Altavilla nailed down the save (doubleheader games in the minors are just seven innings). The offense hung in there, with Jake Fraley driving in three runs on a bases-clearing double, and a three-run seventh inning where they beat up on rehabbing big leaguer Drew Storen. Kyle Lewis jusssst missed an RBI double in that inning and had to settle for a sac fly; he also had a solid line drive single.
The Travs, thin after the promotion of Reggie McClain to Tacoma, went with a bullpen start in the second game and reliever Daren Gillies struggled some, giving up three runs over his three innings. Wyatt Mills followed and continued to showcase improvement, giving up one run over his two innings of work while striking out two and walking no one. The Travs offense backed up his performance, scoring nine total runs over innings 3-5. Dom Thompson-Williams and Jake Fraley both homered, and Kyle Lewis contributed both a two-run double and RBI single. Robin Leyer came close to giving the lead back, but LHP Matt Tenuta came in and shut the door to secure the sweep.
Tacoma Rainiers (28-27) defang the El Paso Chihuahuas (34-20), 4-0, 7-0
The Rainiers dominated a prospect-laden El Paso (Padres) team, winning by a combined 11-0 over their doubleheader. In game one, Jonathan Niese and Gerson Bautista combined for seven scoreless innings. Meanwhile, Cal Quantrill, a top prospect in the loaded Padres system, held the Rainiers scoreless until the fourth, when Kristopher Negron broke through with an RBI single scoring Tim Lopes. In the fifth, Ian Miller doubled off Quantrill, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly from Lopes. It was Miller’s PCL-leading 19th double:
Ian Miller with a double off Cal Quantrill. He leads the PCL in doubles and is tied for the lead in all of Triple-A. pic.twitter.com/r8wHkO8boX— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) May 31, 2019
Austin Nola added two more RBI hits to secure the Rainiers shutout win, 4-0.
In the second game of the doubleheader, LHP Anthony Misiewicz, recently promoted from Double-A, made another strong start, giving up just two hits and no runs in an offensive-happy El Paso ballpark over six innings. Misiewicz only tallied three Ks, but showed off a tricky slider:
Matt Festa closed out the day with a scoreless inning, striking out two. Meanwhile, the Rainiers took it to the El Paso bullpen staff manning the game. Ian Miller kicked off the scoring in the third with a two-run home run in the sixth; it’s his career-best sixth home run, and it’s not even June.
Recently-promoted Chris Mariscal also showed he belongs in Triple-A, yoking a homer to left; Braden Bishop and Tim Lopes also contributed RBI singles. The Rainiers are over .500 for the first time this season. Hooray!
Modesto Nuts (24-30) edged out by Visalia Rawhide (35-14), 5-3
The Nuts lost to the kings of the Cal League, but file this one to the “encouraging losses” folder. Logan Gilbert was not at his best, struggling a little with his command and getting into drawn-out at-bats with a pesky, contact-oriented Rawhide (Diamondbacks) team. Two ten-pitch at-bats doomed Gilbert’s pitch count today, highlighting his need to further refine his off-speed offerings and feel comfortable throwing them in all counts, because at this level, he can’t just rely on burning his fastball past batters. A two-base error also didn’t help out Gilbert, who was visibly frustrated at times on the mound; it’s important to remember he is still playing catch-up since he wasn’t able to face the advanced college bats in the Northwest League. He still collected 5K over his 4.2 innings of work, even if it wasn’t as efficient as ideal, and gave up just one earned run. These are the kinds of outings it will be exciting to watch Gilbert grow from. He continues to throw a very pretty, very mean curve:
But the real story today is Jarred Kelenic making his California League debut. At age 19, the youngest player in today’s contest by far, it is reasonable to expect Kelenic to struggle, especially when facing a seasoned pitcher like Visalia’s 24-year-old Shumpei Yoshikawa. And he did struggle in his first at-bat, striking out on four pitches. Kelenic made contact in his next at-bat, with an RBI groundout. And then, in his third at-bat in High-A, he did this:
Jarred Kelenic homers in his third Cal League at-bat: pic.twitter.com/t8j197WhYc— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) May 31, 2019
Bless the Modesto camera operator tasked with trying to track this laser shot; bless also the unwitting fan who threw this ball back over the fence, allowing Jarred Kelenic the chance to keep the ball from his first High-A home run. And bless the Mets for making Jarred Kelenic available in trade, I honestly still can’t believe it sometimes. The Nuts lost, as the normally surehanded Collin Kober gave up a three-run jack, undoing Jarred’s go-ahead jack (did I mention his homer broke up a tie? Because it did.), but who cares, Jarred Kelenic is in Modesto and we can watch him in mostly every game except Visalia and Stockton, and also who would like to chip in for a big party bus to go down there if they make the playoffs?
Before their regularly-scheduled game, West Virginia will conclude the suspended game from April 20, meaning Jarred Kelenic’s home run from that contest will finally count officially in his stats. In Modesto, former reliever Penn Murfee will continue in his “piggybacking” role en route to becoming a potential short-starter or opener, a strategy the Mariners are also using with pitchers Josias De Los Santos and Deivy Florido in West Virginia. Darren McCaughan and Erik Swanson are also interesting pitchers to watch. Overall, a pretty good day to tune into the system. If you don’t have MiLB TV, it’s gone down in price by ten dollars, and if you use the Super Secret Code (that’s just putting in the name of the minors team you like best, like NUTS), you get another ten dollars off, so that’s thirty dollars for the remainder of the season to watch the wave of the future. Split it with a friend and that’s a couple beers, or an eyebrow wax, or ten feet of PVC pipe. A STEAL.
West Virginia at Asheville, 2:35 PT (RHP Devin Sweet); 4:05 PT (RHP Ryne Inman)
Tusla at Arkansas, 5:05 PT (RHP Darren McCaughan)
Tacoma at El Paso, 6:05 PT (RHP Erik Swanson)
Visalia at Modesto, 7:05 PT (RHP Penn Murfee)