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2019 Everett AquaSox Preview

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New faces and first looks abound.

Rescue Mission To Save Endangered Corroboree Frogs Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

The Mariners’ Short Season-A affiliate posted a .500 record last season and qualified for the postseason, losing 2-1 in a best-two-of-three seminfinal series with the Spokane Indians. Typically made up largely of the most-recently drafted college players, Everett’s roster also receives an infusion of younger prospects with high ceilings, and this year is no exception. The AquaSox will receive contributions from two players that were listed in LL’s Top 50 Organizational Prospects prior to the 2019 season in INF Cesar Izturis Jr. (#39) and RHP Damon Casetta-Stubbs (#39).

You can view the full Everett AquaSox roster as it stands now here.

Pitchers

It looks to be a pitching-dominant squad for this year’s AquaSox club, headlined by the Mariners’ first two picks from the 2019 draft, as well as their fifth selection. Nine pitchers that were drafted just last week are featured on the opening day roster with the potential for more as the College World Series wraps up.

2019 1st-round pick RHP George Kirby is the main attraction for Everett fresh off of a season in which he led all of NCAA Baseball in walk rate, issuing just six free passes through 88.1 innings of action. Kirby recently took home honors as the CAA Conference Pitcher of the Year Award following an 8-2 season in which he posted a 2.75 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 10.9 K/9, and 0.6 BB/9. The 6’4” Rye, New York native combined to log 103.0 innings between NCAA and Cape Cod League play last summer, so he should be able to make a handful of appearances for the AquaSox this summer. From MLB.com:

Kirby has four potential quality pitches to make it as a starter, beginning with a running fastball that sits in the low 90s, reaches 98 mph and should add more velocity as he gets stronger. He has feel for spinning the ball and both his curveball and slider show flashes of becoming plus offerings. He also has some aptitude for throwing a changeup with some sink.

Joining Kirby as another early-round college arm is LHP Brandon Williamson, who was the Mariners’ 2nd-round pick (83rd overall) in the draft. Williamson was a bit overshadowed on TCU’s pitching staff by fellow 6’6” southpaw Nick Lodolo who went 7th overall to the Reds, but he’s flashed plenty of upside himself. In his first season with the Horned Frogs after two years on the junior college circuit, Williamson posted a line of 4.48 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 4.5 BB/9. He’s considered a bit more of a project than the more polished Kirby, but armed with a mid-90’s heater, mid-80’s slider, curve, and change-up, he’s got quite the impressive package if he can put it all together.

Georgia Bulldogs alum and recent 4th-round selection RHP Tim Elliot figures to join a talented Everett rotation that’s flush with guys who’ve found success at the D-I level. From our own John Trupin:

Elliott is a 6’1, 200 lbs righty working 90-94 with his heater and getting most of his whiffs on a late biting changeup. He’ll mix in a slider and curveball, but both could use work. The difference is one of track record and quality of competition.

Elliott is a junior draftee out of the University of Georgia, where he had been predominantly a reliever until this year. Refining his command, Elliott was one of the better pitchers in the SEC, and certainly the best midweek starter, running a 2.93 ERA and a 60/21 K/BB through 61.0 innings in 13 starts.

At his best, Elliott has been ultra-efficient, throwing a CG SO Maddux against Florida Atlantic this year, but the low-90s velo, size, and short track record in the rotation no doubt are question marks that push him to a 4/5 starter or bullpen expectation.

6’0” RHP Reid Morgan joins Everett after being selected out of South Carolina by the M’s in the 13th round. He made 14 starts for the Gamecocks last season, totaling 87.2 innings and posting a 3.80 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, and 1.8 BB/9. The innings total was more than double his previous career high, so it wouldn’t come as a huge shock to see him used sparingly; perhaps even out of the bullpen to open the season.

Strictly a reliever during his time at the West Coast Conference’s University of San Diego, RHP Travis Kuhn racked up the strikeouts in 2018 (11.9 K/9), but coughed up more walks (5.4 BB/9) than you’d like as well. He was the Mariners’ 19th-round selection in this year’s draft.

Hoping to continue a trend of producing high-efficient and noticeably undersized relief arms, the M’s nabbed RHP Reeves Martin out of the University of New Orleans in the 21st round last week. The 5’8” hurler just wrapped up conference Reliever of the Year honors, and deservedly so after posting a 1.03 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 14.1 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9.

24th-round selection RHP Kipp Rollings joins the organization by way of the same school as fellow draftee Utah Jones, who just finished up their season at North Greenville University. Rollings was the club’s go-to relief option, posting a 3.06 ERA through 35.1 innings and racking up 35 strikeouts.

One of four AquaSox with local ties, Federal Way native and Tacoma Community College/Central Florida alum RHP Garrett Westberg joins the Everett pitching staff after being selected in the 26th round. He had some control issues creep up at UCF that didn’t plague him during his time at TCC, but 11.5 K/9 at the D-I level will definitely play in the NWL.

Adding another solid right-handed relief option is RHP Brock Minich, who was selected in the 27th round out of Nova Southeastern; the same school that 2018 draftee Jake Anchia was selected out of. Minich posted a 2.55 ERA and 24 strikeouts through 24.2 innings in 2019.

University of Nebraska alum and undrafted free agent signing LHP Nate Fisher following a breakout season for the Cornhuskers. Working exclusively as a starter, he logged 71.0 innings, posting a 3.04 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

The highest-ranked prospect on the AquaSox that was already in the system entering this season is RHP Damon Casetta-Stubbs, who was recently assigned to Everett after logging 46.2 innings this season pitching primarily to the West Virginia Power. The 19-year-old was born in Vancouver, Washington and attended Kings Way High School prior to being selected by the Mariners in the 11th round of last year’s draft.

Australian LHP Blake Townsend is set to make his affiliated ball debut with the AquaSox this season. The 18-year-old was signed last summer, at which time his fastball sat in the upper-80’s. At 6’4” 220, there’s plenty of projectability left in his frame.

Catchers

One of the higher-drafted position players on the Everett roster can be found behind the plate in the form of Fresno State alum C Carter Binns. He’s a defensive-minded catcher whose abilities reportedly rivaled those of any other receiver in this year’s draft class. Some scouts suggested he could have gone as high as the third round if a team was particularly bought-in on his bat. Through three seasons serving as the Bulldogs’ primary backstop, he’s gunned down 42 of 69 (61.0%) would-be base-stealers. He took a step backwards from his sophomore season in 2018 to his junior year this season in regards to driving the ball—he slugged just .403 after slugging .526 as a sophomore—but his plate discipline improved substantially. His 12.3 BB% and 17.2 SO% were both career bests, as was his seven stolen bases.

A 19th-rounder in 2018 coming out of San Diego State, C Dean Nevarez turned some heads during spring training, inducing this incredible story by our own Kate Preusser. Nevarez appeared in 23 games for the West Virginia Power this season, swatting five homers.

Returning C Juan Camacho is back in Everett after spending parts of 2016 and 2017 in Everett before posting a wRC+ of 99 with A-level Clinton last season. The Las Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico native is now 23 years old.

Infielders

There aren’t any primary first basemen listed on the Everett roster at this point in time, but both Nevarez and INF Cash Gladfelter have some experience at the position. INF Cesar Izturis Jr. has been assigned to the AquaSox after playing 38 games for the Power this seson. The 19-year-old switch-hitting Venezuelan was the #39 prospect on our site rankings prior to the season, and will look to make an impact after making his stateside debut with the AZL Mariners last summer.

5th-round pick INF Austin Shenton is projected to see a bulk of the time at the hot corner after slashing .355/.445/.544 and swatting 23 homers between Bellevue Community College and Florida International University over the last three years. The Bellingham, Washington native who swings it from the left side has proven dangerous with the lumber while playing collegiate wood bat summer ball for each of the last three summers.

2019 14th-round SS Patrick Frick joins the AquaSox after a breakout 2018 campaign at Wake Forest that saw him slash .374/.474/.502 for the Demon Deacons. INF Cash Gladfelter split time between the AquaSox and the AZL Mariners in 2018 and will look to recapture the success at the plate that prompted the M’s to draft him in the 27th round of last year’s draft.

Outfielders

Speedster OF DeAires Moses makes his AquaSox debut after an injury-plagued few seasons with the AZL Mariners following his 2016 19th-round selection out of Volunteer State Community College. Moses impressed during his lone complete season, which came in 2017, when he slashed .283/.352/.365, hitting five triples and stealing 24 bases in 48 games. He’ll look to inject a nice speed boost to the Everett offense as he enters his age-23 season.

Moses’ speed will be rivaled by 20th-round pick OF Cade Marlowe, who made waves at West Georgia by going 46-for-51 in stolen base attempts last season. He proved to be more than just a stolen base threat, slashing .389/.460/.548 and posting a 21:26 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

Another local success story, OF Trent Tingelstad grew up in Marysville, Washington and played at Everett Community College before transferring to Lousisia-Monroe, from which the M’s drafted him in the 22nd round of last week’s draft. He’s coming off a season in which he posted a .346/.464/.571 slash line and walked (39) far more than he struck out (27).

That trio will be joined by a pair of Dominican outfielders, OF Luis Joseph and OF Miguel Perez. Joseph spent last season with the AZL Mariners where he posted an 88 wRC+. Perez swiped 11 bags in 59 games for the DSL Mariners, and posted a 108 wRC+ as an 18-year-old.

It’s shaping up to be a competitive roster for the AquaSox that’s chock-full of players with plenty of experience on the collegiate circuit, as well as a few guys that have played a level up from Everett. The team will be playing their first season in the newly-named Funko Field, where they’ll have their home opener on Friday, June 21 vs. the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

You can view their full schedule and purchase tickets here.