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Midshipmen’s Log, June 24, 2019: Ljay punches up, Justus punches down, hitters bring extra bowls of punch

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SO. MANY. HIGHLIGHTS.

Seattle Mariners Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

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 of 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).

This weekend was packed with fun for prospect hounds. With the lower-level All-Star games in the rearview, it’s all speed ahead for the DSL, AZL, Nuts, and Power. The Travelers remain a juggernaut, eschewing those comfy looking laurels after clinching their 1st half title and continuing to torment the Texas League in the second half. The Rainiers are thin on prospects but had a surprise visitor yesterday who brought plenty of thrills.

DSL Mariners (7-12) out-slugged by DSL Pirates 2 (16-3), 10-15

Link to full box score

At this stage in the season, the DSL is mostly a mystery to track at a distance. What best we have is tracking the big names highlighted by scouts. To that end, Noelvi Marte was 1-for-5 with a walk. He also had an error in the field, which is tough to know much about considering the lack of video usually available. 18-year-old OF Arturo Guerrero continued his hot start, clubbing a pinch-hit grand slam to draw the DSL M’s to double-digits, but that was all they wrote in this one. Guerrero was signed with leftover Ohtani money who is slowly adding strength to his 6’3 string-bean frame.

Arturo Guerrero on Instagram

He did not get cheated yesterday.

AZL Mariners (3-3) get ringered by the AZL Rangers (5-1) 2-3

Link to full box score

When he stands on an MLB field, Joey Gallo looks like a titan, dwarfing his fellow elite athletes. Shockingly, when he joined the Rangers AZL team for a rehab assignment, he proved an overwhelming adversary for first-year pro Aussie LHP Blake Townsend. Despite yielding a big ol dinger to the over-leveled Gallo, Townsend was sharp. He struck out five in his 2.2 IP and didn’t walk a one. The offense didn’t get it goin for the big Wallaby, but he got Gallo swinging in his other plate appearance, which was good to see.

Everett AquaSox (4-6) snuff the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (6-4), 8-6

Link to full box score

Home at last is where the win is for the AquaSox, as their first homestand of the year has its first W. A solid second start from 19-year-old RHP Kelvin Nuñez helped the Frogs hop ahead and never look back. He may have a taste for high-level blood, but 18-year-old Rainiers fill-in 1B/OF Robert Perez looks all the better for his taste of the high life, clubbing his first short season bomb of the year. Perez’s dinger brought the noise, but 2019 draftee C Carter Bins had an AB-free evening, drawing four walks and a HBP.

West Virginia Power (39-35) crabhammered by Lakewood BlueClaws (31-43), 4-7

Link to full box score

We’re into video land! Though the Lakewood feed was a mess for the most part, we got a few intermittent snippets. One of those was this looping line drive RBI single from Julio Rodriguez, who had a two-hit day and stays hotter than Ichiro’s favorite aphorism.

MiLB

After a solid outing from Josias de los Santos, RHP Deivy Florido unfortunately got peppered in the 8th, leading to a blown save and a sudden, unexpected loss. The bullpen has been a steady force for West Virginia, and in both their other wins this weekend it played a key role. Shoutout to LL community member Zach Mason (RealZachMason in the comments) for attending this series and taking some video of his own!

Modesto Nuts (31-43) commit arson on the barn of the Visalia Rawhide (47-23), 11-7

Link to full box score

Visalia has the best club in the Cal League and, as we’ve lamented previously, not a TV camera to show for it. It’s a real shame last night was radio-only in particular because the game was a sight (presumably) to behold. Modesto leapt out to lead on a pair of dingers from Connor Kopach and Joe Rizzo, the latter of the two-run variety. Kopach’s defense and impressive on-base skills have helped Modesto immensely, while any and every indication of Rizzo improving his power is a glad tiding. The lead would not hold, however.

Working a bullpen day to fill for their absentee stalwart Ljay Newsome (MUCH more on him in a moment), Modesto blended Ray Kerr, Scott Boches, JT Salter, and Kyle Wilcox. Only resident large lad Salter worked a clean sheet, stifling the deep Diamondbacks affiliate for 2.2 IP to give the Nuts a shot at a comeback from their 7-4 hole. Fortunately, it was Cal Raleigh’s night. After a Jarred Kelenic bases-loaded walk pushed it to 7-5, down 0-2 with two outs in the top of the 9th, Raleigh time was engaged.

Modesto would add on a couple more with a Jack Larsen double and pull out an improbably victory. Raleigh’s bomb was another encouraging step in the right direction for him, as the glove and the defense has taken strides recently too.

Arkansas Travelers (48-26) neuter the Midland RockHounds (37-38), 5-1

Link to full box score

I’ll cut to the chase with this one: the people you know and are likely most invested in were the reason Arkansas won. It’s always nice when unheralded players pull the victories together, but most fans of the organization would call this the ideal minor league game.

Kyle Lewis was 3-for-4 with a walk and a double.

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Evan White extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a dinger.

Justus Sheffield carved through the Midland roster like a hot knife through butter, scattering 8 hits for just one run over 7.0(!) IP and racking up 9(!!!) Ks and 0(too busy weeping tears of joy to type exclamation points) BBs. He wasn’t quite as sharp as his previous start, but worked within the zone consistently, only reaching a three-ball count once, and not until the sixth inning. Despite missing up a few times with his fastball, a lot of pitches hit their spots like this 2-2 heater.

MiLB

Even when he was out of the zone, it was often with a low slider, exactly where it is most devastating.

MiLB

Given the lead after Sheff’s gem, Sam Delaplane and Wyatt Mills each worked 1-2-3 innings with a strikeout, and the game was won. It was a dreamy day in Midland, TX, and the Travs now get a deserved All-Star Break with eight of their members represented.

Tacoma Rainiers (35-41) out-Ljay but under-score El Paso Chihuahuas (47-28), 7-8

Link to full box score

There was a brief moment yesterday when things seemed very dramatic. Breakout RHP Ljay Newsome was called up to start for the Rainiers. After wrestling back and forth for the strikeout lead in the entirety of the minor leagues, it seemed aggressive but not unthinkable for the 22-year-old. Alas, it was just a spot start, with the Mariners shuffling their bullpen and promoting Mike Wright Jr.

All Ljay did was strike out two handfuls of batters, recording 10 Ks and just one BB in 5.2 IP against the prospect-laden Padres affiliate. His lone mistake was a 3-run dinger from Michael Gettys, but against a team with three hitters OPSing over 1.000 in their top-four, Newsome allowed just six baserunners. The rest of this article will be a collection of gifs and video of Ljay’s outing. I’m sure you understand.

Most encouraging for me was seeing Newsome have success with his secondaries, including this changeup that baffled 27-year-old Aderlin Rodriguez.

There was a lot of this, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Kate’s favorite dance craze, the “Frustrated Batter Hop”, at higher levels soon enough.

Today’s games:

Arkansas - OFF

DSL Pirates 2 vs. DSL Mariners, 7:30 AM PT

West Virginia at Greensboro (No TV), 4:05 PT (RHP Clay Chandler)

AZL Rangers at AZL Mariners, 6:00 PT

El Paso at Tacoma (TV), 6:05 PT (TBD)

Modesto at San Jose (TV), 7:00 PT (RHP Logan Gilbert vs. Joey Bart)