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State of the Farm: 6/6/19

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Yes I know this pales in comparison to all the draft excitement.

Well, this seems pretty unexciting in comparison to all of the fun new prospects the Mariners added in the 2019 Draft over the last few days, but there’s still a lot to get excited about!

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: 29-30 (2nd in Pacific Northern Division)

Perez Unphased by Big Jump

Nearly two weeks ago, the Rainiers summoned 18-year-old Venezuelan OF Robert Perez due to a shortage of available outfielders. Flash-forward 11 games and three outfielders later and Tacoma is still rostering Perez despite having plenty of alternative options. The reason? He’s slashed .342/.390/.632 with a pair of home runs in just under 40 at-bats. He spent each of the last two seasons with the DSL Mariners, where he made significant progress from 2017 to 2018, nearly doubling his wRC+ from 77 to 140 thanks mostly to drastically improving his walk rate. The hot hitting is likely to slow down as his .440 BABIP regresses and his 26.8% strikeout rate catches up to him, but it’s nice to see a youngster taking advantage of an opportunity.

Nola Staying Disciplined

One of Tacoma’s hottest hitters all season long has continued to look like a changed ballplayer as we enter the early stages of summer. C/1B Austin Nola leads the team in BB, AVG, OBP, and SLG while also posting personal bests in wRC+ (145), FB%, LD%, and GB%. He’s also managed to spray his hits all over the field, performing the impressive feat of posting a Pull%, Cent%, and Oppo% all in the 30’s. Tacoma has quite the catching tandem between Nola and veteran backstop Jose Lobaton; however this is a rare strong season for Mariners catchers at the major league level, meaning these guys have little control of their own destiny.

Lopes Staking Case for Crack at Big Leagues

Following suit in delivering surprising results this season, INF Tim Lopes continues to rake for the Rainiers, slashing .357/.370/.476 over his last 10 games. The former sixth-round draft pick is hitting the ball on the ground far less than last season and despite being in the middle of his eight minor league season, is just over a year older than Shed Long. As crazy as it is sounds, it’s not impossible that he could earn the Mariners’ starting job at second base post-Dee Gordon if the organization still prefers to use Long in a super-utility role.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 35-21 (1st in Texas League North Division)

Fraley Not Long for Texas League

Of all the prospects the Mariners scooped up this offseason, OF Jake Fraley has made arguably more noise this season than any of them not named Jarred. Since posting a 189 wRC+ and winning Texas League Player of the Month honors in the month of May, he’s opened June by going 5-for-13 and is showing no signs of slowing down. With Braden Bishop landing on the injured list and the Mariners opting to reach outside the system to replace him, Fraley’s path to a promotion is a little murkier than it was 24 hours ago, but he’s doing everything in his power to justify a promotion.

White Riding Modest Streak

Most of the month of May was unkind to 1B Evan White, but he finished on a high note and is now riding a seven-game hitting streak here in the first week of June. Over his last 10 games, he’s slashed .278/.381/.361 and has scored nine runs. While he’s not posting gaudy slugging numbers yet, his batted ball data indicates that he’s cut 5% off his ground ball rate and turned those into more line drives and fly balls; both of which he’s hitting at a career-high rate.

Lewis’ Bat Coming Around

May could not end soon enough for OF Kyle Lewis, who OPS’d a paltry .584 through 25 games. Things are looking up lately however; as he’s gone 9-for-22 (.409) through his last six games with six RBI. His 61 strikeouts at the plate are the second-most among all Mariners farmhands and have still been present over his current hot streak—he’s fanned seven times over that same six-game span—and will need to be addressed going forward as they’ve crept towards the 30.0% mark on the season.

Zam Hammerin’ Homers

Somebody must have notified 1B/3B/OF Nick Zammerlli that he’s in danger of posting a sub-100 wRC+ for the first time in his four-year career, because he’s been doing everything he can to get back over that mark over the last week. Through his last six games, he’s raised his slash line from .200/.276/.323 to .230/.302/.395, posting four straight two-hit games and slugging three homers. His wRC+ is up to 89 and should continue to climb as his .280 BABIP inches north of .300.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 25-33 (3rd in California League North Division)

New Level? No Problem.

Wunderkind OF Jarred Kelenic hasn’t missed a beat in making the transition from A-Ball West Virginia to High-A Modesto, collecting eight hits through his first five games and twice going deep. The soon-to-be 20-year-old has jumped out to a fair sizable lead among the system’s home run leaders, and continues to push up against a 1.000 OPS here in his first season as a member of the organization.

Murfee Making Switch to Rotation

One of the Nuts’ most dominant relievers has recently transformed into one of the Nuts’ most dominant starting pitchers in RHP Penn Murfee. The 2018 33rd-rounder’s last two appearances have been starts. How’s this for a line through his first two starts: 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 SO. Even pitching as a reliever as he did throughout college and last year in his first season as a pro, he’s never been much of a strikeout pitcher or even all that effective of a pitcher in general. That’s certainly changed this year, and his transition into starting will be a storyline worth following throughout the rest of the summer.

Gilbert Still Effective in Abbreviated Outings

After bursting onto the scene with Modesto in a fashion not dissimilar to that of Kelenic, RHP Logan Gilbert has continued to bring value to the table for Modesto despite some shorter outings recently. The right-hander has allowed just five earned runs through his last three outings, but has failed to exceed 5.0 innings in any of them. Even still, he’s posted a 3.06 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 1.2 BB/9, and 10.4 K/9 over that span. Of the eight starts this season that he’s 87 or more pitches, he’s complete six innings in only one of them, so he’ll need to learn to be a little more efficient with his pitches going forward if he plans to work deep into games in the future.

(A) West Virginia Power

Team Record: 29-30 (4th in South Atlantic League North Division)

McGovern Off to Hot Start

One of last year’s draft’s early success stories OF Keegan McGovern was delayed in getting his 2019 campaign started, but he’s immediately made his impact felt. Through his first six games he’s gone 6-for-21 (.286) with four walks. The lefty slugger swatted 15 homers in 69 games last summer, and has a chance to establish himself as one of the system’s top left-handed power bats going forward.

Pena Picking Up Slack

With the Power’s top hitter graduation to Modesto last week, 1B Onil Pena has stepped up to carry the offense. Over his last six games, he’s gone 6-for-17 (.353) with a pair of home runs, four walks and five strikeouts. The Dominican slugger is closing in on his career-high home run mark of 10, and may well end up getting there prior to the all star break.

Chandler Back to Stinginess With Runs

Following a three-game stretch over which he surrendered 17 earned runs, RHP Clay Chandler has rebounded quite nicely, working 6.2 innings of three-run ball last week and then 8.1 innings of two-run ball on Tuesday. The undrafted free agent signing has found success this season in limiting the free passes, posting just 1.2 BB/9 on the season. His walk-aversion has allowed him to consistently work deep into games, posting quality starts in seven of his 12 starts this season.

Notes:

Marte Makes DSL Debut

The long-awaited debut of Dominican SS Noelvi Marte has finally arrived. The 17-year-old, whom MLB.com ranks as the system’s #10 prospect, has recorded at least one hit in each of his first four professional games, going 6-for-16 with a home run and two stolen bases.

Brugman and Tomlinson Added for Depth

Reinforcements were brought in to help fill out Tacoma’s roster in the form of MLB vets INF Kelby Tomlinson and OF Jaycob Brugman. Tomlinson appeared in 273 games for the San Francisco Giants from 2015-2018. Brugman appeared in 48 games for the Oakland A’s in 2017.

Andreoli Re-acquired

A familiar face was added to Tacoma’s roster as well in OF John Andreoli. The team acquired him from the Minnesota Twins via trade on June 2.

Swanson to IL

RHP Erik Swanson was added to the 7-day IL for the Rainiers.

Delaplane Rewarded with Promotion

Short strikeout king RHP Sam Delaplane received the bump from High-A Modesto to Double-A Arkansas. Delaplane racked up 62 K’s in 31.2 innings for Modesto prior to his call-up.

Williamson Inks Minors Deal

As if they hadn’t added enough outfielders to reinforce the Rainiers’ roster, OF Mac Williamson was signed to a minor league free agent deal on Wednesday and was immediately promoted to Seattle.