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Midshipman’s Log, July 17th: Julio Rodriguez Delights, Austin Shenton Continues, and Cal Raleigh has Beef

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An abbreviated day on the farm, yes, but a productive one with many familiar faces playing well in new places

West Virginia Power on Instagram (follow them for other great pics like this one!)

In case you missed it, there were some wild developments in prospect-land:

Also on the move: to West Virginia from Everett, 2019 5th-rounder Austin Shenton, 2018 draftee C Dean Nevarez, and 2019 RHPs Evan Johnson, Reid Morgan, and Travis Kuhn; to Tacoma from Arkansas, strikeout master Nabil Crismatt and control artist Darren McCaughan.

We covered most of the movements in detail here.

The shake-up was a series of happy occurrences until later in the night, when we got some not-great news.

While Jarred Kelenic then tweeted out that he was “All good,” I cannot shake the memory of the last time a prospect said they were “fine” after an injury (Julio. I’m talking about you, Julio).

The rearrangement of prospects will also change the make-up of these MSLs, with the highest concentration of talent at the Double-A level, which become must-watch games. While Modesto still features some interesting players and AAA has Jake Fraley and Others, it is Arkansas to which we affix our longing gaze.

This is far too many tweets. I’m only like 100 words in and I’m basically quoting twitter. OK, to the games!

DSL Mariners (16-22) are crushed by DSL Giants (16-22), 15-7

Link to full box score

Pretty, this one was not. I don’t know, are DSL games ever pretty? The pitching fell apart almost immediately with young RHP Lisander Brito giving up 3 runs in the first, to be replaced by slightly less young LHP Eliezer Mejia who raised his ERA above 14 by allowing 5 runs (3 earned) in .1 innings. The offense struggled initially as their best hitters SS Noelvi Marte and the diminutive OF Jonatan Clase (5’8” 150lbs) went a combined 0-8 with 2 BBs and 2Ks. The damage that was inflicted was done by catcher Jose Caguana who went 5-5 with two doubles and a triple, raising his OPS to .781 (he doesn’t walk). Caguana has a true catcher’s build in that he is one of the only players listed above 170 pounds. I don’t know why I mention this, but there’s little info on DSL players and hey, that’s kind of a stat. Also, man, Marte’s 181 listing raises him to Beef Boy status by comparison.

That is all, we will no longer discuss this.

AZL Mariners Did Not Play A Game of Baseball On This Day

Everett AquaSox (16-16) AquaSuck against Spokane Indians (18-14), 4-5

Link to full box score

A valiant comeback attempt after an early hole went for naught. Mariners’ 4th rounder Tim Elliot took the abbreviated start and stumbled for the second straight game after his strong start to the year, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in 2 innings. After a long season at Georgia he might be running out of gas. Or he might not be, maybe he struggled for other reasons? I have no idea. I wish there was video.

2017 9th rounder Jorge Benitez pitched very well in his five innings of relief, giving up 1 run and striking out 8. Jorge Benitez is listed at 6’2” and weighs 155 pounds. This is useless information, but I can’t stop myself from writing about it.

With the offensive juggernaut that is Austin Shenton promoted to West Virginia, only the unbelievably named Cash Gladfelter provided pop in the lineup, hitting a grand slam in the 8th inning. It was his first professional salami and his third homer in his 16 games—he went last season without a whammy. As a corner infielder he’ll need all the extra power he can find.

The rest of the offense only managed one other hit. Which makes the four runs very impressive, but also signals that we should expect some low scoring games when Billy Cooke isn’t lining triples into gaps.

West Virginia Power (50-46) cancel after just 14 episodes the Columbia Fireflies (37-55) 11-6

Link to full box score

JULIOOOOOOO Rodriguez had himself a night. The ultra-likable, ultra-talented outfielder went 3 for 4 with a walk, two doubles, and a Big Boy Blast. The power has been emerging lately as he has a .219 ISO so far in July. I my last Midshipman’s Log I erroneously said that Rodriguez had been cutting down on the strikeouts, when the reverse was true (thanks for pointing that out in the comments! I was referring to the wrong tab while writing him up). He now has 15 strikeouts to pair with only 1 walk in his last 14 games. That one walk came in this game. Hopefully it’s a sign that he’s starting to get comfortable and wait for his pitch. He’s been productive but still, you’d like to see more than the 5.8 BB% he has since returning.

OK, other people, other people. Oh, 3B Austin Shenton continued to make quite the impression in A ball. He knocked his first hit in his first game on the 15th, which was a home run, and in this game he notched his second hit, a double. This means that 15 of Shenton’s 31 hits have been for extra bases. The Kyle Seager comps for his swing and work ethic, combined with being a Bellingham native, have made me irrationally excited about the 2019 5th rounder. It’s only been 23 games but Austin Shenton has done nothing but rake and as far as I’m concerned he will keep rocking his 300+ wRC+ for the rest of his career.

I don’t want to short-change any guys, so: Ryne Inman worked a scoreless 4 innings and INF Matt Sanders had 3 hits including a double in his first game since his demotion from Modesto.

Modesto Nuts Refuse to Play Game Because Jarred Kelenic Hurt His Leg (this is not true but would be quite understandable)

Arkansas Travelers (58-35) rock-hound’d (?) by Midland RockHounds (48-46), 0-2

Link to full box score

A tough loss for a hard-fought game for the Travs new super-team. AJ Puk, the Athletic’s prospect ranked 35th in the country according to MLB, got the start and went two scoreless innings. He’s a 6’ 7” lefty with long blonde hair whose flow is rivaled only by his AA teammate, Taylor Motter. Yes, that Taylor Motter. After watching his two innings I am sorry to report that Puk’s stuff is electric and I fear for the future.

Look at this man. I will not keep typing until you appreciate this unholy sight.

Zac Grotz got the spot-start for the Travelers and went 5 innings without allowing a run and striking out 6. He’s new to the M’s system this year and has been bouncing between starting and relief, and today he wasn’t expected to go more than three innings. But Grotz was quick, efficient, and managed to go 5 while only throwing 61 pitches, 46 for strikes. He worked the bottom part of the zone, went strike one on almost every batter and then expanded the zone with his secondaries. It led to some unfortunate swings:

Zac was on today, rarely missed the glove

I’m not sure what the plan is for Zac, but before this start he had a 11.1 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 to pair with a 2.54 xFIP. He’s 26 and might be ready to see if he can handle the juicy PCL ball.

He was relieved by Art Warren who continues to pitch like the pop-up prospect we all hoped he was before the injuries, with two scoreless innings which lowered his ERA to 1.29 in 20 games.

Jake Haberer was the only blemish for the pitchers as he gave up the two runs without allowing a hit, but Kartist (this doesn’t look or sound as cool as I’d hoped) Sam Delaplane pitched the last out of the inning with the bases loaded and, to the surprise of absolutely no one, struck out the last batter. The only less-than-stellar part of his night was he “hit a batter” which allowed a run.

This was the call, with the bases loaded after a 15 pitch at bat:

After 15 pitches in a scoreless game with the bases loaded the umpire decided he’d rather be at home petting his new cat

Still, wow. Sam has struck out at least one batter in every outing but two this season. He has 91 strikeouts in 47 innings. If I were playing as him in a video game, I would turn up the difficulty.

Kyle Lewis continued his hot hitting by smacking a double and drawing a walk. It still feels like he is playing catch-up but since June 1st he has posted a 153 wRC+. His defense has been fine from everything I have witnessed (hard to tell with MiLB cameras) but it’s interesting that they have had him starting in LF for the first time in his career this year.

The other bit of goodness that can be squeezed out of this contest was that Cal Raleigh collected his first AA base knock.

It’s actually a decent piece of hitting as it looks like he gets fooled a bit by the pitch but hangs in there and finds the fat part of the barrel. Beef. It’s what’s for Travelers.

Raleigh only recorded the one hit, but aside from an AB against Puk where he looked fairly hopeless (struck out on three pitches), did a good job of staying aggressive early, working counts, and made some solid contact, although one for a deep flyout and a couple of deep foul balls like this one:

Do you think if we did a site-wide GoFundMe we could pay for Arkansas to get some more decent cameras? Or for West Virginia to get one?

Tacoma Rainiers (47-49) ground the Las Vegas Aviators (55-41), 2-0

Link to full box score

Another 2-0 game, only this time it was sweet victory. The R’s won a pitcher’s duel which featured two soft-tossing AAAA pitchers in RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Paul Blackburn, who you could fairly easily convince me are the same person. They’re both 25 years old and ~6’, 200lbs (I have no idea why I am so fascinated with height and weight today) and they pitched in the same AA Jacksonville rotation in 2016 and have been not great in their limited time in the bigs (remember when Blackburn ran a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts with Oakland despite running a 22:16 K/BB ratio?). Although I don’t know if Andrew can grow a beard.

Andrew Moore was making his first start since clearing waivers and his first start since allowing ten (10!) runs on the 11th—he had a much easier go of it with 6IP, 4 hits, no walks, and 4 Ks. I will be forever interested in Andrew Moore if only for the fact that every time he gets an out it feels like a small miracle has occurred. Also his mom is really nice.

The offense was kept quiet by Paul Blackburn but they got to the bullpen in the 8th and Tim Lopes did the damage by smacking his 8th home run on the year, a career high. I was surprised to learn that Lopes only just turned 25, and, while not considered a prospect, he can play some defense and is currently rocking the best slash line of his career (though isn’t everyone in the PCL?). Ryan Court added a hit but did not hit a home run for the second straight game after going five in a row, which is a shame. I really wish Carlos Peguero had been in the PCL for the juiced ball. That would have been something to see.

Jake Fraley, the only real position player prospect on the team currently which is why I mention him, had a single.

Today’s games:

Hard to top watching the AA debut of Logan Gilbert. He’ll be making a start at his third level already this season and he is working on string of 3 straight scoreless outings. After Cal DH’d in the previous game, I have to assume he’ll get the start to catch Logan. The two have been paired together quite purposefully by the organization and watching them grow and develop as players and people this season is one of the highlights of this baseball year for me. Brandon Williamson is also a good choice is you are in the area of the Tri-Cities.

DSL Giants at DSL Mariners, 6:30 AM PT (TBD)

Columbia at West Virginia, 9:05 PT (RHP Devin Sweet)

Midland at Arkansas (TV), 5:10 PM PT (RHP Logan Gilbert)

Modesto at Lake Elsinore, 7:05 PT (TBD)

AZL Cubs 2 at AZL Mariners, 6 PT

Las Vegas at Tacoma, 7:05 PT (TV) (LHP Sean Nolin)

Everett at Tri-Cities, 7:15 PT (LHP Brandon Williamson)