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Midshipman’s Log, July 27th: Justus reigns, Elliot wins, Fraley doubles

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A relatively quiet day on board the USS Prospect, but some standout performances are spotted from the crow’s nest

Young Ljay Newsome
John Singleton Copley (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1738–1815 London)

For minor league news-y items:

Good news for Ryan Court who made his MLB debut last night, bad news for Tim Lopes who inexplicably was not pulled from the game despite apparently suffering a concussion. Ryon Healy is still not playing baseball and I feel bad for just remembering that he is supposed to be playing baseball.

On the farm, it was a mixed bag with not a ton of noteworthy performances. No injuries that I saw, and at this point that’s noteworthy. There is not much I have to add and if I keep writing I will likely think of something uninteresting to say. To the writeup!

DSL Mariners (18-29) decide They Might Not Be DSL Giants (19-27), win 2-1

Link to full box score

A nearly error-free game (only one! That’s all!) by the DSL Mariners results in sweet, sweet victory. Every time I check in on our young M’s my eyes immediately check the box score for Noelvi Marte’s latest escapades. I admit to being a bit spoiled by Julio’s success last year and am slightly discouraged by Marte’s very small slump in July (slashing .225/.280/.360 in 21 games with only 3 SB). In this game he went 1-4. There’s nothing more to say about that. No reason to be concerned. Stop that. Stop being concerned. It’s fine. The hit tool is fine.

The offensive star of this game was once again young CF Jonatan Clase (they’re all young, have no idea why I feel compelled to comment on it). Clase went 2-4 with a run scored and his 20th stolen base. Most encouraging is that Clase continues to demonstrate patience with 32:37 BB/K ratio and once on base he can create havoc. Let’s see...1B Julio De Le Cruz continued to bob, hitting a triple and raised his OPS to 953, and not much else of note happened. Except the winning run was scored on a passed ball. Which is exactly how I would expect such a game to end.

AZL Mariners: Off

Everett AquaSox (21-21) exorcise the Tri-City Dust Devils (19-25), win 5-4

Link to full box score

Have I used “exorcise” as my verb before? I might have but it’s all I got tonight. The AquaSox jumped out to a lead early and continued to add on as they scraped by with a victory thanks to a gutsy save by 19th rounder Travis Kuhn. Kuhn entered the game in the ninth up by two but with the bases loaded. He escaped the jam by coaxing grounders and gave up only one run on a hit thanks to a Cade Marlow assist at home after his fielding error. Throwing out a runner at home after a fielding error should be called a Cespedes, I think.

The big news of the day was 4th round draft pick Tim Elliot recording his first professional win, which is likely a big deal to him and his family even though I cannot force myself to care about the stat. Still, it was a positive sign that he threw 2.2 innings with 4 Ks and 1 BB. Elliot has been getting plenty of swing and miss with a 10.17 K/9 entering the day, but the 5.09 BB/9 is not a number you’d like to see. He seems to be settling in, though, as over his last three appearances he’s thrown 7.2 innings with only 2 walks and 10 strikeouts. Progress.

Though the AquaSox have been struggling offensively, every team is struggling offensively in the Northwest League. The average NWL OPS is ~.680, which puts into perspective the performance of the likes of SS Patrick Frick (.695 OPS, 113 wRC+), C Carter Bins (.685 OPS, 114 wRC+), and RF Trent Tingelstad (.727 OPS, 114 wRC+). The three contributed 5 hits and all 5 runs scored with Tingelstad hitting the only XBHs with two doubles. It’s Frick, though, who hasn’t stopped getting the frick on base (yikes), with a .446 OBP in July. There’s almost no power to speak of yet (4 doubles account for his XBHs) but he’s been walking more than striking out and has recorded three straight multi-hit games. If he can tap into some power the on base ability is intriguing.

West Virginia Power (53-52) fall to Rome Braves (48-56) in extras, lose 4-5 (10 innings)

Link to full box score

Well, well, well. Video in the South Atlantic League, you say? Let’s check it out.

Huh. They must have a 1980s NL Wild Card filter on their cameras.

Anyway this game was a bit of a heartbreaker for the never-boring WV Power. They received some solid, efficient pitching with 5 innings of 2 run ball from Nate Fisher who is a... who is... uh. Huh. A pitcher? One who I consistently forget exists immediately upon writing down his name. I vow to remember the undrafted Nebraskan.

He was relieved by 2019 16th rounder Logan Rinehart who was aggressively assigned to A ball after some decent outings in the NWL. Watching some video of him today I can see why. His breaking ball is a real weapon with good shape and today he had command of it leading to a dominant 3 innings of one-hit ball with 5 strikeouts in only 30 pitches. He was overpowering. Since his promotion the 21 year old is up to 9 Ks and 4 hits in his first 6 innings for WV.

The offense was paced by a 3-hit day from 1B Nick Rodriguez but they had to knit singles together in order to score their runs. LF Austin Shenton continued to show off his advanced approach at the plate for a 21 year old, and worked two critical walks and smacked this RBI single in 1983:

Our dear friend Julio Rodriguez went hitless today (though he did take second on an error and some heads-up base running). After his 0-5, he drops to 1-26 in his last 5 games with 8 Ks and 0 BBs. I haven’t seen enough video to guess at what’s causing the slump, but the hits aren’t as much of the problem as the 6.1% BB rate, one of the lowest qualified in the league. It’s hard to remember that he’s still only 18 and adjusting to so much. I’m still not worried, but a bit more patience would keep his slumps from cratering his stat line.

Modesto Nuts (47-59) cracked by San Jose Giants (48-57), lose 2-5

Link to full box score

I realize that Jarred Kelenic is what is driving the interest in this Nuts game, but may I just point out two other things before we get to that? The first is that I do not understand an affiliate having the same name as the parent team. The San Jose Giants? Is that not incredibly lazy? What about the San Jose Oddfellows (named after their architecture), or the San Jose Tech Bros (named after its tech bros), even the San Jose I Can’t Afford To Live There (named for no one being able to afford to live there). The beauty of minor league ball is their ability to attach themselves to smaller communities that otherwise doesn’t have access to live baseball. Names, weird mascots, rituals, all are a part of forming that community through a unique identity. The Nuts are weird, but we love that about them. They’re the Nuts, they have nut mascots. At the very least it’s probably confusing to reference in San Jose: Got tickets for the Giants game tomorrow. No, no, San Jose.

The second thing is the Giants started a man named Matt Frisbee. Yes, I searched, and yes he throws a “devastating slider” which of course you would have to if your name is Frisbee. If it was Matt Lawndart you’d be expecting an incredibly dangerous splitter. The name Frisbee is strange as it wasn’t even the name of the guy who invented the Frisbee, who named it after the pie company Frisbie. The inventor actually didn’t like the name of his product because it didn’t make any sense and “was just a crazy name that didn’t mean anything.” Take that, Matt Frisbee and your six scoreless innings.

That was a bunch of nonsense but the game didn’t provide much else of excitement. Penn Murfee provided 4 innings of solid 2-run ball with 6 strikeouts. While the outing was short, he’s been locked in all season with seemingly every pitch he throws from his low arm slot having nice glove-side movement. He also chipped in some good quotes in Kate and Keaton’s excellent piece on the Nuts emphasis on soft-skills and truthful communication.

If you’re reading this, I assume you read that article. If you haven’t, you should.

He was relived by four Nuts bullpen arms, the best performance coming from Matthew Willrodt whose team photo looks like this for some reason:

Matthew was incredibly brave to continue with the photo shoot despite recently experiencing a stroke
MiLB

In his last 4 games, Matthew, who was a 2018 draft selection, has been controlling the zone well with 6 scoreless innings, 1 hit, 0 walks, and 7 strikeouts.

The offense, meanwhile, struggled to get anything going until the very end. Despite going hitless, Jarred Kelenic worked a walk in the 9th inning, stole second, and scored on a Eugene Hedler single. The fact Kelenic still had the patience and fight to take pitches to try and get on base despite being down 5 in the 9th inning shows the maturity of his approach to the game even at such a young age. Hopefully he can start cutting down on some of the Ks soon, too.

Last thing of note is that the team desperately misses Cal Raleigh. Nick Thurman is struggling mightily with the bat and had another passed ball today, his tenth on the year.

Arkansas Travelers (62-40) muzzle Midland Rock Hounds (52-51), win 7-1

Link to full box score

The prospect and hope laden Arkansas Travelers finally put together a complete game. The real hero of this game was Justus Sheffield, who honestly has nothing left to prove in AA. 7 innings, 1 run, 8 strikeouts, 2 walks. At this point he’s just continuing to refine his change up and fastball command and gaining confidence. Which is good. My guess is that if and when a trade goes down for Mike Leake he’ll be promoted directly from AA in order to avoid the hell fire of the PCL.

The offense jumped out to an early lead in the 2nd, scoring 4 of their 7 runs. They hit three straight singles before a Logan Taylor double, passed ball, and a sacrifice fly. Kyle Lewis had his second 2 hit game in a row, though both were singles, he’s still been hitting the ball fairly well. His home/road splits continue to be amusing with a nearly 400 point OPS difference between the righty-killing home park and the road. Soon might be a good time for Lewis to get a shot at the AAA super-ball to give him some confidence and keep him from swinging out of his shoes trying to get the ball out at home.

Evan White added a single, two RBIs, and a walk on the day as he continues to produce. White may have cooled down from an absolutely insane June, but he’s still been an above average hitter with a July wRC+ of 114, thanks to his power and no thanks to his lack of walks. White has been hitting the ball hard all year, but since June he is running a 2.5% walk rate. His strikeouts are fine, but it would be nice to see him add some walks to his power game. Today was a good start.

Closer Wyatt Mills closed the game out with a scoreless inning. Wyatt Mills has given up one (1) run in 40 innings this year. He has a .23 HR/9 which would rank him 4th out of all MLB relievers. Of course, Wyatt isn’t in the same environment, but I desperately want to see how his sinking stuff would play in the dinger happy league.

Tacoma Rainiers (48-57) mauled and then drowned by Sacramento RiverCats (57-48), lose 18-3

Link to full box score

This game was bad. No part of the game was a good part. Nabil Crismatt was raked over the coals. Andrew Moore followed behind him, stumbled and landed face first in the coals, rolled around, gave up, and proceeded to cook himself. Jake Fraley hit a double.

Today’s games:

Ljay Newsome makes his second Double-A start. That should be a fun one as Cal will likely be catching him, getting the old battery back together. In Everett, you can catch 2019 second-rounder Brandon Williamson.

DSL Colorado at DSL Mariners, 7:00 AM PT (TBD)

Modesto at San Jose (TV), 7 PM PT (RHP Austin Hutchison)

West Virginia at Rome (TV), 3:10 PM PT (RHP Ryne Inman)

Arkansas at Frisco (TV), 5 PM PT (RHP Ljay Newsome)

AZL Mariners at AZL Brewers Blue, 6 PT

Spokane at Everett, 7:00 PT (LHP Brandon Williamson)

Tacoma at Sacramento (TV) 7 PM PT (RHP Mike Wright)