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State of the Farm: 7/4/19

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Where are all these pitching prospects coming from?

It’s been a relatively quite week on the farm as far as activity goes. With several players recently receiving promotions, things may be a little inactive for the next few weeks before a couple new prospects are likely brought in via trade.

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: 40-45 (3rd in Pacific Northern Division)

Miller Continuing Case for Call-Up

We’re up to 75 games of some of the baseball we’ve ever seen out of OF Ian Miller, and he is showing no signs of slowing down despite being passed over for (likely) inferior options on a daily basis. While he’s played a bit better lately, pushing his fWAR up to 0.0, the M’s continue to run out OF Mac Williamson and his .200/.300/.329 slash line since joining Seattle. With the likely chance that a post-all-star break return from Mitch Haniger forces Williamson off the roster anyways, it’s hard to imagine the organization as a whole benefits much more from a month-long look Williamson, who lacks a standout skill, than they would from giving the speedy Miller and his plus defense a shot.

Worst case scenario, Miller, who is tied for the PCL lead in steals with fellow-Rainier Tim Lopes at 21, could provide a late-game baserunning replacement for one of the three Mariners catchers that are receiving regular playing time and spell Domingo Santana defensively. Best case scenario, he provides a nice shot in the arm to the team’s outfield defense and puts his gap power—he trails the PCL lead in doubles by one—to use to ignite the offense as well. With J.P. Crawford bumping Tim Beckham into a backup role, Dylan Moore’s presence on the roster is obsolete for the time being at it would likely stand to lift the entire roster should they ditch Williamson and Moore for Haniger and Miller shortly following the break.

Long Looking Better Lately

After missing close to a month due to injury, UTIL Shed Long has appeared in 14 games since returning to action on June 15. Since his return, he’s posted a wRC+ of 65; however he’s posted a 94 wRC+ and slashed .324/.368/.412 over his last eight games, which includes a pair of three-hit games and an inside-the-park grand slam. The 23-year-old missed an additional three games a couple weeks back with a bum shoulder he suffered on a diving attempt in the field. His average and OBP are actually a tick up from his season-long line in Tacoma, and if the power comes back as he distances himself from his injuries, he could be set for a second half breakout.

Negrón Hammering PCL Pitching

With Moore’s time on the roster feeling near an end and Tim Beckham likely ticketed for a team in need of a veteran infielder with pop later this month, it’s not hard to see a path for UTIL Kristopher Negrón returning to the bigs and given his performance on the PCL, it’s hard to argue he hasn’t earned it. The Rainiers’ leader in home runs with 11, he’s collected multiple hits in five of his last seven games, hitting three homers and slashing .500/.559/.833 over that span. He’s picked a bad time to post a career low fly ball rate, but he’s managed to post a 120 wRC+ nonetheless.

(AA) Arkansas Travelers

Team Record: 52-28 (1st in Texas League North Division)

Mills Enjoying Best Stretch of Season

Since making the transition from Modesto to Arkansas last summer, it’s been anything but a smooth trajectory for RHP Wyatt Mills. The 2017 3rd-rounder has become more familiar than you’d like with surrendering multi-run innings; the latest of which coming back on June 15 when he coughed up three earned runs in 1.1 innings of work. He seems to have flipped a switch since that appearance however; allowing just one walk and one hit over his last 6.0 innings spanning four outings while recording 11 strikeout over that span. His most recent performance was his most impressive of the season as he retired the side in order via the strikeout in back-to-back frames of an extra-inning contest on Tuesday night.

While his 4.28 ERA this season is a little ugly, his 2.56 FIP and 3.25 xFIP paint a bit shinier picture of his underlying skillset, as does the fact that he’s posted a personal best FB% of just 17.6% in 2019. He’s also seen his strikeout rate jump from the 17.2% mark he ran through 10.2 Double-A inning last summer up to 26.9%. It was around the 40-inning mark that he started to come unraveled last season, so keep an eye on his outings as he approaches that mark—he’s tossed 33.2 innings this season to date.

Thompson-Williams Cooling Following Hot Stretch

On the heels of a nine-game hot streak during which he went 14-for-36 with a .389/.463/.639 slash line and a 197 wRC+, OF Dom Thompson-Williams has fallen into a 1-for-12 skid over his last three games. The 24-year-old former Yankees farmhand has collected hits in bunches this season and the result has been a .244/.321/.430 slash line the unfortunately may be closer to what we can expect than the .290/.356/.517 line he posted last summer when he ran a .354 BABIP. He’s certainly got the speed to maintain high BABIPs moving forward—he’s stolen 13 bases in 69 games—but last season’s mark is the outlier and not the norm so far through his four years playing pro ball.

Anderson Aiming to Keep it on the Ground

While Mills has made great strides towards generating ground balls from the opposition this season, he’s got nothing on RHP Jack Anderson, who has consistently run GB%’s north of 60% throughout his entire professional career. This season has been no different, as the 25-year-old submarine pitcher has posted a 62.2% GB% and 19.5% FB%, making runs difficult to come by for opposing teams. He’s surrendered just one hit over his last four outings and has certainly made his case for a September call-up should a couple 40-man spots open up later this month.

(A+) Modesto Nuts

Team Record: 35-48 (4th in California League North Division)

McGovern Hitting His Stride

After a injury-delayed start to the season, OF Keegan McGovern has been swinging a hot bat of late for Modesto, slashing .304/.429/.739 over his last seven games. During that span, the 23-year-old slugger has slugged three home runs and driven in six, raising his Modesto wRC+ to 111 through 17 games played. Strikeouts have been a major issue since joining the Cal League—he’s running a 40.3% strikeout rate—after not being a problem for him last season or through 10 games with the West Virginia Power, so it’s possible he’s still adjusting to the increased quality of pitching.

McKinney Collecting K’s

The Mariners have had success up and down their organization with minor league free agents this season and LHP Ian McKinney has been another chapter in that story. A 5th-round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2013, he spent the last two seasons as a reliever; however he’s been a starter in all 17 of his appearances this season. It’s apparently taken him a while to ramp it up—he posted 7.1 K/9, a 17.3% K%, and a 4.78 FIP through his first 14 starts before posting 13.9 K/9, a 37.9% K% and a 2.10 FIP over his last four outings. In his most recent start which came on Tuesday, he worked a season-high 7.0 innings, fanning 13 and scattering just three hits and a walk. A change this drastic would seem to indicate an intentional change, which is good news for the M’s, because they may have discovered an interesting new left-handed pitching prospect.

Raleigh Catching On to Cal League

Jarred Kelenic no longer sits alone atop the organization’s home run leaderboard. With his home run on Wednesday night, C Cal Raleigh has now gone deep five times in his last 10 games and has done so 14 times on the season. His bat has more than lived up to the hype this season, and coupled with his better-than-expected defensive abilities, he’s completely legitimized his status as one of the top position-player prospects in the system. He’s continued to lift the ball at a level that would place him top-10 in the major leagues, and he’s clearly proven that he’s got enough pop to turn those fly balls into home runs, a skill that continues to be fairly unique among the position.

(A) West Virginia Power

Team Record: 43-40 (4th in South Atlantic League North Division)

Moyers Moving Up Prospect Rankings

Here in his fourth professional season—and third at the A level, LHP Steven Moyers has been as consistent as they come for nearly two months now.

His peripherals actually look remarkably similar to how they looked at the same level in 2018, but the noticeable uptick in strikeouts has been a pleasant surprise. He slots in with the second-most punchouts of any pitcher in the organization and may well be moving up the ladder here soon. He provides yet another left-handed pitching prospect to an organization that is growing less devoid of such prospects.

Anchia Demonstrating Consistency

Currently riding a streak during which he’s recorded a hit in 10 of his last 11 games, Power backstop C Jake Anchia has lifted his season-long line by slashing .282/.317/.462 over his last 10 games. He’s slugged 11 home runs through 58 games, establishing himself as a strong defensive catcher with a powerful bat. West Virginia’s lineup has been lacking a bit since the departures of Jarred Kelenic and Keegan McGovern, but Anchia has done an admirable job of providing Julio Rodriguez a little lineup protection.

Pall Performing Nicely in First Pro Season

It’s been a long road for RHP Bryan Pall since being drafted in the 25th round out of Michiagan in 2017, missing that summer and all of last season before finally making his professional debut here in 2019. The wait has been worth it for the Illinois native, who has posted a 31.1% strikeout rate that has fueled a 2.84/2.15/3.23 pitcher’s slash through 26.1 relief innings. This organization has done a remarkable job of turning late-round draft picks into valuable relievers over the last few seasons, and it seems they’ve got another one on their hands in West Virginia with Pall.

(A-) Everett AquaSox

Team Record: 9-10 (3rd in Northwest League North Division)

Then Living Up to Hype

While RHP Juan Then was viewed as an underwhelming return from the Yankees for Edwin Encarnacion in last month’s deal, the Dominican 19-year-old has made it hard not to get excited about him after his most recent pair of outings. Working 5.0 innings in each start, he’s allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out 15. The strikeout rate is up quite a bit over his first two seasons, a change we can hope is here to stay.

Shenton Driving Offense

The highest-selected position player in this year’s draft, 3B Austin Shenton has slashed .333/.417/.405 through his first 12 games as a pro. The Everett offense has been slow-rolling out of the gates this season, but his strong play early on is a good sign. He’s made just one error through nine games at the hot corner, serving as an early sign that he may just be able to stick at the position.

Bins Brings Another Intriguing Backstop

Many scouts though C Carter Bins had a real chance of being selected within the first three rounds of this year’s draft were it not for some question marks surrounding whether his bat would transition to the professional level. Things look promising through his first couple weeks on the job; particularly in regards to his plate discipline—he’s recorded a 13:20 walk-to-strikeout ratio and is running a 155 wRC+ on the year.

Notes:

Limoncelli Signs

The Mariners made another big signing of a 2019 draftee, inking RHP Michael Limoncelli to a deal:

Salvatore Joins Power

Having wrapped up his NCAA College World Series run with Florida State, INF Mike Salvatore was assigned to A-level West Virginia. He’s gone 1-for-10 through his first three games.

White Secures Honors

Arkansas Travelers 1B Evan White was named Texas League Player of the Month for the month of June.