Today the teams themselves didn’t all do as well as we’d like, but there were some individual performances that really stood out. Donnie Walton continues to earn the moniker “barrel monkey” and shove his way onto Top 30 lists, Juliooooo continues to demonstrate that he might have outgrown Sally League pitching, and Logan Gilbert, despite taking the Candyland rainbow shortcut to the upper minors, appears unfazed by his most challenging level of baseball yet. And Mitch Haniger is back swinging a baseball bat in competition! That’s fun.
DSL Mariners (27-35) cage DSL Tigers 2 (29-33), 7-4
A win! And better yet, a two-hit day from Noelvi Marte, with a double and a stolen base! (And an error, but again, stat-keeping in the DSL isn’t perfect, and errors should be taken with a grain of salt.) Troublingly, Jonatan Clase was still nowhere to be found in today’s box score, but also not found anywhere else in the system, so we’re crossing our fingers he’s just a little banged up. Infielder Carlos Fernandez filled in for Clase in RF and took his spot hitting leadoff and did a good Clase impression, banging out two singles and taking a walk. 17-year-old Harold Melenge, from Colombia, had his best outing yet, pitching four shutout innings with three strikeouts, and large human and staff favorite Igor Januario earned the save with two shutout innings.
AZL Mariners (20-26) depigment AZL Reds (19-27), 5-4
2019 draftee, sauce-master, and Matthew Roberson attire doppelgänger LF Antoine Carter-Mistico led the charge today with two doubles and three RBI. Large fella and plus defensive catcher Freuddy Batista also had a solid day at the dish, with an RBI double and a single. The pitching staff of 2019 draftee Anthony Tomczak, 2018 draftee Holden Laws, DSL imports Yeury Tatiz and Luis Curvelo, and 2018 FA signee Tyler Suellentrop gave up four runs combined, but also issued just two walks and struck out twelve. Suellentrop struck out the side in his inning, and Curvelo allowed no runs, no hits, no walks, and struck out two.
Everett AquaSox (27-30) hop on pop’s Hillsboro Hops (35-22), 6-4
After getting smoked by the Hops on Sunday (mmm...smoked hops), the Sox rebounded to win the next two games in the series. Damon Casetta-Stubbs set the Frogs on the path to victory on Monday, something lefty Jorge Benitez wasn’t able to replicate here, getting through the first inning but then wobbling badly in the second and escaping with just two runs scored but 47 pitches thrown total (27 for strikes). RHP Bernie Martinez, a free agent signing out of University of the Incarnate Word (!), steadied the ship from there over the next three innings, giving up no runs, no hits, walking one and striking out three. Martinez has been very solid, first with the AZL Mariners and now with the AquaSox, over 25 innings, and has probably earned the right to a few more innings at a time. 2019 draftees Tim Elliott and Fred Villarreal split the back four innings and while each gave up a run, the damage was minimal enough that the AquaSox offense was able to sneak ahead of a good Hops team that was missing former Lakeside star Corbin Carroll. C Brennan Kaleiwahea and 3B Patrick Frick led the team with three hits each; Frick has now pushed his average to almost .300 after scuffling a little early. 1B Robert Perez went yard for a three-run shot in the first that gave the Sox an early lead, and RF Trent Tingelstad bookended that with a walkoff two-run homer to send the matinee fans home happy.
West Virginia Power (62-59) pecked to death by Delmarva Shorebirds (80-39), 9-10
Ryne Inman found out the hard way that baseball doesn’t care what you did lately. A week after tossing his complete game shut-out, Inman couldn’t clear the first inning of this game, issuing five walks and only recording two outs. The Power were able to fight back from an early deficit, thanks to a two-out GRAND SLAM from wunderkind Julio Rodríguez in the second inning, but then Logan Rinehart promptly gave up five runs in his half of the inning to put the power behind a run again. Rinehart settled down and held tough for another four innings, giving up just one run, allowing the offense to jump back into it, again on the strength of a Juliooooooooo (the more Os = the more runs he’s driven in) two-run double. Unfortunately, that would be all West Virginia could muster on the day, as Elias Espino gave up two runs to let the Shorebirds steal away a victory. It’s hard to be excited about a game where the team struck out 12 times and the pitching staff gave up ten runs, but the bright side is seeing Julioooooo continue to crush with a three-hit day.
Modesto Nuts (55-66) taken out back Ol Yeller style by Rancho Cucamonga (69-50), 13-10
What a FRUSTRATING game this was. The Nuts should have had this one in the bag; they led 10-5 headed into the bottom of the seventh, thanks to RBI doubles from a rehabbing Mitch Haniger, Joseph Rosa, and Connor Kopach, a home run from Jake Scheiner, and some assorted small-balling. Joe Rizzo also had two hits, including a double. Starter Penn Murfee wobbled some, giving up five runs on five hits, walking three and striking out just four in his four innings, but Scott Boches held things down over his two innings, allowing no hits, no runs and striking out four. Unfortunately the bullpen melted down from there, handing Rancho a win, and worse, letting them take the lead in strikeouts for the California League.
Arkansas Travelers walked 500 miles to make Northwest Arkansas fall down at their doo-or-or, Win 2-0
Picture this: a 2018 first round pick stands over 6’ 4” on the Arkansas mound. He’s a top prospect with plus velocity, a little bit of swagger, and a wicked curve/changeup combination. Do you root for him to succeed? Do you love him?
Now open your eyes.
How dare you.
That’s Jackson Kowar, Northwest Arkansas’ starting pitcher who faced off against Logan Gilbert today—or had you forgotten about him?
It was what they call in the biz a Marquee Matchup as both starters have been rising quickly through their respective systems and have been known to take over a game (though Logan has had the better numbers and Jackson is on the fringes outside the Top-100). With a star-studded roster and two top pitching prospects this game had to the look of two AFL teams squaring off.
It did not disappoint. Unless you like offense. Then it was quite disappointing.
I’m not really sure where to start with this one so let me just go through and hit the highlights. Logan Gilbert was the better pitcher tonight. Kowar was good, Gilbert just outpitched him. Big Bert went 6 innings, allowed no runs, walked 2, and struck out 8. He did this in only 85 pitches. That’s 14.2 pitches per inning with 8 Ks and a couple lengthy at bats.
Gilbert seemed a little extra amped in this one, though that could be the narrative talking, but regardless he was sharp, had command of all his pitches, and “The Naturals” looked anything but in the batter’s box. He pitched most of the day with a 1 run lead and seemed to get more aggressive as the night sped along.
Here he is spotting a changeup to get out of a jam after giving up a double:
Cal Raleigh looked more comfortable behind the plate (see: the frame-up) than some previous outings and from the eye test he seems to be settling in.
Except for one thing.
Logan lingered after the catch and seemed to take a small amount of joy seeing Cal huddled on the ground like a lost cat in the rain.
The offense did not fare nearly as well. Kowar looked strong and his changeup and curve were carving up the Travs hitters. Jarred Kelenic, who has struggled with advanced breaking pitches, did so today as expected. He was hitless in his 4 at bats with 3 Ks. These games are going to happen, and they should. Failing is part of his development and it’s the reason they’ve been so aggressive with his promotions. Fail! Fail more! Learn!
The offense was carried by the perpetually underrated Donnie Walton. Donnie scored the first run and had two doubles. After which, he did this:
Despite Donnie’s best attempts the game hung by a thread for most of the evening and Jarred Kelenic was able to redeem his slow night at the plate. In the fifth inning after a walk, a hitter slapped a ball to right field. With the play in front of him Jarred saw the runner on first breaking for third. He scooped, loaded, and fired:
The bullpen trio of Jack Anderson, Matt Tenuta, and Wyatt Mills closed it out without allowing a run. It was a clean, competitive game and fun to watch.
The only blemish was that Kyle Lewis pulled himself from the game with an injured toe. No word yet on the severity of the injury, but hopefully he will heal quick as he has been hitting well with the September roster expansion looming.
Tacoma Rainiers given gastrointestinal distress by New Orleans Baby Cakes, 10-4
Well, nothing gold can stay. The Rainiers couldn’t sustain their offensive explosion from yesterday and could only muster four runs, which is a real sentence I must type about the current conditions in Triple-A. Mike Wright Jr. got tagged with the loss, but what are losses in Triple-A, really? ‘Here lies one whose name was writ in water,’ will read the tombstone of every pitcher forced to pitch in Triple-A this year.
No TV, but Devin Sweet’s starts are becoming really interesting to follow. If you happen to be in Everett, or are planning to be there, Brandon Williamson was listed as the starter for today but apparently Félix will be making a rehab start, possibly followed by Williamson. If you can, it’s well-worth heading to Funko Field; otherwise, you can always follow along on TuneIn for free.
DSL Mariners at DSL Colorado, 7:30 AM PT
West Virginia at Delmarva, 4:05 PM PT (RHP Devin Sweet)
Northwest Arkansas at Arkansas (TV), 5:10 PM PT (LHP Ricardo Sanchez)
AZL Royals at AZL Mariners, 6:00 PT
Modesto at Racho Cucamonga, 7:05 PT (RHP Austin Hutchison)
Tri-City at Everett, 7:05 PT (FELIX, maybe Brandon Williamson?)