Wheeeee, yesterday was a (mostly) fun day on the farm. It was a nice distraction from the Mariners game, also known as The Trial of Wade LeBlanc. Some big names did some very big things. To the tape!
DSL Mariners (30-35) dethrone DSL Royals2 (28-37), 9-3
Watch out, the DSL Mariners are comin’ in hotter than summer in Boca Chica. They’ve raised themselves up to a respectable five games under .500, after being...many many more games below that earlier in the season. It was another monster day for top prospect Noelvi Marte, who had three hits and two RBI, and a stolen base, his 17th. 3B Milkar Perez had a pinch-hit HR in his lone AB (although troublingly came in for CF Jonatan Clase, who was in his first game back after missing some time); Perez is up to a .286/.390/.395 slash line. 1B Julio De La Cruz had a two-hit day with a double. 17-year-old lefty Jose Junior Aquino had a solid start, going 5 IP, 4H, 2ER, 0BB (!), and 5Ks.
This didn’t happen today, but Noelvi Marte hit a home run on Wednesday and helpfully put up some video of it on his Instagram:
But even more impressively, DSL hitting coach Rob Benjamin posted this video of Noelvi behind the scenes, grinding to get these impressive results:
View this post on Instagram
@noelvi.4 getting extra work after a long day out on the field. The Ball sounds different coming off his bat. Special. There’s a reason why this 17 year old young man is highly touted. He’s incredibly talented, holds himself accountable and encourages his teammates to excel #seattlemariners #prospects #ourpeopleourprocess #truetotheblue #wholesquadready #baseball #somosfamilia #mlb #milb #noelvimarte #dslmariners #riothitting #nextlevel
Go Noelvi, go!
AZL Mariners (21-27) dethroned by AZL Royals (28-18), 5-1
Alas, the other rookie league team didn’t fare as well against the oligarchy. CF Sebastian Ochoa and 2019 draftee C Anthony Lepre had a triple and a double respectively, Juan Querecuto had a single, and a rehabbing Joe DeCarlo also had a single (and played third base?). Brazilian righty Christian Pedrol got tagged with the loss, giving up three runs over four innings, but the bats just weren’t able to string together much offensively.
Everett AquaSox (29-31) vacuum up Tri-City Dust Devils in extras (28-32), 8-5 (11 innings)
Things have been a little rough for the Sox lately—first-rounder George Kirby got thumped around pretty good for the first time in his pro career the other day, and other top 2019 draftee Brandon Williamson left a game with the trainer—so it was nice to see them bounce back in extra-innings fashion. Juan Then had his best start since returning from the bereavement list, giving up just one run over five innings while striking out seven and walking two. The Sox rewarded him with back-to-back innings where they scored two runs each to take a 4-1 lead into the sixth, with the big hits coming from Cade Marlowe (RBI double), Robert Perez Jr. (RBI single), and Utah Jones (RBI triple). Unfortunately Deivy Florido couldn’t hold the lead, allowing the Dust Devils to tie the game in the sixth. Things would remain knotted until the 10th, when Florido—at that point on his fifth inning of work—allowed the courtesy runner to score on a wild pitch. The Frogs battled back to again tie the game in the bottom of the inning, scoring their own courtesy runner thanks to Utah Jones (he of the velvet voice) scoring a speedy Kevin Santa. Then in the 11th, Robert Perez decided it was time for everyone to go home:
FINAL: Walk it off, Robert Perez.— Josh Horton (@JoshHortonEDH) August 17, 2019
Three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th lifts Everett to 8-5 win over Tri-City. pic.twitter.com/36e4mFkl5x
What’s especially delicious about this is the Devils had intentionally walked Cade Marlowe to get to Perez. Atta kid.
West Virginia Power (62-62) burnt by Hagerstown Suns (56-68), 4-1
Ah, the poor depleted Power. At different points over this year they’ve lost Logan Gilbert, Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Jake Anchia, Joseph Rosa, Steven Moyers, Clay Chandler, and other players to promotions, as well as suffered some injuries, especially to their bullpen. The pitching staff held things together pretty well today as Josias De Los Santos had one of his best starts as a member of the Power, giving up just two runs over six innings while striking out four, and Dayeison Arias had another strong inning, allowing no runs on one hit and striking out two. The bats just couldn’t get going, despite scattering nine hits around, three from SS and excellent mustache-haver Matt Sanders. 3B Bobby Honeyman had a double as he continues to petition for a promotion to Modesto and 1B Onil Pena, not known for being fleet of foot, tripled.
Modesto JULIOS (56-68) Julio around the Lancaster JetHawks (61-61), 13 Julios to 1 Julio
Okay, a lot happened in this game, so bear with me. First of all, LHP Ian McKinney turned in yet another solid start. He was fighting his command some, with three walks in five innings, but also struck out eight and allowed just one run. When he walked to the dugout after the fifth he was mobbed by his teammates, all jumping and hugging him, which seems like an extreme reaction for an eight-K performance, so I think it’s safe to assume McKinney will be getting a call-up. The Arkansas rotation is full, so that raises some interesting questions about who might be on the way up to the business we call The Show. Please feel free to speculate wildly in the comments.
Before moving on, let’s put a bow on the pitching performances from tonight by noting that Nick Duron, Ray Kerr, and J.T. Salter combined for the final four innings, and between them gave up no runs, two hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts. That’s a total of 15 on the day, as they continue to chase the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the strikeout race en route to potentially breaking a decades-old Cal League record.
Okay, now the fun stuff: the offense. Every starter reached base tonight, whether by walks or by hits. Joe Rizzo doubled, Ariel Sandoval hit three doubles, David Sheaffer homered, Jose Caballero hit two sac flies, and a rehabbing Braden Bishop looked very not-rusty at the dish, with a triple and a two-RBI single in an eight-pitch at-bat. But the real star of the day was Julio Rodriguez, making his Cal League debut. After popping out on the first pitch he saw in the Cal League (and laughing about it), Julioooooooo made his presence known, smacking this double:
JULIOOOOOOOOOO with a double in his second High-A at-bat. pic.twitter.com/XhgDMpI5n3— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 17, 2019
He gets under that just a little, and it still almost goes out. This is going to be fun.
But wait, there’s more. Julio hit an infield single in his third AB, beating out a chopper to short, and then in his fourth AB, hit this rocket back at the pitcher that knocks his glove clean off:
Julio has three hits tonight and he hasn't even squared any of them up as hard as he can, although he did briefly turn this pitcher into Charlie Brown: pic.twitter.com/N2vq5jHb61— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 17, 2019
So about that not squaring them up thing. In the 7th, with the bases loaded, the JetHawks decided not to risk their pitcher’s health again, and subbed in 6’5” Salvador Justo, a power pitcher with a fastball that can graze the triple digits. It’s quite a mark of respect to prompt a pitching change in your first game in the league, and even more so in going with the heavy artillery. It was a power on power matchup. The camera doesn’t catch it, but after taking a slider away, Julio fouls the next pitch, a fastball, straight back. He’s visibly annoyed with himself for not catching up with it, and takes a minute to give himself a little talking-to as he takes a walk around the batter’s box:
(Also, yes, the Modesto stream does blink in and out. It’s annoying, I know. We will soldier on. For Julio.)
Justo decides to try to blow a fastball past him again. Power on power. Julio wins.
Julio Rodriguez 4-5, GS HR, 2B, 4RBI pic.twitter.com/OcCnlfButu— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 17, 2019
110 miles off the bat. Mercy.
Make sure you turn up the volume on that video, which includes Keaton Gillogly’s call, a call he says he’s been waiting to make since Modesto became a Mariners affiliate. The fact that the first time he was able to bust it out was on a Julio salami just feels so, so right. Speaking of Keaton: make sure to turn in to the Modesto pre-game show tomorrow, when Keaton plans to have Julio as a guest to talk through his stellar debut. (Check @Gillogly on Twitter for details and a link to the stream.)
Arkansas Travelers (73-49) have eyes pecked out by Springfield Cardinals (55-69), 5-2
I’ll admit it: every time the Travs don’t win I feel personally disappointed, like I’m the teacher of a gifted student who spent the weekend partying and whose normally excellent homework is riddled with spelling mistakes. I EXPECT SO MUCH MORE OF YOU. But real talk, the Travs have been a little saggy in the second half after blowing away the Texas League in the first half, and while the pitching has been strong, the offense...not so much. The Travs only managed five hits, with two of them coming from Jordan Cowan doing his darnedest to power the sleepy Travs lineup from the nine-hole. Cowan has been all over the lineup, sometimes providing a lift at the top and sometimes doing his part to turn the lineup over from the bottom, but with other bats slumping/absent—notably Evan White, who has been scuffling at the plate over the past week (he did have an infield single tonight, maybe that will get him going in the right direction), and Kyle Lewis, who missed another game with turf toe—it might be time to slide him up to partner with Donnie Walton, the reliable Energizer Bunny/unsung hero of the Travs lineup. Speaking of Walton, he had a double today. That leaves one hit unaccounted for, but we’ll get back to that so this blurb ends on a good note.
Okay, back to the bad. Justus Sheffield had his worst start as a Traveler, giving up three home runs over his six innings of work. BUT it is important to know that Springfield’s Hammons Field is a silly little baby park with pitcher-punishing dimensions, and Justus still struck out six, and you know, the offense could have helped him out more. Bless Jarred Kelenic’s heart for trying, as he hit his first Double-A home run:
Jarred Kelenic! First AA home run in his sixth game at the level: pic.twitter.com/4p1oCy0ZEu— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 17, 2019
Maybe Kelenic hits a wall as teams develop more scouting reports on him, but for now, I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve been seeing in his transition to the level. It seems like he’s carried over what he learned in the Cal League about laying off breaking stuff outside of the zone, and his bat speed is such that he’s able to catch up with the higher velocities of the Texas League. It’s still very early and this take might fry itself into oblivion over the next few weeks, but so far I anticipate an easier transition to this level than Kelenic had settling in at the Cal League.
And more nice news!
A Montana friend, who I went to UM with, was in Springfield tonight to see @ARTravs -- he's a big Mariners fan. His son caught @JKelenic_1019's HR ball. HIs sons were so excited to meet Kelenic postgame to give him the ball. They got some autographs and a few pics taken with him— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) August 17, 2019
Tacoma Rainiers (55-68) hunt down Fresno Grizzlies (55-68), 8-1
Ending on a positive note! Thanks, Rainiers! It was nice to see Anthony Miseiwicz get another win; he gave up just one run in his five innings of work and struck out six. Tacoma might be the last sane place left in the PCL. Ryan Garton, Brian Ellington, and Matt Carasiti held down the final four innings, allowing no runs on two hits, walking none, and striking out six. Meanwhile the offense got busy, with doubles from Chris Mariscal and John Andreoli, Jordan Pacheco’s first home run as a Rainier, Jaycob Brugman’s...fiftieth? home run (okay, it was 17, but still). Brugman, who’s slugging .573, is worth keeping tabs on as rosters expand.
I have a bad feeling about control artist Ljay Newsome pitching in the sandbox of Hammons Field, but Arkansas games are sort of default must-see games. If you’re in the mood for some radio, Damon Casetta-Stubbs matching up against top-10 prospect Hunter Bishop will be interesting. Speaking of the Bishops, Braden will get some run in Modesto’s spacious center field tomorrow, which should be nice to see.
DSL Royals at DSL Mariners, 7:00 AM PT
Hagerstown at West Virginia, 3:05 PT (RHP Matt Martin)
Arkansas at Springfield (TV), 4:10 PT (RHP Ljay Newsome)
AZL Mariners at AZL Indians Red, 6:00 PT
Everett at Salem-Kizer, 6:35 PT (RHP Damon Casetta-Stubbs)
MAZL , 6:00 PT
Lancaster at Modesto, 7:05 PT (TV) (RHP Clay Chandler)
Fresno at Tacoma, 7:05 PT (TV) (RHP Sean Nolin)