The leaves are starting to turn, kids are headed back to school, and the minor-league season is winding down. It’s hard to believe we only have a few more weeks of doing these before it’s back to watching grainy Instagram videos of players hitting in cages and throwing into nets across all corners of America. I am sad for us, although not for the players themselves, most of whom are looking forward to a well-deserved break. And with that in mind, we start things off with the DSL Mariners, whose season ended Saturday.
DSL Mariners (35-37) go out with a bang against DSL Tigers 2 (34-38), 6-4
After a rough start, the baby Marineros finished their season strong, winning 9 of their last 11 games. SS Noelvi Marte put a bow on his incredible season with two more doubles, breakout star CF Jonathan Clase had a hit and stole his team-leading 31st base, and a surging Julio De La Cruz finished his month strong with a triple and two walks. Innings leader Wilton Perez pitched three innings and gave up one run, and ERA leader David Morillo pitched two innings of shutout ball. Goodbye baby Mariners! It was fun to watch you improve. ~KP
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What an Amazing Season! Gonna miss these guys. We Competed and Came Together as One. The Future is Bright. Special Group of Coaches and Players #somosfamilia #seattlemariners #truetotheblue #ourpeopleourprocess #wholesquadready #squadgoals #baseball #mlb #milb #dslmariners #dominicanrepublic #riothitting #prospects
AZL Mariners (21-34) fall to Dodgers Mota (32-23), 4-3 (Saturday)
Like their counterparts in the DSL, the rookie-league Mariners in the AZL are also at the end of their season, with just one last game to play today after being off on Sunday. Unlike their DSL counterparts, the stateside Mariners have not been surging at the end, although put up a good fight against the why-are-all-their-minors-teams-so-good Dodgers. Sebastian Ochoa again paced the team with three hits including a double, and INF Cody Grosse and OF Luis Veloz each pitched in two hits of their own. Two teenage 2019 draftees, Dutch Landis and Adam Macko, kept the Mariners in the game, surrendering just two runs over a combined six innings, striking out seven and walking none. Unfortunately, Raul Alcantara, who was moved over from the DSL at the beginning of the month, continued to struggle stateside, giving up the tying and go-ahead runs in the 7th and 8th. ~KP
Everett AquaSox (32-36) crush Eugene Emeralds (31-37), regret crushing valuable item, attempt to repair it, win 6-3
After getting squashed by the Bigfoot-branded Emeralds Saturday, the Frogs returned to their winning ways on Sunday, led by some strong pitching. 2019 first-rounder George Kirby logged three more innings, surrendering a run on four hits (including a double and a triple, which is harder-hit than Kirby has been in previous outings), striking out three and walking none, because George Kirby does not believe in walking people. Brayan Perez pitched the next four innings and gave up the only other two runs the Emeralds would score in the game, but also collected the win, because pitcher wins. Perez walked two and struck out six, which is encouraging. 2019 draftees Kipp Rollings and Fred Villarreal locked down the final two innings, with Villarreal earning his second save. Offensively, the Frogs were led by 2B Connor Hoover, who had a double and a two-run home run, Juan Camacho, who also had a double and a solo HR, and Carter Bins, who had a two-run shot of his own. Speedy SS Cesar Izturis Jr. also had an RBI triple.
In the game you really care about, the Emeralds and Frogs players have been doing an anthem standoff, because Northwest League. The AquaSox were defeated last night, but Garrett Westburg was determined not to let the team down tonight. A truce eventually had to be called at about the four-hour mark. ~KP
Both guys are now in center field.— Josh Horton (@JoshHortonEDH) August 26, 2019
Garrett Westberg for Everett and Chris Allen for Eugene. Water and ice is being dumped on guys to try and get them to move their hand from their heart.
Estimated time since the anthem: 3 hours, 12 seconds. pic.twitter.com/i8gRaX1IuR
West Virginia Power (67-65) declared BlueClaw just a fancy BlueZima, sweep Lakewood BlueClaws (55-75), 6-4
This one wasn’t as close as it looked, as West Virginia carried a 6-0 lead into the 8th inning. But considering that was starter Evan Johnson’s 8th inning of work, we’ll let him off the hook for giving up three runs after being solid all game, earning his first quality start and his first South Atlantic League win. Johnson, a free agent signing this year out of Creighton, struck out five over his day, and 2019 draftee Reeves Martin allowed a run to let the BlueClaws sneak dangerously close but ultimately held the door. Meanwhile, the offense backed the pitching up, with Billy Cooke cracking a double out of the leadoff spot, and Nick Rodriguez and Onil Pena both contributing two-hit, two-RBI days. ~KP
Modesto Nuts (60-72) hang out to dry Visalia Rawhide (80-48), 7-0
The Nuts have been given a dose of Vitamin J-Rod and it’s showing in some peppier play. Julio only had an RBI single today and struck out twice, dragging his average clear down to .545, but his teammates happily took up any offensive slack; batters 1-7 each had at least one hit today, and the Nuts cranked out four home runs during the game: Joe Rizzo, Ariel Sandoval, David Sheaffer, and Jake Scheiner all homered. Scheiner, the return in the Jay Bruce trade, has quietly hit 14 homers on the year. Speaking of double-digit ding-dongers, this was Joe Rizzo’s tenth on the season, giving him double-digit HRs for the first time in his career. Rizzo would be a sneakily interesting choice for the AFL; we should hear about full rosters sometime over the next two weeks. Luis Caballero continued to do good things out of the leadoff spot, with a double and two walks.
Pitching-wise, the staff combined to post numbers that will make pitching coach Rob Marcello Jr. aglow with delight, combining for no runs on just three hits and 13 strikeouts. They did walk five, which is not ideal. Starter Austin Hutchison was responsible for three of those over his five innings of work, although he also collected nine of the strikeouts, so he get a pass. Dayeison (pronounced DIE-yes-on) Arias, recently promoted from West Virginia, continued to be impressive at the level, with two innings of hitless ball with no walks and three strikeouts. I would have really liked to watch Arias pitch, but Visalia continues to be the worstttttt place in the Cal League. And they still have to play another game there tomorrow! Gross. Make sure to tune in for some lunchtime baseball, although be forewarned: there are cowbells. ~KP
Arkansas Travelers (76-54) hit a pothole dug by the Amarillo Sod Poodles (69-61), 5-2
There was no shortage of suspect umpiring on hand in this one, and the M’s AA juggernauts were unable to make headway after getting into an early bind, down 5-0 through three. Ricardo Sánchez has had an encouraging season as a 22 year old in AA, but he’s now to 143.0 IP and has been a touch shakier in his last several outings, seeing his strikeout numbers dip since mid-July. This year is a big old up trending arrow for him, but the diminutive starter is about 25 innings past his career-high. He still got a whole mess of ground balls last night and got BABIP’d a bit (not to mention a passed ball from freshly arrived backstop Nick Thurman. It could’ve been worse too, if not for some strong defense in the infield and outfield.
Travs fall behind 3-0 but are bailed out by this inning-ending double play from the arm of Luis Liberato and the stretch by Evan White pic.twitter.com/NzE01Uf5rR— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 25, 2019
Speaking of new arrivals, RHP Kyle Wilcox worked his second scoreless outing in as many opportunities since being promoted from Modesto. He was a 6th round pick in 2015 and has upper-90s heat with a nasty slider, but in the true modern reliever vein can struggle with controlling the zone. Wilcox has struck hitters out over a third of the time this year, more than all but Sam Delaplane and Dayeison Arias in the Mariners system, but his 18.3% walk rate is easily the highest among pitchers with at least 50 IP. The Travs got both sides last night, with a strikeout and two walks maneuvered through two scoreless. Wyatt Mills continues to dig out of his early-season struggles with a couple Ks in his inning of work as well.
The offense... well they weren’t given the best of conditions to work with for starters. Evan White of the “nicest guy in camp” designation got what appears to be his first Arkansas ejection, and it appeared to be some hogwash.
Warning: extreme Texas Leaguery ahead. Evan White is ruled to have swung at this pitch by HP umpire Brian Walsh, who doesn't even bother asking for help. White protests, and is IMMEDIATELY run by Walsh. I believe that is White's first career ejection. Wow. pic.twitter.com/UpkEmHsppd— Lookout Landing (@LookoutLanding) August 25, 2019
That questionable call and similarly suspect heave-ho came with two outs and a runner on in the 7th, with the Travelers already plating a couple in the inning. Kyle Lewis, getting a day off, was subbed in, but he wouldn’t get a plate appearance. Dom Thompson-Williams going 2-for-4 was the lone other bright spot on a day where Arkansas didn’t knock a single XBH. ~JT
Tacoma Rainiers (58-73) return to the hangar for good against Las Vegas Aviators (80-52), 2-0
In a most un-2019 PCL home finale for the R Squad, a pitching duel broke out at Cheney Stadium. Darren McCaughan has been brutalized in AAA like most pitchers, but he put a nice bow on his final home start of the season with 6.0 IP, six strikeouts, two walks, two hits, and zero runs allowed. Unfortunately, the Rainiers faced Athletics top prospect LHP Jesus Luzardo, and he and his cadre of bullpensmen stifled Tacoma thoroughly. Eric Filia and John Andreoli reached base twice each, on two walks and two singles respectively, but nothing more came. A two-run Nick Martini home run off Ryan Garton in the 8th was all the linescore registered, and shutout innings from Austin Adams and Aaron Northcraft were wasted. ~JT
Tomorrow is the last game for the AZL Mariners, so take a moment over your coffee to pour one out for the baby Mariners. Then tune in via radio stream to hear Modesto take on Visalia around lunchtime. Tomorrow is going to be a real challenge for those who love lunchtime baseball but detest cowbells. Take advantage of a rare opportunity to see West Virginia and Juan Then in the afternoon. Justin Dunn pitched tough the last two times he faced the Hooks, so let’s hope he brings that same energy and the offense backs him up.
AZL Mariners at AZL Athletics Green, 10:30 AM PT
Modesto at Visalia, 1 PM PT (LHP Steven Moyers)
West Virginia at Lexington (TV), 4:05 PT (RHP Juan Then)
Arkansas at Corpus Christi (TV), 4:10 PM PT (RHP Justin Dunn)
Eugene at Everett, 7:05 PM PT (RHP Deivy Florido)
Tacoma at Fresno (TV), 7:05 PM PT (LHP Anthony Misiewicz)