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Midshipman’s Log, August 8: Gilbert’s gem; Kelenic, White, Raleigh homer; Julio flashes his tools; Kenny Powers

All the top prospects did top prospect things!

Joe Williams, West Virginia Power

Whoo boy things sure got wild on the farm last night [30-50 feral hogs joke forcibly removed -Ed.]. This Midshipman’s Log wasn’t scheduled for today, but with the Mariners Top 30 prospects all deciding to go, as they say in baseball, “bananas” at once, and with King Felix and Prince Kelenic (this is a bad nickname) sharing the same Modesto Brown, we had to bump up this post and split it between the two of us. We hope you enjoy this little slice of the future. Goes great with your morning coffee!

DSL Mariners (26-32) defeat DSL Giants with much aplomb (24-33), 10-4

Link to full box score

The DSL Mariners! They Played! They won! This is not what you came here to read but some good things happened here anyway and this is the first game you will likely read about.

The DSL Mariners game looked like it was going to go off the rails, as the cliché goes, with both teams scoring three in the first frame. But the pitching locked down on the M’s end thanks to a great 5 inning relief appearance by Elbis Abfanador. He allowed only 1 run over the final five innings with 2 strikeouts and only one walk, lowering his season ERA to 2.04. Go Elbis, go! Strike more people out, also! The season K/BB ratio, it is not good, Elbis!

The hero of this game, though, is undoubtedly our good friend C Jose Caguana. You may remember Caguana for making many, many, errors in one game. You may also remember him for hitting many hits in one game. As a special treat Caguana did both tonight. He went 5-5 with a dinger (his 3rd), a double (his 10th), and a walk. He was unstoppable. On defense, though, he was stoppable, throwing away a perfectly fine baseball for an error (his 14th). This bestows Caguana the unfortunate distinction of having committed more errors (14) than he’s collected walks (13). How common is this? No idea.

Noelvi Marte had two hits and a walk and continues to catch fire in August after a prolonged July slump where he OPS’d .634. He is now 10-30 with 4 walks, 6 strikeouts, and three XBH in his first eight August games. CF Jonatan Clase, whose name sounds close to “chase,” boding well for future outfield puns, had another impressive game at the plate. Clase went 2-3 with 3 walks and no strikeouts which raised his season K/BB to 48/39 and pushes his wRC+ over 140. He’s been refusing to Clase balls out of the zone (see, isn't this fun?).

AZL Mariners (19-23) lose to AZL 1 Padres (24-16) in a way that some might consider embarrassing, 14-2

Link to full box score

I’m not sure what you want to know about this game. Do you want to know about this game that ended 14-2 in Arizona where the only highlight was 2019 draftee Jarod Bayless out of Dallas Baptist throwing a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and has now only given up one run in 13.2 innings for an ERA of .66, and likely has earned himself a call-up to somewhere other than Arizona? Huh? Do you want more than that? OK then. Juan Querecuto hit an RBI single for one of the Baby M’s two runs on the day. FIN.

Everett AquaSox (23-29) squashed by Vancouver Canadians (20-32), 7-5

Link to full box score

The good news: 2019 draftees Tim Elliott, Garrett Westberg, and Fred Villarreal, plus recent DSL import Ivan Fortunato, only gave up one run on two hits between the four of them over 4.2 innings, striking out eight and walking three. The bad news: lefty Jorge Benitez gave up all the other runs in his three innings of work, with four walks and just one strikeout, and threw only 41 of his 70+ pitches for strikes. Benitez, 20, is still working on developing consistency; he can rack up the strikeouts as a deceptive lefty, but walks have been a problem. The AquaSox bats tried to dig out of the hole, but with 14 strikeouts scattered among the lineup (five batters with two each), their shovels were somewhat blunted.

West Virginia Power (58-57) dip Lakewood Blueclaws in acetone to remove their power (48-66), win 3-0

Link to full box score

Despite the highlights going to Julio Rodriguez, who I will get to in a moment, this game belongs to Ryne Inman. Ryne set all kinds of firsts today. The twenty-three-year-old 2015 draft pick threw a complete game shutout while racking up 12 strikeouts and allowing only three hits. It was: The First CG SHO in Power History, The First SHO of His Career, and A Career High in Strikeouts. All of those words are capitalized to convey importance. It was a hell of a night for Ryne.

Read more about Inman’s historic night at the Power blog, here.

The other big contributor you know and, if you’re reading this, probably love: Julio Rodriguez. He didn’t light up the box score, hitting two singles in four at bats, but he continues to flash his toolset night in and night out.

Here he is throwing out a baserunner. I think.

The camera goes on a bit of an adventure. It’s very artsy, what they’re doing in Lakewood, but the gist is that that is a throw that came from fairly deep RF and close-ish to the line. Julio’s arm is graded out well by scouts and this only shovels the coal on his hype train (which is powered by coal, apparently).

The second thing of note is some heads-up base running and good closing speed as Juliooooooo scores from SECOND BASE on a passed ball.

Even though the bat has been coming back around for J-Rod, the speed and defense have still shown up every day, impacting the game in both small ways and big, noticeable and not. He’s going to be a good one.

Modesto Nuts (53-64) overthrow Inland Empire (44-70), instate Felix as King, win 12-2

Link to full box score

This game probably deserves more space than the couple paragraphs I’m going to be able to give it here, but I’ll try to brief anyway. Today, a former Cy Young winner, a franchise icon, put on a minor league uniform, climbed the dusty Modesto mound and threw 2 innings against minor league players, most of whom were younger than him when he made his MLB debut. Felix Hernandez pitched 2 innings for the Nuts, giving up two runs on three hits with three punchouts. Just glancing at the stat line doesn’t look like much, but besides a very legitimate meatball-induced home run, it was easy to see glimpses of the stuff that made Felix one of baseball’s best pitchers.

While not always consistent with the shape and location, a tale as old as time, you could see vintage Felix movement on his fastball, curve, and change tonight. It’s strange to watch Felix pitch in a rehab game. He looks thin; the jersey hangs off his shoulders and the pants are loose and billow in the hot breeze. Modesto draws a decent crowd, yet it’s nothing like a packed major league stadium. He’s in, essentially, the middle of nowhere pitching to young men who probably weren’t allowed to watch his starts on school nights, standing in his ill-fitting uniform, embarrassing them with one pitch, giving up a bomb the next. How strange and difficult it must be to be caught in this transition between relevance and retirement.

It is understandable that Felix wouldn’t want to be where he last was as a teenager. In 2004, Felix pitched from the opposite side of the dugout, for the Inland Empire, which was a Mariners affiliate at the time. He threw 92 innings for the 66ers that year with a 2.72 ERA and an 11.2 K/9. Even then, at 18 in A+, he was dominant—regularly throwing in the high 90s. I wasn’t really aware of him then, and it was only a few months in high A before he moved on to Double-A to close out the year. But he stayed long enough to have a card made.

After the game against his old team, Felix talked with the Modesto Bee about his start.

“They (management) told me I need two more starts in Tacoma but I feel I am ready,” Hernandez said. “I just have to wait.”

Felix isn’t used to waiting, but he’ll have two starts in Triple-A. That’s two more than he ever got before his rookie season. The last time he was in the Cal League, he didn’t have to wait at all—he dominated before landing on an Opening Day roster as a teenager. Now, Felix isn’t dominating and he has because of that he has to do something he’s almost never done: wait.

I hope that was brief enough and you are still around, skimming through. The next thing I want to talk to you about is the game itself. The Nuts had a hard time getting going and it looked like Felix was going to be tagged with a loss after only giving up two runs, which would have been sad and hilarious, but it was thankfully not to be, thanks mostly to a seven-run 7th and a four-run 8th inning. Also, for some reason the Nuts hit 3 triples. Or three 3s, if you would.

While everyone but the catcher Nick Thurman managed a hit today; the main contributors were Jarred Kelenic and Joe Rizzo. Jarred had a three hit game and is so hot right now that I can’t even bring myself to compare it to something. Here’s what he’s hitting in August: .500./500/.700/1.200. In six of his seven August games he’s collected multiple hits and it’s just not fair to anyone.

Here he is getting the scoring started with his 17th homer on the season.

He would add an RBI single that he laced the other way later in the game. He’s settled into the Cal League now and even after a pretty slow June, he had a wRC+ of 124 in Hi-A entering this game despite being over three years younger than the average player. If there is a flaw in his approach right now it’s that he is still striking out north of 20% and has been walking less than 10%. Something to keep an eye on but is a very small blemish on a sterling season.

Joe Rizzo had four hits today, all singles, and leads everyone in hits with 124. He’s cooled after hitting so many XBHs, he’s been hitting well the last week and is still on pace for the best offensive season of his career. (new SS Jose Caballero also collected two hits including a double, and has been hitting well in his first 3 games as a Nut since the Mike Leake trade.)

Briefly: the trio of Matt Willrodt, Colin Kober, and J.T. Salter held the 66ers scoreless, striking out 10 batters in their 7 innings. Kober in particular continues to be a force that demands some notice.

Arkansas Travelers (70-44) pluck Springfield Cardinals (51-65), 6-1

Link to full box score

Springfield starter Alex Fagalde had given up just two home runs in his previous seven Double-A starts. The Travs tagged him for four home runs over 6.1 innings, from Mike Ahmed, recently returned from the injured list, Dom Thompson-Williams, Evan White, and Cal Raleigh. Hammons Field is known for being a hitter’s park, but Evan White’s blast would have been gone at any park:

Cal Raleigh hit his first Texas League home run Wednesday night and liked it so much he decided to do it again:

This building rudely gets in the way so we don’t know how far that blast would have traveled, but it’s safe to say that’s another one that wasn’t a hitter’s park-aided HR. Raleigh entered this game having hoisted his wRC+ over 100, and it would be great to see him continue to grow into the level as Arkansas heads towards the playoffs.

While Raleigh’s bat has been slow to come around at the Double-A level, he’s been given some time off at the catching position; he’s only played 11 of his 20 games at Arkansas as the catcher as he learns an entirely new staff. Behind the dish Raleigh is still nailing 31% of attempted base stealers, which is solid but several points off the elite CS% he posted at Modesto. Tonight he was given another night at the DH spot, even with future batterymate Logan Gilbert on the mound.

Gilbert proved not to need his Cal-shaped weighted blanket, posting another solid start in his fifth outing as a Traveler. Again, nothing much was hit hard against Big Bert, with the exception of the one run he gave up, a solo homer to Top-100 prospect Dylan Carlson. He surrendered just one walk, in the first inning, in an at-bat where he thought he had the batter struck out on two separate pitches. The other two hits against Gilbert were a shift-beating ground ball single and a softly-hit fly ball that Kyle Lewis dived for and couldn’t come up with, resulting in a double. Twice Gilbert had to work out of some trouble: in the fourth, the inning where Carlson led off with his solo HR, Connor Capel hit the shift-beating grounder, stole second, and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Gilbert buckled down and struck out the final two batters to get himself out of the inning, one strikeout swinging and one looking. The fifth was the other inning where Gilbert had to labor, after the leadoff “double” and another stolen base, Gilbert rebounded to strike out the side. He finished with eight on the day over his five innings, including three of rehabbing big leaguer Yadier Molina, none bigger than when he struck out Yadi to end the fifth. Here’s the whole sequence of strikeouts from that fifth inning:

While Gilbert is the ultimate competitor on the mound, he generally doesn’t show much, if any, emotion. The little hand clap at the end there, then, is the equivalent of him backflipping off the mound, donkey-kicking one of the Budweiser Clydsedales, and flossing his teeth with the Gateway Arch. New acquisition Aaron Fletcher and submarining Jack Anderson—whose wild pitching motion made Yadi shake his head before flying out to RF—protected Gilbert’s gem with five strikeouts between the two of them, helping Gilbert earn his second AA win.

Tacoma Rainiers (52-65) are evaded by Oklahoma City Dodgers (54-61), lose 7-3

Link to full box score

Another defeat in the scorebook and not nearly as much excitement here as in other corners of the farm. Ian Miller notched two hits and stole two bags, bringing his total up to 29. The offense was paced by two hits and a double from RF Jaycob Brugman, C Jordan Pacheco, and 1B Eric Filia—who notched his 3rd double since being reinstated. Otherwise the pitching had trouble holding back the powerful Dodger offense, with Gerson Bautista being the worst offender, with a wild .1 innings wherein he allowed four baserunners and gave up three runs.

Of note was newly acquired Taylor Guilbeau pitching a scoreless inning and a third, making that three straight scoreless appearances since the trade. His mid-90s fastball was generating more ground balls than whiffs, but he did manage to strike out top prospect Gavin Lux on this pitch:

Watch as this 26 year old makes this 21 year old look foolish!

There is a concern with Guilbeau, though.

Look closer.

Notice anything familiar?

True American Kenny Powers

Suspicious. I’m really hoping Taylor’s career turns out better than the fictional character in this since-completed television program.

Today’s games:

The lure of beautiful, high-def TV should send you to watch Seattle’s collection of top prospects looking like something more than amorphous blobs on the usual Arkansas feed. St. Louis does do it right. Also enjoying some rare televised glory (and NICE television, even rarer in the South Atlantic League) are JULIOOOOOOO and the West Virginia Power. Our own John Trupin might be in the crowd somewhere so you can play a fun game of “spot the Northwesterner in the Jersey Shore crowd.” Even better, Devin Sweet is one of the more interesting arms in the system.

DSL Mariners at DSL Pirates, 7:30 AM PT

Everett at Vancouver, 1:05 PM PT (TBD)

West Virginia at Lakewood (TV), 4:05 PM PT (RHP Devin Sweet)

Tacoma at Oklahoma City (TV), 5:05 PM PT (RHP Darren McCaughen)

Arkansas at Springfield (TV), 5:10 PM PT (RHP Ricardo Sanchez)

AZL A’s Gold at AZL Mariners, 6:00 PM PT

Modesto at San Jose, 7:05 PM PT (LHP Steven Moyers)