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Midshipman’s Log, September 2nd: Kelenic, Cal, & JULIOOO hit 4 bombs, Nuts not eliminated

In their penultimate games, Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Joe Rizzo, Kyle Lewis etc., etc., play very well.

Every pitch matters.

What a day. What. A. Day. It. Was.

This Labor Day, while all of you are busy laboring or not laboring or picnicking or sitting on your couch or, perhaps, you have gone to the ocean—to stare into the grey horizon and watch the whitecaps crest and die, clawing weakly at your landlocked toes as the tide begins to pull in behind your ankles and you almost want to let it take you because, for a moment, you feel wanted and it’s been a long time since you felt that way or maybe you are going to the park! Regardless of your plans, perhaps you carve out a little space to run your eyes across a recap of an exciting day in the Mariners’ farm system—an exciting day for the future! Do you like Jarred Kelenic? Julio Rodriguez? Other people? Then this is the log for you, no other log will do.

Everett AquaSox (36-39) summon PAX nerd-power and roll a Nat-20 to obliterate Vancouver Canadians (30-45), 11-3. Excelsior!

Link to full box score

Ah, the team named after a sock that is actually a shoe. It was an utterly dominating performance by the youngest team still playing in the Mariners system as their bats came out in force, which has not always been the case since Austin Shenton was ceremoniously promoted to West Virgina. The offensive bright-spot of the last few weeks was once again the hero of the day as Cade Marlow went 3-5 with a double and a triple and 3 runs batted in. Cade Marlow, whose name would be found on the desk of a private eye, shaded in the thin light slanting though the blinds, has been picking up some heat lately with 12 hits in his last 6 games, raising his OPS over .800, which is great considering he’s currently playing in left where his bat will need to carry him. CF Miguel Perez, only 19 years old, hit his 5th home run along with a double. 3B Connor Hoover also had a great game with 3 BBs, a single and 2 SBs. Connor, who has played with six minor league affiliates this year—wait, what? Six? All of them but the DSL? That’s too many. Has that happened before? Is that normal? I could look that up but it’s Sunday night. You look it up.

Deivy Florido followed up his scoreless 8 inning performance last week with 7 innings this week, giving up only 2 runs. He’s still just 18 and has been getting deep into games the last three starts, a good sign at the close of the year.

Side note: shoutout to Deivy Florido’s host mom Kelli, who also houses prospects Luis Curvelo and Brayan Perez, and not only feeds three teenage baseball players in addition to her own kids (imagine the grocery bills), but also takes extra-special care of them.

Also, a general shoutout to all families who host baseball players during the season. Host families do a huge service for minor-leaguers, especially for players who come straight from the DSL and are thousands of miles from home at a young age and non-native speakers to boot. Thank you!

West Virginia Power (68-70) feed the Greensboro Grasshoppers (79-58) to my frog, Green Lady, thus saving me a trip to the pet store, win 7-3

Link to full box score

The Power may have lost Kelenic, sure. They may have lost Gilbert—that’s a given. Now that you mention it, yes, they lost Julio Rodriguez, too. But that won’t stop Mark, or Matt, M-something Sanders from carrying this team back towards .500. 2B Matt, which is his name, hit his 5th home run on the year and is trying to raise his bat profile after a mid-season demotion from High-A, and has been hitting a bit better as of late, walking (8) almost as much as he’s struck out (12) in August and raising his A ball batting average over .300. Bobby Honeyman, too, had a great game, going 4-4. While the power still has yet to develop (.088 ISO), the defense was voted by Baseball America as the best at 3B in the league.

Evan Johnson limited the Grasshoppers to two runs in five innings and only-throws-breaking-balls Benjamin Onyshko netted 2 Ks in 1.1 IP. Evan Johnson is cursed with a very boring name that is hard to remember. I will say it one more time: Evan Johnson.

Modesto Nuts (65-74) keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ Visalia Rawhide! (82-53), win 6-5

Link to full box score

A half game out of elimination (the San Jose Giants having just won), the Modesto Nuts needed to win this game to stay in playoff contention. There was no other option: lose and go home with everyone else, or win and stay alive another game. These are the type of games that test young players, young coaches, young teams. When the stakes are high, it takes several pieces clicking together and not letting the moment get too big, in order to come away with a victory.

So it would be understandable if, after the first pitch of the game which the Nuts Clay Chandler grooved and watched sail over the fence, the team would begin to press. Chandler may have been pressing himself as he labored through four innings, allowing 4 runs. Down 2 runs in the bottom of the first, 1B Jake Scheiner tripled home 3B Joe Rizzo (on base all game, with 4 hits) and the Nuts were back in it.

It would happen again: after giving up two more runs in the top of the third, the Nuts answered with three. Joe Rizzo was driven in by Jake Scheiner, déjà vu, with an extra base hit, this time a double, who then scored on a David Sheaffer’s single (not a fan of the wandering vowels in Scheiner/Shaeffer). The game was tied, the playoffs still possible. After a Connor Kopach double in the 5th to bring the Nuts up one, there was still a lot of game left and they needed to separate. Enter: Julio. Slump haver. Headline maker.

Why focus on Julio? Because this was the cover of today:

everyone, I regret to inform you, it’s time to freak out

I have never, in all my long half-year covering these teams, seen a player on the front page for not getting hits. When you are as hot as Julio, though, not getting a hit for three games is news-worthy. Was the league figuring him out? Was he pressing with the playoffs looming?

His teammates lined the railing, awaiting his at bat.

The first pitch was not encouraging.

Foolio Rodwiffguez

First pitch slider away and Julio does what he’s been doing with this pitch: struggling not to swing at it. If the pitch catches too much of the plate he’s been driving it to right—but he struggles judging these right-on-right sliders. As mentioned before, when Julio gets fooled he takes a walk behind the umpire, clears his head. He does here, too. 0-14, Julio. 0-14.

Missed his spot

The next pitch is a waste and Julio is thankful he’s only 6’ 5”. He would keep his knees bent for a moment, contemplating his decision to play baseball. After a practice swing he comes back. Focused, intent.

That same breaking ball from the first pitch is left up and over the plate. Julio stays with it and crushes a line drive over the left field fence. The ball was struck with such force it punctured the fabric of space-time, warping around the Visalia catcher and making him appear motionless even as he bounced through timelines, living entire lives, aging and dying, aging and dying, before being sucked back into the moment of his departure as if only seconds had passed.

I will remember you. Will you, remember meeee? Don’t let your LIIIFFFEEE pass yo-

That run would end up being the deciding run as Ray Kerr, following a 2 inning scoreless appearance from Colin Kober, would give up one run in the 8th before shutting it down for a three inning save.

Julio would also end up hitting a single off of this guy:

I don’t think I can do this anymore, Mr. White.

Jesse from Breaking Bad has turned from his life of crime and remade himself as a pitcher with a pretty damn good breaking ball.

They survived another game. Tomorrow they will play the final game of the regular season. If they win and the Giants lose—they’re in the playoffs. This team has battled all year. Let’s tune in to see if they can take that final step together.

Arkansas Travelers (81-56) ambush Amarillo Sod Poodles (71-66), 10-7

Link to full box score

Whooooeeeee this was a wild one. Ian McKinney started off great, retiring the Sod Poodles in order over the first three innings, and then struggled over the next three innings, giving up seven (!) earned runs on five (!) home runs. At a high elevation and with short corner fences, Amarillo’s Hodgetown is a hitter’s park—the pitching staff has an ERA of 4.37, second only to the extreme hitter’s park in Springfield—but the Travs were playing with the same dimensions, obviously. Jarred Kelenic did what he could to get the Travs on the board early:

Still, the Travs were down 7-2 headed into the seventh inning, when Logan Taylor made a dent in the deficit with a solo homer, followed by Cal Raleigh doing the same in the eighth with a blast that would have been out in any ballpark:

The Travs entered the ninth inning still down 7-4, though, and were down to their final strike when Jarred Kelenic decided to go ahead and be special again:

That’s Trey Wingenter pitching, by the way, who spent most of this season with the big-league club. Kelenic turns around a 96 mph fastball from him. The Travs would score SIX runs in this inning, with a go-ahead Kyle Lewis two-RBI double and Jordan Cowan adding on an RBI single. Sam Delaplane, working with a three-run cushion, came in and closed out the game, striking out the side on thirteen pitches.

Tacoma Rainiers (61-77) are grounded by the Las Vegas Aviators (82-57), lose 8-1

Link to full box score

The Rainiers are closing out their season in less-than-ideal fashion. Poor Tacoma, it’s been a long and difficult season with many dingers and few prospects. This game went poorly.

Highlights! Kind of!

  • Sean Nolin. What to say about Sean Nolin? He struck out 11 batters in 4.2 innings. E-L-E-V-E-N. Meaning only 3 batters were retired by a method that was not a strikeout. The first ten outs were retired by strikeout. Sure, there were some walks and a couple homers sprinkled in (2 ERs), but his slider and elevated fastball and change (??) were lights-out today. Not bad for the 29 year old who has dominated now in his last two starts. Here is one such strikeout:
Need the Exit Velocity on that bat
  • OK, still talking about Sean Nolin, he has a deep home/road split. We’re talking over 5 Runs in ERA difference over the same inning sample (2.04 Away v. 7.36 Home). Not sure what that means, could be noise. He also has a large platoon split, though that hasn’t always been the case. He was used as a reliever last season, and was so-so in AA, but I wonder if they can try it again and see what they can salvage a LOOGY from his profile—he hasn’t missed this many bats in his career that I could find.
  • Eric Filia had a three hit game including a double. His last six games are bananas: 13-22, 6 doubles, 1 HR, 2 BBs, 1 K. That would be a 6-Game doubles streak. His OPS is now .932 with a line that is ~30% better than league average. He’s been hot, he’s been hitting for power, but he still doesn’t play a premium position. He might get a call to the show, but it’s unlikely this season.
  • Here is the walk up routine you know and probably love. It takes him 15 seconds to actually be ready for a pitch. That is Seager country.
Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop
  • Shed Long: 0-4, 3 Ks. Not great today—chasing breaking balls low and out of the zone. But he hit a homer in his first game back and has missed quite a bit of time. Hopefully he’ll be able to hit with the big league club to close out the year.
  • Nothing else very interesting happened in this game.
  • I’m pretty sure.

Today’s games:

This is it. The last games of the regular season—the end of the first professional seasons for many young players, for others another in a long career struggling to make it that last step. Bittersweet that there will be but a few Midshipman’s Logs left this year, but what a ride it’s been.

Must-watch/listen fame of the day is going to be the Modesto Nuts. One game out of a playoff spot, they need to win and they need the Giants to not-win. The guys want this, they are hungry for the post season and we hope they get there. Breakout prospect Devin Sweet will have the ball to do battle with his devastating changeup. Arkansas is going to have Ljay Newsome start as they gear up for Wednesday’s (ROOT televised!) playoff game.

Greensboro at West Virginia, 11:05 AM PT (RHP Juan Then)

Arkansas at Amarillo (TV), 11:05 AM PT (RHP Ljay Newsome)

Tacoma at Las Vegas (TV), 12:05 PM PT (TBD)

Visalia at Modesto (TV), 2:05 PM PT (RHP Devin Sweet)

Vancouver at Everett, 4:05 PM PT (TBD [Damon Casetta-Stubbs?])