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Midshipmen’s Log, May 17th: Nuts shake up the Quakes, AquaSox hop all over Tri-City, Travelers pluck Cardinals

So much offense. So, so much offense.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAR 04 UMass Lowell at Wake Forest
Here’s Patrick Frick before he was a Mariner. He does not look like someone who would give Tri-Cities pitchers nightmares, AND YET.
Photo by Andy Mead/YCJ/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The minors! It’s three thousand words about the minors and you will read them because you love the minors, otherwise why would you be here? For a system that’s supposed to be super pitching-heavy, the A-AA affiliates sure scored a giant pile of runs this week, including a couple games where the mercy rule should have been in effect.

Low-A West: Modesto Nuts (9-3) crunch Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (LAD) (4-7), 5 games to 1

Apologies in advance for the lack of video for these; apparently the Dodgers, one of baseball’s wealthiest organizations, never bothered putting video in at their High-A affiliate, and are even less likely to do so now that it’s Low-A. Boo, Dodgers. Boo. The Nuts maintain their streak of having the lowest team ERA in Low-A West, at a stingy 2.78. They’re second in strikeouts (160) to the San Jose Giants (162).

Game One: Modesto drops the series opener, 6-2

Alberto Rodríguez, Dariel Gomez, and Noelvi Marte all had doubles, but the Nuts could only scare up two runs off five hits while striking out sixteen times against Dodgers pitching, including five from starter and 2020 fifth-rounder Gavin Stone, five from the amusingly-named but old-for-the-level (23) Jacob Cantleberry, and another four from 2016 international signing Jose Hernández.

Game Two: Modesto’s pitching staff shuts out Rancho’s prospect-packed lineup

Connor Phillips made his second start of the season and was equally impressive to his first outing, striking out seven in five innings while issuing just one walk and allowing no runs on two hits. The bullpen held the shutout: Leon Hunter Jr., acquired for cash or a PTBNL, walked the bases full but escaped without damage, striking out two; Elvis Alvarado, acquired from Washington in the Hunter Strickland trade and making his system debut, struck out one in a shutdown inning; and Travis Ray Kuhn, a child of California (born in Laguna Hills, educated at U San Diego) playing in a ballpark he played in as a kid, held things down with two innings with two strikeouts and zeroes across the board. The Nuts got all the offense they needed from the trio of Cade Marlowe, Robert Perez Jr., and Alberto Rodríguez; Noelvi Marte also checked in with two hits.

Game Three: Noelvi Marte and Cade Marlowe lead Nuts to 9-8 victory

Noelvi Marte had three hits, two home runs (one to left field, one to right), and four RBI in Modesto’s win. Cade Marlowe, batting second behind Noelvi, also had four RBI, three of them coming on a towering three-run jack in the fifth. Every hitter in Modesto’s lineup except Juan Querecuto (manning SS) and Alberto Rodríguez had a hit, and both of them came defensive gems away from joining Modesto’s hit parade. Meanwhile, starter Adam Macko wasn’t as sharp with his command as he had been but still racked up 10 strikeouts over his 4.1 innings of work, although with four walks and three earned runs. Diminutive lefty Brayan Perez also gave up four runs over his 1.2 innings in relief, but Nolan Hoffman and Luis Curvelo combined for three scoreless innings and four strikeouts to keep the Quakes off the board.

Game Four: Nuts pitchers spray Raid on Cucamonga offense, win 8-2

Rancho Cucamonga plays up as an offensive environment, but the Nuts were able to completely tamp down the Quakes offense behind another strong start from 2020 draftee Taylor Dollard, who mowed batters down over five innings, striking out eight and allowing one run on five hits. Lefty Jorge Bentiez followed him and allowed one more run over 1.2 innings, but Robert Winslow and Max Roberts fastened the door tightly beyond that. The story of this game was Cuban prospect Victor Labrada making his system debut; he made a splash immediately, with two hits, including a double, two stolen bases, and some sterling outfield play. Noelvi Marte pitched in three hits, including a double, Brett Rodriguez got his first hit and made it count with a solo homer, and Cade Marlowe kept on proving he’s probably due for a promotion with a homer of his own (he also stole a base, just in case that was the thing keeping him out of High-A).

Game Five: Nuts rally to squeak past Quakes, 9-7

In his second full-season start, Sam Carlson struck out seven over 4.2 innings allowed four runs, only one of which was earned after walking four; he was relieved by Juan Mercedes, who struck out four in just two innings but also allowed four runs, walking three. Elvis Alvarado and Matt Willrodt held the door over the final two innings, though, and that was enough for Modesto’s offense, who charged out of the gates with four runs off Quakes starter Adolfo Ramirez, and then steadily chipped away inning by inning, scoring in three consecutive innings (5-7) at one point. Cade Marlowe added yet another homer and a double, because he is so so bored, and Brett Rodriguez followed up his first hit, the previous night’s HR, with a triple.

Game Six: Nuts eke out Quakes, 8-7

Starter Damon Casetta-Stubbs gave up five runs (three on HR) and couldn’t get out of the first inning, but again Modesto’s offense banded together to bail out their pitching staff. Leon Hunter Jr., recently acquired for cash/PTBNL from Texas, heroically held things down over 3.1 scoreless innings, and Brayan Perez and Luis Curvelo pitched in three scoreless innings of their own. Travis Ray Kuhn allowed two runs in the final two innings, but by that point the Modesto offense had racked up a three-run lead. With no Marte-Marlowe 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup (both enjoying a day off), the offense was led by sparkplug Victor Labrada at the top, who provided three hits, including a triple. Robert Perez Jr. pitched in three hits of his own, including a double. Fun fact: Rancho hit four HR in this game and Modesto none, but as all of Rancho’s were solo shots, Modesto’s more balanced offensive attack came out on top. Score one for the “solo shots won’t beat you” crowd.

Prospect performer:

Only two players in the former Cal League have more ABs than Noelvi Marte and they are batting .170 and .226, respectively. Noelvi Marte has a slash line of .367/.426/.551 and for good measure, he has four stolen bases to boot. He’s also better at posting video of his hits than the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, so thanks for that, Noelvi:

Name to know:

We talked about him last week, but Cade Marlowe sits atop the leaderboard in Low-A West (min. 10 games) with a 1.206 OPS and an absurd .375/.481/.725 slash line.

High-A West: Everett AquaSox (10-2) sweep away Tri-City Dust Devils (LAA) (3-9)

Perhaps fueled by a spate of AL West pride, the Frogs outscored the Dust Devils (LAA) 65 - 16 over a six-game set. The big blow came in the final game of the six-game set, but the Frogs consistently outplayed their AL West counterparts on all sides of the ball before an enthusiastic Everett crowd.

Game One: Frogs Hop all over the Dust Devils, 13-3

The Dust Devils took an early lead on a Livan Soto home run in the first inning off AquaSox starter Tim Elliott, but Tyler Keenan answered with a two-run HR of his own (with Julio aboard on a double) in the bottom of the first, and the Frogs manufactured another run in the first to take a 3-1 advantage early, extended by Julio Rodríguez’s first home run of the season in the second, a two-run shot giving Everett a 5-1 advantage. The Dust Devils made it close for a while, scoring two runs in the third to make it 5-3, but then Everett started pouring it on and didn’t look back, scoring eight unanswered runs for a decisive victory. The biggest damage was done by the Julio-Keenan duo, who combined for six hits and eight RBI.

Game Two: Everett ekes out an extra-inning win, 6-5

Despite a solid start from Levi Stoudt (4 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB and 4 K) and an Austin Shenton double and Kaden Polcovich HR, the AquaSox found themselves in a tie headed into the 10th. Tri-City scored their inherited runner, but so did the AquaSox in their half-inning, plus the eventual winning run thanks to Jack Larsen.

Game Three: Frogs switch vacuum to turbo, suck up Dust Devils 15-1

Emerson Hancock went just 2.2 innings in this one, tossing just 51 pitches (31 strikes), but still struck out four and allowed only one earned run on back-to-back doubles. Bernie Martinez and Evan Johnson teamed up for 6.1 shutout innings with a combined six strikeouts to keep the Dust Devils at bay. Meanwhile, the Dust Devils encountered some major problems in the strike-throwing department, issuing a total of 12 walks. The AquaSox took advantage of that to the tune of 15 runs, led by a three-hit day from former staff writer Ben’s favorite Jack Larsen, who had a double and a home run, and Julio Rodríguez, who had a double and this big fly of his own:

Game Four: Kirby vacuums up Dust Devils, Sox win 5-2

Okay I know that’s two vacuum puns in a row but I couldn’t resist. George Kirby went five strong innings, and although the storylines will be about him issuing his first-ever professional walk (the shock, the horror), the real story is eight strikeouts and no runs allowed on no hits. The Frogs stacked five runs on eight hits, led by homeruns from Julio (yes, again) and Carter Bins, and a two-RBI double from Kaden Polcovich.

Game Five: AquaSox think Game Four is so nice they do it twice, win 6-2

Absolutely no breaks for the Tri-Cities lineup, who after being pummeled by George Kirby the night before, got pummeled again by Brandon Williamson, this time from the left side. Williamson also struck out eight over his four innings, and although he did issue four walks, he didn’t allow a run. The Sox bullpen gave up just two runs over the remainder of the game, but the AquaSox offense got more than that on one swing of the bat from Tyler Keenan, who blasted a three-run home run as part of a five-run sixth inning for the Frogs. That other AquaSox run came from a Julio solo shot, because of course it did.

Game Six: AquaSox win 20-3

Well. This one should have had a mercy rule. The first half of this game was actually relatively close: Juan Then got the start for the Sox, going 2.2 innings and giving up one run on two hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Isaiah Campbell, making his second start, worked the bulk of this game for the Sox, going four innings and giving up another two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts. However, this one was all about over by the fifth, when the AquaSox scored eight runs to go along with the five they already had. They would score seven more before the game (mercifully) ended. Every Everett hitter recorded a hit, and Julio, Zach DeLoach, Jack Larsen, and Patrick Frick all had three apiece. Patrick Frick dealt the most damage with two HR and a double, but Zach DeLoach had a grand slam and a double, and Julio had yet another homer.

Prospect performer:

Julio Rodríguez currently ranks second behind Will Wilson (EUG-SF) in all of High-A West with an OPS of 1.225, although Julio has played two more games than WIlson with 10 more AB. He’s also two years younger than Wilson, or anyone else near the top of the leaderboard for High-A West.

Name to know:

SS Patrick Frick is on his second tour of Everett after playing there in 2019 after being drafted out of Wake Forest in the 14th round. Frick is a high on-base player who doesn’t strike out much, but the two HR he hit in Sunday’s game were already more than he hit all season at Everett the first time around. I smell quarantine gainz!

Double-A Central: Arkansas Travelers (7-4) trounce Springfield Cardinals (STL) (2-10), 5 games to 1

The numbers are inflated by one game, but the Travs still outscored the Cardinals 41-20 over this series, including a game where they scored no runs. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Travs currently have the highest run differential in all of Double-A Central, at +18.

Game One: Travelers ride six-run inning to win, club Cardinals 9-2

Alejandro Requena, signed to an MiLB deal this off-season, held Nolan Gorman and the Cardinals to two runs over six innings, and Collin Kober and Nick Duron didn’t allow a run in relief. Meanwhile, the Travelers worked their way to a 2-2 tie before exploding in the sixth, starting with a go-ahead leadoff home run from Stephen Wrenn. The club then took advantage of some wildness from Griffin Roberts, 43rd overall pick in the 2018 draft; Bobby Honeyman singled, followed by back-to-back walks to Connor Lien and Dom Thompson-Williams, and then Lien scored on a wild pitch. Roberts was lifted from the game but the Travs weren’t any nice to his replacement, Jacob Patterson, who gave up a single, a walk, a double, a walk, and also hit Honeyman, up for the second time that inning, and by the time the inning ended the Travs were out to a 8-2 lead. They’d add another run when Patterson hit three straight batters in a row in the 8th.

I will skip the funky delivery and just not have hit batters, please.

Game Two: Travs bullpen holds down Cardinals long enough for offense to do just enough, Travs win 4-2

Adam Hill, acquired from the Brewers in the Omar Narváez trade, gave up two runs in almost five innings of work, but the Travs bullpen (Reid Morgan, Jack Anderson, Darin Gillies) throttled the Cardinals down, giving the Arkansas offense time to come back from an early 2-1 deficit. Jake Scheiner and Brian O’Keefe provided the big blasts needed to earn the win.

Game Three: Ian McKinney defeats old demons, Travelers win 3-1

LHP Ian McKinney came to the Mariners after St. Louis released him mid-season in 2018 after posting a 5.17 ERA in the Texas League. The Mariners sent him down to High-A Modesto, where McKinney dominated, earning California League POY honors. He’s back in the former Texas League this year, trying to prove he’s ready for a move up the ladder. McKinney’s problem is he needs to iron out the walks—he had four more in this outing over his five innings of work—but he struck out nine again, giving him 18 total in his ten innings in Double-A so far. Arkansas’ bullpen gave up just one run in relief, allowing the three runs the Travs offense hung on Cardinals starter Kyle Leahy in the first inning (Jake Scheiner, Joe Rizzo, and Bobby Honeyman each with an RBI) to hold up throughout the game.

Game Four: Early offensive output from Arkansas is just enough, Travs win 8-6

The Travs scored seven of their eight runs in this game in the first two innings, starting by hanging four runs on Cardinals starter Alvaro Seijas; the big damage came off the bat of Bobby Honeyman, who hit a two-RBI ground rule double. The Travs got to Seijas’s replacement Dalton Roach in the second for another four runs, led by yet another big blast from Keegan McGovern:

Dom Thompson-Williams also added in another RBI single. The Travs would only add one more run in the game, an RBI single from Jordan Cowan, but it would be enough, even after starter Penn Murfee allowed four runs in his five innings of work, and the bullpen leaked out two runs over four innings of relief.

Game Five: Cardinals pitching staff forgets how to throw strikes, Travelers take advantage, win 17-8

Devin Sweet allowed four runs in his second Double-A start, but with a much more reasonable number of walks (1) and still a good number of strikeouts (6) in his five innings of work, so, improvement. This game was actually tied headed into the seventh inning, when the Cardinals got to Reid Morgan (who, remember, is on fill-in duty, as the last time he pitched was with Everett in 2019) with three straight singles and a grand slam off the bat of Ivan Herrera. The Travs battled back to draw within a run in the seventh, and then tied things up with the first batter in the 8th when Jake Anchía, who does not seem to struggle with getting the ball out in right field at Dickey-Stephens park, launched an absolute moonshot:

With that blast, Anchía apparently broke Cardinals pitcher Patrick Dayton, already reeling from some damage earlier in the game, because Dayton totally lost the strike zone after that. He hit Jordan Cowan and Jake Scheiner with pitches back-to-back, walked Stephen Wrenn and Brian O’Keefe, and hit Keegan McGovern, giving the Travs two free runs and some sore body parts. Jacob Patterson, who if you’ll remember from before has some of his own issues with hitting batters, came in to replace him, and promptly threw back-to-back wild pitches, scoring two more runs, hit Connor Lien, got an RBI groundout from Bobby Honeyman, and then walked the next four batters in a row to give the Travelers a 15-8 lead. Imeldo Diaz replaced Patterson and gave up back-to-back singles, pushing the Travs’ lead to 17-8, before DTW grounded out to mercifully end the inning and the scoring in the game.

Game Six: Travs bats are all tuckered out, lose 0-1

The Travs bats must have been tired from that workout yesterday because they didn’t have a hit until the 5th, a double from Bobby Honeyman, and scored no runs. Recently (re)acquired pitcher Tyler Herb only gave up one run in six innings and the bullpen trio of Kober, Haberer, and Duron kept the Cards off the board on the back nine, but the bats were just too sleepy today to get anything done.

Names to know:

INF Jake Scheiner: .310/.370/.548, HR, 2B

INF Bobby Honeyman: .333/.486/.407, 2 2B

LHP Ian McKinney: 1.80 ERA, 18 K in 10 IP

Upcoming matchups, May 18-23:

Double-A: Arkansas at Corpus Christi Hooks (Astros), 4:35 PT Tu-Th, 5:05 PT Fri-Sat, 11:05 PT Sun (MiLB TV)

High-A: Everett at Spokane (COL): 6:30 PT,Tu-Sat; 5:09 Sunday (no MiLB TV)

Low-A: Modesto at Inland Empire (LAA): 7:05 PT Tu-Sat; 2:05 PT Sun (MiLB TV)