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State of the Farm, 6/16/21: Cal Raleigh, Noelvi Marte, Carter Bins, Travis Kuhn

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Noelvi and Cal just keep on crushing

Dan Rogers

The Mariners Player Dev account tweeted out a lineup for the AZL Mariners the other day; according to the AZL website, though, the season won’t officially kick off until the 28th. Still, we can see how that team would theoretically line up:

Meanwhile, let’s see how things are going with the teams already in action.

Transactions:

  • Last week, we noted Tacoma pitcher Brooks Pounders had been activated from the IL; unfortunately, this week he’s right back on it, as is 3B Eric Campbell.
  • RHP Nick Duron has been activated off the 7-day IL for Arkansas, and is already back closing out games for Arkansas.
  • 3B Tyler Keenan has been activated off the 7-day IL for Everett.
  • 2B Justin Lavey, signed as a 2020 UDFA, has been placed on the 7-day IL in Modesto. OF Brett Rodríguez, who was doing a short fill-in stint in Tacoma after Trammell and Thomas had been optioned up, has been returned to the Nuts.

Tacoma Rainiers (19-15) win shortened series to Sacramento River Cats (SFG) (14-21)

Braden Bishop returns to Tacoma as a not-member of the Seattle Mariners and even though I’m happy for Bra getting to move closer to home and join the same organization as his brother, it’s still bittersweet to see him wearing a different team’s colors. There haven’t been many consistent things in being a Mariners fan from 2015 to the present and Braden was one of those things, plus his time as a Husky made the Bay Area product feel like a hometown boy. Sniff.

Game one: Rainiers lose 7-15

All that needs to be said about the pitching here: bullpen day. Ian McKinney, come on up. The offense did chip in more than their fair share against once-a-prospect Tyler Beede, tagging him for three runs in 2.2 innings, driven in by a Torrens RBI single, a Jantzen Witte double, and a Dylan Moore solo home run; the offense gamely tried to rally in the bottom of the seventh, after Tacoma pitching gave up eight runs in two innings, on a two-RBI double from Luis Torrens and an RBI single from José Marmolejos, aided by a solo shot from Witte in the eighth, but it just wasn’t enough for the hole the pitching staff dug.

Game two: McCaughan gets pitching back on track, Rainiers win 7-2

A week after Darren McCaughan gave up five runs in five innings to the Salt Lake Bees, he was able to hold the RiverCats in check, surrendering just one run over six innings while striking out two; his bullpen (Brian Schlitter, Jimmy Yacabonis, Aaron Fletcher) all pitched in to give up just one run and strike out three more over three innings. Meanwhile, the offense salted this one away early, largely thanks to a three-run homer by Evan White, making a rehab start.

Also, hilariously, Cal Raleigh got ejected from this game in the ninth inning with two outs and the Rainiers easily about to clinch a win; it’s the first time I’ve ever seen Raleigh ejected and I think the first time he’s ever been ejected in his career, college or professionally. The particular specifics don’t really matter (except Eric Filia also got ejected earlier, along with manager Kristopher Negrón, so this had clearly been an ongoing issue for the night, because Filia knows the zone about as well as anyone); it’s just pretty cool to see Cal, who is as sangfroid and diplomatic as they come, being willing to risk a suspension in order to stand up for his pitchers and what is clearly right. Also, it’s a reminder that Cal Raleigh, drawn up to his full height, is a pretty dang scary sight. No wonder Rob Marcello towed him away by the chest protector like a wayward log flume ride about to enter dangerous waters.

Game three: Bullpen day but make it a win? 4-3

In a fun twist on the usually unfun Bullpen Day, only two of Tacoma’s six pitchers gave up any runs; meanwhile Tacoma small-balled a run in the first and got three more solo shot HRs (Jarred Kelenic, Luis Torrens, and Ty Kelly) to do just enough to win this one.

Game four: postponed

Weird, but this is also the same game that was postponed last series, against the Bees. This game will be made up July 25th.

Game five: Rainiers win! 5-1

A week after he gave up four runs on ten hits over just four innings, Logan Verrett gave up just one run on six hits with five strikeouts and almost completed seven innings of work. The bullpen held things down, led by a sterling inning from Keynan Middleton where he needed just 13 pitches to record a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts, and the offense offered up more than enough thanks to yet another multi-run HR from Evan White, a HR from Kelenic, and doubles from Donovan Walton and Cal Raleigh, pushing his hit streak into “old enough to drink legally” territory.

Game six: Tacoma pulls out a win in the series finale, 10-9

Again, weird echoes from last week, although this time, Tacoma was at one point down 7-0. This time David Huff—he of six innings and one run last week—was not as solid, giving up seven runs, six earned, and not clearing the third inning. Credit to the bullpen, who only gave up two more runs (both off Robert Duggar, recently optioned to Tacoma), and the offense, who just kept slugging, led by a three-hit day from Jantzen Witte; Cal Raleigh also extended his hitting streak with a double in a two-RBI day.

Standings update:

Tacoma enjoys a get-right series against the division’s cellar-dwellers in the RiverCats but remains where they were in OPS and in all the pitching categories; Arkansas’s pitching staff isn’t able to bounce back in the bouncy house of Springfield’s home field; Everett crushes despite a burgeoning strikeout problem (not enough for pitchers, too many for batters); Modesto slips in a competitive Low-A West.

Triple-A Tacoma:

Team record: 19-15 (.559), 2nd of 5 in Triple-A West - West

4th of 10 in Triple-A West in OPS (.849)

5.22 ERA (4th in Triple-A West), 1.42 WHIP (3rd), 352 Ks (T-3rd)

Double-A Arkansas:

Team record: 17-19 (.472), 3rd of 5 in Double-A Central-North

.712 OPS (6th of 10 in Double-A Central)

4.08 ERA (4th), 1.40 WHIP (7th), 345 Ks (6th)

High-A Everett:

Team record: 22-13 (.629), 1st of 6 in High-A West

.829 OPS (2nd place = Eugene, at .704)

3.47 ERA (1st), 1.23 WHIP (1st), 385 Ks (3rd)

Run differential: +102

Low-A Modesto:

Team record: 21-16 (.568), 3rd of 4 in Low-A West-North

.751 OPS (3rd)

4.11 ERA (4th), 1.52 WHIP (7th), 448 Ks (2nd)

Leaderboard:

Batters:

wRC+: Carter Bins (A+), 182

AVG: Cal Raleigh, .357

HR: TIE, Jake Scheiner and Brian O’Keefe (AA) and Noelvi Marte (A), 8

BB/K: Victor Labrada (A), 0.91

Hits: Noelvi Marte, 45

Pitchers:

ERA (min 25 IP): Tyler Herb (AA), 2.03

ERA, reliever: Leon Hunter Jr. (A), .052

FIP (min 25 IP): Taylor Dollard (A), 1.93

K%: Brandon Williamson (A+), 50%

Strikeouts: TIE, Brandon Williamson and Taylor Dollard, 51

K-BB%: Brandon Williamson, 43.1%

Saves: Darin Gillies (AA), 5

Prospect performer:

I talked about Cal Raleigh last week; his hitting streak has only grown to 20+ games since then. He has an ISO over .300 and is flirting with a strikeout rate in the single digits (currently at 12%). He has an OPS (1.060) higher than Angels superprospect Jo Adell (1.018) and he plays his home games in a much more offense neutral park, while being a catcher. Speaking of which, he’s also besting supercatchingprospect Joey Bart—remember, the Joey Bart who got named to Top-100 lists while Cal languished in obscurity—to the tune of a 157 wRC+ vs a 150 wRC+, mostly because while Cal is threatening to walk more than he strikes out, Bart is walking just 5.5% of the time while striking out almost a third of the time. It’s so nutty and delightful and while I want him called up to Seattle, I also kind of want to see if Cal can crack a 300 wRC+ at some point. I talked about Noelvi Marte in this week’s Midshipmen’s Log; he’s improving on his 2019 MVP season and absolutely tearing the cover off the ball for Modesto. So this week you get two “names to know” instead:

Names to know:

C Carter Bins, A+

To get this out of the way, Bins is striking out more at High-A than you’d hope a polished college bat (Fresno State, 2019) would, at just over a third of the time, but also, considering he didn’t get any of the special extra development the Mariners gave their top prospects during the pandemic, we can handle a little striking-out-too-much, as a treat, when it comes with a .275 ISO and 6 HR, almost as many as he hit in twice as many plate appearances after his draft year. Especially when that comes with solid defense behind the dish, oh yes, especially then.

RHRP Travis Ray Kuhn, A

A 19th-rounder in 2019 out of San Diego, Kuhn is a short king who loves punching tickets. He wasn’t invited to do anything with the Mariners during the pandemic so spent his time at home in Cali bulking out every inch of his five-foot-ten frame and throwing as hard as he could. Kuhn still has to refine his command, furthering those comparisons to Dan Altavilla, another short and muscly hard-thrower with command issues, but he’s seemingly gotten the closer job in Modesto, which would alone make him worthy of watching, if his impeccable personal style wasn’t enough for you.