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State of the Farm, 7/14/21: updates from Rookie ball, catcher promotions, AquaSox continue to roll

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So many affiliates. So many of them.

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Cal Raleigh!
Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

It’s been a while since we did a check-in with the farm—and, truthfully, since I did a Midshipmen’s Log, either, since the Draft has consumed so much time and energy and also the big league club has been on a hot stretch lately so people understandably want to hear about that. But! The Draft is behind us now, there are 20 new potential names to add to various affiliates, and things are going to start moving and shaking over the next few weeks as those guys get assigned. So now is a good time to check in on how everyone is doing, and where, and I promise we’ll get back to more granular coverage of the minors when the Mariners inevitably break our hearts after the All-Star Break.

Promotions:

  • C Cal Raleigh received his big-league call-up for the last game of the Angels series before the All-Star Break. He’ll be replaced in Tacoma by Brian O’Keefe, who has been tearing it up for Arkansas. Carter Bins was promoted from Everett to take O’Keefe’s spot in Arkansas.

Injury Updates:

  • Tacoma pitcher and sometimes-MLB-bullpen arm Jimmy Yacabonis has been placed on the 7-day IL.
  • RHP Tyler Herb, who had been pitching well for Arkansas before going on the 7-day IL after having to leave a start in the first inning, has been reinstated. Arkansas OF Keegan McGovern was also reinstated from the IL.
  • RHP Scott Boches was transferred to the 60-day IL. Boches, who was showing some promise in Modesto in 2019 with his velo ticking up into the high 90s, hasn’t pitched yet this season, indicating he’s dealing with a fairly serious injury. RHP Ty Adcock has also been transferred to the 60-day IL; Adcock had TJ back in April. If you’re interested in following along on what a return from TJ surgery looks like, Adcock has set up an Instagram account (The_Return_of_the_Mack1) documenting his journey.
  • RHP Brendan McGuigan has been placed on the 7-day IL for Everett. Get well soon, Guiggy Smalls! (Still my favorite Twitter handle in the organization.)

Affiliate updates:

Tacoma Rainiers: 31-27 (.534), 2nd of 5 in Triple-A West (West)

.820 team OPS (5th of 10 in Triple-A West)

5.46 team ERA (4th in Triple-A West), 1.45 WHIP (3rd), 543 Ks (5th)

The Rainiers maintain second place in the division but lose their offensive powerhouse now that Cal Raleigh has been promoted to the bigs, and will likely be losing Jarred Kelenic after the All-Star Break.

Offensive standout:

OF Dillon Thomas is hitting .270 with seven home runs, but where he’s really providing value is with his slick fielding:

Pitching standout:

Pitching in a punishing offensive environment, Darren McCaughan is the third-best pitcher in Triple-A West by ERA and so far has made two excellent starts in July, winning Player of the Week honors after his latest outing, a seven-inning shutout; if things fall apart and the Mariners need an inning-eating arm down the stretch, I wouldn’t be surprised to see McCaughan get the call.

Arkansas Travelers: 32-28 (.533), 4th of 5 in Double-A Central (North)

.704 team OPS (9th of 10 in Double-A Central)

4.05 team ERA (3rd in Double-A Central), 1.33 WHIP (4th), 565 Ks (T-7th)

Despite having basically the same record as the Rainiers, the Travs find themselves fighting for elbow room in a close North division, with every team but Springfield in a playoff chase.

Offensive standouts:

Now that Brian O’Keefe has been promoted, the offensive mantle falls to INF Jordan Cowan, who doesn’t have O’Keefe’s thump but does bring base-stealing ability when he gets on. No team will benefit more from a fresh infusion of talent than the Travs: Jake Scheiner has cooled off since his torrid May and is yet to hit a homer in July, beef boy Keegan McGovern has struggled with injury, and Bobby Honeyman, who was red-hot in June, has been ice cold in July.

Pitching standouts:

RHP Penn Murfee has had a couple of clunkers in July but was the best pitcher in the former Texas League in June; he’ll probably be the first one up to Tacoma when the Rainiers need another arm, following in the footsteps of BFF Ian McKinney. That will leave former Modesto teammate Devin Sweet on his own to continue trying to crack the Double-A code along with recently-promoted LHP Brandon Williamson, who had a strong two outings but was lit up a little in his third appearance against Frisco, surrendering seven runs in just four innings. Reliever Darin Gillies’s 10 saves lead not just the team, but all of Double-A Central.

Everett AquaSox: 39-20 (.661), 1st in High-A West

.845 team OPS (1st of 8 in High-A West)

3.60 team ERA (1st), 1.21 WHIP (1st), 645 Ks (2nd)

Everett continues rolling in the West with their league-best run differential of +178.

Offensive standouts:

3B Austin Shenton continues to push for a promotion to the offense-starved Travs; his 10 homers are tied for second in the league, with first-round names like Will Wilson and Michael Toglia. Also pushing for a promotion is SS Patrick Frick, who leads the league in average and OBP, and has walked (38) almost as many times as he’s struck out (55). INF Kaden Polcovich’s wRC+ of 153 belies the fact that he is in his first year of pro ball, and a walk rate pushing 17% suggests he’s maybe a little bored of Northwest League pitching and is ready for a stiffer challenge.

Pitching standouts:

RHP Matt Brash, the return from San Diego in the Taylor Williams trade, has been one of the best pitchers in the NWL; his 62 strikeouts rank 4th in the league, to go along with a trim 2.55 ERA. RHP Levi Stoudt has also been a workhorse for the AquaSox, logging the third-highest number of innings pitched in the league (53.1) with a 3.21 ERA and 58 Ks. RHP Dayeison Arias has been a force out of the AquaSox bullpen, racking up 31 strikeouts in 18 innings.

Modesto Nuts: 36-25 (.590), 3rd of 4 in Low-A West (North)

.761 team OPS (3rd of 8 in Low-A West)

4.38 team ERA (4th), 1.52 WHIP (6th), 711 Ks (2nd)

If the Nuts were in the South division, they’d be in first place easily; unfortunately, they’re stuck with the prospect-packed Colorado and San Francisco affiliates, and thus playing better ball than their record would suggest.

Offensive standouts:

SS Noelvi Marte continues to be one of the best and youngest players in the league, hovering around a .300/.400/.500 line. OF Victor Labrada ranks third in the league in stolen bases (22), sandwiched between two first-round talents in Zac Veen and Robert Hassell, although INF Brett Rodríguez’s 16 bags are second on the team and seventh in the league. The one offensive category Everett doesn’t have a top-5 representative in is stolen bases, so it would be fun to see some of this speed in Everett soon. 1B Robert Perez Jr. has been coming on hot lately; after hitting around .250 in May and June he’s carrying a wild .394/.475/.818 slash line for July and the four homers he’s hit this month are double what he hit to begin the season. Also coming on strong is Noelvi’s BFF OF Alberto Rodríguez, who got a slow start to the season but heated up in June.

Pitching standouts:

The once-vaunted Modesto pitching has been riddled with injuries and depleted by promotions. RHPs Josias De Los Santos and Sam Carlson remain the steadfast anchors of the rotation, although De Los Santos has to get his command ironed out (41 walks in 55 innings); Carlson is pitching better than his high-4s ERA would suggest, and is racking up the strikeouts (he ranks 8th in the league), but also has his own work to do in limiting free passes. The real standouts of Modesto’s pitching staff are the bullpen; RHP Luis Curvelo and LHP Brayan Perez have been twin strikeout machines, both striking out over a third of batters faced, and Curvelo has been especially dominant, with a microscopic ERA and a fastball racing up to 97 mph. Expect to see him cropping up on midseason prospect lists.

ACL Mariners: 8-2 (.800), 1st in Arizona Complex League

.776 team OPS (9th of 18)

4.39 team ERA (4th of 18), 1.54 WHIP (8th), 120 Ks (3rd)

24 SBs (1st)

Offensive standouts:

3B Milkar Perez has carried his hot hitting from the island to the mainland; his .444 average ranks third in the ACL and he has 12 hits already, although none have gone over the fence yet. Still, he has the highest OBP in the league (.615) as he has showcased a mature approach at the plate, walking over twice as much (12 times) as he has struck out (5). SS Amador Arias, an MiLB Rule 5 pick, leads the team with three homers; OFs Gunn Omasako and Jonatan Clase each have two. Clase also leads the league in stolen bases, with nine.

Pitching standouts:

RHP Raul Alcantara is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in 11.1 innings with 15 Ks; he started with the team in the DSL in 2018, so he could be one of the first to move up to Modesto. RHPs Luís Baez (also in the DSL in 2018) and Anthony Tomczak (2019 HS draftee) each have 13 strikeouts in just seven innings of work each, and Tomczak has just four walks, leading to a .095 WHIP.

DSL Mariners: 2-0 (1.000), tied for 1st in Dominican Summer League

.975 team OPS (1st of 28)

2.81 team ERA (15th of 28). 1.44 WHIP (26th), 18 Ks (t-12th)

2 SBs (t-26th)

It’s a little early to do a leaderboard, so here are some players you might have heard of getting their first professional licks in: OFs George Felíz, Gabriel González, and Carlos Jímenez; INFs Starlin Aguilar and Gabe Moncada as well as catcher Germán Guillarte; and pitchers Kristian Cardozo, Pedro Da Costa Lemos, Harold Melenge, and Juan Pinto.