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Midshipman’s Log, 4/11/22: Modesto stymied by Giants pitching, Everett hangs strong against stacked team, Arkansas faces Jack Leiter

Catching you up with everything on the Mariners farm

Baseball Team on a Navy Ship Photo by Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Welcome back for another year of Lookout Landing’s minor league recap service, The Midshipman’s Log. Or welcome, period, if this is the first time you’ve stopped in. These recaps will publish every Monday on the MiLB off-days for all levels except Triple-A, which will be covered on Thursdays, where we’ll also highlight top prospect performances and some sleepers who might not be getting enough love in the system.

This week we have only a short slate of games to talk about, as Opening Day for all the minor leagues below Triple-A was this Friday, but let’s look at what happened over the weekend:

Modesto Nuts (1-2) crushed by Giants pitching (2-1)

Ughhh. The Giants just seem to have Modesto’s number almost every year. This year feels like it might not be any different, as the Nuts squeaked out an Opening Night win on the strength of a Freuddy Batista homer:

But over the rest of the series, the Giants pitching was just too dominant against Modesto’s fun-but-young lineup. In Game 2, 2021 first-round pick and #4 Giants prospect Will Bednar out of Mississippi State struggled with his command, walking two and hitting four Modesto batters before finally being lifted with two outs in the third; he was relieved by Trevor McDonald, who struck out three in 1.1 innings, and was followed by another 2021 draftee, Seth Lonsway out of Ohio State, who struck out six. In Game 3, third-rounder Mason Black struck out seven in four innings of work with just one hit, a Jonatan Clase double down the right field line, in a game where the Giants pitching totaled 16 strikeouts in Game 3.

Modesto rallied back from a 4-0 deficit to tie up the game thanks to Edwin Arroyo’s first Cal League RBI hit, as the Nuts took advantage of another Giants pitcher with big stuff but struggling with his command:

(I was wrong there, Arroyo had his first hit the night before, a single.)

After a crisp inning in the 9th, Holden Laws surrendered a leadoff two-run homer in the 10th. Modesto was able to get in their Manfred runner on a Jonatan Clase single (his first multi-hit game in the Cal League, as he’d doubled earlier) but couldn’t do more than that as Harry Ford grounded out softly to end the game.

Modesto did have some sharp pitching of their own on display over the series; 2021 third-rounder Michael Morales had a gem of a first outing in Game 1, striking out nine over five innings while allowing just one run on two hits and walking just one, a great show of command from a young pitcher. Juan Mercedes also had a strong outing in long relief in Game 2, collecting seven strikeouts in four innings as he showcased a mid-90s fastball and a dastardly curveball.

Villanova grad Jimmy Kingsbury also tallied seven strikeouts over four innings in his start in Game 3. Nuts pitching totaled an impressive 42 strikeouts over the three-game set, even more than Giants pitching, which helped keep the games close even as the offense struggled to find a spark.

Everett Aquasox (2-0) win two out of three games against Eugene Emeralds (0-2), lose zero out of three

Game one: Frogs’ bats wake up from a nap hungry, order large salami sandwich, nothing else, win 4-2

The Eugene Emeralds, the San Francisco High-A affiliate, is absolutely loaded, featuring their top three prospects, and nine of their top thirteen. Nonetheless, Everett got the job done on Opening Day.

Isaiah Campbell, owner of the cleanest mustache in the organization, was handed the ball, and he delivered. In 5 innings, he racked up four strikeouts, four walks, and surrendered four hits, giving up just the one run on a solo shot to Jairo Pomares. That was enough to keep the AquaSox in the game, and Max Roberts turned in a solid shift in relief, notching a strikeout in his two scoreless innings to go along with one hit.

However, the bats stayed asleep for the majority of the game, notching just three hits through the first seven innings. Emeralds’ starter Kyle Harrison, Wil Jensen and Clay Helvey looked dominant, combining for 10 strikeouts. But in the eighth inning, the bats woke up, and they woke up hungry. Andy Thomas (the Mariners’ fifth-round pick in 2021) singled and our resident Cotuisanos (Alberto Rodríguez and Noelvi Marte) took a pair of walks to load the bases. That brought outfielder Spencer Packard up to the plate, and, well:

Come on now, did you really think that this guy would disappoint? That’s the face of a man who knows what he has to do, and does it.

The Emeralds got one back in the top of the ninth, but that one swing of the bat was all the Sox needed on Friday.

Game two: Everett wins bonkers game 10-7 in first episode of the Noelvi Show

Hooooo-boy, talk about a wild ride. This game featured five dingers and five lead-changes, which, for the record, qualifies as many.

Feeling like that last one was pretty cool and a good idea, Packard got things started with another home run in the first inning. 2-0, scoring Marte after he reached on a walk. Eugene used a pair of solo shots and an RBI single off of Everett starter Adam Macko to take the lead back in the fifth inning. That shouldn’t take away from Macko’s performance on the night - he put his new sweeper to work, notching 11 strikeouts against just four hits, including this spicy lil strikeout of Patrick Bailey.

Macko is ranked at No. 11 in the Mariners farm system by MLB Pipeline, and is quickly rising - keep an eye on him.

After another walk in the fifth inning, Marte scored from first on a Tyler Keenan double to tie it up. Victor Labrada, the only player in the organization who might be able to challenge Jonatan Clase in a footrace, then burned a triple into right field to score Keenan and give Everett a one-run lead. He scored immediately afterwards on a Charlie Welch single for a two-run lead.

It was a two-run lead that was not meant to last, though, as a two-run homer by Bailey and a wild pitch with a man on third quickly gave back the lead to Eugene in the top of the sixth.

Consider this all prelude, though, for the big moment of the night - in the bottom of the sixth, Berto worked a walk to get on base. Then, Marte uncorked an absolutely massive home run to take the lead back.

Everett clocked this at 105 mph off the bat, and it apparently landed on the roof of the building out of left-center field. Everett (and likely, Arkansas) fans have a lot to look forward to this summer as long as Marte is crushing bombs like this.

From there, Everett played some add-on. Berto claimed an RBI of his own in the seventh, and 2021-draftee James Parker snagged a couple in the eighth to put the AquaSox up to 10 runs for the night.

Noelvi got on base four times, adding a total of three walks to his go-ahead home run, while Berto, Labrada and Welch each added a pair of hits.

Game three: Everett does not win, but neither does Eugene

Well, this was a bummer. Sunday’s game was stopped in the fourth inning due to inclement weather - an absolute downpour. The score was 1-1 at the time. The game will be made up when they are in Everett next, which means there will be some fun half-doubleheader shenanigans and will make for a fun night at the ballpark. Eugene comes to Everett next May 31-June 5; if you’re in the area, you might want to consider buying tickets now while all this prospect power is concentrated at this level.

Arkansas Travelers (1-2) slug Frisco RoughRiders plenty, get slugged back more (2-1)

Game one: Kirby cruises, but ending bitter-Sweet

Returning to Arkansas after drawing the short straw in the competition for the No. 5 starter spot with Matt Brash, George Kirby looked sharp. He leaned on his off-speed heavily, something encouraging to see given the righty’s occasional tendency to pump fastballs and cruise. We were treated to some absolute filth, including a healthy dosage of breaking balls like this.

Kirby took his leave after 4.2 innings, leaving things to the Travelers bullpen, which would sadly come back to bite them. Though Devin Sweet made it through one clean inning, he’d ultimately get touched up in the bottom of the 8th courtesy of former Mariners prospect Josh Stowers, now in the Rangers organization. Frisco knocked in a pair of runs in that frame to take a 5-4 lead they’d ultimately win by.

Offensively, Arkansas had put themselves in reasonable position thanks to some well-placed contact and good plate appearances by a bevy of returning Double-A faces. DH Kaden Polcovich had a solid first game of the season, hoping to improve upon a disappointing Double-A debut in the second half of 2021. He walked twice and also led off the 5th with a hustle double to spark a scoring opportunity. 3B Joe Rizzo also had a key hit, smacking a sharp double to the opposite field with his typical spray contact technique, though looking a bit stronger than in past years which will hopefully translate to a melding of the 24-year-old’s contact and power skills.

Game two: Stoudtland used Bite, it was super effective, Bullpen used Throw Strike, but it missed!

In all honesty, this was the game to see around the minor-league world from the weekend. Frisco ran out RHP Jack Leiter, son of Al, nephew of Mark, former star of Vanderbilt University, and No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers. He matched up against less-pedigreed-but-still-potent Seattle Mariners RHP Levi Stoudt, and both pitchers came away with solid lines on the day. Stoudt held his own through five innings, walking a pair and striking out three while yielding a couple runs. A point of emphasis for Stoudt will be finding a way to miss just a few more bats and turning pivot counts into wins instead of walks, and he had a few of those today.

Leiter, unfortunately, was even better, albeit for just three innings. He struck down seven and looked simply wicked, blending a fierce fastball with a wicked slider. In the third inning at least, OF Cade Marlowe was able to secure his first Double-A hit on a ripped line drive to right that managed to score Matt Scheffler from first due to... perplexing defensive choices. For their part, the Arkansas defense made a few strong plays with their gloves to keep things close in the first half of the game, including a racing running catch by Marlowe in center field and this absolute gem from SS Jose Caballero, Seattle’s return for RHP Mike Leake from the Arizona Diamondbacks a few years back.

Caballero has mostly worked at second base as a pro, but if he can move like that at shortstop, he’ll keep getting reps higher and higher up the system.

Regrettably, things went off the rails once Stoudt was relieved, as both RHP David Ellingson and LHP Rob Kaminsky struggled in their collective two innings to hone in on the strike zone. Frisco dropped three innings in both the sixth and seventh, stretching their lead to 4-1 and then 8-4. It was a rough afternoon for bullpen command across the board, as the Travs got those seventh inning runs primarily on sloppy command from RoughRiders reliever Grant Wolfram. Wolfram walked four straight Travelers after recording just one out before being replaced, and 1B Jake Scheiner narrowed the gap with a two-run single.

There things remained until the top of the ninth, when Arkansas made things supremely interesting at the expense of Frisco righty Grant Anderson, another former Mariners prospect (he went to Texas in the Connor Sadzeck trade). OF Zach DeLoach, Scheiner, and Rizzo each left the yard, back-to-back-to-back, and suddenly it was a one-run game.

Alas, there it would remain, as Arkansas lost another one-run game, the inverted luck each night of the big league club.

Game three: Arkansas bullpen makes apology cake, offense accepts, Frisco is gluten intolerant in this metaphor

The start in the series finale went to Stephen Kolek, a returning Travs righty who is the younger brother of Marlins 2014 No. 2 overall pick Tyler Kolek. The elder Kolek suffered a series of injuries, pushing him out of affiliated ball, but the less-heralded Stephen continues working through the upper-minors. He mixed sinkers, changeups, and sliders for four innings and three runs, but struck out six and walked just one, avoiding the ills of the previous night. His good precedent would be rewarded as the Arkansas bullpen turned in five shutout innings in relief of him, with long-haired RHP Collin Kober, former Stetson closer LHP Ben Onyshko, friend of LL RHP Travis Kuhn, and returning lockdown Travs RHP Michael Stryffeler combining for 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R/ER, 0 BB, and 6 K.

That afforded Arkansas all the opportunity they needed for a comeback, highlighted by a pair of doubles, first from Scheiner...

...then this laser from Polcovich.

It’s encouraging seeing Polcovich lashing line drives like this, as the versatile utility man could easily play a pop-filled role for Seattle in years to come given his bat speed. Similarly for Scheiner, who Seattle received as return from the Phillies in the Jay Bruce trade, there is offensive potential worth monitoring for the slugger. Scheiner had an impressive spring, including a number of hits in the latter stages of big league games against MLB or MLB-adjacent arms, and could be quick to ascend to Tacoma.

DeLoach added a double of his own in the seventh and later dashed home on a wild pitch to stretch the lead to 5-3, giving Arkansas the disappointing end of a three-game split, but some satisfaction heading into the new week.