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Midshipmen’s Log, 5/16/22: Robert Pérez tees off, AquaSox forget how to score, Arkansas Travelers find new ways to lose games, Rainiers squeak a split

Nooooooooot a great week on the farm

WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup: Chinese Taipei v Venezuela
Bobby Bombs aka Robert Pérez
Photo by Luis Gutierrez /Norte Photo/Getty Images

Before we get into the games this week, a programming note: starting this week we’ll be transitioning from two Midshipmen’s Logs per week to one MSL (Monday) and one State of the Farm (Friday). The Midshipmen’s Logs will continue to give you the full recap of each series for the week for each affiliate, while State of the Farm will be more of a bird’s eye view of the system, focusing on general trends, injury news, and individual players.

Modesto Nuts (15-18) run over by Inland Empire 66ers (17-16)

Modesto’s young team continues to scuffle, dropping four games of this series to the Angels-affiliated 66ers. To be fair, Modesto was without both of their primary catchers until Friday of this series, when Harry Ford made his return from the IL; Freuddy Batista, Ford’s roommate and peer-mentor, remains in Arizona, rehabbing at the complex. Luckily, Edwin Arroyo has been picking up the slack while his fellow top prospect is out of commission; he’s currently riding an 11-game hitting streak and is leading the team with a .289 average.

The Nuts had their chances in this series. As mentioned last week, Game 1 opened with an extra-innings loss, which could have put them on a 2-0 hot start to the series after a narrow win in Game 2. Instead, Modesto went on to drop three games in a row against the 66ers. Yeury Tatiz had a rough start in Game 3, giving up seven runs and unable to clear the first inning, and even though the offense came back to make it a close game, they weren’t able to overcome that early deficit. Jonatan Clase, Walking Cabrera, and emergency catcher callup Junior Gonzalez each had two hits in the loss, and Gonzalez, fresh from the complex, had the lone extra-base hit, a triple.

Despite the return of Harry Ford, who had an epic homer/batflip you’ve probably seen in his first game back (but will link here just in case), the Nuts also dropped Game 4, despite a strong performance from the top half of the lineup, especially Robert “Bobby Bombs” Pérez, who doubled and hit his ninth home run of the year, which was absolutely demolished.

Michael Morales got saddled with the loss, giving up three runs over five innings, but this start marked an improvement for him from his last two rougher times out, and his bullpen surrendered five more runs en route to an 8-5 loss. The Nuts suffered their worst loss of the series in Game 5, getting the doors blown off 7-3; William Fleming took the loss in that one, giving up four runs in 4.1 innings while walking (3) more batters than he struck out (2); Cabrera and Arroyo both doubled, and Cabrera and Ford both had multi-hit days, but there just wasn’t enough offense up and down the lineup to keep up with the rate at which the bullpen handed out runs. Encouragingly, the Nuts bounced back for a blowout win of their own in Game 6, making the finale the most lopsided victory of the series as Modesto found all that missing offense all at once, winning 12-0. Robert Pérez made a very loud argument for his promotion to Everett, hitting two home runs, and Jonatan Clase had a double and two triples in a three-hit day, and also threw this laser beam to assist in the final out and keep the 66ers off the board for the day:

Jimmy Kingsbury was strong in his start, earning his first win of the season with five solid innings and six strikeouts to just one walk.

Everett AquaSox (11-21) get hoovered up by Tri-City Dust Devils (16-14)

Nick is on vacay this week and usually is the one to handle Everett so apologies in advance, Everett is getting the short end of the stick here. But honestly, it’s probably better we don’t dwell too long on the struggles of the AquaSox, who avoided getting swept away on the east side of the state only by virtue of a Game 1 win. Everett scored 15 runs total over the six game series, which includes them scoring zero (0) runs in the final three games, while giving up twice that number. Hey, you know who the AquaSox could use? This guy:

The Bobby Bombs highlights in Everett’s section will continue until he is promoted or Everett scores an (1) run. The last time Everett scored a run was all the way back in Game 3 of this series, when they were able to take advantage of some wildness from Angels 2021 third-rounder Landon Marceaux, racking up four runs against him, two earned. Unfortunately, AquaSox starter Juan Mercedes got knocked around in his four innings for seven runs on ten hits as he continues to get comfortable at the level (and recover from the fact that the organization has been using him as a swingman to cover innings in Tacoma).

Remember how we were making fun of the Angels for taking 20 straight pitchers (19/20 college pitchers) in the 2021 draft? Turns out the joke is on the poor Mariners youngsters in A/A+ who now have to face all those much more experienced pitchers. Nick Mondak, the Angels’ 18th-rounder last year, shut down the Sox in Game 4, striking out eight over six innings, while the Mariners started new acquisition Prelander Berroa, who was wild in his 2.2 innings of work, surrendering five walks and four runs, all earned. Noelvi Marte had three strikeouts and no hits in the game.

Things did not improve in Game 5 against 2020 fifth-rounder Adam Seminaris (former LBSU Dirtbag). who didn’t post the same gaudy K totals as Mondak but was equally effective in shutting down the Frogs. Adam Macko got saddled with the loss, giving up a modest three runs (2 ER) in just under five innings of work with six strikeouts. And the offense utterly spoiled a gem from Bryce Miller on Sunday in Game 6; Miller went six innings, allowing no runs on three hits, walking no one, and striking out nine, but the bullpen surrendered one measly little run and so the Frogs lost, as the offense was completely stymied by Dylan King, a 25-year-old still toiling in High-A for...reasons, I guess, who punched out nine batters over five innings. Blech. One Bobby Bombs to Funko Field, stat, please and thank you.

Arkansas Travelers (14-19) get walked off in extras, somehow not the lowlight in 1-3 series end to San Antonio Missions (15-18)

You know things are going poorly when losing a game in the most heartbreaking fashion I have seen in a while isn’t the worst part of your weekend. Things are even worse when rock bottom isn’t your 9-1 loss either. Having a game where you get zero hits always takes the cake. Unless, of course, you somehow also win the game 1-0, but I guess that luck is reserved for the Pittsburgh Pirates this week. To put a positive spin on things, we got exciting news this week that Ms #4 prospect and 2021 first-round pick Emerson Hancock is making his 2022 debut on Tuesday with the Travs. It’ll probably take a few outings for Hancock to work up to full strength, and the organization will be abundantly safe with him, but it is very encouraging to see the former Bulldog take the field again. Thanks, Jerry, for giving me something fun after taking George Kirby from me.

Game Three: Travs lose 2-1 in the dumbest baseball game ever

Congratulations to the 2022 Arkansas Travelers; they officially found the most heartbreaking way to lose in extra innings since the ghost runner rule was introduced in 2020. We’ll get there, but I guess we should backtrack to explain how they found themselves at this moment, huh?

Connor Jones threw by far his most important game of the season. I have admittedly not highlighted Jones much this season, in part because his numbers have been bad, with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP before he tossed his gem on Thursday. Another reason Jones has flown under the radar is that it is easier to talk about George Kirby, Levi Stoudt, and Taylor Dollard than someone not really on the prospect radar. But if Jones continues to dominate like that, he will leave me no choice.

The 2016 2nd round pick was signed as a minor league free agent from St. Louis last month. It wasn’t like the 27-year old got lucky or anything like that; he just straight up dominated for seven outstanding innings. He only gave up two hits and walked just three. Other than a bunt single, stolen base, and wild pitch combination in the third inning, no other runner reached second base on Jones. If you take out Esteury Ruiz, the rest of the lineup was hitless against Jones. It’s possible Jones has turned a bit of a corner, only allowing two earned runs his previous time out. In fact, if you take out the eight-run shellacking he took on April 30, he has a 3.12 ERA, far more respectable.

For as excellent as Jones was, he could still only go as far as the limits of the human body would take him, which meant the bullpen had to enter in the eighth inning of a 0-0 game. Oh yeah, that’s right, the Travs’ bats have disappeared again. Connor Kaiser, taking the mantle of most important Connor in the game after Jones was taken out, ripped a double to left fielder Connor Hoover to open up the eighth inning. The main character of the game, Esteury Ruiz, came in clutch for his third hit to give the Missions the late 1-0 lead heading to the final frame.

Sensing that losing in the eighth inning wasn’t nearly heartbreaking enough, the Travs’ bats finally came alive to force extra innings. Joe Rizzo opened things up with a single. A Zach DeLoach walk moved Rizzo into scoring position for Jack Larsen to tie the game up with two outs in the ninth.

Now the moment we have all been waiting for. After the Travs were unable to score with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the frame, the Missions only needed one run for their second extra-innings walk-off win of the series. Ben Onyshko, sensing this extra pressure, attempted to pick off the ghost runner at second. The ball got away fromOnyshko to allow Jorge Ona to scamper just 90 feet away from victory. Onyshko responded by striking out the next batter he faced. Alright, cool, no worries, just gotta focus and get another strike put or pop ou- oh no, what’s this???

Yeah. Never an ideal way to lose on a wild pitch, especially when you don’t allow any contact in the inning. Thanks, Manfred.

Game Four: Considerate Travs don’t put fans through any stress; lose 9-1.

There was a debate making the rounds on Twitter (write a horror story in nine words) over the last few days over what is worse; a heartbreaking loss that goes down to the wire, or a blowout loss that was decided by halftime (or the 5th inning in this analogy). This question was brought on by the Golden State Warriors losing by 39 and at one point trailing by 52 points. The correct answer is undoubtedly the blowout loss. If you’re a fan, you don’t have to deal with the agonizing feeling of spending two-three hours watching this nailbiter only to fall in the final seconds. An absolute no-brainer, IMO. Give me the close win over a blowout every day of the week, but hard pass on a close loss.

After experimenting with the former for two of the first three games of the series, the Travelers wanted to prove that the correct answer is definitively the blowout loss, so they did exactly that in a 9-1 drubbing.

There are not a ton of positives to take away from this one. It only counts as one loss; that’s a positive. Matt Scheffler walked three times; that is definitely something good to take away from this. The 2020 UDFA is up to a 22% BB rate, probably not sustainable but encouraging nonetheless. His OBP is up to .435 in the early season. Not necessarily “something” yet, but potentially not nothing. We’re not going to talk about his ISO, which is lower than his age. The biggest positive of the game is that they didn’t put their fans through three hours of stress only to lose in the end, helping confirm that blowout losses are the only acceptable kind of losses.

Game Five: Stoudt strong, Travs offense shows up in 6-2 win

It looked like I was going to have to recycle the same Olivia Rodrigo deja vu joke through the first three innings when the Travs offense couldn’t get anything going. Finally, they woke up in the fourth inning. Zach DeLoach drove a double the other way to dive in Kaden Polcovich to put the Travs on the board.

Cade Marlowe tacked on two more to give the Travs a 3-0 lead, more than enough for Levi Stoudt.

The Ms #7 prospect bounced back nicely from his worst outing of the season, in which he gave up eight (!) earned runs. I think it is pretty safe to call that a fluke because, for the most part, the temporary ace of the Travs rotation has been solid this season. On Saturday, he went six strong innings, allowing just one earned run, five hits, and zero walks.

Even in the eight-run nightmare, Stoudt only walked two batters. In fact, he is running just a 2.00 BB/9 rate this season, a pretty significant improvement from his career 4.08 across two levels last season. It also makes me question how accurate that 45 grade MLB Pipeline has on his control.

Just for good measure, the Travs added on a few insurance runs, including a Jake Scheiner home run to make it 6-1 Travs.

Braden Shipley and Travis Kuhn had plenty of wiggle room, and they comfortably finished things off to give the Travs the 6-2 victory. Not to jinx things or anything, but I’m starting to think this might be a turning point for the Travs offense. The future looks bright.

Game Six: Travs try “leave your bat at home day”, it somehow backfires in a no-hit loss

Me sowing (getting eight hits and scoring six runs): Haha fuck yeah!!! Yes!!!

Me reaping (getting zero hits and scoring zero runs): Well this fucking sucks. What the fuck.

About a month ago, I commended the Travelers for their heroic performance of only getting one hit in their series finale and trying to get home from work ASAP while putting in as little effort as possible. That is great when you get at least one (1) hit. It is decidedly not quite as great when you forget to get that hit. They forgot to even get a baserunner until Cade Marlowe took an eight-pitch walk that I would not have blamed the entire San Antonio dugout for getting ejected for arguing in that situation.

If that wasn’t enough for the Missions to be irate, how about a five-pitch walk to the penultimate batter of the game in which zero of the four balls were outside the strike zone?

While we don’t have a ton of positives to take away from offensively, Stephen Kolek was solid, and Michael Stryffeler has continued his run of dominance, still maintaining his 0.00 ERA.

Kolek threw a season-high 98 pitches over 6.1 innings. He gave up three earned runs, which he could’ve given up just one, and the lead probably would’ve felt insurmountable the way things were going on offense.

Hopefully, the bats will get going a bit went the Travs return home on Tuesday to take on NW Arkansas for a six-game set. And even if they don’t, Emerson Hancock is back pitching, so that’s groovy.

Tacoma Rainiers (11-25) tastefully split final four games with Reno Aces (18-18)

Game Three: Patience pays off, Tacoma wins 5-2

Taking advantage of a wild outing from LHP Tommy Henry, one of the more promising pitching prospects in a pitching-rich Arizona system, the Rainiers leapt out to an early lead they would never relinquish. They relied on a little bit of everything from the pitching staff, as Tommy Milone worked 83-85 mph fastballs and slightly slower changeups for three shutout innings before turning things over to an effective bullpen outing. Tacoma’s arms have to take advantage of these home series to stabilize their numbers as they’ll receive no such quarter in most of the league’s road parks.

Offensively, it was a big night for bigger flies, as three solo homers from INF Erick Mejia, 1B Zach Green, and OF Marcus Wilson. The latter of the group set the tone for what would be a fantastic weekend across the board.

Game Four: Who slugs the sluggers? Tacoma wins 8-6.

Another win for the R Squad, this time in a far more explosive fashion. While veteran starter Konner Wade got touched up aplenty. Once again Tacoma got a crack at a top prospect, this time in the form of fringe Top-100 arm RHP Drey Jameson. The fireballing righty struggled with his command, providing the opportunity for 21-year-old Miguel Perez to make a mark as he filled in up from the Arizona complex for the weekend.

I saw Perez in Everett last year, filling in in a similar fashion for the AquaSox. There as here, he struck out plenty and also hit the ball further than I saw anyone else touch one up. His 386 foot three run blast came on an 83-mph slider from Jameson, and his disbelief is palpable. Jameson failed to escape the fourth inning, where Wilson got back in on the party.

It wouldn’t be enough, unfortunately, as RHP Riley O’Brien gave up a dinger of his own to knot things up once more in the 6th. All that did was set the stage for a bigger kaboom. Wilson, once again:

Game Five: Vengeance served warm, Tacoma loses 9-3

The good here was that it was the game Kyle Lewis played in, DHing and going 1-4. The bad was it was the only game he appeared in since May 10th and he did not make another appearance on Sunday, squashing hopes of his showing the back-to-back-to-back without limitation needed for him to rejoin the Seattle Mariners, per Jerry Dipoto. With Sunday off and the typical Monday off-day, hopefully Lewis can continue building stamina and durability in his knee, though it’s hard to know what will ultimately yield that for him.

The rest of this game was not much to write home about, sadly. UTIL Sam Haggerty continued doing a little bit of everything, including a stolen base, while C/1B Joe Odom had another solid night with the bat. Veteran RHP Dan Straily stifled the Rainiers, however, and RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon got walloped. A pair of southpaws in Ian McKinney and Fernando Abad worked three innings with no earned runs to finish things out for Tacoma, providing the closest thing to a spark for Tacoma Saturday night. Oh, and Marcus Wilson tripled, because his weekend could not be held back.

Game Six: Too many cabbages, Tacoma loses 4-3

Recognizing their prior folly, Reno stopped bothering with pitching to Wilson hardly at all, walking him twice in their final tilt of the series. Odom clubbed a homer as well, helping Tacoma show signs of life offensively, but three hitters had two hits each, totaling seven for the club on the day, and not much clustered together well enough. That meant Tacoma spoiled what was a fairly solid night on the pitching end, dropping the final game of the series.

That pitching started with recently DFA’d LHP Nick Margevicius, who has struggled immensely coming off a diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome last year. He scattered hits admirably over four innings, working around an error from Mejia to allow a pair of earned runs (and one unearned) in four frames. That ceded to Matt Brash, who struck out four in his two innings of work, albeit walking three. Sadly, the one run Austin Warner yielded on a solo shot by Reno OF Stone Garrett was the difference maker. Another sharp set of outings from RHPs Nick Ramirez and Matt Koch kept it close, but Tacoma could generate little and less against the relievers who followed Aces’ starter RHP Corbin Martin.

Tacoma should see OF Jarred Kelenic join their ranks on Tuesday.