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Midshipmen’s Log 5/5/22: Robert Pérez Jr. goes hero mode, Spencer Packard rakes, Levi Stoudt shoves, Kyle Lewis Back!

One more time: Kyle Lewis back!

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Seattle Mariners Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another edition of the Midshipman’s Log. If you’ve been checking the minor league transaction log pages, you might have noticed an explosion of transactions on May 3rd. The reason behind this is partially the typical early-season shuffling as the organization tries to cover innings, but largely the fact that the AquaSox are playing in Vancouver this week, so every unvaccinated player has been re-assigned to Modesto, with a few players from Modesto getting the bump to Everett for the week. So don’t get confused if you see a few names you’re used to seeing in Everett grouped in with Modesto this week, or vice-versa.

Modesto Nuts take on Fresno Grizzlies with new faces, split first two games of series

First off, some non-COVID injury updates for the Nuts, both good and bad. First, the bad: top prospect Harry Ford has been placed on the 7-day IL. We’re not sure what happened with Ford, as he went on the IL the day after playing in a game as the DH with no obvious injury, but he—along with Modesto’s other catcher, Freuddy Batista—has been taking a beating behind the plate in trying to corral pitches from Modesto’s young staff while also dealing with some less disciplined hitters. Now for the good: RHP Sam Carlson makes his return to Modesto after recovering from a knee injury suffered in spring training. The addition of Carlson swells the Modesto pitching staff to seven starters for as long as he’s there, but he’ll likely only need to prove he’s healthy and back to form over a couple starts before receiving a deserved bump up to Everett.

The news is similarly mixed over the first two games of the series. In Game 1 against the Grizzlies, playing at the former PCL park Chukchansi Park, Nuts ace William Fleming struck out seven but also gave up three runs on five hits over four innings of work; the bullpen gave up another six runs while only recording two strikeouts as a unit.

The offense struggled as well to get anything going off former Oregon Duck and Rockies 2021 9th rounder Cullen Kafka (excuse us while we lie down to recover from the conflicting literary implications of that name), who spun seven innings of two-run ball, striking out eight. Reigning Mariners minor leaguer of the month Edwin Arroyo was able to keep his hot hitting going, with his second triple of the year.

In the second game, Modesto eked out a win thanks to some late-game heroics from Robert Perez Jr., who entered the game as a replacement and produced Modesto’s only two runs of the day on this almost-a-homer double:

Credit goes to Modesto’s pitching for keeping them in this one even as the offense struggled to get started. Bryce Miller, down from Everett, surrendered just one run over five innings of work, touching 97-98 easily but only striking out three and walking two. The bullpen came in and shut the door with four no-hit innings among Jorge Benitez and Kevin Nuñez, who each struck out four and walked none.

New guys give Everett AquaSox (9-13) a shot in the arm, Frogs take first two from Vancouver Canadians (10-11)

Game One: AquaSox celebrate 4th of July early with fireworks, defeat Canadians 4-2

The Frogs came out on top in game one of this series, in what became a battle of top pitching prospects who finished with pretty similar pitching lines. Both pitchers herald from countries not typically associated as being prospect hubs. Adam Macko of Slovakia, one of the most impressive arms in this talented Everett rotation (Mariners no. 11 top prospect), toed the rubber opposite Sem Robberse of the Netherlands (Blue Jays no. 7 top prospect). Macko finished with 5.0 IP, 0R, 2H, 7K, 3BB, while Robberse finished with 5.0 IP, 0R, 4H, 7K, 2BB.

Although Vancouver takes part in, for the first part of this game, was showing a rather unhelpful camera angle, so we have no highlights from the first part of this pitchers duel.

Good pitching held the teams scoreless through six. Both teams cracked it open in the seventh inning, though: Spencer Packard, who has quietly been the best batter on the team this season, ripped a monster two-run homer to right-center field to start the scoring. He drove in Cole Barr, who reached on a walk earlier in the inning.

The lead, alas, was not meant to last. Kyle Hill took the hill, and, well, control was not his friend. A couple of walks and a double later, and the game was tied.

Everett put their best foot forward to claim the game in the top of the ninth inning - with two outs, Alberto Rodríguez cranked a double, continuing to heat up. That put Packard and Welch, the teams two .300 hitters up next. They wisely pitched around Packard to get to Welch, who was called out on strikes.

The tenth inning, described by a screenshot. Jol Concepcion took the mound for the Canadians, and had a rough night.

whole lotta oof

Two walks to load the bases hurts. A go-ahead balk is real rough. Two more walks immediately after is a heartbreaker. You almost feel bad.

Shout out to Leon Hunter, who came on in the ninth to put down the side in order to secure extra innings, then stuck around to secure the win. Hunter pitched 2.0 innings and racked up five strikeouts, giving up just one hit.

Game 2: Canadians politely apologize for the trouble last night, graciously lose 8-4

True to form, the Canadians, feeling awfully bad about the late night and extra innings and all that, politely let Everett have a real romp of a game.

Wednesday night saw four hitters put up multi-hit games (Spencer Packard, 2, Dariel Gomez, 2, Justin Lavey, 2, Andy Thomas, 3). Lavey and Thomas really stole the show, though. They each drove in a pair of runs in the first inning on back-to-back singles.

Thomas then added another three RBIs in the third inning on this absolute monster of a home run to center field.

Thomas has an unusual toe-tap swing, but the fluidity and power generated through his hips is impressive.

In a seven-run hole, Vancouver slowly started to piece together some runs, bringing them as close as 7-4 by the end of the fifth inning.

Thomas, though, wasn’t quite down, adding one more RBI on a bloop single in the eighth to make it 8-4.

Overall, Lavey and Thomas went 5-for-6 with all 8 RBIs, reaching base nine times in total as they combined for four walks as well. Packard had another exciting night, as his first-inning single extended his on-base streak to twenty games.

On the pitching side, Everett got six innings from their Modesto reinforcements, including five from Jimmy Kingsbury and one scoreless inning from Jackson Sigman. The extra arms are sure to be a major booster for what would otherwise be a thinner pitching staff on a long road trip.

Player to Watch: Spencer Packard

I think I chose him two weeks ago, but the pick still stands and is worth repeating. While a lot of other hot bats in this lineup are being propped up by unsustainable BABIPs, Packard’s is in line with his last season’s (and might even be a bit low!) at .311. BABIP tells you what your batting average is on balls that you put in play - this is a valuable statistic to look at because players tend not to have a lot of control over it, meaning that generally, it can be used to snuff out good or bad luck. A very fast player who hits the ball very hard might be able to expect to maintain a .330 BABIP, while a very slow player who hits the ball soft could see their’s as low as .270, over appropriate sample sizes. However, most players see their BABIP in the .290-.310 range. Seeing Packard with a .316/.424/.605 slash line and a realistic BABIP indicates that he is earning his hits, and is generating a lot of power as well, with a .289 ISO. After 20 straight games to start the season getting on base, look to see Packard challenged here soon.

Arkansas Rides Roughly over Frisco RoughRiders, taking first two games of series

Game One: Stoudt bounces back, Travs speedrun to 2-1 win

The only thing better than a Travelers win is a Travelers win that is over in 2:12. I know it isn’t perfect, but I’m a big fan of the pitch clock. It helps when both pitchers are absolutely dealing.

Levi Stoudt bounced back in a big way after his first shaky outing of the season his last time out. The Ms #7 prospect gave up a single to the third batter of the game to give the RoughRiders a 1-0 lead. He then faced the minimum for the rest of the game until he was replaced in the seventh inning. He did give up two more hits, but one was thrown out attempting to steal, and the other was erased on a double play. Three of the four hits Stoudt gave up didn’t leave the infield.

It is nice to see Stoudt bounce back after he was roughed up a bit in his last outing. It is especially encouraging considering he did so against a Frisco lineup that features five players with an OPS over .800. It should be a good test for him to face them again on Sunday in the series finale.

On the opposite end of the offensive spectrum, we have the 2022 Arkansas Travelers. You know how the RoughRiders have five guys with a .800 OPS? Yeah, the Travs have no one even approaching that and just four players in the lineup on Tuesday night who have an OPS north of .700. Aside from a weird hot streak in Corpus Christi that carried over the first two games against Wichita, the Travs bats just have not got going. Part of it is undoubtedly the notoriously unfriendly confines of Dickey-Stephens Park, but it would be nice to see the Travs get going on offense over the next two weeks in Frisco and San Antonio.

The Travs did just enough on offense to keep up with their stellar pitching. Riley Unroe drove in Zach DeLoach in the second inning after DeLoach sent a shot to the wall to get to a double.

Kaden Polcovich got a single to open up the third inning before showing off his speed by swiping second. Polcovich is batting nearly .400 during his six-game hitting streak. Joe Rizzo moved the runner to third, and Jake Scheiner drove Polcovich in for the 2-1 lead. That was all the Travs needed, thanks to a shutdown bullpen.

Colin Kober impressed in his one inning of work, reliving Stoudt, walking one and striking one out. The Travs ran into a little bit of trouble when Ben Onyshko gave up a walk and a single to put the tying run just 90-feet away. Travis Kuhn came in and extinguished the threat by getting a ground out to end the frame. Kuhn followed that up with a perfect inning, including two strikeouts to stop the Travelers’ five-game skid.

Game Two: Jack Larsen comes up clutch in 6-3 Travs win

Stephen Kolek provided another strong start in Game 2, allowing no runs over his five innings while striking out six, but unfortunately the bullpen let a run leak out in each of the 6th-8th innings, making the offense realize that this time their strategy of “score only in the first two innings” wouldn’t cut it. Thankfully, Jack Larsen came up with a huge ninth-inning triple, scoring two, and then was able to score himself on a passed ball, securing a 6-3 win.

Jake Scheiner, Joe Rizzo, and Zach DeLoach all had RBI hits earlier on to give the Travs their initial three runs. Michael Stryffeler came in to close the door to give the Travs the opening two games in Frisco.

Rainiers split the first two games of the series against the Bees

The big news, of course, is KYLE LEWIS BACK, and boy oh boy, did he make his presence known immediately, going 3-for-5 in his first game back serving as Tacoma’s DH with two singles and a home run:

The arrival of KLew seems to have perked up the entire offense, as every single hitter in the Rainiers lineup recorded at least one hit, with Lewis and Erick Mejia leading the charge with three apiece; Mejia was a homer away from hitting for the cycle. Cal Raleigh had two hits including a home run as the Rainiers smashed their way to 13 runs.

Unfortunately, this game was a close one, requiring some ninth-inning heroics from Billy Hamilton hitting a bases-loaded single to sneak the Rainiers past the Bees, as the Rainiers pitching staff gave up 11 total runs. Ian McKinney was touched up for four runs over 2.1 innings, and Roenis Elías struggled significantly for the first time since he returned to Tacoma, entering with the bases loaded and allowing all three runners to score on a pair of singles, plus giving up two more runs of his own on some more singles.

Game 2 was much closer but the Rainiers ultimately dropped the game, 3-2, after struggling to get their offense going. Cal Raleigh and Sam Haggerty each had a pair of hits including a double, but the Rainiers just couldn’t get that clutch hit, going 0-for-8 with RISP. The weak offensive showing spoiled a fine outing by Darren McCaughan, who allowed just two runs over six innings; Yohan Ramírez also made a two-inning appearance, allowing two hits but no runs and striking out just one but walking no one.