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Midshipmen’s Log 5/9/22: Edwin Arroyo shines, Noelvi Marte heats up, Taylor Dollard stays hot, Kyle Lewis returns

Also, Tacoma played some wild games this week

Texas Rangers v Seattle Mariners
we miss this face!
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Today is the day when we button up the remainder of the minor league week that was. When we last left our teams, everyone was off to a promising, or at least so-so, start to their series. Let’s see how things turned out!

Modesto (13-14) splits series with Fresno Grizzlies (COL), gets close to .500 ball

After getting stomped in the first game but eking out a win in the second, Modesto did some stomping of their own on Thursday, winning 12-6 in a game that wasn’t as close as that score suggests. Every Modesto batter had at least one hit, with Modesto hitting a season-high four home runs; Robert “Baby Bonds” Pérez had two of the four, and Jonatan Clase and Edwin Arroyo had the other two.

The Nuts had another strong outing on Friday, winning 7-2 with yet another Robert Pérez home run and and Edwin Arroyo triple, his third already of the young season. Joseph Hernandez was solid in his start, giving up just two runs over six innings and striking out five; he’s now 3-0 on the season.

Unfortunately, the Nuts couldn’t keep the good vibes going and dropped their last two games of the series, suffering a 16-3 stomping on Saturday where the normally stalwart Michael Morales was chased after just three innings having given up 11 (!) runs. To be fair, only four of those runs were earned; back-to-back throwing errors from the shortstop in the second cost Morales pitches and runs, and more errors in the third (including a wild pitch from Morales) cost him more. Chalk it up to a lousy day at the yard and a young pitcher, but this is now Morales’s second tough start in a row. He’ll look to get back on track next week against Inland Empire, who have the same record as Modesto currently and also some exciting young prospects of their own, including their #2 prospect, shortstop Arol Vera.

The Nuts also dropped their game on Sunday; William Fleming was the tough-luck loser despite giving up just two runs over five innings of work, as the Nuts could only muster two runs of their own. On the bright side, one of those runs came off the bat of Edwin Arroyo, who has been scorching hot lately. Modesto’s lineup badly misses Harry Ford, out with a shoulder injury, but Arroyo has stepped up enormously to fill his fellow top prospect’s absence.

Player of the week:

The Edwin Arroyo Admiration Cam will continue until conditions dictate otherwise.

Everett AquaSox (10-16) are kind of going through a lot right now, evacuate Canada immediately, lose three of four to the Vancouver Canadians (13-12)

While a three-three split in this series overall is actually not bad, considering their first three six-game series all resulted in series losses, the way these games were lost was especially painful. They each felt as though there was some potential that lay ultimately unrealized. Nevertheless, there was plenty of exciting personal successes, and, come on, that’s mostly what you’re here for, right? Strap in and enjoy the ride.

Game Three: Everett sees win slip out of their little froggy hands, loses 6-7 to Vancouver

With Thursday night cancelled due to a deluge of rain (who let a city as north as Vancouver build a non-turf field without a roof?), Friday was the third game between these two teams.

On the offensive side, the Mariners saw the usual suspects contributing throughout the game. Four straight base-hits from Justin Lavey, Trent Tingelstad, James Parker and Colin Davis gave the Frogs a 3-0 lead in the top of the second. In the top of the third, Spencer Packard doubled to extend his 21-game on-base streak, and was driven in by a David Sheaffer double. The Sox extended their lead to six with a Charlie Welsh two-run blast in the top of the sixth. The game, at that point, seemed to be fairly in hand for Everett.

Starting pitcher Jordan Jackson, one of the additions for at least this international series, to that point having a strong outing, started to slip. The 2021 10th-round draft pick out of Georgia Southern delivered 5.1 scoreless innings with two strikeouts, before ending his outing with a walk, a double, and three-run home run before getting yanked, Vancouver having halved their deficit to three.

Mike Mokma, having come into this game on an 8.1-inning scoreless streak, faltered for the first time this season. Coming on in the eighth with a three-run lead at his disposal, Mokma got two outs with runners on first and third before proceeding to give up a one-run single and a two-run double to leave the game tied heading into the ninth.

Mokma first worked a nice double play ball after giving up a lead-off single, before a 1-0 pitch to PK Morris was sent into the stratosphere to walk it off for Vancouver.

In other fun notes on the offensive side, Parker went 4-for-4 with two doubles in addition to the home run, leaving him just a triple away from the cycle.

Games 4 and 5: Everett first gets shut out 4-0, then does the shutting out 5-0, awkwardly say “Well, well well, how the turntables...”

With the rains of Thursday, Saturday was a seven-inning doubleheader, with two shutouts, one rolling each way.

In the matinee, not much went right for the Sox. Three hits was all that Everett mustered, but that was enough for Packard to continue his now-22 game on-base streak. Starting pitcher Juan Mercedes, who has bounced around a bit so far this season between Modesto, Everett and Tacoma as needed for pitching depth, gave up two unearned runs on a throwing error by....himself. A two-run home run allowed by Bryan Pall, seen here doing his best Erik Swanson impression, made it 4-0 and that was all she wrote for the first leg of the doubleheader.

The evening game was a much better showing for Everett.

Noelvi Marte got the party started by pulling a leadoff home run out to left field.

The easy power production in that swing is easy to dream about, and makes it easy to understand why some in the league believe that Noelvi’s raw power rivals Julio’s.

Noelvi had a great day at the plate after that, going 2-for-3 and adding a walk. He also scored on a throwing error to put the Frogs up by 2 in the top of the third inning.

Justin Lavey provided the rest of the firepower for the evening. Charlie Welch led off the sixth inning with a walk and a Berto single moved him to second. Dariel Gomez gave ‘em the ole’ Ty France Special (wearing a pitch on the tricep) to load them up. Lavey delivered to put the Frogs in safe territory, pulling a ball just fair and just out of reach down the line.

Brayan Perez, getting his second start of the season after a disastrous first outing, looked solid. The baby-faced lefty with the funky delivery put up 5 scoreless innings, giving up a trio each of hits, walks and strikeouts.

Leon Hunter delivered two strikeouts in his scoreless sixth inning, and Kyle Hill shut the door in the seventh inning, the fourteenth of the day, before, presumably, everyone got a bit of deserved shut-eye.

In distressing news, Packard’s beautiful streak has ended. Alas, all beautiful things die, I suppose. (This is an appropriate reaction, yes.)

Game 6: Everett AquaSox hate their mothers, your mother, lose 8-13 on Mother’s Day

Don’t you hate when the best-laid plans gets spoiled by something unpredictable? For example, today, after attending the Mariner’s game (written Sunday, by the way), my car was towed from somewhere there were no “No Parking” signs - in fact there were even sign encouraging me to park for free on Sundays! For another example, when I checked in on this game earlier today, the score was 8-2, so I planned on writing the headline “Everett declares ‘shout to moms #moms’, [win big or whatever]”. Alas, the Everett AquaSox had a big win for them spoiled by something unpredictable - in this case, 11 uninterrupted runs scored by the Vancouver Canadians.

This game featured all the highs and lows that you might expect from a score like that, plus a little extra. Adam Macko pitched an inefficient but solid four innings, claiming seven strikeouts, giving up two runs, but taking nearly 80 pitches to do so.

In the top of the third inning, Everett appeared to break this one open, with a wonderful series of six at-bats, a trio of duets.

  1. Noelvi Marte, single. Tyler Keenan, two-run home run.
  2. Charlie Welch, hit by a pitch. Alberto Rodríguez, two-run home run.
  3. Andy Thomas, double. Justin Lavey, two-run home run.

I mean, that feels pretty good, right? And if I told you that a Dariel Gomez double and a Trent Tingelstad single each drove in another run, surely you’d feel confident in an 8-2 lead? Right?

You and me both, reader. Unfortunately, the Vancouver Canadians apparently also have moms that they’re playing for at home, and they showed it. They scored 11 unanswered runs from the bottom of the fifth to the bottom of the seventh, scoring 5 off of Fred Villareal, 3 off of Jackson Sigman, and 3 off of Brendan McGuigan. After just three hits in their first four innings, they put together 10 in those three innings and drew five walks. Ah, well. There’s always next year, mom.


Arkansas Travelers (12-15) continue to sputter on offense, drop three of four to Frisco RoughRiders (17-10)

I’ll be honest, Thursday’s edition was a lot more fun to write. We were riding the high of a six (!) run effort from the Travs offense. We also got a brilliant outing from Levi Stoudt to give the Travs the first two games of the series. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction. Then we had a vibe shift and the Travs offense hit another wall in a trio of uncompetitive losses. The win was an encouraging game for one of the club’s most intriguing offensive prospects.

Game Three: Taylor Dollard stays hot, bullpen shaky in Travs 6-1 loss.

Arkansas might have a new ace of the rotation, and my apologies to Levi Stoudt, who has been excellent, but Taylor Dollard has been on another level to start the season. Technically speaking, Thursday was by far his worst start of the season because he gave up more earned runs (1) than he has in his first four outings combined (0), but let’s dive into what Dollard is doing real quick.

It is truly a pick your poison type scenario for how to best show off how impressive Dollard has been. If you are into more traditional stats, may I point you to his 0.50 ERA? How about the fact that he has just walked four batters this season? If you want more advanced stats, perhaps you’ll be impressed by his 2.85 FIP. Or maybe his 0.78 WHIP. I think the fact that hitters are batting just .159 against him is my personal favorite. If you are the type of baseball fan who isn’t impressed by stats and make all of your determinations based solely on awards, then fear not; Taylor Dollard also picked up Texas League pitcher of the week last week.

Even though he gave up a run and four hits, double his previous high in an outing, Dollard went five innings for the second consecutive outing (encouraging) and threw 79 pitches, the most of the season so far for the college reliever (very encouraging). The Ms are clearly stretching Dollard out to legitimately try to be a starting pitcher, and with the recent news that Matt Brash is transitioning to more of a bullpen role, it’s perfect timing to see if Dollard can stick in the rotation.

The struggling Travs offense did all they could to make sure Dollard wouldn’t be on the hook for the loss when he exited the game, tying things up at 1-1 in the top of the sixth. However, the bullpen wasn’t nearly as dominant as Dollard, giving up two in the sixth, two in the seventh, and one in the eighth.

Game Four: DeLoach leads offensive explosion in 6-2 Travs win

Zach DeLoach has come back down to earth a bit after starting this season as one of the best hitters in minor league baseball, but the Travs cleanup hitter came through in a big way on Friday night. I don’t think it’s a huge reach to say DeLoach is one of the Ms top five most important prospects this season. Harry Ford, Jonatan Clase, and Edwin Arroyo are all arguably better than DeLoach, but they are all super young, and it’s probably not worth it to stress out too much if they don’t light the world on fire as literal teenagers. DeLoach is a different story at 23-years-old. It’s not necessarily a make or break season for the former Aggie in just his second full professional season, but it is kind of a crucial few months for him. DeLoach could play himself into the discussion for a crowded Ms outfield down the line, or he could play himself into a potential trade candidate come July.

Regardless of what happens later this season, DeLoach played himself into the discussion for player of the game on Friday night. He gave the Travs a 4-2 lead on a shot to right-centerfield in the fourth inning.

The Travs added on two insurance runs, but they were unnecessary thanks to the lethal bullpen brewing in Arkansas. Ben Onyshko, Braden Shipley, and Travis Kuhn, all with an ERA under 1.35, took care of business and limited the RoughRiders to one hit each and no runs.

Once you add in Michael Stryffeler and his 0.00 ERA, the Travs have one of the best bullpens in the Texas League. If only the offense could consistently score enough to give them a lead to protect. Speaking of which...

Game Five: Baseball world misses out on elite pitching matchup, Jack Leiter tosses gem as Travs lose 5-0

This had the potential to be one of the best pitching matchups of the season. Jack Leiter, the #2 pick last July and the #17 prospect in all of baseball, took the hill for the RoughRiders. He was scheduled to be going up against the #30 prospect in all of baseball, George Kirby. It would’ve been Kirby’s chance to prove it against one of the biggest names in prospect circles. It would’ve been a great test to face a lineup with six guys with at least a .747 OPS. It was an early highlight of the minor league season. Tragically, Jerry Dipoto had other ideas and decided to rob us of this gem and called up George Kirby to Seattle before he could face Leiter :(

I am excited to watch Kirby on the biggest stage in Seattle. Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least 1% sad I’ll no longer get to write about his dominant starts against overmatched Texas League hitters.

Unfortunately for the Travs, Jack Leiter did hold up his end of the bargain and had the best start of his professional career on Saturday. There have been a lot of games this season where it would be easy to be a bit disappointed in the Travs’ offensive performance; Saturday really wasn’t one of them. Sure, they got shut out, and Leiter only gave up two hits over six innings while striking out five, but he is really good at baseball, and he was completely dialed in. Oh well, nothing you can really do when he is spotting pitches like this.

80-grade K strut too.

For their credit, the Travs did keep it close until the seventh, but a double and two-run home run to open up the inning made it 5-0. Even with Leiter out of the game, that was too much of a hill to climb for a lackluster Travs offense.

On the positive side of things; two fun bullpen things. First off the sword of the year by Jake Haberer.

Next up we have the perfect inning from 2019 UDFA in his first Double-A appearance.

Game Six: Stoudt gets shelled in 8-2 loss

Can we just pretend this game didn’t happen? Levi Stoudt got absolutely rocked in the series finale. George Kirby left the door reading “new ace of the Arkansas Travelers rotation” wide open when he left for Seattle. Stoudt, ever the wiser, probably thought it was like some sort of trick. It is kind of like how the funhouse in Us looks so appealing to Adelaide, but it turns out that it’s actually a portal to a weird underground dimension (?) with doppelgangers and stuff. I’m sure that is precisely what was going through Levi Stoudt’s mind as he took the mound Sunday afternoon.

Stoudt raised his ERA nearly two full runs on Sunday. He went four innings, giving up ten hits and eight runs. He came into the game having allowed just ten runs total in his first five starts of the year combined. The eight runs are also just one fewer than what the Travs scored over the last four games. He only walked two, so I guess command wasn’t as big of an issue as eight runs would lead you to believe, but it is still decidedly not what you want. The silver lining is that the bullpen was absolute nails in an already out of reach ballgame. Michael Stryffeler extended his scoreless innings streak to 10 to open up the season. Hopefully Stoudt watches Monsters, Inc before his next start and remembers that some doors are actually good to walk through.

Tacoma Rainiers (9-21) make a nice card for mom and win on Sunday to distract from three other losses to Salt Lake Bees (16-14)

It’s been a really tough start to the season for The R Squad, who are firmly in last place of the Pacific Coast League West division and the PCL writ large. The culprit is pitching, which has yielded a league-worst 220 runs, bad for just over 7 runs allowed per game. Even in the PCL that simply won’t fly, though the home runs will. As the Seattle Mariners’ nearest affiliate by level and geography, they are of course the club most immediately impacted by injuries at the big league level. Thus, with RHP Matt Festa and C Tom Murphy hitting the IL this week, Tacoma lost C Cal Raleigh less than a week after he joined them. The Rainiers also saw both LHP Danny Young and RHP Riley O’Brien called into service in Seattle, albeit briefly for O’Brien who was optioned back there on Sunday for RHP George Kirby’s call-up.

It wasn’t all bad from Tacoma’s perspective of course, as they gained RHP Matt Brash to bolster their bullpen, where he made his debut Sunday. Excitingly, they also received a rehabbing Kyle Lewis, who made an immediate and frequent impact throughout the series with the Angels affiliate, Salt Lake.

Game Three: César Valdez has a day in the sun - Rainiers lose 8-1.

The absolute grandest of hat tips to Bees Thursday night starter César Valdez. Having appeared for 60.1 combined innings of relief for the abandoned-by-gods-and-men 2020-21 Baltimore Orioles after a two-year layoff from affiliated baseball, the 37-year-old who was once a 32-year-old rookie threw a complete game gem to stymie the Rainiers. 9.0 IP, eight scattered hits, just one run, one walk, and eight strikeouts. In any environment, that’s a true gem. In Salt Lake City at elevation it’s damn near magic. The one run came in the eighth on a Mason McCoy laser, but for most of the game Valdez and his famous changeup were enough. 61 of his 97 pitches were changeups. They ranged 75-80 mph. Valdez topped out his change-of-pace fastballs at 87 mph. Beautiful nonsense.

Game Four: Justus returns to the PCL - Rainiers lose 9-5

In a matchup of undersized southpaws who were once their club’s top pitching prospects, Bees starter José Suarez out-dueled Justus Sheffield. One seeking to be generous to Sheffield would note he only yielded three hits and no walks with two strikeouts in two innings at Smith’s Ballpark, a hitter-friendly park in the Rockies sitting at merely a few hundred feet above 4,000 feet from sea level. A less charitable viewer might note he hit two batters, and two of the three hits left the yard. Charity is in the eye of the recapper, as they say. The rest of the arms fared little better, though this was the season debut of longtime quality big league reliever LHP Fernando Abad, signed less than a week ago after release from his Mexican League club. There’s not a statistical category Salt Lake failed to dominate in this one, sadly. Tacoma tacked their final three runs on late to give the semblance of a closer matchup.

Game Five: The offense awakens, watches pitching get stung to death - Rainiers lose 13-12

If you owned a barn, this would be the type of game you might consider burning it in concurrence with. Tacoma was undone by a truly brutal outing eight-run allowance in 4.1 IP from RHP Asher Wojciechowski following a reasonable two inning open from LHP Tommy Milone. And yet, the seesaw battle almost tipped Tacoma’s way thanks to a series of extraordinary offensive outbursts.

Those two runs for Tacoma in the third came from a mighty encouraging source, Kyle Lewis going opposite field for a big fly to drive in himself and Steven Souza Jr.

It was a day filled with great offensive performances, including a number of other lasers from Lewis, a home run from Souza Jr. as well as 1B Zach Green, and and 2B Donovan Walton coming a single short of the cycle. By the time things went off the rails once again for RHP Yohan Ramírez in the bottom of the 10th, Tacoma had no more clobberings to give for the night, and folded in an 11th inning clunker, ceding Salt Lake the walk-off.

Game Six: 14 runs for mom - Rainiers win 14-10

At last, a victory, and a quadruple decker sandwich of wins as the buns on this trash sandwich of a series for Tacoma. The Rainiers lead this one wire to wire, opening with an explosive first inning lead by a home run from Green. Souza Jr. would add a solo shot of his own in the fourth, with Salt Lake trading big flies through the sixth to keep things tight at 4-3. Five unequivocally solid innings were worked by RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon with just one earned run and two total, as well as a decent first appearance from Matt Brash for two innings and just a solo shot. That gave Tacoma the hope and opportunity for their explosive top of the seventh.

After well-placed doubles for Mason McCoy and Forrest Wall, Sam Haggerty went deep on perhaps the most well-placed hooking line drive I’ve ever witnessed, pinging off the top of the 318’ fence and out of the park. Donovan Walton continued his torrid stretch with a walk to the southpaw on the hill, and Kyle Lewis earned himself a new pitcher in the form of hard-throwing reliever RHP Zack Weiss. Working the count to 2-2, Lewis lashed a line drive down the third base line to score Haggerty in what would be his final at-bat, getting lifted after Tacoma put things well and truly out of reach. It was not the best sight of the day, however, which came on the next pitch.

MiLB

Seeing Lewis moving with such fluidity and adaptability is a balm on the spirit that cannot fully be described. No it is not prescriptive, but it is a huge step in the right direction, as was this final showing for the Rainiers in Salt Lake. They’ll be back home in Tacoma all week starting Tuesday, hosting the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, the Reno Aces. We will hopefully get to see Lewis man the outfield for a second time after DHing almost exclusively in Salt Lake.