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State of the Farm, 6/16/22: Jonatan Clase, Andy Thomas, and Joe Rizzo deliver strong weeks in the system

Plus, Edwin Arroyo continues to rake and a Jarred Kelenic update

Jonatan Clase
Jonatan Clase on Twitter

Welcome to this week’s installment of State of the Farm, a broad overview of the Mariners farm that complements our weekly check-ins with how each affiliate is doing. As a reminder, we’ll be updating each week with the latest stats we can find from MiLB and FanGraphs; all numbers are updated at the time of writing but might have shifted some by publication.

Transactions:

  • Tacoma: activated: OF Justin Upton; re-assigned to Tacoma: RHP Drew Steckenrider, LHP Anthony Misiewicz; rehab assignments: Ken Giles, Evan White (re-upped), Joey Gerber (currently with the ACL Mariners); signed: LF Scott Heinemann; released: RHP Asher Wojciechowski, LHP Ian McKinney;. Thanks for the memories, Mick. Also: Kevin Padlo is back, somehow.
  • Arkansas: SS Jose Caballero placed on the 7-day injured list; RHP Scott Boches activated
  • Modesto: RHPs Jimmy Kingsbury and Riley Davis to the 7-day IL; C David Sheaffer transferred to Modesto to replace injured C Freuddy Batista; C Junior Gonzalez returned to the Peoria complex
  • Everett: LHP Adam Macko and RHP Bryan Pall to the 7-day IL; RHPs Isaiah Campbell and Matthew Willrodt (and his excellent mustache) and LHP Blake Townsend activated;

Modesto Nuts (28-31)

Team Stats:

Third of four in California League (North); .475%, 6th of 8 in the League

Team OPS: .747 (4th of 8) (a 20-point improvement and a move up from 5th!)

Team ERA: 4.42 (3rd of 8, up from 4th); Team WHIP: 1.38 (tied for 2nd of 8, up from 3rd); Team Ks: 584 (6th of 8)

Player Leaderboard:

OPS leader: Robert Pérez, .910 (7th overall; Edwin Arroyo, at .908, is 8th); HR leader: Pérez (16, 2nd); AVG leader: Edwin Arroyo, .316 (4th, up from 10th); Hits leader: Arroyo, 72 (2nd); wRC+ leader: Arroyo, 142 (6th)

ERA leader: Joseph Hernández, 3.4 (5th); FIP leader: Hernández 4.32 (5th; Michael Morales is 6th in the league among qualified pitchers) K leader: Hernández, 65 (4th); Saves: Jorge Benitez, 6 (3rd); K% leader: Andrew Moore, 40.6% (6th among pitchers with 10+ IP)

SB leader: Jonatan Clase (23, 3rd)

Top prospect updates:

Harry Ford (4): .216/.379/.340 19.5% BB 25.1% K, 4 HR 3 2B 2 3B 8 SB

These numbers aren’t where Harry wants them yet but he had a breakout game against Inland Empire this past week, his best since returning from the IL, and he’s added 50 points to his slugging percentage in the past two weeks. A two-triples/one-homer game will do that for you.

Edwin Arroyo (8): .323/.393/.534; 8.7% BB 21.6% K; 10 HR 7 2B 4 3B 11 SB

It’s been a few weeks of this performance from Arroyo, and yet he remains consistent: his numbers continue to climb but his underlying plate discipline stats remain almost exactly the same, suggesting this is no flash in the pan but a disciplined and sophisticated hitter. There are enough challenging pitchers in this league currently that Arroyo doesn’t run a risk of getting bored or being developmentally stymied by hanging out at this level, and he’s gaining valuable leadership experience with a young Modesto club, but it certainly looks like he has a handle on the league.

Milkar Perez (12): .157./336/.194 4 2B 1 SB

Michael Morales (18): 55.1 IP; 5.20 ERA/4.36 FIP; 21.7% K 7.1% BB

Morales isn’t going to get a huge shoutout for this but it’s remarkable how consistent he is for a young pitcher. His leaps haven’t been enormous but he’s on a slow, steady upward trajectory over these past two weeks.

Jonatan Clase (19): .265/.339/.439; 8.7% BB 30.7% K; 8 2B 4 3B 6 HR 23 SB

Sam Carlson (26): 6 IP; 3.00 ERA/3.65 FIP; 28% K 12% BB

William Fleming (28): 57.1 IP; 4.40 ERA/5.01 FIP; 21.8% K 9.7% BB

Prospect Performer:

[Forcibly dragging the spotlight away from Edwin Arroyo] This week let’s shine a light on Jonatan Clase’s performance since coming off the IL after being hit on the hand with a pitch at the end of May. Over the past two weeks (just nine games as the team eases him back in with plenty of scheduled off-days), Clase is hitting .349/.391/.691 with an ISO of .302 (!) thanks to two doubles, a triple, and three home runs—and while Clase can definitely be a pull hitter, leveraging his smaller size and selling out for power when he sees a particularly juicy pitch he knows he can knock over the fence, there’s nothing small nor cheap about this home run to the deepest part of Modesto’s generously-sized park:

Clase is still in his first exposure to stateside ball, and having just turned 20, is usually facing pitchers two to three years older than him, and sometimes even four or five, and like so many other young international prospects, was disproportionately affected by the pandemic shutdown and the loss of competitive at-bats. Still, he’s going to have to get that strikeout rate (currently around 30%) down in order to keep getting himself on base, where his legendary speed has already proven to be an absolute headache for even much more seasoned competition.

Everett AquaSox (29-29)

Team Stats:

Third of six in Northwest League; .500%. 264 runs scored (2nd), 286 runs allowed (6th).

Team OPS: .728 (1st of 6)

Team ERA: 4.44 (6th of 6); Team WHIP: 1.36 (6th of 6); Team Ks: 556 (2nd of 6)

Player Leaderboard:

OPS leader: Andy Thomas, .890 (1st); HR leader: Dariel Gomez, 11 (1st); AVG leader: Justin Lavey .291 (3rd); Hits leader: Alberto Rodriguez 54 (3rd); wRC+ leader: Thomas, 160 (1st)

ERA leader: Bryce Miller, 1.77 (3rd); FIP leader: Miller, 2.33 (2nd); K leader: Bryce Miller, 72 (1st); Saves leader: Leon Hunter Jr., 4 (3rd); K% leader: Macko, 35.9% (1st)

SB leader: Lavey/Victor Labrada, 11 (10th)

Top prospect updates:

Noelvi Marte (1): .239/.338/.380; 11.4 BB%; 24.9 K%; 6 HR, 11 2B; 113 wRC+

The Noelvi Marte struggles continue. We’re probably a little overdue for a film dive into Marte...oh wait, NWL has like, two stadiums with cameras. :(

Alberto Rodríguez (7): .258/.335/.378; 9.0 BB%; 21.9% K; 4 HR, 14 2B; 111 wRC+

Another great week for Berto, as he’s raised his wRC+ by 11, and continued to improve his walk and strikeout rate. A swing-plane or bat-path adjustment could potentially help him to turn some of these singles into doubles.

Adam Macko (10): 38.1 IP; 3.99 ERA, 3.54 FIP; 35.9% K 12% BB

Macko is still out for a bit with an elbow issue.

Bryce Miller (22): 56 IP; 1.77 ERA, 2.33 FIP; 32.3% K, 7.6% BB

Miller keeps on cruising this season - I am surprised that he is in Everett still, but then again, the Travs’ lineup is full of studs, so, I guess I’ll enjoy. He throws, and has the results of, a max-effort pitcher, he also delivers like a workhorse - he is tied for the most innings thrown in the Northwest League this season. Look to see his stock rise during the mid-season prospect list season - a jump up to 15 or so could be in the cards, potentially even into the 10-15 rankings depending on the publication. He’s given us no reason to think that this is just a hot streak - his peripherals like him just as much as the traditional stats and eye test do.

Victor Labrada (25): .229/.330/.355; 12% BB, 30.9% K; 4 HR, 5 2B, 2 3B, 11 SB, 103 wRC+

After a red-hot week, Labrada has cooled down a bit, though he’s notably starting to get his steal on, recording four in the last week.

Prelander Berroa (30): 23.2 IP, 2.66 ERA, 2.64 FIP; 34% K, 16% BB

Berroa continue to get good results despite a BB rate that can now legally drive a car - partially this is likely due to a K rate that has likely had a couple life crises and is contemplating its next career move. He’s a ton of fun to watch pitch, though each inning feels like a roller coaster. Overall, a good pickup from Trader Jerry.

Prospect Performer:

C Andy Thomas

It isn’t often that you see a catcher run the highest offensive numbers on a ballclub - typically, they have enough other demands on them between managing the pitching staff, working on receiving, and generally having their legs and knees ground to dust behind the plate, that hitting is more of a secondary obligation. Thomas clearly doesn’t see it that way, as he leads the league in wRC+. Last year’s 5th round draft pick is shining, no more than this week as Everett rides a 9-game win streak. He’s slashing .323/.417/.677, with an eye-boggling 1.094 OPS, and has reached base safely in 16 of the last 17 games.

Now, the low-minors are a place where...unusual...swings thrive, and Thomas is no exception. But, he’s got real power, a great eye at the plate, and good bat to ball skills - I expect Thomas to appear on the back-half of a lot of Mariners mid-season prospects rankings, and if he can keep up anything resembling this production through the year, safely into the top half. It’s hard to understate how good he’s been this year.

Arkansas Travelers (32-27)

Third of five in Texas League - North

Team OPS: .677 (10th of 10)

Team ERA: 3.78 (1st of 10); Team WHIP: 1.29 (1st of 10); Team Ks: 571 (1st of 10)

OPS leader: Joe Rizzo, .800 (34th); HR leaders: Rizzo, 12 (T-5th); AVG leader: DeLoach, .264 (35th); Hits leader: Rizzo, 56 (16th); wRC+ leader: DeLoach, 97 (42nd)

ERA leader: Taylor Dollard, 0.86 (1st); FIP leader: Dollard, 2.52 (1st); K leader: Stephen Kolek 69 (4th) (nice); Saves: Michael Stryffeler, 10 (1st); K% leader: Dollard, 27.5% (5th) (Stoudt and Kolek are 6th and 7th in the league in K%)

SB leader: Tanner Kirwer, 14 (T-9th)

Emerson Hancock (5): In 17 IP: 2.65 ERA, 4.85 FIP, 4.83 xFIP. 26.1% K 7.2% BB

Levi Stoudt (6): In 60.2 IP: 4.75 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 4.23 xFIP. 25.4% K 5.7% BB

Zach DeLoach (11): .264/.358/.399; 29.2% K; 12.8% BB; 4 HR, 10 2B, 2 3B 1 SB

Taylor Dollard (14): In 52.1 IP: 0.86 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 4.03 xFIP. 27.5% K 5.4% BB.

Cade Marlowe (16): .220/.317/.361; 28.9% K; 11% BB; 6 HR, 5 2B, 2 3B 12 SB

Kaden Polcovich (23): .237/.341/.342; 19.1% K; 11.8% BB; 3 HR 7 2B, 2 3B 7 SB

Juan Then (24): [currently injured]

Stephen Kolek (29): In 64 IP: 4.08 ERA, 4.33 FIP, 5.24 xFIP. 25.2% K 11.7% BB;

Prospect Performer: Joe Rizzo

Typically we do one top-30 prospect to highlight and one prospect who falls outside the club’s top-30 who is deserving of extra attention. Joe Rizzo gets the entire section to himself this week because that is how good he has been since the last SOTF was released two weeks ago. Small sample size, but since June 1st, Rizzo is slashing .342/.419/.816. And that is before FanGraphs updates to include his 2/5 night on Wednesday with yet another home run.

Over the last two weeks, Rizzo is walking 11.8% of the time, up four percentage points from opening day until the end of May. He has seven home runs over the last 11 games, which isn’t awful. Most impressively. he has a 197 wRC+ in June.

Rizzo is incredibly hot right now and is part of an offensive renaissance for the whole Travs lineup lately. Hopefully, Rizzo can keep swinging a hot bat as the weather warms up and can be a catalyst for the Travs offense fighting for a playoff spot as the first half winds down. Rizzo could potentially earn himself a trip up to Tacoma by the end of the season if he continues to ambush Texas League pitching the way he has over the last two weeks.

Tacoma Rainiers (18-31)

Team Stats:

Fifth of five in Pacific Coast League (West); 18-31, .367%, 10th of 10

Team OPS: .759 (7th of 10)

Team ERA: 5.99 (9th of 10); Team WHIP: 1.52 (5th of 10); Team Ks: 411 (8th of 10); Team BBs: 180 (2nd of 10)

Player Leaderboard:

OPS leader: Sam Haggerty, .890 (12th overall); HR leader: Zach Green, 9 (T-11th); AVG leader: Haggerty, .304 (12th); Hits leader: Green, 41 (28th); wRC+ leader: Haggerty, 123 (15th)

ERA leader: Daniel Ponce de Leon, 5.88 (16th); FIP leader: Darren McCaughan, 5.32 (12th); K leader: McCaughan, 48 (7th); Saves: Nick Ramirez/Penn Murfee/Nick Ramirez 2 (T-15th); K-BB% leader: McCaughan, 15.8%, (10th)

SB leader: Forrest Wall (16, 2nd)

Top prospect/notable player updates:

RHP Matt Brash (5): in 10.0 IP out of the bullpen: 5.73 ERA, 6.29 FIP, 20 K, 9 BB

1B/OF Evan White: Rehab assignment - 8 games, 3-23, 5 BB, 8 K.

LHP Justus Sheffield: 17 IP, 8.47 ERA, 5.93 FIP, 19 K, 7 BB

OF Jarred Kelenic: 8 games, 17-51 (.333/.382/.627), 4 2B, 3 HR, 4 BB, 21 K

We know you’re curious about how JK has been doing since being sent to Tacoma to regain his footing, and we’re delighted to report things have gotten better since his early days of striking out three times per game when he first arrived in Tacoma.

Keep going, Jarred! We are rooting for you.