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State of the Farm, 6/2/22: Robert Pérez is the Cal League HR king, Juan Mercedes makes history

Also: Emerson Hancock!

Juan Mercedes
Shari Sommerfeld

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: RHP Asher Wojciechowski activated from the 7-day injured list; RHP Adrian Sampson elects free agency; Justin Upton activated; CF Billy Hamilton elected free agency; RHP Drew Steckenrider optioned to Tacoma
  • Arkansas: 2B Riley Unroe transferred to the Development list; SS Jose Cabellero activated from the 7-day injured list
  • Modesto: C David Sheaffer transferred to Modesto to replace injured C Freuddy Batista; C Junior Gonzalez returned to the Peoria complex

Modesto Nuts (21-26)

Team Stats:

Third of four in California League (North); .447%, 6th of 8

Team OPS: .724 (5th of 8)

Team ERA: 4.378 (4th of 8); Team WHIP: 1.38 (3rd of 8); Team Ks: 490 (5th of 8)

Player Leaderboard:

OPS leader: Robert Pérez, .965 (5th overall); HR leader: Pérez (15, 1st); AVG leader: Edwin Arroyo, .303 (10th); Hits leader: Arroyo, 53 (2nd); wRC+ leader: Pérez, 145 (8th)

ERA leader: Joseph Hernández, 2.78 (2nd); FIP leader: Hernández 4.35 (7th) K leader: Hernández, 54 (3rd); Saves: Jorge Benitez, 5 (2nd); K% leader: Andrew Moore, 39.8% (1st)

SB leader: Jonatan Clase (18, 4th)

Top prospect updates:

Harry Ford (4): .209/.370/.291; 18.1% BB 28.3% K, 2 HR 3 2B 7 SB

Edwin Arroyo (8): .303/.379/.531; 9.1% BB 22.2% K; 9 HR 7 2B 3 3B 8 SB

Milkar Perez (12): .151/.330/.186 3 2B

Michael Morales (18): 46.1 IP; 5.63 ERA/4.35 FIP; 22% K 7.9% BB

Jonatan Clase (19): .242/.326/.379; 9.3% BB 30.2% K; 6 2B 3 HR 3 3B 18 SB

Sam Carlson (26): [recently returned from rehab in AZ, has pitched fewer than 5 innings]

William Fleming (28): 42.2 IP; 4.43 ERA/4.99 FIP; 25.1% K 7.4% BB 44 K

Prospect Performer:

Probably, this spot begins to Edwin Arroyo, again, who continues to excel, but let’s mix it up a little this week. He’s not technically a “prospect” unless you go by Baseball America’s updated list, but Robert Pérez continues to rake in Modesto—as he should, since this is his second time through. There’s nothing cheap about these home runs, though, and seriously just promote him to Everett already.

Everett AquaSox (20-26)

Team Stats:

Sixth of six in Northwest League; .444%. 207 runs scored (2nd), 244 runs allowed (6th).

Team OPS: .732 (1st of 6)

Team ERA: 4.92 (6th of 6); Team WHIP: 1.45 (6th of 6); Team Ks: 430 (4th of 6)

Player Leaderboard:

OPS leader: Andy Thomas, .884 (4th); HR leader: Spencer Packard/Dariel Gomez 8 (1st); AVG leader: Thomas .299 (4th); Hits leader: Alberto Rodriguez/Noelvi Marte 42 (4th); wRC+ leader: Thomas, 154 (4th)

ERA leader: Bryce Miller, 1.50 (3rd); FIP leader: Miller, 1.94 (1st); K leader: Adam Macko, 60 (1st); Saves leader: Leon Hunter Jr., 3 (5th); K% leader: Macko, 35.9% (2nd)

SB leader: Lavey, 9 (8th)

Top prospect updates:

Noelvi Marte (1): .249/.347/.373; 11.2 BB%; 22.4 K%; 4 HR, 9 2B; 114 wRC+

Noelvi is struggling to tap into his massive raw power (just a .124 ISO so far). Here’s hoping to not have to dig into some film to see what’s gone wrong.

Alberto Rodríguez (7): .250/.304/.381; 6.1 BB%; 22.1% K; 3 HR, 11 2B; 100 wRC+

This week has come up all-Berto (haaaaa). He’s hitting .476 since our last State of the Farm.

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

Bryce Miller (22): 42 IP; 1.50 ERA 1.94 FIP; 36.8% K, 4.8% BB

Despite his worst start of the season, he’s still leading the league in FIP.

Victor Labrada (25): .242/.315/.402; 8.2% BB, 32.9% K; 5 HR, 4 2B, 2 3B, 7 SB

Labrada has been even hotter, hitting .579 in his last five games, and working on a nine-game hitting streak, and has cut his strikeout numbers way down.

Prelander Berroa (30): 11.2 IP, 4.63 ERA, 2.69 FIP; 34.6% K, 17.3% BB

Berroa would be a lot better off if he threw, perhaps, a strike. His stuff is nasty but his career walk rate is about 13%, which is way too high to stick in the rotation.

Prospect Performer:

OF Victor Labrada

I was tempted here to write up Berto, but, I want to be fair, as I love all of the Frogs equally, and I definitely don’t have favorite prospects. And, Labrada has really been pouring it on. He’s riding a 12-game on-base streak, during which he’s slashing .357/.428/.520. While he isn’t gracing many Mariner’s farm system rankings, this is just his second full year in the system, and a strong performance could help get him into the back-end of some top-30 lists. One thing to keep an eye on is his .370 BABIP, about what he ran last year, but still high enough to worry about regression, even with his elite speed.

Shoutout to: RHP Juan Mercedes

Sure, it was just seven innings as part of a doubleheader, but Mercedes threw the first no-hitter for the AquaSox as a Mariners affiliate the other day, and was rewarded with a huge celebration from his teammates:

Arkansas Travelers (23-24)

Third of five in Texas League - North

Team OPS: .642 (10th of 10)

Team ERA: 3.90 (1st of 10); Team WHIP: 1.32 (1st of 10); Team Ks: 439 (1st of 10)

OPS leader: Jack Larsen, .719 (55th); HR leaders: Jake Scheiner, 6 (T-21st); AVG leader: DeLoach, .248 (50th); Hits leader: Rizzo, 41 (T-24th); wRC+ leader: Larsen, 95 (46th)

ERA leader: Taylor Dollard, 1.09 (1st); FIP leader: Dollard, 2.61 (1st); K leader: Levi Stoudt and Connor Jones 48 (T-5th); Saves: Michael Stryffeler, 8 (1st); K% leader: Dollard and Stoudt 25.9% (T-5th)

SB leader: Cade Marlowe, 11 (T-10th)

Emerson Hancock (3): In 8 IP: 2.25 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 4.65 xFIP. 26.5% K 8.8% BB

Levi Stoudt (6): In 47 IP: 4.83 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 4.07 xFIP. 25.9% K 5.4% BB

Zach DeLoach (11): .248/.333/.382; 30.7% K; 11.4% BB; 3 HR, 8 2B, 2 3B 1 SB

Taylor Dollard (14): In 41.1 IP: 1.09 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 4.15 xFIP. 25.9% K 4.3% BB.

Cade Marlowe (16): .224/.330/.336; 25% K; 12.8% BB; 3 HR, 4 2B, 2 3B 11 SB

Kaden Polcovich (23): .231/.353/.322; 20.5% K; 13.3% BB; 1 HR 6 2B, 2 3B 7 SB

Juan Then (24): [currently injured]

Stephen Kolek (29): In 48.1 IP: 4.10 ERA, 4.50 FIP, 5.40 xFIP. 22.7% K 12.1% BB;

Prospect Performer: Emerson Hancock

I know I hammered this home in the latest Midshipman’s Log (and the one before that), but it is really great to see Emerson Hancock pitching again. And I don’t mean that as “oh, what a great story that this down and out player was able to climb his way back to take the mound again”. I mean, sure, any long rehab period seems so grueling both mentally and physically that I can’t even imagine how challenging it is. But purely from a baseball standpoint, it is really great to see Emerson Hancock pitching again. This is the #6 overall pick, not even two years we’re talking about. Hancock has lost some of his prospect shine because of his injuries. It seems wild to me that he has plummeted all the way outside MLB Pipeline’s top 100 list, pretty much solely because of injuries. Hancock has proven that he is a great pitcher when he is on the mound. A few days ago, he had his strongest outing of the season, facing the minimum through four innings.

It has not been as smooth of a ride to this point as many had hoped for, chief among them Hancock himself, but there’s no reason to doubt that Hancock can still be a foundational piece for the Mariners going forward. He is still the same player who generated first overall pick buzz at Georgia. This is the same guy who has the potential to be a future ace of a rotation, and he showed that a bit on Sunday afternoon.

Other Name to know: SP Connor Jones

My general rule of thumb is that you belong in this section if you throw a no-hitter. Connor Jones has been a welcome surprise over the last month. An eight-run nightmare start inflates his April ERA. If we take out that one game, Jones has been one of the better pitchers in the Texas League over the first two months of the season. He would have the third-best ERA in the league at 2.51.

The 27-year-old former Cardinals farmhand came over to the Mariners exactly two months ago as a minor league free agent. It took some time for the former second-round draft pick to find his groove, but he has looked strong in Arkansas. He is rule-5 draft-eligible this off-season (and last off-season), so it would be a neat success story to see Jones get a shot in Seattle later this season if he can keep up his impressive run of late.

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.