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Midshipmen’s Log 7/12/22: Kyle Lewis does some yard work in Everett, Zach DeLoach heats up, Jarred Kelenic shines

Welcome back to another installment of the Midshipman’s Log. We’ll be a little light this week as both Kate and John are playing catch-up after being gone this weekend for weddings, and Nick is also out this week, but we promise to make it up with our first Minors podcast in a long while later this week.

Modesto Nuts (39-42) drop anchor, series to Stockton Ports (30-51), 2-4

Respectfully, what a bummer of a series. After a strong start in a decisive 20-3 Fourth of July win in Game 1, it seemed like Modesto was primed for a hot series against the lowly Ports and a chance to climb up in the California League and reach the ever-elusive mark of .500 ball. Unfortunately, Modesto went on to lose the next two games in the series—narrowly, by one and two runs respectively, but losses nonetheless. Modesto rebounded in Game 4 with a shutout 6-0 win, but dropped the final two games. In lieu of a blow-by-blow account of each game, because they were kind of stinky, here are some highlight performances:

  • Robert Perez Jr. hit his 18th home run of the season, good for second in the Cal League:
  • Young righty Michael Morales continued to show improvement in his start this week, giving up just three runs over 5.2 innings while striking out eight.
  • Edwin Arroyo was 6-for-21 with two doubles...and that’s a slow week for him.
  • Harry Ford continues to heat up; he went 7-for-21 with a double, two walks, and a pair of stolen bases, because #catcherspeed.
  • Jonatan Clase stole his 26th, 27th, and 28th base of the season (4th in the Cal League); he also doubled and tripled in Modesto’s 6-0 win in Game 4.

Next up: a tough test against the very good Lake Elsinore Storm, and a tough test for your recappers as LE doesn’t have MiLB TV.

Everett AquaSox (39-41) do not imitate big brothers, split series with Vancouver Canadiens (38-39)

This was former Mariner prospect Tyler Keenan’s first time back in Everett since being traded to Toronto for Ryan Borucki earlier this month. Politely, he did not get a hit in Game 1, and equally politely, the AquaSox lost the game 8-4. Kyle Lewis made a rehab appearance and struck out twice, but also hit a sacrifice fly for an RBI. Noelvi Marte also had a double, in things that would be #foreshadowing for this week.

After a day off, the FrogBois rebounded with a win in Game 2. Reigning NWL Player of the Week Andy Thomas had a three-hit day, while passing the baton to (spoiler alert) the next NWL Player of the Week Noelvi Marte, who had two hits including a home run. Dariel Gomez also had a three-hit day with a home run. Prelander Berroa struck out an impressive six batters in three innings but also gave up four runs, but Isaiah Campbell, who is a reliever now?, locked down his eighth save to preserve the 6-5 win for the AquaSox.

The AquaSox also collected a win in Game 3 thanks to a four-run fifth inning with homers from Kyle Lewis (yay!) and James Parker. On a bullpen day, the pitching staff struck out 16 total Canadians while holding them to four runs over the game.

Everett moved back to .500 with an 8-5 win in Game 4, hanging four runs on BA’s #35 prospect Ricky Tiedemann. Kyle Lewis and Noelvi Marte were responsible for three of those runs with home runs, and Noelvi also added another home run later. A rehabbing Luis Torrens also hit a home run in this game. After watching Saturday’s game I volunteer personally to drive Luis Torrens from Everett to Seattle whenever he’s ready.

The AquaSox came up just short in Game 5 on Saturday, without the buoy of their big-league rehabbers. Noelvi Marte did what he could, adding another two hits, and his fellow Cotui native Alberto Rodríguez also had a double, but it just wasn’t enough. Juan Mercedes struck out eight in just over four innings but also surrendered five runs, four earned, walking four. You’ll get ‘em next time, Juan.

Everett also fell just short in the final game of this series, losing an offensive blowout 10-13. Kyle Lewis added another home run, because he loves hitting homers in Everett still, and Noelvi and his pal Alberto also homered as they continue to enjoy the true PNW summer rather than the Juneuary we had earlier. Unfortunately, the pitching staff just couldn’t keep up—only Max Roberts and Jarod Bayless worked scoreless innings. Bryce Miller continues to struggle after that comebacker knocked him out for a while, this time giving up four runs on five hits, walking three and striking out just two over his five innings. Maybe it’s time to shut him down and bring him back for the AFL?

Next up: Everett heads to Tri-Cities for a six-game set.

Arkansas Travelers (43-38) split series with Springfield Cardinals (37-44) as the offense is extremely relatable by alternating good days with bad days.

I TOTALLY get it, Arkansas Travelers offense; not every day is going to be a great day. Some days you score 13 runs to pick up your ace pitcher to make sure he still picks up the win in his lone bad start of the season. Other days you squander a gem from said pitcher and put up just two hits—no judgment at all from me. Sure, you would prefer a better week against an inferior opponent, but a series split is much better than a series loss, which is the mindset I’m taking with me right now.

Game One: Offense picks up Dollard in a rare shaky start

Our long national dream is finally over; Taylor Dollard finally struggled in a start. I joked that his previous outing was his first bad outing because he gave up two earned runs for the first time in an outing, but he also threw seven innings and struck out eight. Monday was a different story, and you would still take it from anyone else in the rotation, but six hits, four runs, and just two walks over 5.2 innings, with two home runs allowed, is decidedly unlike anything else Dollard has done this season. His ERA ballooned all the way up to a (still league-leading) 1.38.

Thankfully for Dollard, the offense ensured he would still pick up the W. Zach DeLoach opened the evening with a three-run bomb.

Jake Scheiner added two long balls of his own to secure the Travs the win in the series’ opening game on the 4th of July.

Game Two: Jones’s early struggles doom Travs

The rare Tuesday off-day to make sure every minor league baseball team played at home on either the third or the fourth of July (by far my favorite tradition surrounding early July) meant that the Travs had a rare day of rest without travel on Tuesday. They picked it back up on Wednesday with Connor Jones on the bump. Apparently, he did not get the memo that they were back to work on Wednesday because the 27-year-old STRUGGLED over his 1.2 innings. He gave up eight runs almost instantly and put it out of reach of the Travs bats.

Game Three: Travs nearly blow an easy win, decide to walk it off instead

Anytime your starting pitcher throws six shutout innings with eight strikeouts, you know things are going pretty well.

Things are going even better when your pitcher exits the game with a 5-0 lead and a dominant bullpen to record the final nine outs. Alas, disaster almost struck Dickey-Stephens Park on Thursday night.

The usually steady Braden Shipley and Michael Stryffeler each struggled, allowing the Cards to crawl back into it and send it to extra-innings.

Connor Hoover played the hero in extras with a walk-off base knock to send the crowd home happy. He also left the park earlier in the game.

Game Four: Stoudt chased early in 8-2 loss

It is unclear if Levi Stoudt only went 0.1 innings because he was struggling mightily during his 38 pitches or if he was removed due to injury. It appears that it was just performance-based, but we will see if Stoudt makes his next turn through the rotation later this week. Stoudt gave up three runs and four runs during his brief outing. The bullpen did a fine job dealing with an unexpected workload. Still, the early deficit paired with a lackluster offensive performance by the Travs put this one to bed pretty early.

Game Five: Future Futures Game Legend Emerson Hancock excels in Travs win

We are going to ignore the fact that Edwin Arroyo and maybe Bryce Miller were probably better candidates to receive an invite to the Futures Game next week. It is an incredible honor for Hancock to obtain and could be the thing that shoots him back up prospect rankings by the end of the season. I mean, that is if he isn’t pitching in Seattle by the end of September. It would be a giant leap for the former top-10 pick. Still, with the Ms limiting George Kirby’s workload and question marks surrounding their ability to land a top-line starting pitcher at the trade deadline, they could probably do a lot worse internally than going with Hancock down the stretch run on occasion. (or just trade for Luis Castillo)

Hancock looked sharp on Saturday night. He touched 97 MPH and was consistently consistent in the mid-90s on his fastball. The six hits don’t look great, but he was able to limit the damage over his 5.2 innings, allowing just one run and striking out five batters. We are getting to the point where Emerson Hancock is one of the top two pitchers of the Arkansas Travelers rotation as he is rebuilding that value he had coming out of Georgia.

The offense picked up Hancock with a big four-run fourth inning to give him a bit of breathing room. Patrick Frick and Kaden Polcovich each had RBI singles in the frame. Stryffeler closed out a stress-free ninth inning for his league-leading 13th save of the season.

Game Six: Taylor Dollard doing Taylor Dollard things isn’t enough for Travs in 4-1 loss

Listen, I know, if you are anything like me, you were just a tiny bit worried that perhaps Taylor Dollard had finally fallen back to earth after allowing four earned runs to open the series. I am delighted to report that the best pitcher in the Texas League once again looked excellent in the series finale.

Dollard gave up his only earned run in the third inning, but it escaped a jam to keep it from getting out of hand early. He had had the bases loaded with one out but struck out the next two batters to keep the game close. Dollard had five strikeouts on the day and allowed just four hits. His ERA is no longer in witchcraft territory, but a 1.40 ERA with a 3.16 FIP isn’t too awful in mid-July. It is nice to see Dollard bounce back from the most adversity he has faced all season with a gem of a start. We don’t have enough room for all my complaints about Dollard not receiving a Futures Game invite, but whatever, I get it.

Unfortunately for Dollard, Edgar Escobar was dealing on another level for the Cardinals. Escobar allowed just two hits over his six innings and exited with a 3-1 lead after Devin Sweet gave up a two-run shot in the top of the sixth. The Travs offense did not have better luck against the Springfield bullpen as they dropped the series finale.

Up Next: The Travelers go to Wichita to take on the Wind Surge in the final series before the all-star break.

Tacoma Rainiers (35-48) lose it all on the river to the Reno Aces (44-40)

Game One: Tacoma traps Reno in the bullpen, Rainiers win 3-2

The draft can’t come soon enough for the M’s system, as Tacoma is in dire need of more rotation depth by way of Arkansas promotions (spare a dollop of Dollard, neighbor?). A full bullpen day to start things out nonetheless opened Tacoma up for success. They took this one in 10 innings as Matt Brash shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate in the 10th to seal a victory.

Game Two: Dinger fiesta floats R’s to W, Rainiers win 16-9

A PCL classic if there ever was one, every Seattle Mariners farmhand seemed to want in on this action, with every starter reaching base at least once and all but two Rainiers starters recording multiple hits. That this came off a hard-throwing preseason Top-100 prospect by some lists in RHP Drey Jameson is particularly impressive. Five(!) Rainiers went large, including a three run jack by new arrival OF Trey Amburgey and a two-run bomb from OF Forrest Wall. OF Jarred Kelenic, 2B Drew Ellis, and C Joe Odom added solo shots.

Game Three: Martin outduels McCaughan, Rainiers lose 5-1

Both RHP Darren McCaughan and Aces RHP Corbin Martin worked quality starts for their clubs, six innings apiece and three runs for McCaughan, just one for Martin on a solo shot by Kelenic.

Unfortunately, the rest of the R Squad couldn’t solve Martin or the rest of Reno’s bullpen. It was a theme that unfortunately played out again the rest of the series.

Game Four: Starters get shelled, but R’s cede battle of bullpen, Rainiers lose 8-6

Both LHP Justus Sheffield and RHP Ryne Nelson were or are well regarded young arms, however the PCL is no easy place to grow. Sheff lasted just 4.2 frames, working four shutout before a disastrous six-run fifth inning he could not escape. That squandered a 4-0 lead he’d been spotted through a Kelenic triple to left field (a nice line drive single that escaped a dive attempt by Aces LF Stone Garrett) and some sloppy fielding from Reno. It was another great game for Kelenic, who went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks and a single strikeout, one of just three in the entire five game series (25 plate appearances). Since a brutal first two weeks at the level in terms of contact (38.2% K-rate) he’s been more contact-oriented, with a 21.3% strikeout rate since the first of June, showing improvements to his approach and a sky-high rate of quality (read: line-drive) contact. It’s not as certain he’s solved his struggles with breaking balls, but by punishing pitches effectively earlier in counts he is keeping himself out of un-winnable plate appearances far more often, something that was key to his success late in 2021 and as a prospect throughout.

Game Five: Carroll has rude homecoming, Rainiers lose 3-2

A whole-staff effort kept Reno in check most of the afternoon, with Konner Wade making a solid start at 5.0 innings and just two runs, one of which was a solo shot by arguable top prospect in baseball OF Corbin Carroll. The Lakeside HS graduate knotted things up at 2-2 with his solo shot in the 3rd, where it would remain until the bottom of the 11th as five Rainiers relievers worked a scoreless 5.0 innings of relief before Patrick Weigel finally bent to the Manfred runner in the 11th. In particular, special commendation as always to veteran LHP Nick Ramirez, a journeyman with 64 big league games under his belt and 110.2 innings. Peripherals be damned, Ramirez continues to be stalwart for Tacoma’s pen, lowering his ERA to 1.80 despite a 4.02/4.69 FIP/xFIP in 30.0 innings with Tacoma this year. He’s not showing a dramatic difference in stuff from last year to this, but as a groundball-earning southpaw he has been a lifesaver for the Rainiers despite many players cycling in and out.

What’s next: A six-game set with the Oklahoma City Dodgers starts today back in Tacoma, with Kyle Lewis expected to be part of most of the games in the outfield, bringing some additional juice to a lineup that has been outslugged too often.