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Mariners minor-league roundup: April 11-16

Easton McGee shines, Arkansas’ Bash Brothers, Clase’s big day

Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers minor leaguers
el pequeño dumper
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Let’s take a look at how the Mariners minor league affiliates are faring in the second week of the season (yes yes Tacoma we know you’ve been playing a while). Also, in case you missed it: Everett AquaSox home games are now available via MiLB TV or the Bally Sports app! Finally and hooray!

Triple-A Tacoma

7-7, 6th in Pacific Coast League

In what we’re hoping isn’t a preview of things at the big-league level, the Rainiers went 2-4 against the Rangers’ affiliate in Round Rock this week. To be fair, two of the losses were narrow, one-run affairs (one an extra-innings loss), and one was an emergency spot start by 2021 draftee Riley Davis, who to his credit pitched three scoreless innings before getting roughed up in the fourth.

Hitting heroes:

Once again, Brian O’Keefe continues to just slug the daylights out of the ball, with his five home runs tying him for fifth in the PCL (and one of the players ahead of him is Tatís, so, you know). Zach DeLoach also continues to hit well in the PCL; he had a double in a game where Tacoma couldn’t get anything going offensively and a three-hit day in one of their two wins. He’s now hitting .353.

Prime Pitchers:

I screenshot this off the Red Sox FanSided site back when the Mariners acquired McGee from the Red Sox for cash and titled it “save in case Easton McGee is good” because my gut told me that in a battle of savvy bullpen moves, I’m probably taking the Mariners’ side of the move, because you know who else is known for developing stellar pitching?

Anyway, Easton McGee, working as a starter in Tacoma apparently, turned in one of the best performances in the system this week: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 6 K, and he should have had a win but the Rainiers couldn’t get the clutch hits to prop up their pitcher.

Also I’d be remiss not to mention the Tacoma bullpen, who did yeoman’s work this week making two spot starts for pitchers called up to the big league club. The only two games Tacoma won in this series were the bullpen games; in the first, the ‘pen shut out the Express and tallied 14 total strikeouts, led by Riley O’Brien who had four Ks in two innings. Tayler Saucedo had three in two innings and earned the win. The second win was a carbon copy of the first, with O’Brien again opening with four Ks in two innings, Saucedo following after for the win, and the staff collecting 12 combined strikeouts in a dominant 10-2 win.

Next up:

The Rainiers return to the Northwest for a homestand against the El Paso Chihuahuas. Calling all Deadheads: Thursday is Grateful Dead Night at the park, which promises to be a fun trip featuring in-game entertainment and a t-shirt special.

Double-A Arkansas

7-2, first in the Texas League

Alas, the undefeated Arkansas Travelers are undefeated no more, but they do maintain a lead over the rest of the Texas League after a 4-2 homestand win over the Springfield Cardinals. The Travs suffered their first loss of the season when they could not solve Cardinals 2021 first-rounder RHP Michael McGreevey (run to your dynasty leagues and snag him, if you haven’t already), and also played sloppily behind Bryce Miller, who had a much stronger start than his line might suggest. Fellow pitching prospect Prelander Berroa did earn the win in his start, giving up just two runs and striking out five while walking three over five innings pitched.

Hitting heroes:

The Bash Brothers of Spencer Packard and Robbie Tenerowicz continue to torment Texas League pitchers. The duo collected 19 hits between them over and four homers; Tenerowicz gets bragging rights on those, as he hit three this series, including a two-homer game, but Packard leads the Texas League in average at .438. Tenerowicz also got one of the biggest hits of the Travs’ young season this series, with a walkoff single on the home opener:

Prime Pitchers:

Bryan Woo’s first Double-A start was a strong one; he went just four innings but struck out seven hitters.

Next up:

The Travelers head back out on the road to face the Frisco RoughRiders, the Double-A affiliate of the Rangers. This means a look at Texas top prospect Evan Carter, who will be tormenting Mariners fans very soon; all games will be televised on MiLB TV.

Everett AquaSox

3-5, 5th in Northwest League

It took the AquaSox a little while to find their (webbed) footing against the Hops, as they dropped the first four games of the series against Hillsboro, but the Sox busted out in a big way in the final two games, winning by a combined 20 runs.

Hitting Heroes:

It’s hard to pick just one Everett batter from the thumping they laid down over the final two games of this series, but we’ll go with Jonatan Clase, who went 5-for-10 with three walks and two strikeouts from the leadoff spot in those games; in the big 20-7 win on Saturday, he doubled and tripled and drove in three runs (one on a bases-loaded walk), and also stole home for the first time in his career. Clase would end Friday’s game with a .678 OPS. He ended Sunday at .900, and currently leads the team with an average of .294.

Prime Pitching:

Once again, Juan Mercedes had a strong start, giving up just one run over four innings and striking out six. Raúl Alcantara also had a strong start, giving up three runs but also striking out eight in four innings. Neither pitcher got the win, unfortunately, which is why pitcher wins are stupid. Similarly, Reid VanScoter didn’t get the win his first time out but pitched a solid four innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts; he did get rewarded with a win in the final game of the series, going another six innings of two-run ball with just three strikeouts but no walks.

Next up:

The Sox return to Funko Field to face the Vancouver Canadiens. The Funko Friday giveaway this week is a lanyard with a Funko Freddy pin, and Sunday is one of the best deals in MiLB, four for $44 Sundays: four Upper reserved seats, four hot dogs, four bags of chips, and four vouchers for a Chik-fil-A sandwich, so head on out to watch the Frogs. If you don’t feel like braving the rain, the good news is the AquaSox are now on MiLB TV, so you can catch them there.

Modesto Nuts

5-4, 3rd in California League

After beating up on the hapless Stockton Ports, the Nuts found themselves facing a much tougher competitor in the San Jose Giants, and dropped the series, winning just two of the six games. Modesto’s lineup has enough power to keep them in almost any game, but the young/inexperienced pitching staff can struggle to hold leads and keep runners off base. I was pleased to see young righty Michael Morales have a solid outing, giving up just one run over four innings. As a young pitcher facing an aggressive full-season assignment, Morales struggled some in Modesto last year but pitched much better than his line indicated, and I absolutely love his temperament on the mound; he has the poise and presence of a seasoned vet, and at some point, he’s going to start putting it all together.

Hitting Heroes:

The poor results this week aren’t the fault of the hitters, as the Nuts currently lead the California League in all offensive categories; they’ve also taken the most walks and struck out the second-least amount of times. Cole Young takes up all the prospect attention but Gabriel Gonzalez has been matching him step for step; the two of them are a fearsome combo in the heart of Modesto’s lineup, with Young as the leadoff hitter providing a little more on-base and Gonzalez bringing the thump.

Prime Pitching:

Repeat PP performer alert: Shaddon Peavyhouse, who gave up only one run in five innings and struck out seven in one of Modesto’s two wins this series. You’ll remember that Shaddon, whose given first name is Paul but who has chosen to go by his middle name since apparently “Peavyhouse” just isn’t unique enough, is an undrafted free agent signed to a minor-league deal this past February.

Another PP repeater for Modesto is Blake Townsend, who has been a revelation out of Modesto’s bullpen; he pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to close out the other one of Modesto’s wins this series, and in six innings has struck out 40% of batters faced.

Next Up:

The Nuts will try to get back on track, but that will be a tough task against the California League-leading Lake Elsinore Storm. On the bright side, this year the Storm finally have MiLB TV, so you can tune in to watch the offensive fireworks rained down by Modesto’s lineup.