Welp, it had to happen at some point. The Mariners affiliates are no longer a perfect .500 or above system-wide. But there’s still plenty of exciting things to track down on the farm this week, from a Mother’s Day walk-off in Arkansas to a gutty series from Everett against the league leaders.
18-21, 4th in Pacific Coast League West
Not a great week for the Rainiers, who are the first of the Mariners affiliates to drop below the .500 mark after dropping an extended-play series 2-5 against the Reno Aces. The hope was for the Rainiers to right the ship back in the friendlier confines of Cheney Stadium after a tour through the scorching southwest, but that did not happen; the pitching staff managed to keep the games close, but the offense didn’t show, scoring between 1-3 runs in five of the series’ seven games.
Zach DeLoach had four hits over the series, including a double, and struck out five times while walking four times. Cade Marlowe homered but had a rough series otherwise, striking out 12 times.
Now is the time on Sprockets where we praise Jake Scheiner, who hit three homers this week, proving his power plays outside of the bounce houses of the PCL.
Crushed. Jake Scheiner 2-run HR! 12th HR for Jake. pic.twitter.com/EoQkxOzR3y— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) May 14, 2023
The whole pitching staff held it down pretty well this week with little offensive support but let’s give it up for Tommy Milone, who struck out six over five innings of work and earned a rare W for the Rainiers this week.
The Rainiers head to
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22-11, first in Texas League North (T-Tulsa Drillers)
It was a clean sweep for the Travelers this week, taking all six in the series against the Naturals, their in-state rivals. With some truly outstanding pitching performances and clutch hitting, the Travs dominated this series and outscored their opponents by 17 runs. They really had every facet of the game working, particularly dominant starting pitching and solid bullpen work. The hitting is beginning to come along nicely as well, with many potential contributors beginning to heat up and regulars continuing their production. The Travelers find themselves tied with the Tulsa Drillers for the best record in the Texas League, a team they just beat in a series a few weeks back. Exciting times are ahead for the Travelers, one of the most sneaky fun MiLB teams I can remember following in a while.
Arkansas has slowly accumulated some exciting prospect depth as the season begins to exit its infancy. With Bryce Miller mowing down big leaguers now, Bryan Woo and Emerson Hancock lead the way for the Travs at the top of the rotation, each posting an excellent start this past week. Hancock set a new career high with a 10 K’s in a 5.2 IP outing where he allowed just six total baserunners and one run. Bryan Woo somehow upstaged Hancock’s dominance, carrying a perfect game into the seventh inning. Woo would unfortunately lose his perfecto bid after surrendering a pair of singles, but a final line of 7IP 2H 0R 0BB 7K is just about as good as it gets.
Perhaps the most relevant development for the major league roster in the minors as of late, Prelander Berroa has been shifted into a bullpen role. Having started the year as a starter, Berroa had his lights out stuff, but struggled to find the strike zone. As such, the front office made the call and made him a full-time reliever, potentially as a multi-inning option. He appeared twice in the series against the Naturals, going three innings, walking one and striking out five without allowing a hit. Look for Berroa to be an option for the big league club in the coming months should an injury or regression plague a leverage arm.
On the offensive side, Jonatan Clase is beginning to acclimate to the Texas League. Entering Tuesday’s game two against the Naturals, Clase had a meager .343 OPS, over a hundred points lower than his OBP was at Everett. Fortunately, over the next five games, Clase would see his OPS over double, rising 378 points to a respectable .721. Perhaps even more gaudy, Clase managed to steal nine bases in the six game series, wreaking havoc on the poor Royals farm hands and providing a clutch game-tying RBI before scoring the winning run on a wild pitch on Saturday, and then walking it off on Sunday. Additionally, Robert Perez Jr. had a fantastic series that saw him go 10-23 with 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. The K’s are still a concern, however he’s been making enough quality contact where it’s less of an issue than it appears on the surface.
Hey mom♥️ my first ever walkoff goes for you! https://t.co/1Nsua99Aun— jonatan clase (@ClaseJonatan) May 14, 2023
The ever-steady Spencer Packard had a productive series, going 5-17 with six walks and only four strikeouts. Packard often gets overlooked due to his advanced age (25) in prospect circles, but the dude can flat out rake. He’s shown tremendous on-base ability, some pop, and can stand in the corner outfield if you need him to. He’s certainly not going to be a difference maker on defense or the basepaths, but the most important tool for any player is the hit tool, and Packard has a darn good one. It wouldn’t shock me if Packard gets a cup of coffee at the end of the year for the M’s to provide some lefty thump to the lineup.
The best of the best featured the aforementioned Woo and Hancock, however Juan Mercedes, last month’s Northwest League Pitcher of the Month at High-A, got two starts in the series and tallied 10 innings, surrendering five runs on two walks and eight K’s. Additionally, the bullpen has featured some electric arms coming out of the back end, with the recently promoted Ty Adcock as well as Travis Kuhn each pitching scoreless frames throughout the series. Once a bit of a team filled with “odds and ends” in the prospect department, Arkansas has some truly legit talent up and down their squad and should be ready to supplement any big league needs should it be necessary.
The Travelers head to Wichita this week to take on the middling Wind Surge, the Twins’ affiliate.
16-16, 4th in Northwest League
The AquaSox took on the league-leading Vancouver Canadians this week and walked away with a split 3-3 record. There were some very high highs and very low lows in this series, with some outstanding performances balancing out some sad, no fun performances we’d rather not think about. Interestingly, this series featured some incredibly crooked numbers on both sides, with every game but one featuring at least 10 runs scored collectively and four where one team alone posted double digits. Perhaps the wildest way possible to end up at a net zero in the win column, Everett should be able to build off some of their offensive explosions and continue to rake as the weather begins to heat up.
Harry Ford, the crown jewel of the Seattle system, had a bit of rough week at the plate. Going just 3-21 with no extra base hits, Ford saw his average take a pretty significant hit. Prince Harry will always dominate the zone, drawing seven free passes and striking out just four times in six games, but the lack of serious damage done by the young backstop is surely disappointing. Far from a major slump just yet, but something to monitor.
With several injuries bogging down some of the major prospects on the team, Ford and Tyler Locklear are currently packing most of the prospect punch in the Everett lineup. Unfortunately, Locklear also had a bit of a down week after his torrid stretch the last few series. Finishing the week going 4-21 with a homer, six walks, and seven K’s. I’m still higher on Locklear than just about anyone and still think he’ll be in Arkansas by the end of the summer, but it’s hard to call this series a major win for the slugging first baseman. Look for both he and Ford to rebound and regain their mojo sooner rather than later.
The bulk of the Everett offense was buoyed by Ben Ramirez, a late round player selected in the 13th round of the 2021 draft out of UCLA. Ending the week with an active nine-game hit streak, Ramirez went 10-24 with five K’s and three walks. Additionally, Hogan Windish was on a tear in the first few games of the series (4-10 with 13 total bases) before missing the rest of the series with an apparent injury. Hopefully it is nothing serious in the long-term as Windish has shown considerable promise with the bat as a senior sign in last year’s draft.
Reid VanScoter, last year’s fifth round pick and a senior sign, was excellent again for the Frogs, tossing six innings of one run ball with six K’s. Outside of last week’s horrendous blow up start, VanScoter has been nails all year and is a name to watch in the system. With his advanced age, it’s difficult to say whether his success is sustainable as the competition level increases, but he is nonetheless showing positive development signs and could easily be a fast mover through the system.
Everett takes on Spokane at Funko Field this week, a team with a potent offense but struggles to limit runs. Hopefully a struggling pitching staff is just what the doctor ordered for a generally lackluster AquaSox lineup in its current form. The team should also get injured shortstop Axel Sánchez back this week, further bolstering their lineup.
17-16, 3rd in California League North
Modesto did some serious damage to their record this week, dropping five of six games to Inland Empire. IE isn’t a good team, exactly, but Modesto just made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball and knocked themselves out of opportunities to win.
Modesto goes as their prospects go, and this week was not a banner week for the younger members of Seattle’s system. Cole Young struck out as many times as he walked (5) but only had four hits—two singles, a double, and a triple. It was also a rough week for Gabriel Gonzalez, who still flashed that solid plate discipline (five strikeouts to three walks) but hit just one sad little single. Milkar Perez had a rest day this week but did his part to try to jump-start the Nuts offense, collecting six hits, although the majority of them were singles. One other prospect note: Michael Morales had his start skipped this week.
In a week where Modesto’s bats were not consistent, Andrew Miller once again stepped up, collecting six hits over the series, including two doubles and a homer.
Brandon Schaeffer had the best start of the Nuts rotation this week, going seven innings and giving up three runs in the lone game the Nuts won.
Outstanding start by Brandon Schaeffer. Final line: 7IP, 4H, 3R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K, 94-59. He’s been great in his pro season. pic.twitter.com/orXwVaGU1V— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) May 14, 2023
Modesto returns home to face the Fresno Grizzlies (COL).