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Mariners Minor League Roundup: May 16-21

Zach DeLoach has a big week, Jonatan Clase has a two-homer game, Harry Ford hits a grand slam, Gabriel Gonzalez is on a tear

Jeff Halstead

This was only a so-so week on the farm; no affiliate won their series, although three of the four affiliates did earn a split. In more exciting news, this will be one of the last minor league roundups that doesn’t include the ACL/DSL complexes, which will be starting June 5 for the Mariners DSL (Dominican Summer League) team and June 6 for the Mariners ACL (Arizona Complex League) team. That means actual game data and hopefully highlights of players like Felnin Celestin, Lázaro Montés, Michael Arroyo, and other young players we haven’t seen much of yet. Whee!

Tacoma Rainiers

21-24, 4th in Pacific Coast League West

The Rainiers split a series with the Albuquerque Isotopes (COL) this week. Things got off to a rough start when the Rainiers got blown out in the opening game of the series, 17-8, as Darren McCaughan got lit up for 10 runs in just 2.2 innings in what was a tough week for him—he also got struck from Friday’s game that went into rain delay, having warmed up but not been able to throw a single pitch. The Rainiers would go on to split the doubleheader the next day, bringing them to a series split where Matt Festa saved every single game the Rainiers won; his eight saves (perfect 8/8) lead all of Triple-A.

Prospect update/Hitting hero:

It was another quiet week for Cade Marlowe, who collected just two singles and struck out five times in 20 plate appearances. Zach DeLoach picked up the slack with one of his best weeks: his 12 hits included a homer and two doubles, so he also earns the “hitting hero” award for this week.

Prime pitching:

24-year-old RHP Nick Davila was signed by the Mariners this March after being released by the Tigers organization, who had signed him as an UDFA in 2020. Davila was initially assigned to Single-A Modesto, but was moved to Tacoma at the beginning of this month as an emergency fill-in for Tacoma’s beleaguered pitching staff. This week, he spun seven brilliant innings against the Isotopes, surrendering just two runs (one earned) while striking out eight and helping to guide the Rainiers to a 3-2 win. Riley O’Brien got the hold in the game and Matt Festa, his sixth save.

Next up:

Las Vegas rolls into Cheney Stadium and the Rainiers get to see how they match up against the A’s affiliate while not playing on the moon, aka Vegas.

Arkansas Travelers

25-14, 1st in Texas League North (1st overall)

The Tulsa Drillers might have the best run differential in the Texas League, at +78, but the Travs consistently bring the fun differential. This week they split a series against the Wichita Wind Surge, the Twins’ affiliate.

Prospect update:

Jonatan Clase loves hitting on Sundays. Last Sunday he hit his first-ever walkoff on Mother’s Day; yesterday he had his first two-homer game at Double-A, capping a five-hit week for him where he homered three times and hit a triple. He did strike out nine times in 29 plate appearances, but also walked five times and added two more stolen bases to his league-leading total. Emerson Hancock had a tough outing this week, giving up six runs in just two innings and walking five. Bryan Woo had a much better outing, going six innings and striking out 10 while walking just one. Prelander Berroa made one appearance out of the bullpen, pitching two scoreless innings while striking out four and walking just one.

Hitting hero:

Isiah Gilliam saw limited action this week but made his time count, with a pair of absolutely massive home runs.

Prime pitching:

Juan Mercedes continues to adjust to the Double-A level and manage contact; he gave up seven hits over six innings of work but only surrendered one run, walking just one batter and striking out seven.

Next up:

After a long road trip to Kansas, the Travelers head back to DSP to face a tough opponent in the Frisco RoughRiders, the Rangers’ affiliate that features top prospect Evan Carter.

Everett AquaSox

18-20, 5th in Northwest League

The AquaSox struggled this week against the league-leading Indians, getting off to a solid start with a commanding 10-3 win but then losing the next four games as the pitching staff gave up no fewer than ten (10) runs per game. Ouch. The Sox managed to salvage a game on Sunday, pulling out a 4-3 win with a Walking Cabrera walkoff homer.

Rehab update:

Dylan Moore played in three games this series, getting three plate appearances each time. He began by taking a walk and striking out, progressed to a walk and a single, and on Sunday, he struck out twice but also hit a two-out, RBI single. With Everett going out on the road this week, Moore will likely head to Tacoma to continue his rehab assignment.

Prospect update:

A couple of players continue to push for promotions to Double-A Arkansas. Alberto Rodríguez had seven hits this week, including two doubles, a triple, and a home run; he struck out four times and walked once. Tyler Locklear also got seven hits, showcasing his big power with three homers and a double, and walking four times to six strikeouts. He also nabbed a base, proving the former tight end is more athletic than your average slugging first baseman. The youngest member of this group, Harry Ford, continued to improve this week; his six hits included two homers, one a grand slam, as he continues to begin to tap into his power at the plate, and he again showcased excellent plate discipline, walking as many times as he struck out (four).

Hitting hero:

Walking Cabrera had an excellent week, with seven hits including two doubles and a walkoff homer.

Prime pitching:

As mentioned above, this was not a shining star week for the AquaSox pitching staff, which badly needs some stability after losing their best starter, Juan Mercedes, to Double-A. Unfortunately, the Modesto pitching staff is suffering some slings and arrows of their own (more on that later). One bright spot in the bullpen is 2019 16th-rounder Logan Rinehart, who made two multi-inning appearances during this series and was the rare Everett reliever who didn’t give up any runs, only allowing two hits, walking two, and striking out five over four innings.

Next up:

The Frogs travel south to Eugene, to take on the second-place team in the NWL, the Eugene Emeralds.

Modesto Nuts

20-19, 3rd in California League North

The Nuts split the series against Fresno, turning in mostly some solid pitching efforts to cover up a few stinkers from usually steady presences in the rotation. The bats, however, showed up throughout the entire series and kept them in most every game of the series. Modesto is in a bit of an odd place right now with the bulk of the roster being fairly old for the level, but between upcoming promotions and the draft in a few months, expect Modesto’s typical lineup to look a whole lot different than it does now.

Prospect update:

Highly touted prospect Cole Young is in a bit of slump in recent weeks, checking in with just three hits this week and a couple of walks. The usually contact-oriented hitter has had a bit of BABIP bad luck and maintained his smooth actions at shortstop, but his offensive production has taken a large hit since his torrid start to the season. Fortunately for Modesto, Gabriel Gonzalez has fully returned from his injury and had a fantastic series, going 9-19 with a pair of doubles and a homer. All Gonzalez has done in his professional career is hit, an impressive feat for a 19-year-old with nearly 250 at bats in affiliate ball. The M’s are likely to take Gonzalez’s development slowly and he is at minimum at least a couple of years out from the big leagues, but man is it exciting to dream on this kid.

(Not really sure what all is going on with the camera work on this dinger, but we’ll take it. We appreciate you nonetheless, camera crew.)

Hitting hero:

Lefty slugging Gabe Moncada had a superb week at the dish, going 8-19 with six walks and a homer. The first baseman has had an up-and-down year so far with streaks of both hot hitting and miserable slumps so it’s great to see him get back to mashing. He’s only 21 years of age and has some tremendous thump in the bat. Should he continue to make solid contact at a decent clip, the Mariners may have a sneaky good prospect to watch for in the coming years.

Prime pitching:

The pitching performance of the week will be split by two late round draft picks from last year’s draft, Tyler Cleveland and Brandon Schaeffer. Cleveland has had a rough go of it to start his career but turned in six innings of shutout ball this week, no easy feat in the Cal league. Schaeffer followed up that performance with a gem of his own, going five innings and striking out seven with only one earned run. Schaeffer in particular is intriguing and could be a very interesting late round steal. He’s done nothing but shove to start his career and his deceptive delivery gives him a unique edge most starters don’t have. He’s a lot of fun and a guy I’ve personally really enjoyed watching.

Next up:

The Nuts take on the league-leading San Jose Giants (SF) at home.