clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Mariners Minor-League Roundup: May 23-28

Bounceback week for Emerson Hancock, Alberto Rodríguez pushes for a promotion, Jack Larsen walks the Pacific Coast League Trail

Seattle Mariners Photo Day Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

One of the most-welcomed changes to the new six-game-series minor-league schedule was that the regular Monday off-days meant that Memorial Day, usually a day of toiling in varieties of military-inspired uniform combos, became instead an off-day for most minor-leaguers. Most players still spend it as they do any other off-day, sleeping and trying to recover from the previous week, but at least they could theoretically go to a barbecue or fishing at the lake if they wanted to.

Tacoma Rainiers, 25-26

2nd in Pacific Coast League West

The Rainiers got off to a strong start this series, winning the first two games against the Aviators before dropping their next two. In Game 1, the bullpen bailed out their starter after a rough start, pitching a combined 5.2 innings and surrendering just one run while the offense did just enough to earn a 5-4 win. Matt Festa picked up his 9th save. They also won the second game of the series by the same score, although in extra innings, this time with the bullpen backing a strong start by Darren McCaughan (although Diego Castillo would vulture his win away). Unfortunately the Rainiers pitching would allow 14 runs each of the next two games (although the offense stormed back and almost made a miraculous comeback in the second game). However, the Rainiers righted the ship and won the final two games of the series to take a series win, ending with an 11-3 shellacking on Saturday before coming from behind with a five-run inning to take the final game of the series.

Rehab update:

Dylan Moore played in three games with the Rainiers this week, probably less because of health and more because three is the maximum number of times in a week one can drive in rush hour traffic from Seattle to Tacoma without becoming The Joker (DMo is still doing his daily work with Perry Hill and in the batting cages at T-Mobile Park). For the week, Moore had four hits, all singles except one double, took two walks and stole two bases. He did strike out six times in 14 at-bats, including three in Sunday’s game, so he’s definitely still getting his timing back and will probably remain on a rehab assignment while Tacoma is still in town for the next series.

Prospect update:

Some eyebrows were raised around Mariners prospect Twitter when OF Cade Marlowe was removed from the third game of this series after just two plate appearances, but unfortunately, it’s not for a fun reason; Marlowe seemed to have tweaked his back on a swing. It’s too bad, too, because in just 12 plate appearances Marlowe collected five hits, with three doubles (and struck out four times; we’d still like to see him pull that strikeout rate out of the high 20s and into the mid-20s). Zach DeLoach also needs to pull his strikeout rate down—he had seven in the five games he played this week—but he also walked four times and hit a triple.

Hitting heroes:

Surely there’s a team somewhere that could use Mike Ford. The beefy slugger had almost as many homers (6) as he had doubles (7) this week.

Mason McCoy was the hitting hero in that particular game, though, with a go-ahead knock in the eighth that would be the eventual game winner. McCoy hit for a ton of surprising power last year; maybe he’s got his stroke back?

Walking hero:

This is really just a way to shoehorn in talking about Jack Larsen, who had a stellar week as he continues to get his stride back after missing the first month of the season with a hand injury. In Sunday’s game Larsen was 1-for-1 because he walked four times in the game in addition to hitting his single. That gave him 13 total walks for the series, while striking out nine times in 28 plate appearances; he also had six singles and a double. For a guy whose big knock coming up through the lower minors was “strikes out too much,” Larsen’s turnaround has been exceptional. As soon as he starts knocking the balls out of the park again, our three true outcome king will be good and back.

Prime pitching:

Matt Festa continues to sharpen his blade waiting for the first reliever in the Mariners’ pen to have a stumble. He’s converted every save opportunity he’s had and leads the PCL in saves, with 10, but the strikeouts have to keep going up and the walks keep going down before there’s any serious thought of bullpen musical chairs.

Up next:

The Rainiers continue their long homestand and welcome in the Sacramento River Cats. Thursday June 1 is Tacoma Public Schools Night, where $5 of every ticket goes to support Beyond the Bell, an initiative making after-school enrichment programs accessible to every student. $20 gets you a ticket and a hotdog/chips/water, $25 gets you all that and a hat, and $40.50 gets you access to the party deck with a BBQ buffet, domestic beer and wine. So go on out to the park! It’s for the children!

Arkansas Travelers, 28-17

2nd in Texas League North

The Travs split a series with the Frisco RoughRiders, Texas’s affiliate and a tough team. If we’re looking for some bright sides, two of those losses were only by one run and the outsize loss was on a very weird Juan Mercedes start where the normally stalwart strike-thrower couldn’t find the zone, so it wasn’t like they got the doors blown off, but some of those near misses really sting, especially as Tulsa continues to dominate the division.

Prospect update:

Jonatan Clase turned 21 this week but remains one of the youngest players in the Texas League. He’s still adjusting to the league and subject to striking out against more experienced pitchers—he struck out 10 times this week in 29 plate appearances—but he’s working hard to be more disciplined at the plate and work good team at-bats. He continues to showcase an exciting blend of speed and power; he had two homers and a double this week, as well as three singles and five walks to put himself in position to swipe another five bases (although he was also caught twice). Spencer Packard only hit .083 this week but that’s partly because he only had 14 at-bats all week, walking eight times. But when pitchers did put the ball in the zone against him, he made the most of it:

On the pitching side, Bryan Woo had double duty this week; he was a hard-luck loser in the series opener, giving up just two runs over five innings (but striking out just four and walking three, so slightly less sharp than usual) but the offense couldn’t muster any run support for him. The series finale went much better, with Woo giving up just one run over five innings and striking out six, walking two, while the offense backed him with a first-inning homer from Clase and a four-run second inning. Emerson Hancock had a rebound start in his turn this week, going five innings and giving up just one run while the offense backed up his strong start, leading Arkansas to a decisive 8-2 victory. Now for the high-octane relief arms: Ty Adcock continues to throw well; he pitched three scoreless innings over the series, striking out four. Prelander Berroa continues to work out of the bullpen, and continues to either walk (3) or strike out every batter (6) he sees.

Up next:

The Travs get to stay at home and face the Midland Rockhounds, Oakland’s affiliate.

Everett AquaSox, 23-22

Tied for 4th in Northwest League

The AquaSox had a successful week, wrapping up a 7-game series with a 5-2 record against a very solid Eugene team (SF affiliate). The bats were on fire this week, totaling 48 runs with multiple games that saw them score double digits. Several players on the Everett squad are making strong cases for a promotion to Arkansas in the coming weeks and might leave Everett in a bit of a prospect drought for the summer months. Until then, Everett promises a juggernaut lineup each and every night.

Prospect update:

Top prospect Harry Ford was an on base machine yet again this series, going 4-20 with seven walks, four strikeouts and a homer. It’s good to see Harry tap into a bit of power this week while maintaining his exquisite OBP-ability. Still just 20 years old, the young catcher is showing some amazing growth this season and should continue to be Seattle’s most prized player in the system. A guy who could be joining Ford in the upper echelon of Mariner prospects is Tyler Locklear, last year’s second round pick. The slugger had a fantastic week at the plate, going 12-26 with two homers, three doubles, nine strikeouts and two walks. Locklear has been the anchor of the Everett offense since the beginning of the season and will more than likely be heading down to Arkansas soon.

Hitting hero:

Despite a torrid week from Locklear, the true star was Alberto Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a prospect who saw his rankings take a bit of a dip after a down year last year, is making an argument to be pushed right back up those rankings after an outstanding start at Everett. Finishing the week 13-29 with six homers, three doubles and a triple, Rodriguez is now hitting .329/.415/.657 with an OPS of 1.072, a substantial improvement from last season. With good defense in right field and a great arm, Rodriguez is likely even closer to Arkansas than Locklear is considering his prior time on the 40-man roster and should see a promotion sooner rather than later.

Prime pitching:

The Everett squad has struggled to limit runs all year, but recent minor league signee Nick Davila went five scoreless with eight K’s and one walk, a great outing for the 24 year old. He’s obviously old for the level and a bit of a journeyman, but here’s to hoping he can keep up his solid performance for a staff that desperately needs a steadying force.

Up next:

Everett starts a six game stretch with Hillsboro, Arizona’s affiliate that has struggled mightily this season.

Modesto Nuts, 22-23

3rd in California League North

The Nuts had a mixed bag of a week, dropping four of six to the San Jose Giants. Several players saw good success over the course of the series; however, the pitching proved to be hit-or-miss, with some excellent performances overshadowed by some not so great performances. While it’d be nice to win every series, San Jose is a good team and the positive development of some key prospects is far more important in the grand scheme of things, especially against good competition.

Prospect update:

Gabriel Gonzalez has been on a tear since coming back from injury, and this week was no different, going 11-22 with a pair of both doubles and steals. He hasn’t been showing great power so far, but he has in the past and has only improved his contact ability to near elite levels, an outcome no one can complain about. With the weather heating up, expect to see Gabby sending more and more balls over the fences. The other top prospect in Modesto, Cole Young, finished 9-25 with five walks and two doubles. Seeing some increased success is a great sign for Young who has had a bit of a down month in May. Young found great success in his brief Modesto stint last season and I have a gut feeling Young is about to break out in the coming weeks and show some more pop, similar to his early season ways.

Hitting hero:

The Modesto offense had some big games this week and while Gonzalez was a big reason why, Freuddy Batista helped out by going 6-17 with two doubles. Listed as a catcher, Batista is a bat-first profile that will have to hit at a high level to make it to the big leagues. With sustained success, hopefully the 23 year old will get a chance to prove it at the next level.

Prime pitching:

Brandon Schaeffer was again excellent his time around the rotation, going six innings and giving up two runs while striking out seven. Schaeffer has been an incredibly fun addition to the system that his heavily lacking in left handed pitching. With his wide release point and lanky arms, Schaeffer is a brutal AB for any left hander and has good enough stuff to deal with righties as well. He’s got two good offspeed pitches and gets enough deception on his fastball to fool hitters. A fun arm to keep an eye on in the future.

Up next:

The Nuts take on Stockton, the lowly Oakland affiliate with a run differential of -82 on the year.