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Mariners minor league roundup: May 2-7

Scheiner schines, Bobby Bombs away, Reid Morgan Ks the world, Milkar Perez heats up

Reid Morgan and the textbook definition of flow
Shari Sommerfeld

All the Mariners affiliates remain at .500 or over, but things got really dodgy this week as every affiliate lost their respective series by the same score, winning just two games out of the six. Solidarity, I guess?

Tacoma Rainiers

16-16, 2nd in Pacific League West

The Rainiers did not have an enjoyable time in Salt Lake, managing just two wins against the Bees. The fewest number of runs the pitching staff gave up in any single game was five as the team struggles to compensate for the steady stream of pitchers they’ve lost up to the big-league club. The Rainiers bookended their two wins on either end of the series; Matt Festa gave up a PCL homer in the ninth but earned the save in game one, while Riley O’Brien locked down the other save.

Prospect check-in:

It was a quieter week for Cade Marlowe, although he did have five hits (four singles and one home run), and struck out nine times while walking twice. Zach DeLoach had two hits, one a homer, and struck out eight times to three walks.

Hitting heroes:

The Rainiers continue to miss the bat of Taylor Trammell, but Mike Ford and Jake Scheiner are doing their parts to prop up the offense. Ford had a quartet of doubles, two of them in the series finale, and struck out just three times while taking seven walks. Scheiner had a particularly hot streak at the plate over the series, collecting a team-high twelve hits with five doubles and a homer.

Prime pitching:

Matt Festa wasn’t given a lot of opportunities to save games this week, but he’s 4-for-4 in save opportunities. He’s struck out 10 in 12 innings but also walked seven batters, so he’ll need to continue making adjustments before he can work his way back up to the big-league squad.

Up next:

The Rainiers return home to Cheney Stadium to face off against the Reno Aces (ARI).

Arkansas Travelers

16-11, 2nd in Texas League North

After handling the Springfield Cardinals easily at home, the Travs struggled against them on the road, dropping four of the six games in this series. With the ace of their rotation called up to Seattle, the Travs are scrambling to fill the gap with bullpen days. That hasn’t worked out so well—the bullpen blew a four-run lead in the opening game of the series, leading to a loss, and lost another game where traditional shorter-inning guys were asked to work multiple innings—but should improve once the team gets to leave Springfield’s homer-happy ballpark. There are also lots of new faces in Arkansas: RHP Juan Mercedes was promoted from Everett, ostensibly to fill the Bryce Miller-shaped hole in the Travs’ rotation, and closer Ty Adcock, who was drafted the same year as George Kirby but has had to battle injuries, was also promoted.

On the position player side, the Mariners made the surprising move of promoting outfielder Jonatan Clase after a torrid but brief start in Everett that saw him named Player of the Month for the Northwest League in April. Clase won’t turn 21 until the end of this month, making him one of the youngest players in Double-A and the fourth-youngest player currently in the Texas League.

Prospect check-in:

Spencer Packard had a full week after missing some time last week with a minor injury. He got off to a slow start but hit a huge homer in Sunday’s win. Newly-promoted Jonatan Clase had his first Double-A hit, a single, on Friday and his first double on Saturday. Robert Pérez Jr. leads the team in home runs, with six, and added another two this week.

Emerson Hancock made two starts in this series, only four days apart; he was able to go twice because he only lasted two-thirds of an inning his first time out, giving up three runs (two earned) while walking three and striking out two. Hancock redeemed himself with a solid start in the series finale, working around some early command issues to end up with a five-inning start on short rest, giving up just one run on two hits while walking two and striking out three. Bryan Woo had a tough start, lasting just four innings and giving up three runs, including a home run, but he did strike out five. Closer Ty Adcock was also recently promoted from High-A and has had a period of adjustment to Double-A; he got two quick outs in his debut inning before surrendering a two-run home run, but also struck out two; he had a redemption appearance on Sunday, working a clean inning with a strikeout.

Hitting hero:

We’ve spoken a lot about my favorite Chaos Muppet Robbie “Birdman” Tenerowicz, who is leading the team in most offensive categories, but let’s have a little appreciation for second baseman Leonardo Rivas, whose OBP of .414 is eighth-best in the Texas League: he’s struck out 20 times but earned 19 free passes. Rivas consistently puts up good, tough at-bats, and pairing him at the bottom of the lineup with Clase at the top gives the Travs two legitimate speed/on-base threats for the Bash Brothers to knock in.

Prime pitching:

Juan Mercedes was just promoted to Arkansas this week from High-A, and found himself making his first Double-A appearance under tough conditions, as the long man in relief after Hancock struggled. Mercedes held the line, however, going five innings and making just one mistake, a two-run home run, while walking two and striking out two.

Next up:

The Travs travel back to Dickey-Stephens Park to face the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (KCR), the team just behind them in the standings.

Everett AquaSox

13-13, 3rd in the Northwest League

Our poor little FrogBois have been backsliding some after their hot start to the season. They lost their ace in Juan Mercedes and their best hitter in Jonatan Clase, both promoted to Double-A, and also lost their starting shortstop Axel Sánchez, who is on the 7-day IL. This week they dropped a series to the Tri-City Dust Devils, scraping together just two wins and doing some serious damage to their league-leading run differential.

Prospect check-in:

Harry Ford had a quieter week, with just one extra-base hit (a double), with five strikeouts to one walk. Alberto Rodriguez had a rough week with his plate discipline, striking out 11 times while taking just one walk; he did have two singles, a double, and a triple, though. Tyler Locklear continues to Hulk-smash this level, with seven hits this week including two doubles and an absolutely massive home run. He’s likely due for a promotion to Arkansas very soon.

Hitting hero:

SS James Parker (8th round, 2021) stepped in for injured shortstop Axel Sánchez in a big way, coming up with a couple clutch hits, including a home run.

Prime pitching:

Reid Morgan was a hard-luck loser this week, going 5.2 innings and giving up three runs on a pair of homers while striking out a career-high 11 batters and walking just one. It’s an L in the box score but a W in every other way that counts.

Up next:

The AquaSox make their first trip over the border to visit the Vancouver Canadiens. For several of the younger prospects, especially the international signees, this will be their first time visiting a country other than their home country, and it’s always fun to see what the players post on social media as they explore America’s Hat.

Modesto Nuts:

16-11, 2nd in California League North

The Nuts dropped a very frustrating series, 2-4, to the San Jose Giants, riddled by a few uncharacteristic offensive power outages, some sloppy defense, and some very poor pitching. It was unusually rainy in Northern California, with one game having a lengthy rain delay and another shortened to six innings due to rain, so we’ll blame it on that and hope for better next week.

Prospect check-in:

Cole Young continues to control the zone well, striking out just twice this week while walking five times. The next step for Young will be hitting for some more power—of his seven hits this week, six were singles. Gabriel Gonzalez also didn’t get his power stroke going this series, with seven of his eight hits going for singles, but he also homered and only struck out three times, continuing to show a very advanced plate approach for such a young player. In a happy development, Milkar Perez’s bat is finally starting to show some signs of life in full-season ball. He had a team-leading 10 hits this week with three doubles, walked three times and only struck out four times.

On the pitching side, Michael Morales was not as sharp as he’d been last week, going four innings and giving up three runs with more walks (4) than strikeouts (3), but who ever said progress was linear?

Hitting hero:

When there were good things happening for Modesto this week, often OF Andrew Miller (not that one, the one the Mariners signed as a free agent last May) was in the thick of it. He collected five hits, including a double and a homer, and walked (8) more times than he struck out (7).

Prime pitching:

It’s hard to give out flowers for Modesto’s pitching staff this week. Neither the starters nor the bullpen were sharp, with way too many walks and not enough strikeouts against San Jose’s patient, disciplined hitters. We’ll revisit next week.

Up next:

The Nuts go visit the Angels affiliate, Inland Empire. I’ll be interested to see if IE has upgraded their cameras, as the quality of video there used to look like it was filmed with a buttered potato.