Happy Opening Day of the Rookie Leagues to all who celebrate! Next week at this time we’ll be able to bring you box scores from the ACL and DSL Mariners, and maybe a highlight or two, if we’re lucky.
If you’re wondering what that smell is, it’s the big-league club stinking up the joint, dropping a series to the Yankees and then getting swept by the Rangers. Luckily, there’s much more fun to be had down on the farm, so let us turn our attention there-ward.
28-29, 2nd in the Pacific Coast League West
The Rainiers split a series this week with the Sacramento River Cats. A bullpen day for the Rainiers to open the series started things off with a 4-1 loss—Diego Castillo gave up two runs on three hits but also struck out three batters over two innings—but the next day’s bullpen day resulted in an extra-innings win with Pat Valaika driving in the necessary two runs with a walkoff single. The Rainiers went on to lose the third game of the series 7-3 as the River Cats pounded out sixteen hits against Tyler Wade and the rest of the Rainiers bullpen, and the fourth when Juan Then got lit up for five runs in just 1.2 innings in his first Triple-A appearance. But the offense showed up on Saturday, scoring 11 runs to back a solid outing from starter Marcus Walden, and did just enough on Sunday to secure a 4-1 win and back a nine-strikeout performance from Darren McCaughan.
Dylan Moore started off his week rough, going 0-for-8 in his first two games with three strikeouts, a walk, and a caught stealing. However, he turned it around on Saturday, going 1-for-3 with an RBI base hit and a walk and scoring three times. Andrés Muñoz made three appearances; he was perfect in his first game, striking out two and giving up no hits nor walks; in his second appearance he walked one and struck out one but gave up no hits; and in his third appearance he posted zeroes across the board to lock down the save. Penn Murfee also pitched in that game, making his first rehab appearance; he struck out two in an inning of work and didn’t allow a runner to reach base.
Cade Marlowe returned from tweaking his back but maybe isn’t completely right yet, as he was mired in a 2-for-21 slump this week—although one of the hits was a triple—with seven strikeouts. On a brighter note, Zach DeLoach had another very strong week; of his six hits this week, half went for extra bases including a home run, and he also worked four walks to seven strikeouts. In his first game back with Tacoma, Taylor Trammell worked three walks, a “see?” that could be heard all the way up the I-5 corridor.
Zach DeLoach goes oppo for a 2-run HR! pic.twitter.com/xw4vyTxzCw— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) June 2, 2023
Jake Scheiner update:
This is usually where we do “hitting hero” but let’s be honest, it’s always either Mike Ford or Jake Scheiner. With Ford up with the big-league club currently, it’s time to look at what Jake Scheiner did this week. After missing most of the week with a sore back, on Saturday he hit a two-out grand slam. On Sunday he hit a three-run go-ahead homer. It’s maybe time to give the dude a shot, assuming he’s healthy.
Darren McCaughan took his demotion from the big-league club masterfully, spinning seven innings of one-run ball with one walk and nine strikeouts on Sunday. Not all heroes, capes, etc.
The Rainiers travel to Reno to face the Aces, the leaders of the PCL West.
32-19, 2nd in Texas League North
The Travs took the series this week from Oakland’s affiliate, the Midland RockHounds, 4-2, despite losing their rotation mainstay Bryan Woo to a call-up to Seattle.
Tyler Locklear might be hurt, but at least Spencer Packard, the guy I consistently confuse him with, is still with us: he had a homer and a double this week, taking five walks to six strikeouts, and tallied four RBI. Jonatan Clase had a down week with just one double and a day off, but still managed three walks and three stolen bases. Robert Perez Jr. is also scuffling, although his lone hit this week was a home run.
On the pitching side, things are not as shiny as they were when this rotation boasted two of the best pitchers in the Texas League. Prelander Berroa continues to walk too many batters; this week he walked four to just three strikeouts in two appearances. Isaiah Campbell (three appearances, no runs, two strikeouts and one walk) is threatening to take his spot as the next arm summoned from Arkansas, as is Ty Adcock (two appearances, no runs, no walks, two strikeouts). It was another rough week for Emerson Hancock, who gave up eight runs over four innings (seven earned, as he walked as many batters as he struck out, four); the big damage came on a grand slam to Greg Deichmann.
Former first-round draft pick Logan Warmoth had a big week for the Travs, with some key hits including a homer and three doubles.
Ethan Lindow drew the short straw of having to make two starts in a week where Travs pitching was already compensating for losing their best starter (again), but he performed masterfully, putting up thirteen combined innings (starts of six and seven innings apiece) with ten total strikeouts and two walks. Of the three runs he gave up, two came on a home run in his first start. Come to my Lindow, Ethan (this is a joke for me and only for me, happy Pride month to me).
The Travs take on the league-leading Tulsa Drillers, in Tulsa, in what promises to be a very tough series for the Travs, especially now that they’re down their two best pitchers.
25-26, 5th in Northwest League
It feels like a game under .500 should do you better than second-to-last place in the league, but such are the ways of the six-team Northwest League, the beginner’s fantasy football league of minor league baseball. The AquaSox didn’t help their case this week by dropping a series 2-4 to the cellar-dwelling Hillsboro Hops (and one of those wins took them 11 innings. The AquaSox can score runs—they scored 33 in this series—but their pitching staff can also give them up, giving up a combined 38 runs this series.
Bad and sad news, as Tyler Locklear was hit by a pitch in the third game of this series on the hand which reportedly broke a bone in his hand. Wishing Locklear, who was off to a sizzling start this season, a speedy recovery.
The beatings of baseballs will continue until Alberto Rodríguez is promoted. Fresh off his Player of the Week win, Alberto did not let up on the gas this week, going 8-for-30 with two homers and three doubles. His hits also came in key moments for the AquaSox, helping them rebound from various deficits.
Harry Ford had a quieter week—he did his normal control-the-zone magic, with eight strikeouts to six walks—but had just one extra-base hit, although it was a homer. After struggling initially at the level, 20-year-old Axel Sánchez is starting to find his way at High-A, collecting three hits this week, including a triple, while striking out six times and walking three times (an improvement for him!).
Everett’s at home to face the league-leading Vancouver Canadiens. Hopefully they’ll get a little additional firepower from some big-league rehabbers.
25-26, 3rd in California League North
After getting off to a hot start, Modesto has begun to backslide some, although not for lack of offense. This week they split a series against the lowly Stockton Ports, with the wins coming in lopsided fashion (10-2, 10-3, 8-1), and the losses generally much closer.
There are always lots of offensive highlights to talk about with Modesto and generally less on the pitching side, but a pair of young pitchers had strong outings this week. 2022 ninth-round draft choice Tyler Gough got tasked with double duty this week; he started off the series strong, giving up just one run over five innings, and gave up three runs over five innings in the series finale; overall, a respectable performance for a 19-year-old still learning the ropes of pro ball, and very reminiscent of what we saw from fellow prep pitching prospect Michael Morales at this time last year. Speaking of Morales, he had one of his best starts of the year this week, going seven innings and allowing no runs on four hits with just two walks to five strikeouts. That was the first start of Morales’s young career where he’s gone seven innings, an exciting milestone for the young pitcher.
On the offensive side, it’s Gabriel Gonzalez’s world and we’re all just living in it. “El Drón” saw an eighteen-game hitting streak come to an end in the series finale, as he continues to make those present grades of 20s on his hit and power tools look deeply silly, collecting eight hits in his 21 plate appearances this week. Power isn’t an issue for the young slugger, who drilled two homers this series in addition to his three doubles, but he continues to pair that with an advanced understanding of the strike zone; he and fellow top prospect Cole Young had eerily similar weeks, both striking out five times and walking twice, and Young also had a big week for slugging, with two doubles and two homers of his own. Milkar Perez continues to slowly progress in figuring out full-season ball, hitting .273 over the week.
Modesto’s catching tandem of Freuddy Batista and Tatem Levins have been wrecking some shop from the bottom of the lineup and forcing themselves into ownership of the C/DH spot. Levins, the Mariners’ 2022 eighth-rounder, tallied five hits in 16 plate appearances this week, with two doubles and a homer, striking out three times and walking twice. Batista only saw 13 plate appearances this week, but made the most of them with five hits of his own including two doubles; he struck out twice and walked once.
Shaddon Peavyhouse returned to form this week, striking out eight over six innings while giving up two runs en route to a lopsided 10-2 win for Modesto. He did walk four batters, so that’s something to continue to refine. University of Washington alum Stefan Raeth made two appearances in the later innings this week, striking out four in two innings and giving up just one hit while walking no one.
The Nuts will face a stiff test when they welcome in Rancho Cucamonga, the Dodgers’ affiliate and leader of the Cal League South; they’re tied with San Jose (32-19) for the best record in the California League.