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Mariners Minor League Roundup, July 24-30

Jeter Martinez earns MVP honors, Sam Haggerty is hot, Emerson Hancock finds consistency

Seattle Mariners v Texas Rangers minor leaguers Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Congratulations this week to the Mariners prospects who played in the DSL All-Star Game. all pitchers: Harold Melenge, Wulliams Rodriguez, and Jeter Martinez. If you don’t yet know the name Jeter Martinez, you need to: the 6’4” righty was the top prospect out of Mexico (he shares a hometown with Andrés Muñoz) in the 2022 signing class and has been electric so far in the DSL, with big velocity (touching 95, a tremendous mark for a 17-year-old) while striking out about 35% of batters faced. In the DSL All-Star Game, Martinez pitched a perfect inning, striking out two, and earned MVP honors.

Tacoma Rainiers

15-12, 2nd in Pacific Coast League West

The Rainiers stomped the Bees this week at home, winning five of the six games in the series (my favorite game recap e-mail this week from Tacoma Baseball Information director Paul Braverman was titled “Bee Boppin”). Don’t look now, but Sam Haggerty seems to have found his stride at the plate after struggling earlier this year in the bigs after coming back from off-season surgery. The Swaggy Ham collected 11 hits over the series with two doubles and a whopping four home runs—not an easy feat in spacious Cheney Stadium. He also struck out (2x) fewer times than he walked (3x) and stole two bases. With José Caballero slumping a little at the plate, Haggerty could be a short in the arm for a Mariners club that’s struggled with production at the second base position all season.

Of course, maybe the Mariners should wait to see how Hagz fares against a team with slightly less hapless pitching than the Angels’ affiliate, which served up 40 runs over the six-game series, including a game where they allowed four straight homers to Rainiers batters, setting a team record.

New faces: Robbie “Byrdman” Tenerowicz was promoted to Triple-A this past week and should become a fast fan favorite thanks to his entertaining style of play and larger-than-life personality.

Next up: The Rainiers travel to Sugar Land to take on my least favorite mascot of all time, the faceless, creepy, Sugar Land Space Cowboys.

Arkansas Travelers

15-11, 1st in Texas League North

The Travs split a series with their in-state rivals, the NW Arkansas Naturals. The Travs offense is very capable of hanging several runs on opposing pitchers, but the cobbled-together starting pitching staff has trouble holding on to those leads. Things should get a little easier for the Travs as Jimmy Joyce has been promoted from Everett to help bolster the pitching staff, but that comes with a loss to the offense as slugger Robbie Tenerowicz has been promoted to Tacoma.

Still, the Arkansas lineup is long and capable of punishing opposing pitchers from any spot. Leadoff man Jonatan Clase found his power stroke again this week after scuffling for most of the month, hitting a double, triple, and home run while adding three more stolen bases to his total. Recently-promoted Alberto Rodríguez missed some time this week, returning to the DR for the birth of his first daughter, but “el rey de dobles” added three more doubles to his yearlong total upon his return in just four games.

Emerson Hancock was a hard-luck loser this week with another strong outing; he went seven innings and gave up just one run, striking out five and walking just one. It was an especially satisfying outing for Hancock, who banished the demons of his last start against the Naturals earlier this month where he went just 1.2 innings and gave up nine runs, including a grand slam. Hancock’s ERA from June 6 through the end of July is a mere 2.73, including the blowup against the Naturals, and over his last few starts he’s starting to show the consistency that could earn him a call-up to Seattle, especially if Bryan Woo continues to struggle against lefties.

One reliever to keep an eye on for a possible promotion is lefty Jorge Benitez. While Prelander Berroa has resumed closing duties in Arkansas since being optioned back, Benitez has quietly put together a solid year, although he struggles with walks. This month he’s done a lot to cut down on those free passes while still striking out more than a batter per inning.

Next up: The Travs remain at home and welcome in the San Antonio Missions, one of the earliest (1868) charter members of the Texas League.

Everett AquaSox

16-14, 2nd in Northwest League

The Frogs had a tough series this week, finishing 2-4 against the league leading Vancouver Canadians. The typically potent offense was quiet this week, missing out on their star slugger Gabriel Gonzalez for the entirety of the series. While it is currently unclear why Gabby missed the series, this was the first time Everett played in Canada since his promotion to Hi-A and could be a visa issue. We’ll know more about the nature of his absence in the coming days when the AquaSox return to the states.

Cole Young, who had been laying waste to the Northwest League, cooled off a bit this week. He’s still hitting .300 with an OPS over 1.000, but Young looked human for the first time at Everett this week. Even if this is the beginning of a slump, Young remains incredibly advanced for his age and should be just fine long term. He’s not going to be a 1.000 OPS guy every step of the way, but he’ll get things figured out and I expect him to find his footing sooner rather than later. Harry Ford had a very Harry Ford kind of week, going 5-20 and walking seven times. Ford continues to show elite OBP skills but has struggled to get to his power consistently in games. With an OBP north of .400 and a SLG% sitting at .384, the next step for Sir Harry is impacting the ball. It’s much easier said than done, but the young catcher doesn’t have a ton left to prove outside of the hit/power combination. Hopefully Ford can get to his prodigious raw power more in the coming weeks for a Frogs playoff push.

Raúl Alcantara continues his hot streak on the mound, pitching another five innings of one run ball. Over his last three starts, Alcantara has thrown 18 innings and surrendered just three earned runs while maintaining a K/BB ratio of 25/5, an excellent mark for any starting pitcher. The lefty started off the year slow in his conversion to the rotation, but he’s really settled in this month. He’s definitely a name to know moving forward.

Next up: The AquaSox take on the Spokane Indians at Funko Field this week, the Rockies affiliate.

Modesto Nuts

15-15, 2nd in California League North

The much depleted Modesto lineup was replenished this week, with 2nd rounder Ben Williamson, 5th rounder Brock Rodden, and 10th rounder Jared Sundstrom all making their Cal League debuts this week after a brief touch up down in Arizona. This appears to be just what the doctor ordered for the Nuts as they went 5-1 this week and had some explosive offensive outbursts, headlined by a 15 run win on Wednesday. While Rodden has struggled a bit, both Williamson (.917 OPS) and Sundstrom (1.462 OPS) are off to excellent starts and contributing to a potent offensive attack. It might not have the star power as it did before, but the Nuts roster is flush with talent looking to prove itself to the prospect world.

Top prospect Michael Arroyo has been scuffling at the plate a bit since returning from injury but has been starting to heat up a bit as of late. He’s yet to match his otherworldly start at Modesto, but still just 18 years old and showing ample skills to succeed at the level, Arroyo is only going to improve as he matures. Now manning shortstop full time, it’s only a matter of time until Arroyo regains his form and starts mashing once again.

On the mound, the Nuts are pitching quite well as of late, something that has not been the case for most of the year. Michael Morales had his best start of the summer, finishing the week with a line of 5IP 2H 1ER 3BB 7K. Outside of the young right hander, 2022 draftees Marcelo Perez, Darren Bowen, and Tyler Cleveland as well as UDFA Shaddon Peavyhouse were all incredibly impressive this week. With the five starters this week combining to allow just five earned runs and strike out 30 batters while walking just five, it was a dominant performance for the Modesto rotation. With some filthy stuff coming out of the bullpen and starting pitching, this Nuts team could make some noise come playoff time. They’re a really fun squad to keep an eye on.

Next up: The Nuts welcome in the Lake Elsinore Storm for a rare cross-divisional matchup.

ACL Mariners

23-16, 1st in Arizona Complex League West

Holy Homers, Batman! More of the recent draftees made their professional debuts this week and all of them collectively decided to launch baseballs into the sweltering Arizona sky. Despite tallying a whopping 25 runs in their two weekend games, they managed to lose both games, a testament to both the system’s ludicrous offensive talent and lack of pitching depth at the complex level. With so many players having stand out performances, it’s tough to pin down just one to acknowledge, but I’ll give props to 19th rounder Charlie Pagliarini. With a name too good to fail, Pagliarini is on a heater to start his career, already bashing three dingers and hitting over .400. It cannot be overstated just how small the sample sizes are with the recent draftees, but Charles Guido Pagliarini has stood out among a collection of hot starts from his fellow draftees.

Outside of recent draftees, Lazaro Montes has been on fire as of late, pushing his season OPS over 1.000 this weekend. Fellow slugger Luis Suisbel has also been maintaining his season long success, totaling a 1.062 OPS. Suisbel has played all over the infield this season and even played some shortstop this week, something that is sure to entice the organization. The typical pitching performers had a bit of a rough go of it this week, but Adrian Quintana has returned from injury and has looked good in his brief showings.

DSL Mariners

20-19, 6th in Dominican Summer League South

The DSL M’s act as the ACL team’s counterbalance, the ultimate yin-yang partnership of hitting and pitching. What the ACL outputs at the plate, the DSL pumps out on the mound. Neither team can really put together the whole package consistently, but dominating on one side of the ball is far from a problematic outcome. Despite Jeter Martinez’s worst professional start to date, his season ERA remains a minuscule 2.00. For his efforts, Martinez joined teammates Wuilliams Rodriguez and Harold Melenge in the DSL All-Star game this week and pitched a scoreless inning while striking out two, earning All-Star Game MVP honors.

Pitching has and likely will remain at the forefront of the DSL team’s season. They rank near the top in nearly all major pitching categories and are holding opponents to around 4 runs a game, an excellent outcome for a league that often sees hitters excel due to subpar pitching and defense. The system may seem somewhat dry in pitching prospects at the moment, but there’s a large wave of pitchers making their way stateside next year that are ready to make their mark. DSL statistics are notoriously tough to gauge without the whole story so take everything with a grain of salt, but results are results. There’s no guarantee these teenagers pan out, but they’re tremendously exciting and I will be rooting for each and every one of them.