Fortunes are a-shifting in the minors as players travel up the system. The once mighty Travelers are scuffling, while the other teams that have received an injection of offensive help find themselves soaring. If you’re frustrated by the big league team’s lack of offensive output, dial up a game in Tacoma or Modesto to soothe your RISP-scalded eyes.
24-15, 1st in Pacific Coast League North
While the Mariners were locked in an extra-inning contest on Sunday with the Orioles with playoff implications on the line, the same high-wire act was taking place a bit down the road with the Tacoma Rainiers trying to take a 5-1 series win over the OKC Dodgers, but more importantly, move into sole possession of first place in the PCL West. Diego Castillo gave up an extra-innings single to former Mariner David Frietas, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 advantage, but Ryan Bliss came through with a two-run walkoff single
For the rest of the week, the Rainiers were stellar, dropping one game but otherwise handling the PCL East-leading Dodgers. Every member of the Rainiers pitching staff gave up at least one run in the series opener, but the Rainiers still pounded out 12 runs on 12 hits, led by a Sam Haggerty triple and a Taylor Trammell home run. Trammell would homer again in the next night’s contest, and Zach DeLoach homered twice in the game, as the Rainiers squeaked past, 6-4. Thursday brought another close one-run win before the Rainiers finally fell on Friday, despite yet another Trammell homer. But the Rainiers bounced right back on Saturday thanks to a strong start from Strongest Soldier Tommy Milone, who held the OKC Dodgers off the board for 5.2 innings. Adam Engel homered in that contest, his second of the week.
We’re writing this on Sunday but we’re just going to assume Taylor Trammell earns PCL Player of the Week honors for his performance: seven hits with three homers and four stolen bases.
Taylor Trammell's third homer in four games had a flight attendant on it. 450 feet on the hill. pic.twitter.com/tj7TxYW45N— Tacoma Rainiers (@RainiersLand) August 12, 2023
16-22, 4th in Texas League North
Oh sweet Travelers, what has become of you? The answer: losing most of your starting rotation and also a lot of your bullpen to the big league club and injuries. The Travs offense can still score runs, but they’re getting shellacked on the pitching side, night after night. The pitching staff gave up 71 runs over their six-game series with Midland, which, as you might guess, did result in a loss, although the Travs managed to pull out one win, a 17-10 victory.
If there’s one bright thing to take out of a severely sagging Travs team, it’s that Jonatan Clase seems to have turned things around after scuffling over the month of July. Clase is hitting over .300 in August so far, although he’s yet to homer, while continuing to work walks and get on base so he can steal bases. He passed the threshold of 60 for the season this past series and is well on his way to reaching his goal of 70 by the end of the season.
Jonatan Clase leadoff double. pic.twitter.com/VAk9JvNKK1— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 12, 2023
The Arkansas lineup isn’t short on thump, either, with Spencer Packard and Isiah Gilliam providing plenty of power, as well as the recently-promoted Alberto Rodríguez. “El Rey de Dobles” added another two to his total this week as part of his seven total hits.
Alberto Rodriguez ropes a 2-out double. pic.twitter.com/oJg98Od3eQ— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 13, 2023
23-19, 2nd in Northwest League
The Frogs came away with a split against their closest rival in the standings, the Eugene Emeralds. With the dominant Canadians leading the pack for both halves of the season, the team with the next best record in the second half will get a chance to compete for the Northwest League title this fall. The Frogs have secured a two game lead for the final playoff spot, but that spot is far from decided with so much season left to play. They certainly have the talent to do some damage and win the damn thing, but they’ll have to edge out some tough competition to get the chance.
The offense this week was headlined by the 20-year-old phenoms Harry Ford and Cole Young as well as the now fully reacclimated Tyler Locklear. Young had a solid week that saw him tally eight hits while Harry amassed six hits and five walks. Now fully recovered from his broken wrist, Locklear picked up right where he left off and mashed two doubles and a homer en route to a six hit series in four games.
Tyler Locklear crushes a 3-run HR! pic.twitter.com/6Nj4r7CcvC— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 13, 2023
In a system that is far less flush with arms than in years past, Reid VanScoter has been one of the best pitchers at any level in the system all year. This week only built on that success as he hurled eight innings of three run ball while striking out nine. He’s yet to walk a batter this month and is striking out more than a batter an inning on the year, an impressive number for a pitchability lefty. While he is old for the level, this is still his first pro season and the numbers are undeniably good. At this rate, it seems likely VanScoter will finish out the year in Everett as he’s had the performance for a promotion for a while now and has been passed up by several other arms. Should this be the case, he’ll do his best to lead the Frogs rotation down the stretch and secure a shot at the Northwest League title.
24-18, 2nd in California North
What a time to be in the Modesto Nuts lineup. Last week, we suggested that the Modesto lineup could be one of the most potent offenses a Mariners minor league club has had in recent years. This week, they blew those expectations out of the water, scoring 50 runs in a 4-2 series win. This offensive outburst was headlined by a 20 run explosion on Wednesday night. While the Nuts didn’t move up or down the standings, they did gain some ground on the first place Fresno Grizzlies, inching closer to a playoff spot.
You really can’t go wrong in awarding offensive superlatives for the Nuts this week. The recently promoted duo of Luis Suisbel and Lazaro Montes both had monster weeks, each establishing themselves as dominant forces in the Cal league. Recent draftees Jared Sundstrom and Brock Rodden both had excellent weeks as well, continuing their successful transition to pro ball. Hot hitting Josh Hood went ballistic, Michael Arroyo got back to it, I really have a hard time giving everyone that deserves props their share. To cope with the fact that Stockton STILL doesn’t have cameras installed (Thanks John Fisher), I’m just going to put everyone’s gaudy numbers for your viewing enjoyment.
Luis Suisbel: 10-23, 3 HR, 1 3B, 1BB, 5K
Lazaro Montes: 8-25, 2 HR, 1 3B, 2 2B, 6BB, 6K
Josh Hood: 11-29, 1 HR, 2 2B, 3BB, 7K
Michael Arroyo: 7-26, 1 HR, 3 2B, 6BB, 6K
Brock Rodden: 8-24, 2BB, 2K
Jared Sundstrom: 6-16, 2 2B, 5K
Gabe Moncada: 5-16, 1 2B, 2K
Tatem Levins: 7-12, 1 HR, 1 2B, 2BB
The pitching hasn’t quite matched the pace of this offense, however starter Tyler Cleveland continued his lengthy stretch of dominance this week, putting up seven scoreless innings. Cleveland has a sub-one ERA since the start of August and a sub-two ERA since the start of July. He works out of sidearm slot and doesn’t have overwhelming velocity, but he’s been hell on hitters and refuses to walk people. It’s been a much needed steadying force in a Modesto rotation that has lacked consistency at various points of the year.
27-23, 3rd in ACL West
The ACL Mariners continue their tumble in the standings after the promotion of a significant number of their heavy hitters. The Baby M’s started off the week strong, with a 6-2 win over the White Sox where first-round 2023 draft choice Colt Emerson had a double and scored twice. Unfortunately, the pitching got the doors blown off by the Padres on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday, when the offense also got shut out. They rebounded with a 4-2 win on Friday, backed by a strong start from 2022 draftee Ashton Izzi, who pitched three scoreless innings with a strikeout, but lost a seven-inning contest by one run against the Dodgers affiliate on Saturday. 2022 supplemental second-rounder Walter Ford started that game, pitching 3.1 innings and giving up one run on three hits (unearned), with one walk and two strikeouts.
24-23, 4th in DSL South
Going in the opposite direction from their Rookie level brethren, the DSL Mariners slide up a spot in the standings this week. The week started off tough, with the team suffering a shutout 3-0 loss even as the pitching staff struck out 11, but after a game suspended on Tuesday in a 1-1 tie due to rain, the team rebounded with a 6-1 win on Thursday. 2B Dervy Ventura had a four-hit day, and catcher Sebastian De Andrade, a 2023 signing out of Venezuela, continued his strong season with a homer and a pair of singles. Harold Melenge, the best starting pitcher on the team not named Jeter Martinez, pitched five scoreless innings with three strikeouts. Speaking of Martinez, he bounced back from a rough start last week with the kind of dominant start we’ve come to expect, going six innings and striking out four, walking just one, while allowing no runs on three hits. 2022 signee INF Martin Gonzalez led the offensive charge in the 7-1 win with a three-hit day including a double.