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Mariners Minor League Roundup: August 22-27

The Nuts are going Nuts

Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

These are some exciting times to be a Mariner fan. With the big league club playing so well, many may have missed some of the truly ridiculous performances that occurred down on the farm this week. Let’s catch you up to speed!

Tacoma Rainiers

30-21, tied for 1st in Pacific League West

The Rainiers had a series with Las Vegas this week, splitting 3-3 with the Aviators at home. With Isiah Gilliam getting a well deserved promotion to the squad, the Rainiers have some additional intrigue to the lineup and are vying for a playoff spot with their strong play in the second half. It’s still fairly dry in regards to prospect watching, but the Tacoma roster is in as good of a spot as it’s been in quite a long time and is becoming a bit of a haven for the less heralded guys in the organization that have really produced well all year.

Ryan Bliss, the lone true prospect in the Paul Sewald deal, has been having a rough go of it at the AAA level thus far, but did manage to pop a homer over the weekend. With 43 stolen bases on the year and good up the middle defense, Bliss already has some major league tools in his bag. Fortunately, Seattle is in a position where they don’t need to rush Bliss and he can continue to develop his hit tool in the minors. He’s not quite a finished product, but the young shortstop has flashed some really compelling potential that is sure to get people excited.

The pitching has been steadied in large part by Adam Oller, a waiver claim from the A’s earlier this season. Currently rocking a 3.27 ERA in the offensive environment that is the PCL, Oller is the latest success story of the Seattle pitching lab and is one of the few people that can provide some length for the major league team should they need it down the stretch.

Up next: Tacoma will take on the lowly Space Cowboys this week, Houston’s affiliate.

Arkansas Travelers

19-31, 5th in Texas League North

The Travs are having a real rough go of it in the second half, dropping five in a row to a Wichita team that isn’t exactly breaking any records. They were able to put together a 5-0 win in the series opener, but failed to score more than one run in four of the six games and have struggled to limit runs with the decimation of their rotation via major league promotions. It’s not exactly a winning formula.

Spencer Packard, perhaps the steadiest offensive performer on the Travelers’ roster, has been on a tear this month. The lefty outfielder has a slashline of .376/.432/.594 in the month of August and has an .852 OPS on the year, right on par with his .849 career mark. He’s been the definition of consistency and has been a boon for the Arkansas lineup that is heavily lacking in the offense department as of late. While he is yet another lefty hitting outfielder that Mariners seem to be accumulating at a rapid rate, Packard has looked the part of a major leaguer and should get a shot at the majors next year. He’s more than earned it.

Not a whole lot of good left on this pitching staff. Prelander Berroa and Jorge Benitez headline the back end of the ‘pen that’s remained serviceable, but the starters have been struggling big time. Arkansas did it’s duty and provided the big league club with as much firepower as they possibly could, but it’s evident that the remains are a shell of its former self.

Up next: The Travs will take on the Tulsa Drillers, a team on a similar free fall after early season success.

Everett Aquasox

32-22, 2nd in the Northwest League

The Frogs are hot, y’all. After dropping the first game of the series, Everett managed to win the next five in a row and have put some serious ground between themselves and the next closest competitor for a playoff spot. Just three games back of the league leading Canadians, the Frogs don’t actually have to win the second half to make the playoffs due to the Canadians winning the first half. Now holding a five game lead over the next closest team, the squad is peaking at the right time and is a real threat to win it all this year. With a lights out lineup and a staff that’s gotten the job done, it should be a fun end of the season for the prospect heavy Everett team.

Cole Young, a prospect some have crowned the top dog of the system as of late, is in a little bit of a slump lately but managed to break out and tally a three hit game on Sunday. Despite his recent skid, the lineup had no issues scoring runs thanks to both Harry Ford and Gabriel Gonzalez dominating at the plate. With Gonzalez’s nine hits and Ford’s comically on brand six walks, the boys at the top of the system are complimented by a hot hitting Hogan Windish and are posing major problems to opposing pitchers. The promotion of Tyler Locklear is a big void to fill, but I have little concern that the Frogs should be able to continue their hot streak and make a run at a league championship.

We’ve heavily covered Reid VanScoter and his successes throughout the year, and while I could give him even more deserved acclaim, I’d like to touch on the bullpen and just how good it has been down the stretch. Sam Carlson, now fully engrained into the backend reliever lifestyle, has been unhittable for the past several months and is carving up hitters at will. Peyton Alford and Kyle Hill, though older for the level, have been nails. Leon Hunter Jr. has had a nice season. The recently promoted Troy Taylor has yet to allow a run in limited action. The system may be a bit lacking for starting pitchers, but there’s still plenty of relievers that could prove to be valuable to the Mariners down the line.

Up next: The Aquasox take on Spokane, Colorado’s affiliate

Modesto Nuts

33-21, 2nd in California League North

I’m going to start out by saying that this iteration of the Modesto Nuts is easily my favorite minor league team I’ve ever watched. It’s the deepest lineup I’ve followed and they play such an exciting brand of baseball that it’s impossible not to love them. Currently riding a seven game winnings streak after a sweep of the San Jose Giants, the Nuts find themselves just three games back of the last playoff spot. While it’s not exactly a cakewalk to make up three games over twelve games, the final six are against the league leaders and they’ll have a real shot to dethrone them themselves. There should be plenty of chaos to be had in the next few weeks and I am absolutely here for it.

Three recent draftees, Colt Emerson, Tai Peete, and Aidan Smith, all got the promotion to Modesto this week and showed out in a big way. In what is perhaps the coolest thing I’ve seen take place on a baseball field, Peete launched two grand slams in consecutive innings in a huge comeback victory on Sunday night to clinch the sweep. Peete has been on a tear to start his professional career and is now batting .381 with an OPS of 1.171 at Modesto. He’s looked really comfortable at the plate and is quickly becoming a key part of a stacked lineup. Smith and Emerson were no slouches either, with Emerson roping a pair of doubles and Smith launching a laser homerun alongside excellent centerfield defense. It’s an incredibly exciting time to watch the Nuts play baseball and I cannot stress how much star power this team has. It’s almost unbelievable.

Lazaro Montes, the mammoth slugger that’s laid waste to Modesto since his promotion, had another good week that saw him tally seven hits and five walks. The big man has been clobbering the baseball and is sure to be flying up prospect rankings in no time. He’s got as high of ceiling as anyone in the system and plays the game with a smile, something that has been one of the countless things I love about this Nuts squad.

Up next: Modesto will look to keep the good vibes rolling against a hot Inland Empire team

NOTE: We did a podcast covering all things Mariners minor leagues! Check it out if you haven’t already and let us know if that’s something you’d like to see more of moving forward.