Also: oh boy oh Berto (Rodriguez)
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Midshipman’s Log! The big-league Mariners played some disappointing baseball this past week/end, but we have some fun stories to tell you from down on the farm, so saddle up and let’s get at ‘er.
Modesto (10-11) ain’t afraid of no Giants, take series against San Jose (12-9) 4-2
When Modesto last faced off with the Giants in the three-game opening series of the season, they dropped the series, as Modesto’s young batters couldn’t contend with the Giants’ more advanced arms, and the pitching staff couldn’t keep the Giants offense in check. Fast forward just a couple of weeks, and Modesto’s youngsters comported themselves admirably, taking this series with a pair of close victories and a pair of not-as-close victories. We already covered their thrilling Game 1 narrow win and close loss in Game 2, but Modesto came out strong in Game 3, blanking the Giants for their first shutout on the season. The Nuts pitching staff was excellent in that win, with Villanova grad Jimmy Kingsbury providing four strong innings to start, followed by two innings and four strikeouts each from Tyler Driver and Kelvin Nuñez; Andrew Moore slammed the door by striking out the side in the ninth.
Andrew Moore strikes out 3 in the 9th. pic.twitter.com/gT95TKcMcO
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 29, 2022
Thanks to the strong pitching performance, Modesto only needed one, which they got in the first on a Harry Ford double scoring Jonatan Clase, but Ford would single home Clase again in the fifth, followed by an Edwin Arroyo single that brought home Ford; Colin Davis and Robert Perez would provide the game’s other two RBI hits, making the score 5-0 Modesto.
Harry Ford lasers an RBI double scoring Jonatan Clase. 1-0 Modesto. pic.twitter.com/lIcRDiJjT3
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 29, 2022
In Game 4 of this series, the pitching staff again held down the Giants, with 2021 10th-rounder Jordan Jackson earning his first Cal League win; he struck out five over five innings of work. But the story here was Mariners 2021 second-rounder Edwin Arroyo beating up on fellow 2021 second-rounder Matt Mikulski to the tune of two home runs, hanging three runs on Mikulski in as many innings before a bases-loaded hit by pitch scored the fourth run of the day. Arroyo finished the day 4-for-5 with two RBI, pushing his average all the way up to .275, and after a slow start appears to be settling into the Cal League. That led the way for a laugher for Modesto, winning 13-1; Robert Perez had another RBI double in that game, pushing his average to almost .300 on the season.
Edwin Arroyo doubles down on jacks!
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) April 30, 2022
The Nuts captured their second shutout victory on the season in Game 5, blanking the Giants 3-0. Joseph Hernandez struck out seven over six innings of work, and lefties Holden Laws and Jorge Benitez shut the door with a combined three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out three. Again the offense was paced by a two-hit, two-RBI day from Arroyo. The Nuts dropped the final game of this series as Michael Morales wasn’t as sharp as he’d been—although it’s a rough assignment to see the same team in Game 1 and Game 6 of a series. Freuddy Batista had two hits and Colin Davis hit his first home run in the losing effort.
Everett AquaSox (7-13) embody duality of man, attempt to be best selves, fail, drop series against Spokane Indians (11-10)
The good news: Everett has apparently heard my cries of sorrow and despair, and purchased a very nice camera, which means – we have some video! Granted, it’s mostly close-ups that are more suited for glamour shots and the ‘gram than for analysis, but I’ll take it.
The bad news: The Frogs did a lil’ Jekyll and Hyde situation in the last leg of this series, splitting the last four after dropping the first two.
In this case, it rests on the offense’s shoulders’. In their two wins, they averaged eight runs – in their losses, just one. This offense has plenty of firepower, but has proved capable of going cold so far this season. The pitching, too, has looked capable of both gems and disastery on a given basis.
In honor of this tale of two teams, let’s look at the two stars/bright spots from each game.
Game 3: Everett fights down inner demons, defeats Spokane 9-1
Star #1: Bryce Miller
Miller has been off to a ripping hot start to this season – through three starts, he’s struck out twenty batters and given up just three runs, sporting a nifty 0.78 WHIP. The Mariners no. 23 prospect flashed his plus-fastball while collecting nine strikeouts Thursday night. He also rocked those sweet, sweet aqua jerseys. B-Money is a drip machine.
Bryce Miller’s final line:
5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 9 K
B-Money was on fire today pic.twitter.com/nzv9GG2cdP
— Everett AquaSox (@EverettAquaSox) April 28, 2022
His .189 BABIP suggests he is running into some good luck and due for some regression. However, his season thus far is still promising even with some regression baked in. I think you might see him in a major league bullpen near you by the end of this season or next.
Star #2: Tyler Keenan
Back in 2020, after Keenan was drafted in the fourth round by the Mariners, LL Alumni Joe Doyle wrote this: “Keenan will simply sink or swim based on how he can impact a baseball. He’ll need to hit for power to reach his big league regular ceiling.”
Over last year and the beginning of this season, he so far has not been impacting the baseball, unfortunately. With a .653 OPS and a .156 ISO, it looks as though his hit tool has been limiting his production.
Luckily, the big man brought the power on Thursday, helping push the Sox to victory with a three-run homer in the seven-run seventh inning. Listen to the sound off this bat:
— Everett AquaSox (@EverettAquaSox) April 28, 2022
I hope that this is the start of Keenan getting right, and we start to see (and hear) more of him punishing baseballs soon.
Other highlights in this offensive explosion include a Noelvi Marte lead-off home run and a two-run double (they’ve been trying him out at the top of the lineup, and he’s been hot), and Spencer Packard bumping his OBP over the .400 mark. Really great! Surely their luck could never change!
Game 4: Everett’s luck changes, results in 4-1 loss
Bright Spot #1: Andy Thomas
Thomas was the Mariners fifth-round pick last year out of Baylor. The athletic catcher got on base four times (two hits and two walks) and drove in the only run for the Frogs on a bloop single to left field. He also ended the game throwing out a would-be stealer, “Fast Eddy” Diaz, showing off a well-rated arm.
Bright Spot #2: Jimmy Joyce
In fairness, his line does not exactly scream “great start”. However, I assure you that Joyce pitched extremely well on Friday night.
Jimmy Joyce with a stellar start as the numbers don’t tell the complete story:
6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 9 Ks
Jimmy allowed just one run after the first inning and at one point sat down twelve in a row pic.twitter.com/61WWzseYfV
— Everett AquaSox (@EverettAquaSox) April 30, 2022
In that first inning, Joyce gave up one run on a solo homer, which we can safely say is on him. However, with two men on and one out, a routine ground ball to third base got…wacky, as Spokane outfielder Bladimir Restituyo collided with Everett’s first baseman Dariel Gomez on the play. In the pandemonium, two Spokane runners got home.
Gomez was okay to stay in the game, and since there was no error on the play, the runs technically belong to Joyce, though it’s hard to say he “earned” them.
The unearned earned runs seem to have lit a spark in Joyce, as he proceeded to strike out the next four batters, and seven of the next ten, not allowing a man on base until the fifth inning. He gave up one more run on a bit of silliness, again at first base, as a rocket of a ball was deflected by Gomez off into foul territory, allowing the runner to score all the way from first.
Just four hits against nine strikeouts, though, is an outing to be proud of, regardless of the runs scored (especially considering three of them came through rather goofy circumstances).
Game 5: Oh boy, oh Berto, Frogs win thriller 7-6
Star #1: Alberto Rodríguez
Berto, my beloved. Frequent readers will know that, as chairman of the Berto Fan Club, it is my sacred duty to claim him as my favorite prospect to all who will hear, and post any minor highlight of his in the LL Slack to mostly crickets.
Berto is still probably a little under the radar, especially as he has yet to break off a real hot streak this season – hopefully, this game gets him started.
Moved to the four-hole after spending most of the season leading off (cleanup on aisle Berto?), he had two big hits. First, a double in the third inning. Then, in the bottom of the ninth inning, in a tie game, with two outs, and one of his childhood best friends on second base, a big, fat, joyous walk-off single.
How sweet it is! Here’s the walkoff single by Alberto Rodriguez pic.twitter.com/4oyXq6vo7F
— Everett AquaSox (@EverettAquaSox) May 1, 2022
He earned that Gatorade bath fair and square. Here’s hoping this is him taking off and, before ya know it, cracking the ranks of the Texas League.
Star #2: Spencer Packard
The outfield pulled their weight Saturday night, as right fielder Packard joined Berto in delivering a multi-hit game, dropping a three-spot as well as two RBIs. He also snuck on base via the ‘ole Ty France special – a pitch off the elbow guard. Packard also extended his on-base streak to 18 games, also known as every game he’s appeared in this season. A .407 OBP is sure to get you noticed.
Packard delivered some timely pieces of hitting, scoring Noelvi on a ground out in the third inning and scoring Myles Miller on a big double to center field to pull the Sox ahead.
Speaking of, this was a wild game. Five lead changes, two home runs (Justin Lavey and Victor Labrada [is Labrada a power hitter now?]), batters interference for a double play – this game had it all. I am jealous of anyone who was there.
Game 6: AquaSox suffer hangover from really good win, suffer really bad loss, 9-1
Bright Spot #1: Mike Mokma
A member of the 80-grade name club, Mike Mokma has had a stellar start to this season. Mokma went undrafted out of Michigan State in 2019, signing with the Dodgers in 2019 but not playing until 2021 for obvious reasons. After a subpar stint for Los Angeles’ High-A club, the Great Lakes Loons (another 80-grade name!), he found himself signed by Seattle, and has been a rock for this Everett bullpen. Showing the ability to get six outs, he’s given up just two runs in his 10.1 innings of work so far this season, and has shown an ability to limit walks.
I want to emphasize what a Big Fella our buddy Mokma is – the guy is 6’7”, an imposing figure on the mound. Hopefully he can continue to impose and impress.
Bright Spot #2: Trent Tingelstad
Another 80-grade name! So, listen. With a .458 BABIP, it is, uh, not likely that Tingelstad continues to hit *checks notes* .324, with a BABIP north of .450 – it’s just true.
However, it doesn’t mean that he has not been a ton of fun to watch recently.
Tingelstad, who has been getting on base at a clip of .521, was one of the few productive members of the offense on a brutal game where the first two pitchers in the game gave up nine runs. He got on base twice, with two singles and a walk to his name, while also scoring the only run of the game for Everett, driven in by a Dariel Gomez double.
So, it’s hard to find bright spots in a 9-1 loss. Sue me.
Everett heads up I-5/Highway 1 next to play the Vancouver Canadians (10-9), the High-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. They’re a talented club, boasting 7 of the Top 30 in their club (though two of those are on the IL). Hopefully May treats the Sox better than April did.
Arkansas Travelers (9-12) seemingly forget how to score runs, how to win baseball games against the Wichita Wind Surge (13-8)
Remember everything I wrote last week about how it looked like the Arkansas Travelers had finally turned a corner at the plate? About how despite Zach DeLoach cooling off, the rest of the offense picked it up in a big way to pair their dominant pitching with a great offense? Yeah, let’s pretend that never happened. The Travs kept up their streak of impressive pitching for the most part, but the offense scored a total of six runs over four games after averaging six runs per game over the previous week. Baseball is weird.
Game Three: Stephen Kolek impresses, offense does not in 2-0 loss.
Just warning you now that this might be more of a pitching-focused week of recaps because there was not much to write home about on the offensive side of things for the Travs during the final four games of the series.
Stephen Kolek continued his impressive run of late, throwing six one-hit innings. His command was a little shaky, he walked five, which eventually haunted him in the fourth inning as he walked the bases loaded, and the lone run scored on a fielder’s choice. The Wind Surge added one more in the eighth inning off Devin Sweet. That insurance run was deemed excessive because the Travs refused to score a single run.
Kolek has been flying nicely under the radar behind more prominent names like George Kirby and Levi Stoudt, but I wonder if the lack of spotlight has been good for the 25-year-old #30 Ms prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Extremely tough break for Texas League teams thinking they could relax after facing Kirby and Stoudt, only for Kolek to come in and make them work on offense.
Strong start by Stephen Kolek. Control got away from him in the 4th but retired the last 8 batters he faced. 6IP, 1H, 1R, 5BB, 5K, 96-52. pic.twitter.com/mAd2TYc4XL
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 29, 2022
Game Four: *Olivia Rodrigo Voice* Do you get Deja Vu? Taylor Dollard impresses; offense does not in a 3-1 loss.
Speaking of underrated starting pitchers on the Arkansas Travelers, Taylor Dollard had a phenomenal outing on Friday night. Dollard is more on the radar than Kolek, but it is going to be tough for anyone to steal some shine from the top two in the rotation. However, Dollard is doing everything he can to step into that ace spot when a spot opens up for the Travs.
The college reliever turned starter has been outstanding to open the season. The Ms #15 prospect owns one of my favorite fun facts in baseball right now; he has more losses (1) than earned runs allowed (0). A bit of a spoiler alert, but I think you can guess how many earned runs he gave up on Friday night. He went five innings, giving up just a single hit and striking out six. The 2020 5th round pick gives the Travs one of the best rotations in minor league baseball for the time being. It will be interesting to see how much they stretch him out. His high pitch count this season is just 67 in the first game of the season. If he is able to extend that a bit, the Ms have a potential starter down the line; if not, they might have one of the better bullpen weapons in the league if he can keep this up.
Taylor Dollard was awesome tonight. Final line: 5IP, 1H, 0R, 0BB, 6K, 54 pitches, 38 strikes. pic.twitter.com/GRZ2LMrYAU
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) April 30, 2022
As for the game itself, the Travs lost in an ending that Rob Manfred dreams about. In the sixth, they grabbed a 1-0 lead on a Joe Rizzo RBI single but quickly gave it back in the top of the seventh. It was square at 1-1 until the 10th inning, where some walks and a couple of sac flies gave the Wind Surge the 3-1 edge, which they held onto to close out the game. Seems like not the best way to decide a baseball game.
Game Five: Hey! some offense! oh no, where did all my beautiful pitching go? Travs lose 9-4.
The good news is that the Arkansas offense finally showed up after taking the last two nights off. The base news is that he pitching thought that meant they didn’t have to.
Technically, this game was decided in the top of the first inning when the Wind Surge scored five runs off of Connor Jones. Considering the Travelers only scored once over the last two games, it probably wasn’t the start they were looking for. However, the offense was considerably better on Saturday. They scored on a bases-loaded walk in the first inning but were unable to capitalize beyond that. They again loaded the bases in the second, this time scoring two runs. On pace for 45 runs if they keep this going! They only scored once in the third, and that was all she wrote as the Wind Surge tacked on a couple in the top of the third, and Matt Wallner put it out of reach with his home runs in the fifth and seventh innings. Joe Rizzo and Riley Unroe each had two knocks.
Game Six: George Kirby is still good at baseball; Travs lose 4-3 to finish off a tough week
What a joy it is to be able to write about George Kirby twice a week. I know that I probably should not admit this, but I saw comments talking about George Kirby’s lack of command because he is suddenly walking batters; he has walked five batters this season coming into Sunday. Apparently, George Kirby saw these concerns too because he came out and didn’t walk anyone on Sunday, which gave him extra ammunition to rack up seven strikeouts. He did give up two runs, including a solo shot, but he was able to limit the damage against a strong Wichita team. I am once again asking what else George Kirby needs to prove against Texas League hitters.
George Kirby was dealing today. Final line: 5IP, 4H, 2R, 0BB, 7K, 77 pitches, 51 strikes. pic.twitter.com/oG58WJOOFK
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) May 1, 2022
The strong pitching did not continue after Kirby departed, as Jake Haberer gave up a home run to give the Wind Surge the 4-3 lead, which they never relinquished. The Travs best chance came in the bottom of the seventh when Kaden Polcovich singled to center with Tanner Kirwer and his elite speed standing at first. The Travs sent Kirwer, trying to tie the game, but he was thrown out at home. The Travs had two on in the ninth but stranded the winning run at first.
The Travelers can finally put this nightmarish series behind them as they travel to Frisco to take on the Frisco RoughRiders. Jack Leiter highlights the Rangers Double-A squad because the last few games weren’t enough of a tough going for the offense, I guess.
Tacoma Rainiers (7-17) stare up, get sun in their eyes trying to spy Las Vegas Aviators (13-11)
Good morning to everyone except Shea Langeliers. Tacoma dropped three of the final four and Langeliers was the primary driver of at least two of those losses. The well-regarded backstop was the co-jewel of the return for now-Atlanta Braves star 1B Matt Olson, with the Oakland Athletics opting for high-minors intrigue over long-shot ceiling scrapers in their fire sale. Langeliers did several numbers on Tacoma through the six game set, including a frenzy of offensive fury in the final four games, racking up a 6-for-14 line featuring three home runs, including a walk-off bomb Friday night that spoiled a steady, incremental rally by the Rainiers. Rest in ruin, you 1.133 OPSing monster.
Thursday, Rainiers win 7-1
Star goes to… RHP Darren McCaughan
The Aviators are aptly named, as their home park is a launch pad for hitters sending pitches soaring on international flights. That’s what makes McCaughan’s four-hit, one-run appearance over 6.0 innings pitched so exceptional. The flaxen-haired righty got impressive bullpen support as well, with Patrick Weigel, Riley O’Brien, and extended Modesto call-up Blake Townsend holding the line for three shutout frames. Sam Haggerty was the hero offensively as he was much of the weekend, cracking a home run and otherwise being a pest to Las Vegas pitchers. Stuart Fairchild hit a home run so impressive the Mariners called him up almost immediately, only partially tied to Mitch Haniger’s injury (okay entirely).
Friday, Rainiers lose 7-6
Star goes to… 2B Sam Haggerty
This one stung. Haggerty went deep again, as did OF Marcus Wilson and now-healthy C/DH Brian O’Keefe, but another dodgy start from Nick Margevicius and a 9th inning implosion from thus-far-steady reliever Nick Ramirez sunk Tacoma. This was an outing with two pitchers who ostensibly should not be in Triple-A, with typical Everett arm Fred Villareal and indy ball arm Chris Jefferson giving their best efforts to R City. Both were actually quite steady, but Margevicius’ troubling rust continues to be an issue.
Saturday, Rainiers lose 10-2
Star goes to… RHP Patrick Weigel
Yuck. A forgettable clunker across the board, as the offense managed just six hits, with SS Mason McCoy earning the only multi-hit performance. Billy Hamilton also got on the board offensively, knocking one of the club’s few hitting highlights of the night before things got out of hand.
Billy Hamilton lasers an RBI double scoring Mason McCoy. Rainiers down 3-1. pic.twitter.com/mpoJSWSYLZ
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) May 1, 2022
Starting pitcher Asher Wojciechowski got touched up, though he was hurt by a couple errors. Reliever Riley Davis suffered a similar fate, struggling to locate and getting dinged defensively when he did. Weigel gets the single flower for his two shutout innings after the game was unfortunately in hand, efficiently cruising through Vegas and helping save the gassed pitching staff further thinning.
Sunday, Rainiers lose 6-5
Star goes to… OF Marcus Wilson
Another nail-biter Tacoma couldn’t quite eke out. Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon gave the Rainiers a shot, but Vegas messed with the freshly demoted Yohan Ramírez and they got, well, exactly what they wanted. In an atypical Ramírez implosion, the hard-throwing righty generated three strikeouts and just one walk, but gave up two singles and a double to yield three runs that put things just out of comeback range in the 7th. Tacoma scattered a bevy of hits against Vegas starter Collin Wiles, but could not put things out of reach.
109.7 EV…don’t hurt ’em Marcuspic.twitter.com/W5b7SVKYFm
— Tacoma Rainiers (@RainiersLand) May 1, 2022
One thing that was out of reach was this ninth inning blast from Wilson, a promising sign from the versatile outfielder who has not quite cracked the bigs but could play a role in Seattle’s season if health issues keep cropping up.
Fortunately, Tacoma received a couple vital reinforcements this weekend, and will receive more starting with this upcoming series. Cal Raleigh and Matt Koch joined Tacoma in Las Vegas, while they will receive Donovan Walton and Justus Sheffield soon to bolster both the lineup and rotation.