With a little less than a month remaining in the MiLB season, it’s final playoff push time for the affiliates that find themselves in playoff position (Modesto and Arkansas) and time to take stock of what went wrong for the affiliates that do not (Everett and Tacoma).
This past week, we also said goodbye to longterm Modesto Nuts broadcaster Keaton Gillogly, who is headed to Montana State to become their play-by-play announcer for football and basketball. While we’re delighted for Keaton to be in Mariners Country, we will sorely miss him as the voice of the Nuts. Thankfully, Keaton has found himself a great replacement in Gregory Wong (you can follow him on Twitter @gregoryhwong). Good luck with everything, Keaton. Thanks for calling all those grand salamis and Beef Boy Bombs.
Also a big thank you to Justin Gomes of JL Gomes Photography for the great picture of Harry Ford in the header, as well as lots of other shots of our Modesto Nuts. Check Justin out for all your photo needs (portraiture, prints, etc.), especially if you’re in the Manteca/Modesto area!
Modesto Nuts (55-53) play down to opponents, split series with Visalia Rawhide (ARI) (39-69)
This series started out being so fun and then got kind of poopy as things went on. Modesto, as befitting of a team currently leading their division, opened the series with a commanding 6-0 lead over the lowly Rawhide, currently last in their division. Sam Carlson had maybe his best outing as a pro in that game, going seven innings and giving up no runs on just two hits while walking one and striking out seven. The bottom half of Modesto’s lineup gave him all the run support he’d need, starting with Jonatan Clase out of the five-hole, who had a two-RBI double and stole his 43rd base of the season. Hogan Windish chipped in a double of his own en route to a two-hit day and stole a base, and Walking Cabrera hit his 25th double of the year.
Game Two, a 5-1 win, went much the same, although on a bullpen day; Clase and Cabrera each hit another double, and new draftee Tyler Locklear had a two-hit day. Hogan Windish and Randy Bednar combined to produce four of Modesto’s five runs.
In Game Three, the normally stalwart Joseph Hernandez wobbled some, giving up six runs on two mistake pitches, both hit for home runs (one a grand slam in the first), but the Modesto offense came to his rescue, scoring five runs over the first three innings to wipe out that deficit. To his credit, Hernandez then settled down and proceeded to strike out 11 batters over the game, to take a firm lead as the California League strikeout leader.
Speaking of leaders, Jonatan Clase also stole two bases in this game to extend his lead over any other active player in the Cal League with 45. He also had two hits, including his 19th double. Harry Ford was the hitting star of the day; a day after going 0-for with three strikeouts, he rebounded to collect four hits out of the leadoff spot, including a double. Modesto took the lead in the seventh on a Clase single followed by an Axel Sanchez triple, then added four more runs in the eighth by stringing together single after single after single as every single Modesto batter recorded a hit in the 14-6 romp.
Unfortunately, that would be it for the good vibes this series, as Modesto dropped the final three games to a fairly beatable Visalia team. Game Four was a 3-4 loss where this time, the Nuts offense couldn’t overcome the four runs surrendered by their starter, Adrian Quintana, a recent call-up from the ACL. Axel Sanchez contributed two of Modesto’s runs with a double, and Freuddy Batista had Modesto’s only multi-hit game.
The offense completely petered out in Game Five, a 3-1 loss that overshadows another strong start from Michael Morales, who gave up two runs in five innings but also both runs were in the second inning, and one was on a home run to UT student/staffer Jacob’s favorite player, the Hispanic Titanic himself, Ivan Melendez. Morales also struck out seven, and Harry Ford cut down a runner trying to steal, so we chalk this up as an organizational win, even if it wasn’t, you know, a win-win.
Game Six was the Nuts’ roughest loss of the series, 14-8. The Nuts offense was sparking, but they just couldn’t keep up with the rate the pitching staff was handing out runs, starting with starter Sam Carlson, who had a rough go of things, struggling with his command (four walks in four innings) and giving up a lot of hard contact, including a grand slam. The rest of the pen didn’t fare much better, and it seemed like every time the offense would score them some runs, the bullpen would give them right back. Bright spots: a three-hit day each from the three hitters in the middle of the lineup, Clase, Freuddy Batista, and Axel Sanchez, with Sanchez recording his fifth home run already as he continues to light up the California League in his first appearance in full-season ball. Clase doubled twice and stole a base, and Hogan Windish added another two doubles to his already impressive total.
Fun thing: the Nuts are headed to play Rancho Cucamonga (LAD) this week, a rare trip to the Southern division of the league (Modesto is about six hours north from Rancho). On their way down, the team stopped the Nuts off at the Mariners game on Monday, their off-day (Anaheim is about a forty-minute drive from Rancho), so some of the youngest players in the system could see the big-leaguers play. Unfun thing: there is no MiLB TV in Rancho Cucamonga—come on, Dodgers, it’s not like you to cheap out—so we’ll be without video highlights next week.
Everett AquaSox (50-57) drop road series against league-worst Tri-City Dust Devils (42-58)
This was a real bummer week to see unfold. Newly bereft of many of their best players, these new-look Frogs have really struggled since August came around. This series was no different, as we saw struggles at times with both pitching and hitting as they dropped this series 2-4.
Game One saw Everett waste some solid starting pitching from Logan Rinehart. He threw a textbook quality start, going 6 innings and giving up three runs, but a collective two-hitter from the Tri-City arms kept him in the loss column. James Parker and Alberto Rodríguez were the only Frogs who recorded a hit, and Trent Tinglestad was the only other baserunner with a walk in the second inning.
Game Two was the first of the pair of wins Everett recorded, featuring a strong effort from both sides of the ball. The thus-beleaguered Jimmy Joyce earned his fifth win of the season in one of his stronger outings as a Frog so far. He went six strong innings, giving up just two runs, both in a rocky first inning where he allowed five of the first six batters to reach base. After that, though, he was cruising, giving up three hits over the next five innings to do enough to allow the bats to claim the win.
Dariel Gomez claimed his 20th home run of the season to tie the game up in the second inning 2-2, and Mike Salvatore kept his ISO high with an RBI-double, scoring Gomez (who also doubled) to make it 3-2. A Cole Barr groundout rounded out the scoring for Everett.
Game Three was a heartbreaker, as Everett fell 2-3, squandering another strong start. Jordan Jackson went five, giving up just one earned run (and another as a result of a passed ball), but the bats were sleepy after an active first inning where a pair of hits from Robert Perez Jr. and Salvatore took a lead for Everett. They stayed silent until the 9th, when, down by two runs, it was the story of too little, too late, as Ben Ramirez hit his first home run in Everett, a solo shot that wasn’t enough to give the Frogs the lead.
Game Four was our second win of the week, this one a fun 6-1 affair. Juan Mercedes was back on his king behavior after a few unsteady outings, going a full seven innings (a rarity in the low minors) and allowing just one run to score, a sacrifice fly in the first inning. He struck out 8 while walking just 1 – I would call it a dominant outing but for the traffic he faced on the basepaths.
This game, too, was the game of the dinger – all six of the Everett runs came by way of home run, with solo shots by David Sheaffer, RPJ, and Berto in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings, respectively. By far the most fun, though, was the three run inside-the-park home run by speedster Victor Labrada, scoring Sheaffer and Berto. It makes you wish that the Northwest League had video.
This game got spicy late, as a Dust Devil was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire.
Game Five was as ugly as a game can get, as Bryan Woo gave up four unearned runs in his 5.1 innings of work. A couple of errors and a passed ball put Everett in a hole in the sixth inning after a strong start to the game – Woo struck out eight and gave up just 3 hits in this one. After that, Tri-City exploded for six runs in the seventh inning to make the game 11-1. Everett would tack on another run in the ninth with a Ty Duvall home run.
Game Six, as it turns out, was nearly as ugly, in a brutal 12-3 loss. Everett gave up another two unearned runs (that’s six in two games, or more than the offense scored in those games). Rinehart had a rougher outing, going 4.2 innings and giving up seven runs, five of them earned. Four of those earned runs came on a grand slam in the first inning to put Everett in an early hole. The Dust Devils managed to score all 12 runs unanswered, as Everett did not score any runs until the top of the ninth on a pair of doubles by Berto and Charlie Welch pushed across a trio of runs.
Up Next : Everett hopes to find their footing in a series against the Vancouver Canadiens (54-50) at the friendly confines of Funko Field.
Arkansas Travelers (54-54) take five of six from NW Arkansas (44-63); why can’t they play them every series?
I assume MUNA was talking about playing NW Arkansas with the lyric “life’s so fun.” It turns out The Travelers are really good when they get to play the Naturals for a six-game set. The pitching was outstanding all series long, highlighted by Prelander Berroa and friends throwing a no-hitter on Friday night. Emerson Hancock and Taylor Dollard were their typical dominant selves. The offense also took advantage of paying the nearly 20-games-under-500 Naturals, averaging 6.6 runs per game over the series, with Jake Scheiner playing exceptionally well.
Game One: Hancock deals, offense impresses in 8-1 win
Can anyone tell me why Emerson Hancock is still not appearing on any top 100 prospect lists? I get that he missed time due to injury in 2021, but he has been outstanding this year since returning to the field and was still the #6 pick just over two years ago. If it weren’t for Taylor Dollard, he would undoubtedly be the best pitcher on the Arkansas staff. If he had enough innings to qualify, his 2.19 ERA would be second-best in the Texas League. He once again had two phenomenal starts last week. On Tuesday, he struck out six over five innings with just four hits and one unearned run.
Unlike every national prospect ranking outlet, the offense decided to show Hancock some respect by scoring eight runs for him. Jake Scheiner led the charge by blasting a three-run home run in a four-run first inning.
Game Two: Travs fall 8-4 as bullpen lets game slip away
We knew that Arkansas probably wasn’t going to pull off the sweep, even with how much NW Arkansas has struggled this season, so I guess it is good to get the loss out of the way early in the series so the weekend can be more enjoyable.
It was a back-and-forth affair for much of the evening, with the teams swapping leads three times. A fifth-inning home run by the Naturals made it a 4-3 ballgame. After already overcoming a 3-1 deficit, it seemed like nothing for the Travs to claw back into it, but a lackluster offense down the stretch paired with the Naturals scoring twice in the eighth and twice more in the ninth put this out of reach late.
Game Three: Dollard wins another one; kinda just showing off at this point
Listen, I know I have come out against the pitcher win repeatedly. I think it is a totally useless stat that only tells me if you went at least five innings, weren’t downright awful, and you got some run support. It is on par with Quarterback wins for how useless it is in evaluating a player, and we should abolish both as mainstream stats that directly impact how much money a player is making. All that being said, I hate to admit it, but it is lowkey at least a teeny tiny bit impressive that Taylor Dollard is 11-2 this season. There are countless stats to show how dominant Dollard has been this season. We could look at his league-leading 1.86 ERA or his also league-leading .238 BABIP. Or what about his league-leading 0.93 WHIP? Don’t forget about his league-leading 0.57 HR/9. The point is is that there are lots of ways to show how good Taylor Dollard has been this year, but the fact that he is leading the league in wins is a neat little bonus.
Dollard’s three earned runs came in the same inning as he uncharacteristically gave up two home runs in the fourth inning. Even with that, three earned over five innings with five strikeouts and just one walk is a solid performance.
The Travs offense did enough to make sure Dollard’s home runs weren’t catastrophic. Matt Schefler and Joe Rizzo each brought home a run with doubles in the first two frames. A bases-loaded walk and a Patrick Frick groundout gave Dollard a five-run cushion to work with, more than enough. With the Naturals getting back in, Jake Scheiner added another insurance run with his 24th double of the season.
There’s not an obvious spot for him in Seattle, but Scheiner has been scorching hot recently and could be a candidate to return to Seattle when rosters expand in a couple of weeks.
Game Four: Prelander Berroa takes the lead in group project, the rest of the team also steps up for a no-hitter
Remember last week when I said, “I am officially claiming Berroa as a name to watch in the Ms system going forward.” well, I appreciate Prelander for instantly making me look like a genius in his very next start. All due respect to Taylor Dollard and Emerson Hancock, and that one Connor Jones no-hitter, but I think Prelander Berroa probably had the best start of any Arkansas pitcher all season. 11 strikeouts over five innings with only two walks is quite the improvement over his first two starts with the Travs. Oh yeah, and no hits allowed over his five innings.
So yeah, thanks, Prelander, for making me look smart. I still don’t know his long-term ceiling as a starter. I could easily see that fastball that currently sits at 97-98 getting up the triple digits if he was coming out of the bullpen, but that’s a conversation for a different day when he’s not coming off a nearly perfect start.
Blake Weiman followed up Berroa with a perfect inning and two strikeouts. Jake Haberer walked one batter, but that was the only trouble he ran into. Rob Kaminsky handled his business in a pressure-filled eighth inning to move three outs away from the second no-hitter of the season. Braden Shipley finished off the job for the Travs. Also, quite the accomplishment for Jake Anchía, a Pisces King born just five days before me, for catching his second no-hitter of the season in the 6-0 win.
The Travelers have thrown their 2nd No-Hitter of the season! Congrats to Prelander Berroa, Blake Weiman, Jake Haberer, Rob Kaminsky, Braden Shipley! pic.twitter.com/xB0nf71FUp
— Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) August 13, 2022
Game Five: Travs offense explodes in an 11-5 victory
Clearly, the Travs bats were tired of me giving so much attention to Prelander Berroa, Emerson Hancock, and Taylor Dollard because they gave me no choice but to talk about them with an 11-5 drubbing on Saturday night. I am sorry to the offense, but real quick, Bryce Miller allowed three runs over five innings with seven strikeouts.
Also, Juan Then made his season debut on Saturday night, allowing one run and striking out two over his lone inning of work.
Okay, like Manu Ginóbili on Halloween night 2009, it is time to focus on the bats. The Travs went off for 16 hits on the night, with Jake Scheiner and Jack Larsen picking up half of those between them. Larsen was a triple shy of the cycle and reached base five times in the evening while driving in five runs.
Riley Unroe picked up his fourth triple of the season while also stealing his 19th bag of the year later in the game. Cade Marlowe drove in two, and Joe Rizzo also got in the RBI column.
Game Six: Emerson Hancock is good at baseball
Just go back and re-read everything I wrote about Emerson Hancock being underrated in the first game of the series and multiply it tenfold. Hancock is making a real push to at least be considered for a spot start down the stretch in Seattle to take some innings away from Logan Gilbert or George Kirby. Seattle is going to need Kirby and Gilbert to be sharp in October, especially with the decreased off-days in the postseason, so it makes a lot of sense for Hancock (or Dollard) to make the trip to the Pacific Northwest during the last week of the season if Seattle is in an advantageous position.
Hancock helped his case on Sunday with his best performance of the season. He struck out five over seven innings and allowed just two hits all day. At this point, things would have to go very poorly down the stretch, either for Hancock or in Seattle, for him not to appear in a game next month or early October.
The offense put up a four-spot in the fourth to ensure Hancock picked up the win. They picked up five singles in the inning, including who else but Jake Scheiner driving in the last run of the inning. A real shame the Travs have to move on and can’t play NW Arkansas every series.
Up Next: The Travs hit the road for the first time this month as they travel to Springfield to take on the Cardinals.
Tacoma Rainiers (50-61) decline to win another series in a row, drop extra-size series to Las Vegas Aviators (OAK) (55-56)
Would that I could fully encapsulate the majesty of this seven-game set between Tacoma and Las Vegas, which included a makeup of a 5/28 rainout. Alas, words will have to hopefully suffice.
Game One: The Dunshee of Inisherin, Rainiers lose 10-4
Las Vegas plays in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in minor league baseball, courtesy of the dry, hot clime they are housed in as well as natural design. However, they seemed to have no issue translating that offensive prowess to Tacoma in the first game of this set, as six starters recorded multi-hit games off Tacoma RHP Konner Wade. Taylor Trammell went yard in the first to lead the bottom of the 1st off, but the Rainiers could not overcome 16 hits from the Aviators.
Game Two: Shut the front, middle, and back door, Rainiers win 3-0
Now that’s more like it. Tacoma’s bullpen worked four shutout in relief of veteran RHP Chris Mazza, while an Evan White two-run shot on a slider was enough to put things comfortably away for the R Squad.
This was also Ken Giles’ final game with the Mariners.
Game Three: Slugga Slugga Choo Choo, Rainiers win 12-8
Despite the final score, this was actually a solid start on behalf of RHP Darren McCaughan, allowing just two runs in five innings. The same cannot be said for Vegas LHP Jared Koenig, who allowed a four-run second inning before Tacoma dropped a seven-spot in the bottom of the 6th to reclaim the lead for good. This game was Jarred Kelenic’s first back in Tacoma and he hit the ground running once more, as did Abraham Toro. Every hitter in the Tacoma lineup got at least one hit, and six had two or more.
Game Four: Philloops Valdez, Rainiers lose 5-4
Hard to put this any way other than a huge shame. An error by 3B Erick Mejia in the top of the 7th allowed a run and the runner to reach, and the floodgates opened behind it. Top prospect for Oakland, C Shea Langeliers smacked a single before a 1B/OF Dermis Garcia big fly sealed the deal.
Game Five: No Sheff, Rainiers lose 9-4
In an absolute bear of a game Justus Sheffield would like to forget, the southpaw was clawed and clobbered for three home runs in this seven inning doubleheader opener. Incredible efficiency from Tacoma meant they went 2-2 with two home runs with runners in scoring position, but only reached base seven times in total.
Game Six: Oh Noenis, Rainiers lose 5-3
The back end of the double-header saw Tacoma turn to a bullpen game, tragically to ill effect. Zach Green put a ball out of the park. Jarred Kelenic doubled from the cleanup spot. Little more went well.
Game Seven: You’ve Dunsheen too much, Rainiers win 9-1
That looks… like it’ll do Evan.