Texas League Playoffs: Arkansas vs. Tulsa

marc w · September 4, 2019 at 5:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Ricardo Sanchez vs. Josiah Gray, 5:10pm – ROOT Sports, MiLB.tv, and streaming audio online.

With the M’s traveling, Root Sports will instead broadcast the M’s AA Texas League affiliate in Little Rock, Arkansas, who take on Dodgers affiliate Tulsa in the first round of the playoffs. Calling the game will be Brad Adam and M’s GM, Jerry Dipoto. The big league season hasn’t quite gone according to plan, but Dipoto gets an extended opportunity to sell the fan base on his rebuild by calling a game involving several of the M’s top prospects. The group is led, of course, by OF Jarred Kelenic, the newly-20 year old, who’s had a remarkable season across three levels. SP Justin Dunn won’t get this game, but was on local sports radio in Seattle around noon as part of the effort to drum up interest in a far-away minor league game.

Since Root stopped showing PCL broadcasts of the Portland Beavers (because the Beavers moved), it’s been hard to see minor league games on regular ol’ TV. MiLB.tv is still a niche product, with spotty coverage in the low minors and some camera work that may, uh, challenge viewers used to big league HD broadcasts. That’s somewhat surprising, given the growth in interest in prospects in general. A CBS-branded cable channel tried minor league game of the week broadcasts, rotating around to wherever some big prospects were playing, but that didn’t last. All of that to say, even if the M’s didn’t desperately want attention on Kelenic, Evan White, and company, I’d love to see someone try and broadcast more games like this when the schedule allows. I have MiLB.tv, but I’d much rather watch a real broadcast. And with an intriguing team like the Arkansas Travelers, you have the opportunity to showcase some future big leaguers.

Part of the trick is that you want to know who’ll be on the team, and in the minors, that’s often hard to do. The Travs big pitching and position player starts, Logan Gilbert and Kelenic, weren’t on the team two months ago. Justin Dunn was, but it wasn’t his turn in the rotation. Still, once Kelenic and C Cal Raleigh were promoted, a broadcast like this started to feel like quite an opportunity. Apparently the brain child of M’s marketing VP Kevin Martinez, this should be a fun broadcast.

Since it’s a playoff game, the competition’s pretty good, too. The Dodgers have been unreal at player development in recent years, and they’ll showcase that in this game. Just like the Travs, some of the big stars for the Drillers have only been in AA a short while. Today’s starter, 21-year old Josiah Gray, was acquired in December’s big Yasiel Puig deal, and has played in three levels this season, just like Kelenic. A right-hander, Gray was drafted by Cincinnati in the competitive bonus round in 2018, and has flown up the chain thanks to a fastball that touches the high 90s. He was a Division II college player, but opened a lot of eyes in the Cape Cod League in 2017. He’s got a slider/change-up as secondaries, and struck out 147 in 130 IP, just shy of 40 of those coming in AA. Another player in that same trade was SS Jeter Downs, also 21, and also a competitive balance round pick by the Reds, this time in 2017. Downs spent most of the year in high-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he hit 19 HRs and slashed .269/.354/.507. He’s always had plenty of loft in his swing, but has tapped into his power much more this year. He’s played just 12 games in Tulsa, but has 5 HRs in that span with a GB% under 20%. Wow. (He’s not the most heralded Tulsa SS of 2019, though. That’d be Gavin Lux, who started in AA, then went on to essentially break the PCL (.392/.478/.719) and force his way to Los Angeles.) Other tough ABs for the Drillers include C Conner Wong, who, like Downs, has 24 HRs across 2 levels, and Cuban 2B Omar Estevez.

Arkansas SP Ricardo Sanchez, 22, was DFA’d by Atlanta in the offseason, then traded to the M’s for well-traveled UTIL Cash Considerations. Sanchez is on the M’s 40-man, and spent the entire season in Arkanasas. He had a brilliant April, but has been a little shakier since then, finishing with an ERA of 4.44 in 146 IP. As you may know, Arkansas is a somewhat extreme pitcher’s park, so it may be harder for the sluggers to actually hit it out of Dickey-Stephens park.

1: Donnie Walton, SS
2: Jarred Kelenic, CF
3: Evan White, 1B
4: Cal Raleigh, C
5: Kyle Lewis, LF
6: Jordan Cowan, 2B
7: Dom Thompson-Williams, DH
8: Mike Ahmed, 3B
9: Luis Liberato, RF
SP: Ricardo Sanchez, LHP


One Response to “Texas League Playoffs: Arkansas vs. Tulsa”

  1. marc w on September 4th, 2019 6:55 pm

    Pitcher’s duel so far, with Tulsa up 1-0 on a Connor Wong solo shot.
    Kelenic has a base hit and a stolen base.

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