Game 150, Mariners at Athletics

marc w · September 20, 2021 at 6:29 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Tyler Anderson vs. Sean Manaea, 6:40pm

Thanks in large part to Jarred Kelenic’s dominant performance in KC, the M’s still have a chance to play meaningful games here in Mid-September. Because they face the A’s, now two games ahead of them, and because the Rays and Jays are playing each other…well, the odds are overwhelmingly against. But it’s fun to look at different scenarios and find *some* path to a wildcard, however remote.

It’s also better to watch these games now that they’re winning them according to the pre-season plan: with good starting pitching and their prospects producing and flashing potential.

In September, Kelenic looks like a completely different player. It’s true that Evan White ended 2020 on a high note in terms of OPS, but his K rate was still alarming; even the hot streak contained a red flag. That’s why it’s great to see Kelenic producing without the contact issues he had in July/August. He’s hitting the ball extremely hard and making contact, a pretty cool combination. Hopefully Cal Raleigh can get it going soon.

With most of the minor league season ending yesterday, I thought we’d take a look at some of the system’s standout performances. Tacoma ends their regular season tonight, but as their late season onslaught resulted in them having the best record in AAA-W, they’ll be in the playoffs starting later this week.

No other teams made it, though Everett’s hot start gave them the best run differential in their league (the M’s stole all of Everett’s run differential luck, I guess), and Modesto had a very good record.

Low-A Modesto:
Position Player of the Year: Noelvi Marte, duh.

The M’s new #2 prospect lived up to high expectations and hit for serious power as a teenager in the full season league. He really went toe to toe with Marco Luciano of the Giants, a top-10-in-baseball type of prospect, and fully earned a promotion to Everett. 17 HRs by a teenager in 99 full-season games is impressive, no matter the league context. Sure, he’s got some whiffs, and there’s talk he may move off SS, but all of those issues are ameliorated by power. He showed that and the ability to not just hang around but succeed in full season ball.

Pitcher of the Year: Sam Carlson
The team’s leader in IP isn’t going to wow anyone with his raw stats, but some times it’s enough to come back and demonstrate health as much as any other tool. I think a lot of us were starting to wonder if he’d ever get to triple digits in innings pitched. He has now, and has a year to build on for next year – a make-or-break campaign.

Pop-up of the Year: CF Corey Rosier, a 2021 pick out of UNC-Greensboro hit .390/.461/.585 in 118 ABs.

High-A Everett:
Position Player of the Year: I mean, it’s Julio Rodriguez, but we’ll save him for AA and go with Cade Marlowe. The center fielder out of West Georgia put up a .911 OPS in high-A, and hit a total of 26 HRs and a system-best 108 RBIs in just 105 games. Yes, it helps having Julio on base in front of you, but this was an eye-opening season in terms of run production. He even stole 23 bags. There are serious swing-and-miss issues, but when you hit 60 XBH and drive in over 100, I’ll let it slide.

Pitcher of the Year: George Kirby
He only made 9 starts at the level, but he made them count, and edges out Levi Stoudt. Before the year, this was seen as an absolutely loaded rotation, and that was more or less borne out by their actual results, but we still had some surprises. Juan Then struggled, while Matt Brash dominated. And in the middle of it all was George Kirby, refining that great control and missing bats. He didn’t have the raw whiffs of Brash, but he only walked 8 at Everett and gave up a single dinger across both of his MiLB stops. He was expected to be too good for this level, and that’s exactly what he was.

Pop-up of the Year: Ben Onyshko
Onyshko’s a reliever from Alberta, and like fellow eastern-European-named Albertan Adam Macko, Onyshko misses bats. His numbers at Everett aren’t great overall, but anyone with a season line of 75 Ks in 46 2/3 IP between high-A and AAA gets some attention. His walk rate wasn’t great, but also not terrible. Instead, he was undone by sequencing and dingers, though again, three of those came in the video-game-baseball of AAA-West.

AA Arkansas:

Position Player of the Year: Julio Rodriguez
Again with the easy answers. Julio got off to a great start in Everett, and then headed off to the Olympics to play for the Dominican Republic. Upon his return, his forced his way to AA and just like Brash, he kicked it into another gear. Still just 20, Rodriguez hit .362/.461/.546 in AA in 174 ABs, and stole 21 bags on the year between High-A and AA. This is the M’s #1 prospect, and one of the absolute elite in the game, and he had a season to remember. Whatever goals, whatever numbers you would’ve wanted him to hit, he flew past them. He even cut his K% moving up to AA. I dunno, man. He looks like the real deal.

Pitcher of the Year: Matt Brash
The least heralded of Everett’s opening day rotation, Brash forced his way to Arkansas by running right with Kirby in his dominance of high-A hitters. But what happened after his promotion makes this the easiest call of the entire series. Brash got *better*, striking out 80 in 55 utterly dominant AA innings, yielding just 32 hits. It was all highlighted by his 6 no-hit innings in a combined no-no and a string where he had double-digit Ks in three straight games. The highlights looked fake – a slider bending comically, a bit like Tanner Houck’s. A two-seamer swerving violently arm-side. It was all enough for Jerry Dipoto to publicly mull promoting him to the M’s bullpen in September. As it is, he’s re-ordering the M’s pitching-rich top prospect lists and looks set to debut in the majors next year after some seasoning in Tacoma.

Pop-up of the Year:
Ray Kerr, an undrafted free agent signing by the M’s back in 2017 out of a California JuCo hit 100 MPH and blew away AA as a great closer prospect. Between AA and AAA, he struck out 55 batters in 35 2/3 IP, yielding just 21 hits. He’s been in the system for years, and was Modesto’s closer for part of 2019, so this may be stretching the definition of a pop-up guy, but while we’d heard rumors of added velo, this was the first time we’d seen the lefty simply blow away opposing batters, and he did it in the high minors.

AAA Tacoma
Position Player of the Year: Jose Marmolejos
He was DFA’d twice, and didn’t do that well in Seattle, but what do you want me to say about a guy who hit .360/.452/.700 in AAA? The team caught fire after a so-so start, and Marmolejos was in the middle of most of that, with 72 games played as of now (he’s back with them). 91 hits and 177 total bases in 72 games… the mind reels. He’s not a real prospect at this point, but then, Tacoma’s roster’s is full of these guys. Marmo was just the absolute best of them. I’m tempted to give the nod to Taylor Trammell, but it wouldn’t be right. This was Marmo’s masterpiece.

Pitcher of the Year: Darren McCaughan
Tacoma used over 50 pitchers this year. They had entire waves of newcomers signed and veterans released. They had a shuttle between low-A Modesto and Tacoma. There was zero continuity, but a few guys stood up and ate innings in the worst possible pitching environment: the 2021 AAA-West. Darren McCaughan started in AA, but ended up with the most IP on Tacoma, and pitched as well as anyone could expect, going 5-4 with a 4.47 ERA. Only two Tacoma pitchers even qualified for the ERA title. McCaughan obviously pitched well enough to get a big league promotion, and while that went poorly, he’s done everything the org has asked. He doesn’t miss too many bats, and the ball is flying out of high-elevation parks, but he limits walks. It doesn’t sound like I’m selling the guy, but in this environment, all of that is incredibly valuable, and it added up to the regular season championship for Tacoma.

Pop-up of the Year: Kevin Padlo
Padlo was downright bad for the Rays org this year, but since coming to Tacoma, all he’s done is hit .355/.467/.694 in 62 ABs. It’s a tiny sample, but again, the Rainiers were basically an evolving mass of waiver claims throughout the year. This one was positively Marmolejan for a month, and gets the nod. He’s still just 24, too.

OK, back to tonight’s M’s game:
1: Crawford, SS
2: France, 1B
3: Haniger, RF
4: Seager, 3B
5: Torrens, DH
6: Toro, 2B
7: Kelenic, CF
8: Murphy, C
9: Moore, LF
SP: Anderson

Probably Seattle’s best line-up, and I like France and Haniger switching 2nd/3rd. Swap Toro and Torrens, and it’s exactly how I’d draw it up.
Go M’s. At present, the Yankees and Rays are winning, with Toronto behind Tampa.


4 Responses to “Game 150, Mariners at Athletics”

  1. heyoka on September 21st, 2021 11:20 am

    Love the org stars breakdown.

  2. 11records on September 21st, 2021 4:47 pm

    Great post. Love that there’s so much to look forward to next year, but that it’s still fun and exciting to watch the M’s games. (notwithstanding the utter suckage of MLB.TV and the fact that they’ve only sold 3 like ads for California that I hear 37 times per game.)

  3. mmason0071 on September 22nd, 2021 10:27 pm

    Is it pretty much standard now for a team’s ‘real’ prospects to develop in AA and hop almost straight to the majors, while AAA is just a place to stash the ‘almost good enough’ guys in case of injuries on the ML team?

  4. eponymous coward on September 23rd, 2021 7:16 am

    Been standard for a very long time. For instance, Reggie Jackson never played a game of AAA ball- the AA Birmingham team for the A’s got their good players in the late 60’s. Alvin Davis, Mark Langston, Junior are other examples from the M’s system.

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