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Big Night Down on the Farm

Big Night Down on the Farm

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A lot happened in the minors Tuesday for the Seattle Mariners, including some season debuts… of sorts. Let’s dig.

Modesto, A — California League
Right-hander Sam Carlson made his season starting debut for the Nuts after starting 2022 in extended spring training. He ramped up slowly in April, threw to live hitters for the first time three weeks back, and Tuesday night made his first start of the season. He made a two-inning relief appearance May 11.

Carlson, battling to regain his velocity after UCL replacement surgery and a ton of time off prior to the 2021 season, lasted 2.2 innings in this start, allowing two hits and an earned run. He did not walk a batter and fanned two. He hit the low-90s with his fastball and flashed an above-average slider.

I’ve wondered aloud on Baseball Things a few times over the last month or so about whether or not the Mariners leave Carlson in a starting role, and if not, what the timing is for such a transition. We’ll see.

Edwin Arroyo hit his sixth home run of the season — all since April 29 — and Harry Ford added his second multi-hit game since returning from the IL May 13, and his fourth in his last nine starts. After dipping to .208 with a .313 slugging percentage on April 24, the 19-year-old is up to .241/.411/.349 on the year.

Arroyo enters play Wednesday with a triple-slash of .288/.375/.528. The strikeouts are something to watch, but he’s walking (15), stealing bases (7 of 8), and hitting for power while handling shortstop.

Right-hander Jordan Jackson, the club’s 10th-round pick from a year ago, took over when Carlson left after 58pitches, and while he took the loss he also struck out seven and did not allow an earned runs. Jackson, 23, is projectable at 6-foo-6 and 215 pounds, and sits 88-92 with some tail and two promising secondaries.

Jonatan Clase is doing everything the club wants him to do except make consistent contact. He’s logged 45 punch outs in 147 plate appearances (30.6%), and despite the fact he’s just 19 that’s too many whiffs for anyone hitter in the Cal League, especially one that projects as more of a table setter than anything else. He’s a plus runner and shows all the tools to be a plus defender in center, too, but he still has a lot of work to do at the plate to project as a potential regular.

Arkansas, AA — Texas League
Former first-round pick Emerson Hancock made his 2022 debut Tuesday night, facing eight batters, throwing 36 pitches (23 strikes, 64%), and getting through 1.1 innings, allowing two hits and an earned run. He walked a batter and struck out a pair.

Hancock sat 93-95 mph, touched 96, and threw his slider and changeup with control. I saw a handful of average sliders, maybe one or two above-average versions that induced a whiff, and a coupe of plus changeups The runs were scored on a routine grounder through a drawn-in infield.

Hancock worked with a swift pace, and fell behind in the count to half the batter’s he saw, but one of the walks was manufactured by two rob jobs where he had the hitter struck out looking on back-too-back pitches and instead issued a base on balls.

But Hancock is back on the mound, and that’s very good news.

Tacoma, AAA — Pacific Coast League
Jarred Kelenic made his debut for Tacoma after being optioned Thursday and being given time to reset mentally. He went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts.

Kyle Lewis started at DH in this game and went 2-for-4 with a double and his third homer for the Rainiers. This was Lewis’ seventh game played on his rehab assignment, which has a week remaining on the 20-day limit.

The Mariners’ choices once that time is up include: 1) remove Lewis from an active assignment for 10 days and then restarting, gaining another 20 days. 2) option Lewis to Tacoma to give him as much time as he needs to properly ramp up. 3) activate the 2020 AL ROY.

If they’re to go with the last option it may mean Lewis plays but a few times a week, and doesn’t play the field at all, which is a roster-clogging factor. He last played back-to-back games May 7-8, and has played the outfield just once, covering seven innings.

Despite such a scenario being far from ideal, it’s difficult to believe it’s not what is best for the big club, so this comes down to Lewis’ timing at the plate, and, of course, the club’s belief they can take care of his knee.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 and spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio. He now serves as the Executive Copy Editor at Data Skrive, a tech company that manipulates data to provide automated content to clients including the AP, BetMGM, USA Today, and ESPN.
Find Jason’s baseball podcast, Baseball Things, right here.

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