Down on the Farm: Debuting our Mariners Minor League Check-in for 2023
By Trevor Pedro
The 2023 Major League Baseball season is in full swing, and Triple-A squads, like the Tacoma Rainiers, are following suit. We are firing up a new series called "Down on the Farm" that will keep you up-to-date on the latest and greatest from the Mariners minor league affiliates. Every two weeks, we'll dive deep into top performers, as well as provide a snapshot at the week that was in the system. Let's get things started with the only team on the slate, the Rainiers.
Mariners AAA: Tacoma Rainiers Offensive Juggernaut
The Rainiers kicked off their season last Friday in Oklahoma City against a pesky Dodger affiliate. The results were mixed as they left the Midwest with a 1-2 record, but the offense scored 31 runs during the three-game series. The contributions were plenty, as everyone in the lineup (minus Keon Wong and Evan White) produced. White left Saturday's game early with what the Rainiers are calling minor groin tightness. Here's hoping he gets back on the field soon.
Standouts for this week were Mason McCoy in the leadoff spot, veteran Mike Ford, organizational top 10 prospect Zach Deloach and catcher Brian O'Keefe. The common thread are the high exit velocities up and down the lineup, which bodes well for the offense as a whole.
Exit Velocity (MPH)
Mariners AAA: Poor Late Inning Pitching Dooms Rainiers Series
If this team makes some noise, it must come from the offense because the pitching was average. Darren McCaughan got the Opening Day nod benefiting from a six-run lead. The 27-year-old threw five serviceable innings giving up four runs (3 ER), notching the Rainiers' first win of the season. Easton McGee pitched 4 1/3 innings of four-run ball on Saturday, suffering with control (4 BB). Taylor Dollard, the 2022 Mariner Minor League pitcher of the year and arguably the Rainiers' ace, fired two innings, striking out three and giving up a run. The team has said they are slowly ramping him up after a heavy workload last season.
The bullpen, what many people thought could be a strength of this team, blew two late-game leads with Taylor Williams and Justin Topa fumbling save opportunities. Blake Weiman and Riley O'Brien took the late-inning losses with an extra innings affair on Sunday, providing a little sting to what could've been a sweepable series. The Rainiers are at home through Sunday, taking on the Reno Aces.
The remaining affiliates, Arkansas Travs, Everett Aquasox, and Modesto Nuts, will start their 2023 campaigns later this week. Stay tuned for previews on them as well. So if you're like me, itching these teams to begin their seasons, check out our sleeper prospects for this season. Of course, that might keep you from scrolling through the Twitterverse for 2022 highlights; then again, nothing is wrong with that.