We’ve just passed the AAA All Star Game in El Paso, the unofficial midpoint of the minor league baseball season. So it’s time to check in with our hometown Tacoma Rainiers, and see how they’ve been fairing in 2019.
The mountain boys are at about .500, sitting in third place in the Pacific Northern division of the Pacific Coast League. But at four games back of the division lead, they are absolutely still in the hunt for the playoffs.
Since Tacoma is the final stop in the Seattle Mariners organization before the major leagues, the roster looks pretty different from opening day. J.P. Crawford, acquired in the Jean Segura trade with the Phillies, impressed enough to earn a call up and is now the Mariners’ starting shortstop!
Equally scorching was catcher Austin Nola, whose success at the plate became too good to ignore by the big league club, and now he’s taken his red hot bat to the bigs. Other notable promotions include Shed Long, Kristopher Negron, Braden Bishop, and John Andreoli.
Much hyped pitcher Justus Sheffield (the #74 prospect in baseball and received from the Yankees in the James Paxton trade) struggled in his first months in the PCL, and unfortunately received a demotion to AA Arkansas. But it’s proved to be just what the doctor ordered, as since the demotion he’s been outstanding to the tune of a 1.62 ERA and a WHIP of precisely 1.00.
The biggest additions since the beginning of the season include big bearded outfielder Jake Fraley, acquired in the Mike Zunino trade with the Rays. Fraley hit a homer in his first game with Tacoma, and since then has hit .274 with 4 more homers, 21 RBIs and even 4 stolen bases. Along with pitchers Parker Markel and Aaron Northcraft, the club should be well positioned for a late charge into the postseason.
The future looks bright for the club too, since knocking on the door from AA Arkansas include equally hyped prospects like first baseman Evan White, outfielder Kyle Lewis, and pitchers Logan Gilbert and Justin Dunn. Plus, the #24 prospect in all of the minors Jarred Kelenic tore it up in A level, so it may not be long before we see him in Tacoma, too. We’ll have an update coming in a month or two to see what the Tacoma Rainiers have in store