Triple-A All-Star Voting Begins

May 26, 2017

We understand if you’re not totally worked up about the Triple-A All-Star Game yet. It’s still about seven weeks away, and the sun just recently came out for the summer here in Tacoma.

But today marks a big date in the All Star Experience: fan balloting for the Triple-A All-Star Game is now live online.

Fan ballots account for half of the all-star selection process. There is another ballot for Triple-A managers and media members – that’s the other half. Then the respective league offices make final tweeks, to ensure that all 30 teams are represented.

MiLB.com previewed the ballot, and they make it sound like the International League is loaded with top prospects who are candidates to appear in Tacoma. One of the top prospects in all of the minors is Charlotte infielder Yoan Moncada, and he’s tearing up the IL right now and is a strong candidate to make the all-star team if the White Sox don’t call him up.

You can start voting for the Triple-A All-Stars now. The ballot is right here. Don’t forget to pick some Rainiers!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Fresno ruined the Rainiers home mojo – at least for a day – by beating Tacoma on Thursday night, 5-2. A three-run rally in the top of the eighth inning snapped a 2-2 tie, with Colin Moran‘s two-out, two-run single the big hit. The Rainiers are now 18-5 at Cheney Stadium this season, and they wrap up the homestand tonight.

Today: Fresno (19-29) at Tacoma (29-17), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Francis Martes (0-2, 5.25) at TBA.

Don’t be fooled by the stats: Martes was ranked by Baseball America as the Houston Astros No. 1 minor league prospect entering the season. However, he’s been wild in his first taste of Triple-A ball, averaging nearly a walk per inning.

We’re waiting to see who Tacoma’s starter will be.

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has reached base safely in 12 straight games… Tyler Smith has gone 6-for-11 with a homer in this series against Fresno… reliever Ryne Harper hasn’t allowed a run over his last seven appearances, covering 8.2 innings pitched… Mark Lowe has gone seven appearances without allowing a run, spanning 7.1 IP – and also his velocity seems to have picked up a little bit.

Look Out For: Outfielder Derek Fisher is considered the top prospect among the position players on the club; he’s hitting .313 with ten homers… first baseman A.J. Reed was touted as a top prospect entering the 2016 season but fell off; he’s performing better in the PCL this year.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: Casey Coleman was a productive reliever for Tacoma last year; he’s in Fresno’s starting rotation right now… reliever Aaron West was drafted out of the University of Washington in 2012, he’s a product of Snohomish High School.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Triple-A All-Star Game: We’re hosting it at Cheney Stadium on July 12, and fan balloting is live now – go here and vote for who you want to see.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

Saturday we’re on the road again: eight games in nine days, at Salt Lake and Fresno. Tacoma returns home on June 5 to finally play division rival Reno.


O’Neill Leads Rainiers To Win

May 25, 2017

Tyler O’Neill had the big hits as the Rainiers picked up a come-from-behind 5-3 win over Fresno on Wednesday afternoon.

It was nice to see the 21-year-old outfield prospect come through in key situations, as it is no secret that his first Triple-A season hasn’t gone well for the opening seven weeks.

But things might be changing for the Mariners top position player prospect.

O’Neill has reached base via hit or walk in 11 of his last 12 games. His average is up to .221 – which is the highest it has been since the first week of the season.

Yesterday he doubled down the third base line, driving in a pair of runs to tie the game in the fifth inning.

He came up again with the score tied 3-3 in the seventh, and he lined a go-ahead homer to left field. It was his fourth home run of the season, and his first since April 24. He finished the game 2-for-5, with three RBI.

Let’s see if he can keep it going as he continues to adjust to Triple-A pitching.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tyler O’Neill broke out with a pair of big hits and the Rainiers had terrific relief work in a 5-3 win over Fresno on Wednesday afternoon. Kyle Hunter pitched 3.1 shutout innings of relief to earn the win. Danny Muno went 4-for-4, and Tyler Smith was 3-for-4.

Roster Moves: Yesterday the Mariners called up pitcher Rob Whalen and optioned reliever Emilio Pagan to Tacoma. They also claimed outfielder Andrew Aplin off waivers from the Houston Astros, and assigned him to Tacoma. Aplin has played in 248 career PCL games, all with Fresno, and has hit .245/.342/.329 but he is a good defensive outfielder. Pitcher Chris Heston was designated for assignment and is currently on waivers. The Mariners have surprisingly transferred hot-hitting Dario Pizzano and Seth Mejias-Brean to Double-A Arkansas, so more moves must be in the works. These guys have been hitting in the middle of the lineup and got sent down!

Today: Fresno (18-29) at Tacoma (29-16), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Mike Hauschild (0-1, 9.42) at RHP Andrew Moore (1-0, 4.34).

Hot Rainiers: Danny Muno has gone 9-for-17 with five RBI during a four-game hitting streak… Leonys Martin has reached base safely in 11 straight games… reliever Ryne Harper hasn’t allowed a run over his last seven appearances, covering 8.2 innings pitched… Mark Lowe has gone six appearances without allowing a run, spanning 6.1 IP – and also his velocity seems to have picked up a little bit.

Look Out For: Outfielder Derek Fisher is considered the top prospect among the position players on the club; he’s hitting .314 with ten homers… first baseman A.J. Reed was touted as a top prospect entering the 2016 season but fell off; he’s performing better in the PCL this year… Tyler White is 5-for-7 over the first two games of this series.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: Casey Coleman was a productive reliever for Tacoma last year; he’s in Fresno’s starting rotation right now… reliever Aaron West was drafted out of the University of Washington in 2012, he’s a product of Snohomish High School.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • A new pitcher helped Iowa shut out Reno yesterday, 5-0. That gives Tacoma a two-game lead over the Aces.
  • El Paso topped Salt Lake in ten innings, 5-4, with Rocky Gale getting the go-ahead RBI double. Should note that El Paso’s Dinelson Lamet got called up to make his MLB debut tonight – against the Mets.
  • Memphis outfielder Todd Cunningham went 4-for-4 in a 9-5 win at Sacramento.
  • Paul Blackburn and Nashville shut out Omaha, 4-0. Outfielder Terrance Gore is hoping to get hot for the Storm Chasers.
  • Albuquerque trailed Oklahoma City 8-3 in the bottom of the ninth, and walked away with a 9-8 victory after a wild comeback. The tying and winning runs scored on a throwing error by pitcher Brandon Morrow.
  • The Baby Cakes ripped five homers – two by Destin Hoodin a 14-4 win at Colorado Springs. The paper has a feature on Sky Sox first baseman Garrett Cooper.
  • Dillon Gee fanned nine over six shutout innings and Round Rock beat Las Vegas, 3-1.

Up And At ‘Em – Rainiers Play Early!

May 23, 2017

Early action today!

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and cruised to an 8-0 series-opening win on Tuesday night. Tyler Cloyd, Nick Hagadone, Ryne Harper, and Mark Lowe combined on a six-hit shutout. Tacoma’s Dan Vogelbach and Tyler Smith hit homers.

Today: Fresno (18-28) at Tacoma (28-16), 11:35 AM.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Trent Thornton (1-2, 5.91) at LHP Dillon Overton (1-0, 8.44).

Look for Kyle Hunter to “piggy back” with Overton, who has not settled into a starting pitcher’s routine at any point yet this season.

Hot Rainiers: Mike Freeman has an 11-game hitting streak in the PCL, which is active even though before last night he hadn’t played in the league since May 4… Dario Pizzano has a four-game hitting streak and is batting .306 with four homers in May… reliever Ryne Harper hasn’t allowed a run over his last seven appearances, covering 8.2 innings pitched… Mark Lowe has gone six appearances without allowing a run, spanning 6.1 IP – and also his velocity seems to have picked up a little bit.

Look Out For: Outfielder Derek Fisher is considered the top prospect among the position players on the club; he’s hitting .320 with ten homers… first baseman A.J. Reed was touted as a top prospect entering the 2016 season but fell off; he’s performing better in the PCL this year.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: Casey Coleman was a productive reliever for Tacoma last year; he’s in Fresno’s starting rotation right now… reliever Aaron West was drafted out of the University of Washington in 2012, he’s a product of Snohomish High School.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 11:20 AM on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Rainiers Return Home (For a Minute)

May 23, 2017

The Tacoma Rainiers open a four-game homestand against the Fresno Grizzlies with a 6:05 game on Tuesday evening. This series represents the island in the middle of a stretch in which the club plays 16 out of 20 games on the road.

Normally a force to be reckoned with, Rainiers division rival Fresno comes into town with an unexpected won-loss record of 18-27. Like Tacoma, Fresno just finished a 16-game segment of the schedule facing teams from the American Conference – and Fresno went just 5-11 during that stretch. Tacoma just went 10-6 against the other conference.

The Grizzlies still have future Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame manager Tony DeFrancesco who recently won his 1,000th PCL game. In thirteen years as a manager in the PCL, DeFrancesco has had just one losing season: 2011 with Oklahoma City (68-75).

The weather is supposed to be really nice this week, so hopefully you can make it out to the ballpark.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma missed out on its chance to log a winning road trip, dropping a 7-6 decision in Iowa and settling for an even record on the eight-game road trip to the Midwest. Steven Baron, Zach Shank, Dario Pizzano, and Tyler O’Neill each had multiple hits in the loss.

Roster Moves: Five players are reporting to Tacoma from the Mariners today: Dan Vogelbach, Chris Heston, Mike Freeman, Dillon Overton, and Tuffy Gosewish. Tacoma has sent Mike Zunino and Emilio Pagan up, placed Paul Paez on the disabled list, sent reliever Kody Kerski back to Clinton, and pitcher Steven Ridings back to extended spring. Got all of that?

Today: Fresno (18-27) at Tacoma (27-16), 6:05.

Opponent Affiliation: Houston Astros.

Season Series: First of 16 meetings between the teams.

Starting Pitchers: RHP David Paulino (0-0, 3.00) at RHP Tyler Cloyd (0-0, 0.00).

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin’s eight-game hitting streak, ended yesterday, but he did draw two walks… Mike Freeman has a ten-game hitting streak in the PCL, which is active going into tonight’s game even though he hasn’t played in the league since May 4… reliever Ryne Harper hasn’t allowed a run over his last six appearances, covering 7.2 innings pitched… Mark Lowe has gone five appearances without allowing a run, spanning 5.1 IP.

Look Out For: Outfielder Teoscar Hernandez has hit safely in ten straight games, going 14-for-42 during the streak… outfielder Derek Fisher is considered the top prospect among the position players on the club; he’s hitting .315 with ten homers… first baseman A.J. Reed was touted as a top prospect entering the 2016 season but fell off; he’s performing better in the PCL this year.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: Casey Coleman was a productive reliever for Tacoma last year; he’s in Fresno’s starting rotation right now… reliever Aaron West was drafted out of the University of Washington in 2012, he’s a product of Snohomish High School.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 5:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

Heads up: we’ve got another weekday day game tomorrow – our second this week – starting at 11:35.


Rainiers Out-Slug Cubs, 8-7

May 22, 2017

The Rainiers won a wind-blown homer festival on Sunday in Des Moines, 8-7.

Beyond the right field fence at Iowa’s Principal Park is an aluminum bleacher section and scoreboard meant to mimic the bleachers at Wrigley Field. It is a nice copy, and the image was embellished on Sunday by a strong wind blowing out to right field for the first seven innings of the game.

Each team hit three homers in the game, and by my count half of them fell firmly into the category of Wind Aided.

Mike Zunino hit two homers, including the go-ahead two-run shot in the seventh, and neither of his took advantage of the wind. He hit both of his to left-center, through the cross-wind.

The second go-around for emergency spot-starter Nathan Bannister was nothing like his first outing when he tossed 6.2 shutout innings, but he was a victim of poor luck and circumstance. He gave up three homers – two Wind Aided – as well as a wind-blown double along with some unfortunate soft ground ball hits which found holes. Six runs scored during his four innings on the mound.

Bannister left the game trailing 6-3, but Tacoma’s bullpen was outstanding. Five relievers covered the remaining five innings, allowing one run, and the Rainiers came back to win.

Tacoma is 4-3 so far on this eight-game road trip which ends today. Big opportunity to post a winning road trip today.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The wind was blowing out and Tacoma won a Sunday Slugfest in Des Moines, 8-7. Each team hit three home runs – Tacoma had two from catcher Mike Zunino, including the go-ahead two-run shot in the seventh inning. Five Rainiers relievers combined to hold Iowa to one run over the final five innings.

Roster Moves: First baseman Dan Vogelbach and pitcher Chris Heston were called up by Seattle yesterday, with infielder Mike Freeman and pitcher Dillon Overton optioned to Tacoma (Freeman and Overton report on Tuesday). The Rainiers are expected to add new-to-the organization veteran reliever Ryan Kelly today, and reliever Kody Kerski is driving over from Low-A Clinton to serve as emergency help today. Expect the Rainiers roster to become much more stable in a Triple-A fashion after a flurry of moves when the team gets home on Tuesday.

Today: Tacoma (27-15) at Iowa (19-23), 10:05 AM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Chicago Cubs.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 2-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Chase De Jong (2-0, 1.74) at RHP Casey Kelly (1-0, 3.60).

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has an eight-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 13-for-29 with two homers… Mike Zunino has a four-game hitting streak, with three homers, but he won’t be playing for Tacoma today… reliever Ryne Harper hasn’t allowed a run over his last six appearances, covering 7.2 innings pitched… Mark Lowe has gone five appearances without allowing a run, spanning 5.1 IP.

Look Out For: Veteran third baseman Chris Dominguez has hit safely in ten of his last 11 games… Jeimer Candelario has homered in back-to-back games.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: After an offseason of being claimed off waivers repeatedly, ex-Tacoma lefty reliever David Rollins landed in Iowa.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 9:50 AM on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports:

  • Omaha’s Bubba Starling extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games in a doubleheader split with Reno. This outcome gave Tacoma a one-game lead over Reno in the Pacific-North division standings.
  • Infielder Reid Brignac went 4-for-4 to help Fresno beat Memphis, 9-3. The winning pitcher was Casey Coleman, who was an ace reliever for the Rainiers last year and is now a starter for Fresno. The Grizzlies visit Tacoma tomorrow.
  • Jharel Cotton tossed seven shutout innings and Matt Olson went 4-for-4 with a homer as Nashville won in Sacramento, 4-0.
  • Big innings are killing the Baby Cakes, New Orleans manager Arnie Beyeler said after losing to Las Vegas on Sunday, 7-3.
  • Round Rock starter Allen Webster dealt seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over visiting Salt Lake.
  • The Albuquerque Isotopes had Beach Day and wore “beach attire” uniforms on Sunday, but they lost to Colorado Springs on Rene Garcia‘s go-ahead RBI in the ninth inning, 3-2. Check the pun-filled story for photos. They remind me of those awful outfits UCLA basketball was decked out in a couple of years ago.
  • Oklahoma City’s Jack Murphy singled home the winning run in the top of the tenth inning for a 5-4 win at El Paso.

After today’s day game the Rainiers hop on an airplane and fly home. We’ve got a four-game homestand against Fresno starting on Tuesday at 6:05.


Rainiers Win With Ninth Inning Rally

May 21, 2017

The Rainiers stole a win on the road Saturday night in Des Moines, conjuring a ninth inning rally out of thin air to beat Iowa, 7-5.

Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the top of the ninth, and with nobody on base, the Rainiers were down to their last strike.

But Leonys Martin was able to bloop a double down the left field line against Iowa closer Justin Grimm, giving the team hope.

The next hitter was Seth Mejias-Brean and he quickly fell behind in the count, 0-2. Once again the Rainiers were down to their last strike. But he was able to extend the plate appearance and coax a walk, keeping things going.

Dario Pizzano followed with a line drive single to center, scoring Martin to tie the game, 4-4.

That brought up Mike Zunino, and Grimm got him to swing and miss at two breaking balls. After a fastball missed for ball one, Grimm went back to the breaker – and Zunino launched it two right-center for a three-run homer, and a 7-4 lead.

The rally seemed to come out of nowhere, and Tacoma avoided its first three-game losing streak of the year. The team remains in first place in the Pacific-North division, with a half-game lead over Reno.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: The Rainiers had a stunning comeback with two outs in the ninth inning and won in Iowa, 7-5. Tacoma is 3-3 so far on the eight-game road trip.

Roster Moves: We’ll have roster moves today. Chris Heston is being called up to start for Seattle, and the Rainiers are bringing back Nathan Bannister from Modesto to start today’s game. Additional moves are in the works.

Today: Tacoma (26-15) at Iowa (19-22), 11:05 AM (Pacific).

Opponent Affiliation: Chicago Cubs.

Season Series: Tied, 1-1.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Nathan Bannister (0-0, 0.00) at RHP Aaron Brooks (3-3, 7.24).

Bannister is back. The 2016 draft pick tossed 6.2 shutout innings for Tacoma against New Orleans on May 6. In two starts for Modesto since then, he allowed 14 runs in 9.2 innings. Triple-A is easy!

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has a seven-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 11-for-24 with two homers… D.J. Peterson and Mike Zunino each have three-game hitting streaks, and each homered yesterday.

Look Out For: Veteran third baseman Chris Dominguez has hit safely in nine of his last ten games… Ozzie Martinez has hit safely in four straight games, going 6-for-13.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: After an offseason of being claimed off waivers repeatedly, ex-Tacoma lefty reliever David Rollins landed in Iowa.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 10:50 AM on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:


Searching For Offense In Middle America

May 20, 2017

There’s got to be some hits somewhere around here, right?

The Tacoma Rainiers are having trouble scoring runs on this road trip to Omaha and Des Moines, and it has been unfortunate because the pitching has been as good as it has all season.

After hitting three homers and scoring seven runs in the road trip opener at Omaha on Wednesday, the bats have gone cold. Like, freezing cold.

Tacoma has scored just four runs over the last four games, with a total of 16 hits. That’s an average of one run on four hits per game.

It should be noted that the wind has been blowing quite strongly in from center field during three of these last four games, which is definitely a factor.

But still, a lineup featuring Leonys Martin, Dan Vogelbach, and Mike Zunino should be a very good Triple-A lineup. And I think it is a good Triple-A lineup; it’s just in a funk right now.

Looking through some stats this morning, I saw that the Rainiers have the PCL’s worst team batting average with runners in scoring position. The club is hitting .245 with RISP, which seems unsustainably poor. With RISP and two outs, the team’s average is .169. That should improve naturally, right?

Thank goodness the pitching has been spectacular. The Rainiers are ten games over .500 despite having one of the worst offenses (statistically) in the PCL!

Here’s hoping the team will break out the bats tonight.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tacoma continued to have trouble scoring, losing the series opener at Iowa, 2-1. Rob Whalen pitched a complete game in the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) over eight innings.

Roster Moves: Amazingly, there were no roster moves yesterday. It’s an Iowa miracle!

Today: Tacoma (25-15) at Iowa (19-21), 5:05 Pacific.

Opponent Affiliation: Chicago Cubs.

Season Series: Iowa leads, 1-0.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Andrew Moore (1-0, 3.86) at RHP Dylan Floro (2-1, 4.74).

Floro is normally a long reliever, so this is a ‘bullpen day’ for Iowa.

Hot Rainiers: Leonys Martin has a six-game hitting streak, during which he has gone 9-for-19 with two homers… Zach Shank returned from an illness and started the second game Thursday, promptly hitting a double. He’s 5-for-his-last-16 with four doubles.

Look Out For: Veteran third baseman Chris Dominguez has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, including an RBI single in the first inning last night… Mark Zagunis has hit safely in five straight games.

Local Guys and Ex-Rainiers: After an offseason of being claimed off waivers repeatedly, ex-Tacoma lefty reliever David Rollins landed in Iowa.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 4:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Reports:

  • Not exactly shocking news: Reno’s series opener at Omaha was rained out, and rescheduled as a Sunday doubleheader.
  • El Paso took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning and scored, um, nine insurance runs in a 16-8 win over Oklahoma City. The El Paso Times also has a feature on starting pitcher Tyrell Jenkins.
  • Las Vegas won at New Orleans, 2-1, on Josh Rodriguez‘s two-run homer in the seventh inning. The New Orleans Advocate has a game story which also checks in on top prospect Amed Rosario of Las Vegas.
  • Rehabilitating Trevor Story homered and Barry Enright pitched six innings in Albuquerque’s 5-0 win over visiting Colorado Springs.
  • Dillon Gee and Round Rock shut out Salt Lake, 8-0. The Austin Statesman has a feature story on hot-hitting Express first baseman Ronald Guzman.
  • Nashville picked up a 6-0 road win at Sacramento, with Renato Nunez blasting his 11th home run. The Tennessean has a feature on Sounds pitcher Josh Smith.
  • Derek Fisher ripped his tenth homer in Fresno’s 10-2 stomping of Memphis.