2021 Seattle Mariners MiLB affiliate preview: Everett AquaSox

Hey boy, do you wanna go to minor league baseball? I have absolutely extraordinary news, the 2021 Everett AquaSox is here. Kate previewed the new Low-A Modesto Nuts yesterday, and today I’m excited to introduce you to the Seattle Mariners’ High-A daughter. Without exaggeration, the AquaSox have the most talented minor league team in all of minor league baseball this year and one of the strongest talent concentrations of all Mariners partners. Ever.

Everett AquaSox and High-A West: What Has Changed?

Like Modesto, Everett stayed with the same partner club (the M’s) but switched levels and they are now a full season league instead of a short season club mainly used for the youngest conscripts and the first major test for international signers . The entire Northwest League has not made the move, but has not added any new clubs. It is one of the less changed leagues by and large, beyond the level jump from the short season A to Low-A to High -EIN:

The Northwest League was formed in 1955 as an effective renaming of the Western International League, which ran from 1937 to 1954. It offered the region a low to medium level of play for minors and primarily fed the powerful Pacific Coast League. Just as the PCL eventually shifted to MLB affiliation in the late 1950s and early 1960s, so did the Northwest League. It has played between four and eight teams in its history and will have six clubs in 2021 that are changing their traditional north / south division for a divisionless orientation. This together with a new minor league structure Closed every Mondaymeans that the entire AquaSox season consists of six game series.

The Boise Hawks (affiliated with COL prior to 2021) and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (SFG) fell victim to the MLB extermination of minor league clubs, although both clubs are currently running independent league seasons. In addition to AquaSox, there are five clubs in High-A West that have been associated with the Mariners since they were founded in 1995. Four of the clubs are located along the I-5 corridor and the Vancouver Canadians (TOR) continue their Blue Jays affiliation although they will be playing their games in Hillsboro, OR this year. You will share this space with the Hillsboro Hops (ARI), who continue to be connected to the Arizona Diamondbacks in their blissfully MiLB.TV-friendly park west of Portland. Farthest south is the Eugene Emeralds (SFG), who have served in 10 different affiliates since the league was founded in 1955, but are now San Francisco’s new subsidiary in the league after the Chicago Cubs ended their membership after 2020 . On the way east, the Tri-City Dust Devils (LAA) have shifted from the rich Padres system to a more Stars and Scrubs Angels system, but the Pasco-based club still has affiliated ball to Central Washington and Northeastern Oregon which is great to see. Last but not least, the Spokane Indians (COL), who moved from the Texas Rangers to the Rocky Mountains in their affiliation, but kept their sharp uniforms and designs created in collaboration with and with the support of the Spokane tribe.

Time schedule:

The AquaSox begin their 120-game season TODAY on May 4th at 6:35 p.m. PST at the Hillsboro Hops. If you’re an M fan in the state of Oregon or southwest Washington, Ron Tonkin Field is a gem and well worth a visit in the next week. If you’re not close enough or able, the Hops and the Eugene Emeralds just happen to be the only two clubs in the league that offer live MiLB.TV coverage of their games. You are a subscriber and have internet access. Everett’s home opening is next Tuesday, May 11th at 7:05 am and they will have a home stand of six games against Tri-City. Single playing cards are being sold pod-style for the first series at Funko Field, with social distancing implemented.

Everett AquaSox Opening Day Lineup:

Zach DeLoach LF
Julio Rodriguez RF
Austin Shenton 1B
Tyler Keenan 3B
Kaden Polcovich 2B
Carter Bins C.
Jack Larsen CF.
Mike Salvatore DH
Patrick Frick SS
Matt Brash SP

– Mariners Minors (@MiLBMariners) May 4, 2021

Projected setup:

View the current Everett AquaSox duty roster Here.

Mariners Player Development on Twitter

OF Julio Rodriguez is here and for good reason he’s the most prominent name in the positional group. Probably manager Louis Boyd (friend of the LL podcast) can print his lineup cards with Seattle’s happy child prodigy pre-filled in number 2 or 3 of the order. Julio, still listed on his signing measurements of 6’3, 180, is closer to 6’4, 225 according to recent data and could easily be promoted to AA-Arkansas within a month depending on what the Mariners see of him want the level at which he briefly finished in 2019. Rare if ever fans have had the opportunity to see a video of a prospect of Rodríguez ‘caliber from such a young age, so early and often in his development, but as someone who has seen Julio play in person a number of times can I assure you it’s worth the hike alone.

However, he is accompanied by some notable prospects in the lineup. He will share the outfield with Seattle’s selection for Round 2 and 3 in 2020, OF Zach DeLoach and UTIL Kaden Polcovichwho both played in the spring training of the big league and will make their debut. On the dirt, Seattle will juggle game time for Polcovich, who can fill in any point but is most natural in second place, along with a pair of 3B / ?? in the Austin Shenton and 2020 4th all-rounder Tyler Keenan. Shenton has received rave reviews from Scouts on the plate which I will repeat heartily in my look at him as his bat speed and pitch selection are so good that he leads to the greats as long as he can find a home defensively. Keenan has the Beef Boy Starter Kit, even though he’s slimmed down in High Performance Camp and pretty runny on the hot corner, which would take some strain off his racket. Behind the plate, c. Carter Bins will make one more try at Everett after handling the short season ball well, as would be expected from a well-rounded college racket. High-A will be a good test for bins whose profile is quite archetypal for the modern catcher: strong body that delivers plus strength, albeit with below average contact and hopefully above average glove work.

The Frogs have a roster that is rounded off for the level by some senior players, although the shortened ranks in each system and losing the 2020 season isn’t quite the downside that it could sometimes be against players. SS / INF Patrick Frick is one to watch with a little intrigue when the humble 14th all-rounder from 2019 lit Everett for the last time he was there and received an invite to Seattle Fall Development Camp, where he impressed again. The M’s have too little respected prospects for the middle infield, i.e. a pop-up performance from Frick or maybe SS / INF Joseph Rosa would be well received, but both 24-year-olds have a lot to prove with the stick.

Projected pitching staff:

Y’all, check this out.

We have chances! Here’s the @ EverAquaSox six-man rotation for the inaugural series in Hillsboro:
5/4: Matt Brash – RHP
5/5: Levi Stoudt – RHP
5/6: Emerson Hancock – RHP
5/7: George Kirby – RHP
5/8: Brandon Williamson – LHP
5/9: Juan Then – RHP

– Pat Dillon (@AquaSoxRadio) May 3, 2021

TINSTAAPP, of course, and let’s not forget it. But this is a high-A rotation of six of those interested in pitching, all of whom have reason to believe that they are making a huge contribution to the league. It doesn’t even contain RHPs either Isaiah Campbell and Tim Elliottwho are likely to be piggyback partners with the names listed above as the club works to bring out as many of their prospects as starters and that way keep them developing for as long as possible.

But the big names are clear. RHPs Emerson Hancock, George Kirby, Juan Dann, Matt Brash, and Levi Stoudt are connected by south paw Brandon Williamson to form a rotation not allowed to submerge below 93 mph for many nights. It doesn’t matter which night you grab a ticket for this AquaSox club, you get an insight into the pitching talent at the highest level. Hancock is the obvious headliner who debuted as number 6 overall in 2020, but first-round mate Kirby is thrilled after ticking off three-digit numbers in several Arizona innings this spring. Kirby, Then and Williamson all spent time in Everett in 2019 and looked exceptional, but this will be an important test to see how they expand to the full starting length. Brash was Taylor Williams’ return from San Diego and is no fool himself. He’s working on a modern approach that our Joe Doyle looked at.

The bullpen should be a good mix of hard throwers and length transmitters. Friend of the capsule RHP Jarod Bayless will bring the heat, as will the 2019 10th Rounder RHP Kyle Hill and a number of uncovered free agents and late round picks like RHP Brendan McGuigan, LHP Benjamin Onyshkoand RHP Bryan Pall. I cannot exaggerate how promising these pitching staff are.

MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects at this level:

Julio Rodríguez (5), Emerson Hancock (26), George Kirby (81)

MLB Pipeline Mariners Top 30 Prospects At This Level:

Julio Rodríguez (2), Emerson Hancock (3), George Kirby (5), Juan Then (9), Brandon Williamson (10), Isaiah Campbell (12), Zach DeLoach (13), Levi Stoudt (14), Austin Shenton (19), Kaden Polcovich (26), Tyler Keenan (29), Matt Brash (30)