The Everett AquaSox, the short-season Class-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, begin their season Thursday night at Everett Memorial Stadium, or as I like to call it, Pat Dillon’s Megaphone. The club’s roster has been set for a few days. Here’s what I’m interested in with this group, plus what you can look for should you attend games, follow them online or listen to Dillon call the games on radio.
The obvious names on the roster are Alex Jackson and Luiz Gohara. Jackson was the Mariners’ top pick a year ago — No. 6 overall — and comes with a profile that suggests he’s an above-average big-leaguer who should hit for some average and produce 18-25 home runs with a doubles strokes that uses the middle of the field well and go to the backside.
Jackson was the top prep bat in his entire draft class and after struggling early with Class-A Clinton and hitting the disabled list with a shoulder injury, is set to refresh his first full season as a pro.
He throws well from right field — he caught some in high school — and he’s presently sturdy with no shortage of strength. He;s an average runner without a lot of quick-twitch actions in the feet, so don’t expect a lot of triples and stolen bases, but he’s not a base clogger by any stretch. Jackson will bat third in Thursday night’s opener.
Gohara spent a good portion of last summer with the Sox, struggling to throw strikes consistently, often due to a leaky front side in the delivery. He’s just 18, however, and the raw stuff is well above average, starting with a four-seam fastball that I clocked as high as 97.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Gohara — who might be more like 225 — typically sits 92-94, often tickling 95, and doing so with minimal effort. He creates good plane on all of his pitches, including solid tilt on a low-80s slider that flashes above average and occasionally serves as a true strikeout pitch.
Gohara isn’t afraid to use the changeup, a firm 83-87 mph pitch, but it was well below-average for much of the summer and at times he slowed down his delivery, which ultimately cancels out any deception in velocity. There’s some sink to it, but not much fade, at least at last check.
Gohara, from Brazil, has worked hard all spring to repeat his delivery and in particular remain consistent with his arm speed. If he puts it all together, Sox fans will be treated to the most exciting arm in the farm system this season. Gohara gets the nod Thursday night, though it won’t be his first start of the season as he made a spot start for Clinton May 29, getting through five shutout innings on four hits and a walk.
Class of 2015 Representin’
This year’s draft class is well-represented on the AquaSox roster, including starting centerfielder Braden Bishop from the University of Washinton. Bishop can fly — a 65 or 70 on the 20-80 scale for speed — and is a plus glove. This is the guy you’ll see beating out infield ground balls and bunts, swiping bags and legging out triples.
On top of the speed itself, Bishop is a terrific baserunner with big-league instincts and eye for the extra base. In the field, he uses his speed well but also gets great jumps. He’s among the best I have ever seen at handling the deep drive to his glove side (right-center field).
Bishop is batting in the No. 7 spot Thursday night.
Other 2015 draftees on the roster include first baseman Ryan Uhl, the club’s 7th-round pick, catcher P.J. Jones (19), shortstop Drew Jackson (5), outfielder Logan Taylor (12), lefties Logan James (31) Matt Clancy (13), Joseph Pistorese (17), and Anthony Misiewicz (18), right-handers Andrew Moore (CBB), Darin Gillies (10), Lance Thonvold (24), Colin Tornberg (32), Art Warren (23) and Kyle Wilcox (6).
Keep An Eye On…
Luis Liberato, CF — The 19-year-old has solid tools, including 60 speed and a 50-grade throwing arm that fits in center. He can go get it and has an interesting left-handed swing that reaches the gaps.
Andrew Moore, RHP — Moore is a three-pitch starter that altered his profile a bit by holding bigger velocities late in the spring. His changeup is solid-average and he pitches intelligently. If he can get the breaking ball to average levels — it’s a bit soft at present to be anything more than fringe-average — he has a good shot to me a No. 4 starter. Moore is shorter than what is considered prototypical, but he’s strong and trains for mechanics and strength with one of the very best programs in the game.
Spencer Herrmann, LHP — Herrmann, a 2014 draftee, has four pitches — fastball, curveball, slider, changeup — and his heater ticks up in short stints, suggesting a pared down arsenal could develop into a big-league reliever.