Every day is a fun day down in the minors (except Mondays), but some stick out a little more than others. Sunday was one of those days.

Here are the highlights:

Ken Giles

Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

Sunday, Giles made his fifth appearance since he started his rehab stint May 29. This one was different. Finally. Giles needed just nine pitches (7 strikes) to toss a scoreless inning to start the game for the Everett AquaSox. He struck out two and did not allow a baserunner.  He hit the 94-96 mph range and used his slider a few times.

Giles, once he’s fully ready to rock, should be able to help the Mariners’ bullpen, which recently has had to option Drew Steckenrider, and has watched other high-leverage arms struggle. Erik Swanson is also on his way back, and threw a strong inning Friday for the Sox.

Steckenrider hasn’t found any footing in Triple-A Tacoma yet, so he may be a while, but Sergio Romo‘s days in Seattle may be numbered in single digits.

Juan Mercedes
Mercedes relieved Giles in the second inning and spun five more scoreless frames, allowing two hits and striking out four. He didn’t issue a base on balls and threw 70% strikes, mostly fastballs and sliders.

Mercedes is interesting, and while probably a reliever if he’s to get to the majors, his work as a starter has allowed him to build arm strength and develop his pitches. He’s had three hiccups in seven ‘starts,’ and one of them came as a fill-in starter in Triple-A.

Noelvi Marte

Ben VanHouten/Seattle Mariners

Marte has not had a good first two months of 2022, but went 2-for-4 with his 5th homer of the year Sunday. He’s now batting .249/.343/.389 with a 24.9% K rate.

There’s no reason to panic, but I presume many of you will anyway when Marte starts to fade in the useless league-wide Top 100 prospect rankings pushed out at mid-season by several outlets. But let me get ahead of some of this:

Marte did NOT enter 2022 with any kind of real chance to stick at shortstop. Anyone pretending

NOW he’s looking like a bat that has to move to 3B or the OF is at least a year late. I’ve written and tweeted this numerous times, and have noted so on Baseball Things regularly.

Marte hasn’t handled breaking stuff well at all in Everett. But he is 20 years old, and Baseball Things subscribers will also tell you I’ve been adamant he’s not an elite prospect… he’s nowhere near Julio Rodriguez. No one listened then, but maybe you will now?

Marte has some conditioning work to do, too, but is still a good prospect with a bright future, led by his feet, arm, and the thunder in his bat. He just has more work to do than many believed … two whole months ago.

Jonatan Clase
Clase, 20, stayed hot Sunday and is now 5-for-12 with two doubles and two homers over his last three games. He still runs very well, but the added strength is starting to show up at the plate, and bodes well for his long-term future. The strikeouts are still an obstacle, but there are a few signs he’s turning that around a bit, too. Ideally, Clase, at this level and at this stage of his career, would get his strikeout rate under 25%, and continue to chip away as he moved through the system. He’s at 29% for the year.

Taylor Dollard
Dollard went six scoreless Sunday, walking three, surrendering two hits, and punching out six. His ERA is down to 0.96. The right-hander has allowed zero or one run in all 10 starts. He’s yet to allow a long ball and owns a 48-10 K/BB ratio.

Jarred Kelenic
Kelenic isn’t going to catch any kind of break from fans until he sustains success in the majors, but he did go 2-for-4 with a double Sunday without striking out, despite facing Tommy Henry for the second time this week.

Henry, a lefty who is very adept at using angles with his fastball and breaking ball, dominated Tacoma Tuesday, striking out 11 over six 1-hit innings which included Kelenic whiffing three times.

Kelenic has hits in 11 straight games, which normally wouldn’t mean jack, but he’s failed to show consistency of any positive nature until now, and six of those 11 either include a long ball or ended with multiple hits.

Contact rates matter for Kelenic and they haven’t been good early in Tacoma, but because he’s a bat with extra-base ability and in Triple-A, the threshold is different for him than with Clase. I’d say 25% is reasonable for Kelenic, but right now he’s well above that, despite 3 of his last 5 games resulting in zero strikeouts.

Good news is, more barrels for Kelenic. It’s a start.

 

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 and spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio. He now serves as the Executive Copy Editor at Data Skrive, a tech company that manipulates data to provide automated content to clients including the AP, BetMGM, USA Today, and ESPN. Find Jason's baseball podcast, Baseball Things, right here.