EVERETT — With the recent influx of 2017 draftees, the Everett AquaSox have a total of 18 pitchers on their roster.
That’s not entirely unheard of at rookie ball, however. Six of the new pitchers came straight from college and may face innings and pitch limitations in their first summer of professional baseball. That’s particularly the case for college starters, according to Seattle Mariners farm director Andy McKay who is in town for the brief three-game homestand.
“There are players you draft knowing he’s not going to pitch this year,” McKay said. “Then you’ll have high school guys who have a lot of innings to go. It’s very common that you’ll bring guys in, especially the college starters, that they’re already going to be almost maxed out.”
McKay noted that was the case last season when the Mariners took Nathan Bannister in the 28th round out of the University of Arizona. The Wildcats went to the College World Series final in 2016 with Bannister logging 1421⁄3 innings on the season and he didn’t pitch at all in the Mariners organization last year.
“There are a couple guys that are on pitch counts and a (limited) amount of innings for the year because they threw a lot there,” Everett pitching coach Danny Acevedo said. “But I think we got a pretty good plan. We have our starters pretty much the same.”
Acevedo said the AquaSox will go with seven starters for the time being with two “piggy-back” pairs where one pitcher starts and goes four-plus innings before the next starter comes in to pitch four innings. The No. 3 spot will feature Randy Bell and Jose Santiago, while Oliver Jeskie and Steve Ridings will comprise the No. 5 slot.
Ryne Inman and Michael Torres are the Nos. 1 and 2 starters and Andres Torres is in the No. 4 role.
Suarez picked up the win Monday night with five innings of two-hit, one-run performance. He is now 2-0 with a 3.55 earned-run average.
“He fell behind a couple of times, but he was able to get back in the count and get those guys out,” Acevedo said. “I think his changeup was key last night in helping him get back to counts. That was a huge part right there. The changeup was really good. He’s continuing to work with the breaking ball, which is getting better.”
Bell and Jaskie were each acquired in the draft so they’re new commodities to Acevedo and the AquaSox.
“With the guys that get here from the draft we just wait for them to get into games to see what they can do,” Acevedo said.
Seth Elledge, David Ellingson and Wyatt Mills will take turns closing games while the remainder of the relievers will generally throw two- or three-inning stints.
McKay had a chance to see the draftees during last week’s minicamp in Peoria, Arizona, that followed the draft.
“The minicamp was a great situation for us and it was brought about by the scheduling issues of the early start date and then going to Canada,” he said. “The majority of the guys were there and we got a real good four days to get to know them and know a little bit of what they’re about. So far everything has been good.”
A veteran of more than two decades of college coaching when he was tapped to direct the Mariners farm system prior to the 2016 season, McKay nevertheless is mostly observing during his stint in Everett.
“(We tell players) ‘be who you are and let us see why you were signed,’” McKay said. “We don’t do a lot of coaching right now. We do a lot of ‘this is our structure, but within the structure let’s see how you hit.’ We’re not going to talk about changing your mechanics or anything like that. It’s really just kind of a little bit of a showcase. We need to see why our scouts drafted you.”
AquaSox outfielders Johnny Slater and Billy Cooke were each promoted to Class A Clinton prior to Tuesday’s game. Slater was hitting .357 with three homers and five RBI in three games. Cooke was hitting .154 in three games with Everett.
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