The Everett AquaSox’s 2022 season is underway, and for the first time since the minor-league baseball franchise began play as the Giants in 1984 they experienced what April baseball in the Pacific Northwest is all about.
Everett completed its first full week of the Northwest League season last week, and while the Sox emerged with just a 3-5 record, they managed to survive the wet conditions and chilly temperatures that come with playing baseball in this region during early spring.
This is the Sox’s second season as a full-season team as Everett spent its first 37 years as a short-season team, beginning play in mid-June. Last year the Sox moved to the High-A level for their first year as a full-season team, but because of the coronavirus pandemic the season’s start was delayed until May.
So the April 8 start to the season was a new experience for the Sox and their fans. A rainy opening three-game series at Funko Field against the Eugene Emeralds resulted in one weather postponement. Then, Everett headed to Hillsboro for six games against the Hops, and while all six games were completed the highest recorded temperature was 54 degrees.
“It wasn’t summertime, I’ll tell you that,” Everett manager Eric Farris said. “But it was nothing surprising. It’s April in the Pacific Northwest and that means wet and cold. Our guys responded well, they were able to still get out there and compete. We knew what we were coming into, so guys got out their couple extra layers and competed.”
As for how the Sox started the season, they’ve already experienced ups and downs. Everett opened the season with a pair of victories against Eugene, but then struggled during its series at Hillsboro, losing five of the six. The Sox lost three of those by a single run, but Everett ranks fifth in the six-team league in runs scored per game (3.5) and sixth in runs allowed per contest (4.88).
“I’d say we were more unlucky than anything,” Farris said about the series against the Hops. “Over the course of the series we hit the ball hard, just a lot of them were caught. Our pitchers did a really good job and gave up a lot of soft contact. I think we just got caught in a tough spot where things didn’t go our way, but I think the guys played well. Could we have done better on the stat sheet? Of course. But I thought the process and the way we went about our business was good,”
Players of the week
Hitter: Noelvi Marte. The 20-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic came into the season as Everett’s marquee name, being listed as the 11th-best prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, and during his first week-plus he didn’t disappoint as he batted .286 with two home runs and a team-leading .929 OPS. Perhaps the most encouraging development, however, was Marte’s plate discipline. Farris noted that one of Marte’s main focuses this season was making good swing decisions, and seven walks over his first eight games gives Marte a walk rate of 20.0% compared to 11.7% last season.
Pitcher: Adam Macko. The 21-year-old left-hander, who’s originally from Slovakia and is ranked No. 11 among prospects in the Seattle Mariners’ system by MLB.com, has started the season missing bats at a frantic rate. Though Macko was unable to record the victory in either of his two starts, he certainly pitched well enough in both to warrant a win. First he struck out 11 in five innings in a 10-7 victory over Eugene on April 9 in Everett, then followed up with eight Ks in five innings in a 2-1 loss at Hillsboro last Friday. He walked just three batters in the process.
The week ahead
Everett plays its first full home series this week when the Sox welcome the Tri-City Dust Devils, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, to Funko Field.
Tri-City (4-4), like Everett, is coming off a rough series as the Dust Devils dropped four of five at home against Vancouver. Tri-City has struggled at the plate as the Dust Devils sport a team OPS of just .554 and have hit only one home run so far this season. However, Tri-City does boast two of the Angels’ better hitting prospects in shortstop Kyren Paris (.208 batting average) and outfielder Jordyn Adams (.438).
This is the beginning of a two-week homestand for the Sox as they host Spokane in a six-game series the following week.