The Everett AquaSox’s roster continues to dwindle, and this week the attrition caught up to the Sox. Therefore, Everett’s odds of making the postseason just got a lot longer.
Everett lost two more key players last week, and the Sox saw themselves fall further behind in the Northwest League’s second-half race after losing five of six in their home series against the Hillsboro Hops.
Everett bid farewell to catcher Andy Thomas and pitcher Isaiah Campbell prior to the start of last week’s series. Thomas, who had been leading the Sox in OPS at .844 and provided good leadership behind the plate, was included in the trade that brought pitcher Matthew Boyd to the Seattle Mariners from the San Francisco Giants — Thomas wound up with Everett’s Northwest League rival in Eugene. Campbell, a right-hander who was the Sox’s opening-day starter but eventually settled into a de facto closer role with 10 saves in 10 chances, was promoted to Double-A Arkansas.
Everett had a surprisingly stable roster through more than three months of the season. But the departures of Thomas and Campbell piggybacked upon the recent losses of shortstop Noelvi Marte (traded) and pitchers Bryce Miller and Prelander Berroa (promotion) to strip the team of much of its top talent. Even manager Eric Farris was unavailable last week as he was on vacation while attending a wedding.
Nevertheless, Everett had been right in the hunt in the second-half race, and when the Sox won the first game of the series against Hillsboro they were just 3.0 games out of first place and 1.5 behind current leader Vancouver. However, the depleted Sox ran out of steam against the Hops, losing the final five contests to fall to 17-19 in the second half (48-53 overall), 6.5 games behind the Canadians.
The five-game losing streak put a big-time dent in Everett’s postseason hopes, as the Sox have only five series remaining with which to make up the gap, and they now have to pass Vancouver, Eugene and Spokane if they want to win the second half and earn the league’s second postseason berth.
It’s not known whether reinforcements are on the way, either. Pitcher Adam Macko (non-throwing), outfielder Spencer Packard (hamstring) and catcher Charlie Welch (thumb), all of whom were important components, have been out since June and remain on the injured list. All three were expected to return at some point this season. But Macko was recently transferred to the 60-day injured list, making his return less likely; Packard continues to rehab at the Mariners’ complex in Arizona; while Welch remains with the team with an unknown timeline.
Players of the week
Hitter: Robert Perez Jr. The 22-year-old first baseman from Venezuela was only called up at the start of last week after slugging 20 homers in 92 games for Low-A Modesto, but he had an instant impact with the Sox. Perez, listed as the Mariners’ 25th-best prospect by MLB.com, homered in his debut with Everett in last Tuesday’s 8-3 Kid’s Day victory, and for the week he batted .429 with two home runs, 10 RBI and a 1.366 OPS in six games.
Pitcher: Bryan Woo. The right-hander coming off Tommy John surgery, who like Perez was just called up from Modesto at the beginning of last week, also made a good first impression in Everett. Woo, a sixth-round pick by the Mariners in the 2021 draft who is listed by MLB.com as Seattle’s No. 26 prospect, made two starts last week, posting a 2.00 ERA and 10/1 strikeout/walk ratio in 9.0 innings. That included five innings without allowing an earned run last Tuesday to pick up the Sox’s only win of the week.
The week ahead
Everett is back on the road this week as the Sox travel to Tri-City for a six-game series against the Dust Devils beginning Tuesday. Tri-City, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, is 12-24 in the second half (41-58 overall) and in last place in the Northwest League, 11.5 games behind Vancouver. The Dust Devils, like Everett, are riding a five-game losing streak after running into the Vancouver buzzsaw. Everett is 8-10 against Tri-City this season.
The Dust Devils find themselves in an awkward position, as they are almost devoid of major-league prospects — none of MLB.com’s top 26 in the Angles system is on the roster, though that may change if shortstop Kyren Paris returns after not traveling with the team across the U.S.-Canada border. The offense hasn’t done anything, as the Dust Devils are dead last in the league in runs (3.9 per game), average (.210), homers (56), and OPS (.618) by wide margins, while the pitching staff has been gutted by promotions. First baseman Gabe Matthews (.216, 12 homers, 50 RBI) has been the best of the bunch at the plate, while left-hander Jose Salvador (5.23 ERA, 54 strikeouts in 43.0 innings) has shown well lately.