EVERETT — For a young pitcher in Single-A short-season ball, Juan Then approaches the rigors of professional baseball like a grizzled veteran.
Perhaps being traded twice before your 20th birthday expedites the maturation process.
Then, who was shipped by the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees last season, only to be reacquired in a June 15 deal for Edwin Encarnacion, doesn’t see any issue with the organization turnover in his ripe career.
“Baseball’s like this, it’s a business,” said the Everett AquaSox starting pitcher through translator (and Everett infielder) Cesar Izturis Jr. “One day you’re here, and one day you’re not.
“Wherever you are, it’s the same baseball.”
Although Everett is Then’s stateside debut with the Mariners, there are plenty of familiar faces for him from his days playing at the Mariners’ complex in the Dominican Republic: Izturis Jr., Robert Perez Jr., Miguel Perez and Ivan Fortunato.
“(I was) very happy,” Then said of being back with the Mariners. “I have teammates from the first year I was here. Seeing them again was pretty nice and being in the organization again is nice, too.”
It’s the comfortability with his surroundings, Everett manager Jose Moreno said, that’s allowed Then to settle in quickly with the AquaSox.
The familiarity with his surroundings certainly helps, but so does Then’s stuff on the mound.
It starts with his fastball, which sits 93-94 mph and can touch 95-96.
“He’s got a really smooth arm and the ball just jumps out of his hand,” Everett catcher Carter Bins said. “The ball really has some run on it and enough to miss barrels for sure.”
Lately, he’s done just that. Then has whiffed 15 hitters over his past two starts, good for 13.5 strikeouts-per-nine innings.
His fastball is a standout pitch, but he boasts a curveball and changeup to compliment it. His changeup is a particularly interesting pitch, as Then’s sits at 87-to-88 mph, not far off from his fastball’s velocity. But despite not having the desired gap in velocity, it has enough movement to it to deceive hitters, Bins said.
Then has pitched 14 innings for the AquaSox, boasting a 3.21 ERA. In his past two starts, he’s allowed only one run on five hits.
On the mound, he doesn’t express much emotion, and that personality is reflected off the field.
But don’t mistake his shy personality with passiveness. He’s polite, but his business-like attitude and competitiveness has resonated with the coaching staff.
“He’s a great kid, very tremendous makeup,” Moreno said.
Then said he’s excited to be back In the organization. That feeling is reciprocated.
“I think he’s a big prospect for us and I’m glad he’s here in Everett and we can get him to be a better player,” Moreno said.