EVERETT —The second time was the charm for Juan Then.
The Mariners hope that applies not only to his season in the Northwest League, but his career with the Seattle organization as a whole.
Then, who was reacquired in the Edwin Encarnacion trade to the Yankees after being shipped out of the Mariners’ farm system last season, twirled five scoreless innings in relief — piggybacking off rehabbers Sam Tuivailala, on the long road back from a torn right Achilles, and triple-A reliever Aaron Northcraft — to earn his first Northwest League win and lead the Everett AquaSox to a three-game sweep over the Vancouver Canadians with a 7-1 win on Thursday at Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“He looked really comfortable with his fastball and he was attacking with it to all hitters,” Everett pitching coach Ari Ronick said. “I think that was the biggest difference from his last outing, the confidence with that pitch.”
Then was roughed up in his Northwest League debut, allowing four runs on four hits over four innings, striking out one and walking two.
It was a different story on Thursday, as the 19-year-old right-hander fanned seven and walked none. Then topped out at 96 mph on Thursday and sat 93-to-94 mph for most of the outing.
“For him, it’s just filling up the zone,” Ronick said. “If he’s able to locate (his fastball), a lot of hitters are going to have a tough time with it. The velocity is obviously a plus for us, but we want to see him use those pitches effectively and be aggressive with his fastball.”
Then was reacquired by the Mariners in the deal sending Encarnacion to the Yankees in early June, over a year after he was traded to New York for reliever Nick Rumbelow before last season.
After compiling a 2.64 earned-run average with the Mariners Dominican Summer League team in 2017, Then transitioned just fine to the Yankees’ organization with a 2.70 ERA in 50 innings for New York’s Gulf Coast League team.
Then was signed by the Mariners in 2016 for $77,500 out of the Dominican Republic, according to MLB Pipeline.
Grant Townsend, the Canadians’ starter, took the loss after allowing three runs on three hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Billy Cooke walloped a solo homer over the outfield netting in left field to lead off the first and Carter Bins homered to left in the fourth to power the Sox offense early on.
The AquaSox added four insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on Bins’ walk with the bases loaded, Luis Joseph’s sacrifice fly to right field and Cesar Izturis Jr.’s two-run single to center.
Evan Johnson picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless eighth and ninth.
Tuivailala sharp in rehab
Sam Tuivailala, recovering from a torn right Achilles injury sustained last year, retired the side on just seven pitches to start the game in his second rehabilitation stint with Everett.
“I feel fine,” Tuivailala said. “It’s just about getting off the slope and getting in reps. It’s obviously been a weird year, but I’m getting back into my routine. … I think I’m closer, I think I’m close for sure. Stuff wise, everything feels good. Strength is all there. It’s just about getting the routine and the adrenaline and the arm going.”
Tuivaiala was shelled in his first outing with Everett on Monday, allowing four runs on five hits and a homer over 2/3 of an inning. But he said he felt well physically throughout the outing and it showed during Thursday’s appearance.
“I’m not second guessing anything with the Achilles,” Tuivailala said. “When I’m running or anything baseball activity wise, everything is feeling good.”
Outside of just his overall presence, Tuivailala left the ultimate gift for minor-leaguers before leaving town: A lavish postgame spread, with a main course of steak and chicken, he said.
Tuivailala said he’s enjoyed his time in Everett.
“It’s always fun chatting with the guys and shedding any sort of knowledge that I can,” he said. “Hopefully it just helps them. It’s a great group of young guys and I expect great things for them.”