Mercedes’ no-hitter highlights eventful week for AquaSox

Everett also had 3 Mariners make rehab appearances, an infielder traded and 2 players win league honors.

Noelvi Marte

Noelvi Marte

An eventful week for the Everett AquaSox couldn’t have started on a more exciting note.

Juan Mercedes wrote his name into franchise history when he threw a no-hitter last Tuesday against the Eugene Emeralds at Funko Field.

Mercedes, a 22-year-old right-hander from the Dominican Republic, tossed a seven-inning no-no in the back end of Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Eugene Emeralds. He walked two and struck out 10 as the Sox prevailed 5-0. He needed just 98 pitches, 63 of which were strikes.

“He really had it all going,” Everett manager Eric Farris said about Mercedes. “His fastball had some good velocity, and he was really able to locate his secondary pitches.

“It was a great time,” Farris added. “The flow of the game was very quick and efficient. We all looked up and it was the fifth inning and everyone finally realized we had something going here. It’s always fun to watch players get in the zone like that and be so dominant.”

The no-hitter was just the second in franchise history and the first since Everett became a Seattle Mariners affiliate in 1995 and rebranded as the AquaSox. Maximo Aleys threw a nine-inning no-hitter for the Everett Giants in 1989.

Mercedes’ no-hitter was the first of several notable happenings for the Sox last week. On Friday, Everett’s Justin Lavey was named the Northwest League’s Player of the Month for May. The 24-year-old infielder, signed by the Mariners as an undrafted free agent in 2020, slashed .347/.419/.507 in May, leading the league in hits (26) and runs (19).

Everett was also the site of three major-league rehabilitation stints as Seattle infielder Abraham Toro and pitchers Ken Giles and Erik Swanson all saw time with the Sox. Toro (shoulder) went 2-for-4 with two RBI in two games; Giles (finger) gave up seven runs — three earned — in 2.1 innings over the course of three appearances; and Swanson (elbow) tossed a perfect inning in his only appearance. Farris said he believes all three have completed their time with Everett.

Everett had some injury issues of its own to deal with. Starting pitcher Adam Macko landed on the injured list because of an unspecified injury, though Farris said it wasn’t Macko’s pitching arm. Macko, who’s listed by as the Mariners’ 10th-best prospect, has been one of Everett’s standouts, compiling a 3.99 ERA and striking out 60 in 38.1 innings. Farris said Macko is expected back at some point this season.

On the plus side, opening-day starter Isaiah Campbell was activated from the injured list after missing more than a month because of elbow soreness. Campbell pitched a perfect inning and struck out two in Saturday’s 2-0 loss. Farris said Campbell will be used in one-inning stints for the time being, and the decision on whether Campbell will rejoin the starting rotation will be made at a later date.

Finally, Everett saw an infielder depart as Tyler Keenan was traded by Seattle to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday in exchange for major-league relief pitcher Ryan Borucki. In 25 games with the Sox, Keenan batted .250 with three home runs and 14 RBI. Keenan, a fourth-round pick by the Mariners in the 2020 draft, could land with Toronto’s Northwest League affiliate in Vancouver.

Everett ended up going 2-5 in their seven-game series against the Emeralds. The Sox are now 21-29 and remain in last place in the league, seven games behind first-place Eugene.

Players of the week

Hitter: Noelvi Marte. The 20-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic only batted .278 in five games, but he led the team in runs (four), RBI (four) and OPS (.906) during the series. The player ranked by as the No. 9 prospect in all of baseball hasn’t had a scorching start, but he’s now up to .249 with five homers and 21 RBI in 46 contests.

Pitcher: Mercedes. Mercedes followed up his no-hitter by tossing five shutout innings in Sunday’s 5-1 victory after Giles pitched one inning as the opener, meaning he was the winning pitcher in both of Everett’s victories last week. Mercedes was unsurprisingly named the Northwest League’s Pitcher of the Week.

The week ahead

This week the Sox travel to Hillsboro for a six-game series against the Hops. Hillsboro, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is in third place in the NWL at 26-23, 1.5 games behind Eugene. The Hops are coming off a series in which they took four of six against on the road against the Tri-City Dust Devils.

Everett has been feast or famine against Hillsboro this season. The Sox dropped five of six when the teams met on April 12-17 in Hillsboro, but then swept the Hops in a five-game home series on May 18-22.

Hillsboro is lacking top prospects on its roster, as third baseman A.J. Vukovich (eighth) is the only Hops player listed by among the organization’s top 14 prospects. Hillsboro’s top performers have been center fielder Tim Tawa (.284, six homers, 23 RBI) and right-handed pitcher John Carver (2.41 ERA, 43/12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 37.1 innings).

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