Jonatan Clase was so good during the first month of the Northwest League season that he played himself right out of Everett.
The Everett AquaSox underwent their first significant roster churn of the season last week, and the biggest change was bidding farewell to their star center fielder and leadoff hitter as Clase was promoted to Double-A Arkansas.
“It’s really exciting, it was very well earned by Jonatan,” Everett manager Ryan Scott said. “He did everything he was asked, he showed up to the field ready to get to work, and it translated on the field.”
Clase was one of the bigger names on Everett’s initial roster. The 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic is ranked by MLB.com as the Seattle Mariners’ 12th-best prospect, and he lived up to his speedy reputation with 17 stolen bases in 21 games.
However, Clase provided more with the bat than anyone anticipated. He batted .333, and with seven home runs and 18 walks he compiled an impressive 1.154 OPS. Immediately after he was promoted he was named the Northwest League’s Player of the Month for April.
Clase was one of three Sox promoted to Arkansas last week, the other two being starting pitcher Juan Mercedes and relief pitcher Ty Adcock. In the cases of Mercedes (30 strikeouts in four starts) and Adcock (one hit allowed over six appearances) the quick promotions made sense, as Mercedes spent most of last season in Everett and Adcock is 26. Clase’s quick promotion, which Scott confirmed was permanent as opposed to temporary, was a bit more surprising, considering his age and the fact he’d never played above Single-A before joining High-A Everett this season.
“I wasn’t necessarily surprised,” Scott said. “Being on (the Mariners’) 40-man roster, we knew there was a chance (Clase would be promoted) if he came out here and did what we knew he was capable of. It was cool to see.”
The promotions weren’t Everett’s only roster moves. Shortstop Axel Sanchez (shoulder) and second baseman Blake Rambusch (knee) were each placed on the seven-day injured list, though Scott said neither is expected to be out long-term. Among the players brought in to fill slots were third baseman Cole Barr, shortstop Mike Salvatore and pitchers Matt Willrodt and Jarod Bayless, all of whom spent significant portions of last season with the Sox.
Amid the shuffle, Everett went 2-4 in its six-game home series against the Tri-City Dust Devils. The Sox dropped back to .500 at 13-13 and are in third place in the Northwest League, 2.5 games behind league-leading Vancouver.
Players of the week
Hitter: James Parker. The 23-year-old infielder, who was selected in the eighth round of the 2021 draft, only made three starts last week. However, two of those were Everett’s wins and he was heavily involved in both, particularly with his three-run homer in Saturday’s 7-2 victory in the first game of a doubleheader. He finished the week 5-for-8 with a 1.667 OPS.
Pitcher: Michael Flynn. The 26-year-old right-hander, acquired by the Mariners as a minor-league free agent in 2022, tossed three scoreless innings over two relief appearances. He fanned six in a two-inning effort in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss, giving Everett a chance at coming back in the final two innings. Then he nailed down the save in Sunday’s 5-3 victory with a perfect ninth, earning his second save of the season.
The week ahead
The Sox get a chance at closing the gap on first place with a six-game road series against the Vancouver Canadians. Everett took five of six when Vancouver visited Everett three weeks ago.
Vancouver, an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, moved back into first place after taking five of six at Hillsboro last week. The Canadians are 14-9 and lead second-place Eugene by a half-game.
The Canadians don’t have any top-level prospects on their roster, but they have two starting pitchers in right-hander Chad Dallas (2-0, 2.18 ERA, nine walks and 31 strikeouts in 20.2 innings) and left-hander Trenton Wallace (3-1, 2.25 ERA, four walks and 23 strikeouts in 20 innings) who are off to strong starts, despite not being listed by MLB.com among Toronto’s top 30 prospects. Vancouver has spread the wealth on offense, with first baseman Riley Tirotta (.340) setting the pace.