Evan White, Mariners Prospects Shine In Cal League All-Star Game
LANCASTER, Calif.—Last year it was Braden Bishop, Nick Neidert and Matt Festa.
This year it was Evan White, Joe Rizzo and Kyle Lewis.
Whatever the reason, Mariners prospects show up to shine in the California League all-star game.
White went 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs, Rizzo hit two doubles and the Mariners contingent from Modesto carried the North All-Stars to an 8-1 victory over the South in front of 4,673 at The Hangar on Tuesday night.
White, the Mariners' No. 2 prospect, set the tone with a long two-run homer to left off Elliot Ashbeck in the third inning to help the North jump out to a 4-0 lead. He added a single in the fifth and a sacrifice fly in the ninth, helping the North move to 2-0 in the series since the game adopted its current North vs. South format last year.
“I was trying to go yard my last at-bat,” White chuckled. “When I got to 3-0 I told the catcher I was going to hurt myself trying to hit this one out. But it was fun man, it was just fun to get out here and play with the guys you get to play against so often during the season. My goal was just play with those guys and go out there and have fun.”
Rizzo, the Mariners' No. 9 prospect, entered as a reserve in the seventh inning and doubled in both of his at-bats, the first a high fly to center field that got over the head of Edward Olivares and the second a lined shot into right field.
Lewis, the Mariners' No. 1 prospect, went 1-for-3 with a run but made his biggest impact on defense. In the first inning, Lewis raced in and to his left and laid out to make a diving catch in center field, a run-saving play and an announcement that his surgically repaired knee is no longer holding him back.
Lewis, who had reconstructive knee surgery in August 2016 and needed a cleanup procedure in February, played the field in seven of eight games leading into the break and handled center field for six innings without issue on Tuesday.
“This is the best I’ve felt. I feel back to being able to do all the things I could do before,” Lewis said. “I’m excited, back out playing center the way I like to play center. Getting after it, just being athletic. I feel good.”
White, Rizzo and Lewis got plenty of help. Seth Elledge, the Mariners' fourth-round pick in 2017, pitched a scoreless seventh inning, aided in large part by a leaping grab and rifle across the diamond from shortstop Bryson Brigman, the Mariners' No. 27 prospect, for a double play. Wyatt Mills, the Mariners' third-round pick in 2017, pitched a scoreless eighth with a pair of strikeouts. And on defense, Rizzo and White hooked up from for an eye-opening play where Rizzo charged in on a tough dribbler and fired a missile across the diamond to White, who reached out with an acrobatic stretch to record the out.
At every turn, Mariners prospects stood out, just as they did in last year’s game when Bishop won MVP and Neidert and Festa excelled on the mound.
“I think they thrive off of energy, and what better place to show some energy than the all-star game,” said North manager Mitch Canham, who is Modesto’s manager.
“It’s a great group of young men and you could tell the whole squad ... it looked like everyone was just out there having fun. Rizzo made some nice plays, Briggy was solid at short, all the guys just seemed to go out there and really perform well, which is exciting to see. And for them to know they can do that against the rest of the best guys in the league, it should be a big confidence builder for them.”
The North pounded out 18 hits in all on the night. Athletics outfield prospect Dairon Blanco went 4-for-5 with a double and a home run and was named Most Valuable Player. Giants outfield prospect Johneshwy Fargas went 2-for-2 with two singles and stole three bases, including second and third base during the same at-bat in the ninth inning.
Dodgers outfield prospect Logan Landon hit a wind-blown solo home run to right in the fifth inning for the South’s only run. The South managed just four hits, two of them by Langdon.
RAMOS WINS DERBY IN FRONT OF HOME CROWD
Lancaster’s Roberto Ramos beat Rancho Cucamonga’s Rylan Bannon, 11-10, in the final round of the home run derby prior to the all-star game to claim the title of 2018 California League home run derby champion.
Ramos, 23, came from behind after Bannon led off the final round with 10 homers. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound first baseman pounded multiple long shots deep to right and right-center field, including sending one ball about three-quarters up the light tower in right-center. He hit his 11th and winning home run with just over a minute still remaining on the clock.
“Bannon put up a lot of home runs, I was just trying to get to double digits,” said Ramos, who was awarded $250 for winning. “Once I got to it I kind of took some time and picked my pitches better because I was getting tired towards the end. I was able to get that last one in.”
Wyatt Mills Takes His Stuff To A New Level
The Mariners didn't invite the sidearm reliever to the alternate training site, so he spent his summer working on conditioning and pitch command.
Ramos, a native of Hermosillo, Mexico and a 16th-round draft pick out of nearby College of the Canyons JC in 2014, entered the all-star break with a league-leading 17 home runs. While he’s undoubtedly benefitted from playing in Lancaster, he’s also hit .314/.426/.608 on the road.
Ramos and Bannon hit 11 homers each in the first round to advance to the final. Lake Elsinore third baseman and Padres' No. 17 prospect Hudson Potts hit nine homers, San Jose’s Jalen Miller hit eight and Stockton’s Jonah Heim hit five.
NEWS AND NOTES
—Visalia righthander Tommy Eveld never threw a knuckleball as a professional before Tuesday night. He decided the all-star game was the perfect time to bust it out.
Eveld, the D-backs' No. 25 prospect, flummoxed batters with a 64-66 mph knuckleball when he entered in relief, and then sped them up with a 91-95 mph fastball. With such a velocity differential disrupting batters’ timing, Eveld needed just nine pitches to complete a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
“I threw it a little bit in college, I figured the stats don’t count so might as well have a little bit of fun,” Eveld said. “After my first season at South Florida I stopped throwing it. Threw it a couple times tonight to mix it in. Why not?”
Eveld had success with the knuckler, including drawing a big swing-and-miss from Omar Estevez, but said it was purely for entertainment purposes and he had no intention of throwing it again.
“Everyone though it was hilarious,” Eveld said. “I think I threw the first one to Buddy Reed and he stepped out of the box smiling, laughing, asking what it was. Keeps it light. But nah, I’m not going to throw that in the regular season.”
—The top velocities of the night belonged to Lancaster righthander Justin Lawrence and San Jose righthander Logan Webb.
Lawrence, a Rockies relief prospect in the midst of a breakout year, reached 97 mph on his sinker in his inning of work. Webb, a starter in the Giants system, entered in the second inning and repeatedly touched 96 mph, working 94-96 on the whole. Inland Empire righthander Zac Ryan came closest to Lawrence and Webb, touching 95 mph multiple times in the sixth inning.
—Padres' No. 28 prospect Reggie Lawson drew the start for the South and was ruthlessly efficient, throwing 14 of his 17 pitches for strikes. Lawson notably struck out Lewis and White in the first inning but was saddled with the loss after allowing an infield single to Blanco and a two-out RBI single to Heim.