The California League is a circuit known for high-scoring games and wind-blown home runs. But don’t tell that to the members of the Bakersfield Blaze starting rotation.
The Mariners High-A affiliate has had tremendous starting pitching over the first three weeks of the minor league season.
Going into Saturday’s game, Bakersfield’s five-man rotation has posted a 2.21 ERA in 122 innings pitched. In 21 games, the rotation is averaging just under six innings per appearance.
Compare that to Triple-A Tacoma’s starters, who are averaging just over four innings per start.
Andrew Moore, 21, is the most highly-regarded prospect of the bunch after being drafted by Seattle in the second round last year.
He has a 1.52 ERA after five starts, with a 23-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Left-hander Tyler Pike has allowed an opposing batting average of .190 while flashing a 1.90 ERA after four starts.
The Mariners’ third-round pick in 2012 is still young at age 22.
Anthony Misiewicz was the Mariners 18th round selection in 2015 out of Michigan State. He dropped his ERA down to 2.70 by tossing eight shutout innings against Inland Empire on Friday night.
Right-hander Tyler Herb, 24, has made three starts, and has allowed just two earned runs for a 1.00 ERA.
Rounding out the group is left-hander Eddie Campbell, who has the highest ERA at 3.92 — which would be considered very good at the end of a season in the high-scoring California League.
O’Neill Walking More
Much has been made of the new Mariners’ player development department’s added emphasis on players controlling the strike zone.
One key prospect in the organization is 20-year-old, power-hitting outfielder Tyler O’Neill, who opened the season with Double-A Jackson.
O’Neill belted 32 home runs for Bakersfield last season, but the power came with a dreadful strikeout-to-walk ratio: He struck out in 137 of his 407 at-bats, while drawing just 29 walks.
His rates have improved the first three weeks of 2016. In 74 at-bats he has drawn nine walks, striking out 22 times. O’Neill is batting .297 with four home runs, and he has a .369 on-base percentage. Last year he hit .260 with a .316 OBP.
O’Neill was the Mariners third round pick in 2013, out of Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.