Welcome the our Season Recap! Where we highlight players and games month by month throughout the season. You will also be able to click on links where you can listen to player or coach interviews from that season.
Although the Modesto Nuts 2019 playoff push fell short, it gratefully lasted until the final day of the season allowing Nuts Nation to enjoy every moment of an incredibly fascinating summer in the Central Valley.
Listen Here to Manager Denny Hocking Preview the Season
It started at 6:44 p.m. in Lancaster when Ljay Newsome made his second consecutive Opening Day start for the Nuts. After watching Newsome work in the Nuts starting rotation throughout 2018, Newsome jumped on the mound in 2019 looking like a different pitcher. After going through a training regimen with the Mariners under the title Gas Camp, Newsome had added a few ticks of velocity on his fastball. The results were immediate. He struck out nine batters over five innings on Opening Day while the Nuts started the year with a 7-4 win.
On that same day, Nuts Nation was introduced to catcher Cal Raleigh. He was the highest rated prospect on the Opening Day roster and wasted no time foreshadowing the power he'd bring to Modesto until his July call up. In his first at bat in the California League, Raleigh crushed a solo home run. A shot that manager Denny Hocking had called before the game.
In day two of the season, Reggie McClain, another alumni of the Gas Camp, came out spitting fire. After making 50 starts in the league over the previous two years, McClain came in out of the bullpen and was showing a fastball in the mid-90's. This, after he had posted a high-80's heater the previous two season. McClain lasted just six games in the California League with 16 innings pitched, 18 strikeouts and no walks. McClain was promoted to Arkansas (AA) at the end of April. Then Tacoma (AAA) at the end of May. After two strong months with Tacoma, McClain was promoted to Seattle and made his Major League debut on August 2nd.
Game four of the season saw a massive comeback. After Nick Wells had allowed nine runs in the second inning, Cal Raleigh singled home a run in the top of the third inning. From there, the Nuts scored ten unanswered runs. Joe Rizzo's bloop two-run single gave the Nuts the lead in the eighth inning to help them secure a 10-9 victory and a season-opening sweep.
Listen Here to INF Joe Rizzo Recap the First Weekend
From there, the Nuts slipped into their first losing streak. The Nuts lost nine of their next ten games to quickly slip five games back of the Visalia Rawhide by April 17th. Outside of Joe Rizzo, the offense was inconsistent but the pitching staff was flashing some big stuff. Ljay Newsome continued to dominate. The righty matched or exceed his career-high in strikeouts from the previous year in each of his first three outings. In his first ten starts, Newsome posted a 2.01 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 58.1 innings while only walking four. Although the all-star ballots hadn't gone out yet, Newsome had already put up a case to be the North Division's starter.
Listen Here to RHP Ljay Newsome Discuss His Experience in the Gas Camp
Meanwhile, the bullpen put up a 2.75 ERA in the season's first month. As a group, they were striking out almost 12 batters per nine innings. Sam Delaplane alone was striking out two batters per inning out of the Nuts' bullpen with a fastball/slider combo that befuddled California League hitters.
Listen Here to RHP Sam Delaplane Discuss His Hot Start
On the offensive end, two more familiar names were jumping off the page. Luis Liberato was leading the league in home runs by the end of April with seven. Joe Rizzo collected 27 hits and batted .300, the start of a remarkably consistent season in which his batting average would never drop below .280 and he would finish with the most hits in the Mariners' minor league system. Meanwhile Cal Raleigh's power was evident with four home runs in April but it was an overall slow start at the plate. Not to worry, things would heat up with the weather and his soul would be freed.
By the end of April, the Nuts were six games back of the Visalia Rawhide due in no small part to the 14-game winning streak the Rawhide put together. Visalia would go on to with the first half by 12.0 games.
On the mound, the Nuts were already trying to break the 49-year-old California League record for strikeouts. The 1970 Bakersfield Dodgers had set the mark with 1,423 strikeouts. Through April, they had recorded 312 strikeouts.
As the calendar flipped to May, Joe Rizzo hit one of his hottest stretches of the season. In the first four games of May, Rizzo collected eleven hits with a .688 batting average. Over the first 19 games of May, Rizzo was batting .367 with a slugging percentage of .544. The 21 year-old had made an adjustment in his posture during the offseason. By hinging at his hips and leading forward to the plate a bit, Rizzo found something that unlocked his elite hit tool and he just kept on clubbing hits all season long.
Nuts fans also began to see some tweaks to the roster at the beginning of May. At the end of April, Nick Wells was hit in the wrist by a comeback line drive. It broke his wrist and put him on the shelf for the foreseeable future. That opened the door for RHP Logan Gilbert to join the club. Gilbert was the first round pick of the Mariners in 2018 but because of mono and a toe issue, he did not pitch after the draft. Gilbert, a very advanced college arm, chewed up the South Atlantic League to start the season. The righty posted a 1.59 ERA with 36 strikeouts in just 22.2 innings before his promotion from the West Virginia Power.
The Logan Gilbert era in the California League was a memorable one but it had a forgettable start. Gilbert had a fine debut before twisting his ankle in agility drills before his second start. As a result he had to be skipped a turn in the rotation and he did not get on the mound to make his second Cal League start until May 14th. It was his third start that Nuts fans were truly able to see why the Mariners made him their first pick. While down in Rancho Cucamonga against the Dodgers affiliate, Gilbert secured the rubber game of a three-game set with what turned out to be his best start in a Nuts uniform. The righty surrendered a single to lead off the second inning. That was all until the seventh when he worked around an error and an infield hit. Gilbert struck out a career-high 11 without walking a batter in his seven innings of work.
Meanwhile, Newsome was continuing to roll despite one early May hiccup. On May 22nd, Newsome earned his fifth win by retiring the first seven he faced. While working into the seventh inning, Newsome recorded ten strikeouts, one of four games throughout the year in which Newsome recorded double-digit strikeouts.
On May 25th, there was what turned out to be a massive shift in the Nuts' rotation. RHP Penn Murfee moved into the rotation. LHP Ray Kerr moved into the bullpen and the results were immediate. Murfee allowed just one unearned run in his first start as a full-time member of the rotation. With Kerr coming out of the bullpen that day, he threw five shutout innings.
Listen Here to RHP Penn Murfee Discuss His Move to the Rotation
Penn Murfee at this point in his career was a very young pitcher. He had begun his career as an infielder at Vanderbilt University. He moved to the mound in the second half of his redshirt JR year before transferring to Santa Clara University. He threw well enough to be selected in the 33rd round in 2018. So to just be in the California League rather than at a lower level on the MiLB ladder was an accomplishment in and of itself. But Murfee was not satisfied with just that. Including a spot appearance at Arkansas (AA), Murfee went 20.1 innings without allowing a run in the month of May.
Meanwhile Ray Kerr took to the bullpen and found his true calling. More on that in July.
On the offensive side of the ball, Luis Liberato had cooled off a bit from his torrid start but still did enough to earn a long awaited promotion to Arkansas (AA). The outfielder played his final game in a Nuts uniform on May 24th. The 23-year-old helped the Nuts win the 2017 California League title before returning to the league in 2018. Over the course of his three seasons in the league, Liberato played in 199 games with the Nuts. The lefty recorded 26 home runs, 101 RBI and a .430 slugging percentage.
Meanwhile, Joe Rizzo was as steady as a pontoon boat during a calm day on the lake. He recorded another 34 hits including his first two home runs of the season and a .298 average in May.
Cal Raleigh was still puttering along at the plate. Nuts Nation saw glimpses of his potential. He led the club with ten doubles in the month of May and was doing great work on the defensive end. Still, he posted just a .237 average and a .728 OPS in May. The best was yet to come.
Listen Here to C Cal Raleigh Discuss His Start
As the season approached its third month, another big name joined the club. Already there was Joe Rizzo, the 2nd round pick by the Mariners in 2016. There was Cal Raleigh, the 3rd round pick by the Mariners in 2018. There was Logan Gilbert, the 1st round pick by the Mariners in 2018.
Then came Jarred Kelenic. He was the New York Mets' 6th overall pick of the 2018 draft. The teenager from Wisconsin joined the Mariners organization during the off season. He was one of the keystone pieces in the deal that send Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to the Mets. After 50 games in West Virginia (Lo-A), Kelenic had clubbed 11 home runs and posted a .309 average. On May 30th Kelenic, like Raleigh before him, started his Cal League career with a bang. In the fifth inning against the Visalia Rawhide, Kelenic launched a home run in his debut. He would punch out two long balls in his first four games.
At the end of May, the Nuts' pitching staff had collected a total of 618 strikeouts in their hunt to break the 1970 Bakersfield Dodgers mark of 1,423.
As the calendar flipped to June, the Nuts were firmly out of the first half playoff race but they were still going to be well represented in the coming all-star game. Nine members of the Nuts were named to the California League's North Division All-Star team including hitting coach Jose Umbria who was named the manager of the team. In addition to Umbria, RHP Sam Delaplane, RHP Joey Gerber, RHP Ljay Newsome, RHP Kyle Wilcox, C Cal Raleigh, INF Joe Rizzo, INF Connor Kopach and OF Luis Liberato were all named to the North Division All-Star team.
Listen Here to Learn More about the Nuts Bullpen
On June 2nd, LHP Ian McKinney tossed six shutout innings against the Rawhide. It was a breakout performance for the lefty and kicked off a stretch of 14 starts that were good enough to earn him California League Pitcher of the Year honors. Up until the June 2nd start, McKinney had posted a 4.68 ERA. In May, he had issued more walks than strikeouts.
On June 4th, another new name joined the Nuts. INF Jake Scheiner was traded from the Philadelphia Phillies to the Mariners for Jay Bruce. Scheiner joined the Nuts in San Jose, not far from his hometown of Santa Rosa. Although his debut was a 0-for-4 performance, he had some big stretches in front of him as the season progressed.
Listen Here to INF Jake Scheiner Discuss His Trade from the Phillies
Also on the 4th, Sam Delaplane was promoted to Arkansas (AA). After striking out almost two batters per inning in the Cal League, Delaplane would head up to Arkansas (AA) where he continued his dominance. The righty allowed just two earned runs over 37 innings in the Texas League through the end of the season.
Listen Here to RHP Collin Kober Discuss the Inner Workings of the Nuts Bullpen
Jarred Kelenic had gotten off to a terrific start in the California League. He started 9-for-21 but was injured (wrist) on June 6th when he slid into second on a stolen base. Kelenic would miss the next two weeks before returning to the lineup to begin the second half of the season.
On June 11th the Nuts received a right-handed pitcher who turned out to be one of their top performers down the stretch. Nick Duron was signed out of Independent Baseball. Duron had been released at the end of spring training by the Red Sox. After a long and arduous tryout process, Duron joined the Southern Illinois Miners in the Frontier League. The Salinas, CA native dominated the Frontier League before he was signed by the Mariners. Duron would stay with the Nuts for the rest of the season. He posted a 2.23 ERA with 51 strikeouts in just 36.1 innings.
Listen Here to RHP Nick Duron Discuss His Journey to the Mariners
The first half came to a close with a thud when the Nuts lost to the Ports 10-2. However, the Ports had their top two pitching prospects on the hill on rehab. A.J. Puk and Jesus Lazardo both threw for the Ports and both were touched up for home runs. Cal Raleigh homered in the first inning against Puk to finish his first half with eight long balls. Connor Kopach also homered against Luzardo in the fifth inning. Both Puk and Lazardo reached the big leagues by September and played a major role in the Athletics' playoff push.
In the All-Star game, Jose Umbria's North Division All-Stars defeated the South Division All-Stars 7-1. Newsome made the start and tossed a scoreless inning. The three Nuts pitchers in the game combined to throw three scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
The second half of the season started for the Nuts in Visalia on June 20th. It was a part of a stretch of 21 games in which the Nuts and Rawhide played 13 times. After falling well short of a first half playoff spot, the Nuts were hoping to get off on the right foot to begin the second half. In the first game of the Rawhide series, Visalia broke a pitchers' duel with a walk-off tenth-inning single. Game two brought more heartbreak. Cal Raleigh homered in the seventh and drove in two late runs to help the Nuts bounce back from a three-run deficit. It sent the game into the ninth tied until Jorge Perez delivered a second straight walk-off single for the Rawhide. Game three provided even more heartbreak for the Nuts when Renae Martinez clubbed a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning to send the Nuts to their third straight one-run loss.
On the first Sunday of the second half, the Nuts were trying to avoid a painful sweep. Entering the ninth, the Nuts were trailing by two. After Jarred Kelenic took a bases-loaded walk to make it a one-run game, Cal Raleigh blasted a grand slam to help spark a seven-run ninth giving the Nuts the victory. It looked at the time as if that may be a major jumping off point for the squad. It certainly became a jumping off point for Raleigh who ripped two home runs in that second-half opening series.
The Nuts won the following night but stumbled on June 25th. Before the game, they lost another ace out of the bullpen when Joey Gerber was promoted to Arkansas (AA). The All-Star struck out almost 14 batters per nine innings pitched before the promotion. The University of Illinois alum continued a strong first full pro season with the Travelers by posting a 1.59 ERA in the Texas League through the end of the season.
Listen Here to RHP Joey Gerber Discuss His Promotion
Penn Murfee, up until his start on the 25th of June, had made seven starts as a pro, all with the Nuts. In those first seven starts, Murfee posted a 0.91 ERA over 29.2 innings while racking up 31 strikeouts. He would end up leading the Nuts' pitching staff in strikeouts during the month of June. However, on the 25th of June, Murfee was touched up for five runs on eight hits in an 8-4 loss.
The next day, Cal Raleigh homered twice, once from each side of the plate, as he began to heat up. At this point, Raleigh had launched five home runs in his previous seven games. It was his second multi-homer game of the season but it was not enough. The Nuts fell in walk-off fashion in the final game of the second-half opening road trip. It was their fourth one-run loss during a 2-5 start to the second half.
When the Nuts returned home, they got a terrific start from Ian McKinney. We mentioned that McKinney had started to turn things around at the beginning of the month but he took another big step on June 27th. It was the first time McKinney was pitching from the first base side of the rubber. It was a move that made his pitches jump and created more ride on his fastball. After making that move on the rubber under the watchful eye of pitching coach Rob Marcello, McKinney posted a 1.52 ERA over his final ten starts of the season while racking up 85 strikeouts over 65.1 innings with a .149 BAA.
Listen Here to LHP Ian McKinney Discuss His Adjustments
Read about LHP Ian McKinney and Rob Marcello Discuss McKinney's Process
Cal homered again that day giving him three home runs over the previous two games and six home runs in his previous eight games. The Nuts would split that first series at home to put them at 4-7 through the first 11 games of the second half.
As June ended, Raleigh was heating up but he still had not reached his hottest stretch of the season. Rizzo once again led the Nuts in hits during the month of June while batting .295. Scott Boches and Nick Duron had the best month out of the Nuts' bullpen. They each allowed just two earned runs.
Despite some of the Nuts' roster heating up, they still posted just a 10-16 record in June and they sat three games back of a playoff spot.
At the end of June, the Nuts' pitching staff had collected a total of 863 strikeouts in their hunt to break the 1970 Bakersfield Dodgers mark of 1,423.
The calendar then flipped to July. It would be the Nuts' only winning month. They started the month with another one-run loss which was an issue for the Nuts all season. Despite winning four-straight one-run games at the end of the season, the Nuts finished 13-19 in one-run decisions. In games decided by two runs or fewer, the Nuts went 22-39 over the course of the year.
On July 2nd, the Nuts put up a clean 7-0 victory over the Giants. Ian McKinney, continuing his march to the pitcher of the year honor, struck out 13 batters over seven shutout innings. That began an historic stretch by the Nuts rotation. That win was bolstered by back-to-back home runs from Jarred Kelenic and Keegan McGovern. It was in a July 3rd interview with McGovern that Nuts fans learned of the Beef Boys Parody Anthem. Apparently, McGovern and Raleigh had nicknamed themselves the Beef Boys during spring training and had come up with a parody anthem for their group. On the third of July, Raleigh homered again giving him six long balls in his previous 12 games. Ljay Newsome heaved six scoreless innings to put back-to-back scoreless starts up for the Nuts.
Listen Here to OF Keegan McGovern Discuss the Beef Boys Nickname
Heading into the July 4th game in Stockton, Cal and Keegan revealed that the song they parodied was "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray. The chorus to that parody anthem was only to be released if one of those two guys launched a home run that night. In the third inning, Raleigh went deep again, giving Nuts Nation the chorus to the Beef Boys Parody Anthem.
"Give me the Beef Boys and free my soul. I want to get lost in your casserole and drift away."
Read about C Cal Raleigh's Adjustments and to Hear the Beef Boy's Parody Anthem
It was a perfect night to debut the lyrics as the Nuts smashed a season-high six home runs on their way to a 9-0 victory. Joe Rizzo clubbed a pair of home runs. So did Jake Scheiner, who would go on to post a team best .287 average in July while slugging .479. It would be a stellar July for Scheiner with more to come.
In that July 4th game, Logan Gilbert recorded five shutout innings with seven strikeouts. It was the third straight scoreless start posted by the Nuts and their third straight shutout. The three straight shutouts tied a league record that was last done by the 2009 San Jose Giants. The Nuts were also chasing the longest scoreless streak in league history. In 1984, the Redwood Pioneers hung 36 consecutive scoreless frames. Heading into the July 5th game in Stockton, the Nuts' staff had worked 28 consecutive scoreless innings.
Penn Murfee had the start on July 5th. The righty, after the dominant start to his career as a starter had been struggling. Murfee had allowed nine runs in nine innings over his previous two starts. On July 5th, Murfee returned to form with a career-high nine strikeouts over six scoreless innings. It was the fourth consecutive scoreless start by the Nuts' rotation. On the offensive end, Jarred Kelenic helped carry the offense during a 7-3 win when he homered and doubled home a run. Kelenic was removed from the game heading into the seventh inning so he could go to the airport and catch a red-eye flight to Cleveland for the Futures Game.
The Nuts scoreless streak came to an end in the seventh inning thanks to a Ryan Gridley RBI single. It ended the Nuts' scoreless streak at 34 innings, just two shy of the league mark. The Nuts would go on to win the game 7-3 giving them a four-game winning streak.
With Austin Hutchison on the mound for July 6th, the Nuts had a chance to become the first California League team to post a scoreless turn through their rotation. Hutchison battled through six scoreless innings working around five hits and three walks. The Nuts' righty stranded seven baserunners and got help from one double play.
Meanwhile, Cal Raleigh continued heating up with two more home runs, or Beef Boy Bombs, as they had become known in the 6-3 win. It secured the Nuts' first five-game winning streak of the season and it put the Nuts over .500 in the second half for the first time.
The next night, on July 7th, Ian McKinney posted another six consecutive scoreless innings while striking out nine. All told, the Nuts' rotation posted six consecutive scoreless starts lasting 40 innings. The Nuts would have their five-game winning streak snapped again by a walk-off RBI single.
It came out shortly after this run that a big reason for the starting pitchers' success was The Truth Meeting. Just before the historic run by the starters, Logan Gilbert and Cal Raleigh had an intense encounter in the clubhouse about pitch calling and strategy. In a meeting that lasted into the early morning hours, Gilbert helped Raleigh understand the importance of a pitcher's confidence when deciding which pitch to throw. At times, the scouting report may say it's necessary to throw a certain pitch, but the pitcher may not have as much confidence in that pitch and want to go in a different direction. As Raleigh took a more personalized approach in his game planning, the starting rotation took off.
On Monday, July 8th, the Nuts continued their winning ways and Cal Raleigh continued his hot hitting. The switch-hitting catcher clubbed another two-run homer in a 7-3 win. It was his tenth home run in his previous 17 games. On the hill, Ljay Newsome made the start. He surrendered two singles and a three-run homer to the first three batters in the first inning ending the 40-inning scoreless streak posted by the Nuts' starters. After that, Newsome retired 27 of the next 28 batters he faced on the way to the Nuts' first complete game since 2017.
Two nights later, Cal Raleigh homered two more times. It was his fourth multi-homer game of the season and it gave him 20 on the year. It was the first 20 home run season by a member of the Nuts since 2013.
At this point, the Nuts were in the midst of their hottest stretch of the season. On July 10th, Penn Murfee heaved seven innings and allowed two runs. It gave the Nuts their eighth win over the previous nine games and it vaulted them into first place in the second half North Division race.
This is when the Mariners Executive Vice President and General Manager Jerry Dipoto came to town to see the club. Logan Gilbert was pushed back two days to throw in front of Dipoto and he did not disappoint. In what turned out to be his final start in a Nuts uniform, Gilbert did not give up a hit in the sixth inning. The Nuts' righty lasted seven innings and 98 pitches while giving up just one unearned run.
Listen Here to VP/GM Jerry Dipoto Join the Nuts Radio Broadcast
On the 13th of July, Ian McKinney again shined. He pushed his own scoreless streak over 20 innings while flirting with a no hitter. McKinney struck out ten batters in a 7-0 win. The only hit he allowed was a two-out single in the seventh. And at the plate, Raleigh launched another Beef Boy Bomb for his league-best 21st home run.
On July 14th, Raleigh homered for the 15th time in his previous 24 games in a ballgame the Nuts lost by just two runs, again.
Listen Here to Mariners Field Coordinator Carson Vitale Discuss the Top Prospects Playing for the Nuts
In the most major shift to the Nuts roster during the 2019 season, the Mariners promoted RHP Logan Gilbert, RHP Ljay Newsome and C Cal Raleigh to Arkansas (AA) on July 15th. Gilbert made 12 starts for Modesto and posted a 1.73 ERA with 73 K and 12 BB in 62.1 IP. Ljay Newsome left the California League after making 44 starts for the Nuts during 2018 and 2019. Over his two seasons in the Central Valley, Newsome went 12-16 with a 4.40 ERA. Newsome was the Nuts' opening day starter in 2018 and 2019 as well as the starter for the North Division in the 2019 California League All-Star game. Newsome left Modesto as the MiLB leader in strikeouts (134) and would be named to the California Leagues Postseason All-Star team. Raleigh finished his Nuts career with a league-leading 22 home runs, the most home runs by a member of the Nuts since 2013. He was named the Player of the Week for the last three weeks of his time in the league. His numbers in his last 24 games from 6/16 to 7/15 were….
24 G 101 PA 22 R 30 H 2 2B 15 HR 32 RBI 14 BB 16 K .345/.426/.885.
The Nuts continued to lose key pieces when during the game on the 15th, Jarred Kelenic rolled his ankle at second base after a RBI double. The Nuts would miss Kelenic for a week as they went 2-4 on the ensuing six-game road trip. On top of that, Louis Boyd, who had been serving as the Nuts' fourth coach, was asked to leave the team and join the Everett Aquasox (ss-A) as their manager.
Listen Here to Manager Denny Hocking Discuss Louis Boyd's Departure
So in the span of two days, the Nuts lost their top two starters and catcher to promotions. They lost a star outfielder to an ankle injury. And they lost a respected coach because of a situation with the manager in Everett.
Listen Here to Video Coordinator Marc Roche Discuss Louis Boyd's Move to Manager
The Nuts returned home for their final homestand in July and got two premier starts. LHP Steve Moyers, who had replaced Gilbert in the rotation, hung eight innings of one-run baseball while striking out 11. The Nuts won their second straight game on July 24th when McKinney put up another eight strikeouts over six strong frames. Kelenic, who was just back off the ankle injury, recorded three doubles as he started to heat up with the Nuts hovering around the .500 mark.
On July 25th, a milestone was hit. After the early season talk of the Gas Camp, there was a lot of confidence in the Nuts clubhouse that someone on the staff was going to hit 100 MPH. LHP Ray Kerr became the first Nuts' pitcher to hit 100 MPH on a heater to Jameson Hannah of the Stockton Ports. It came in the midst of a dominant stretch by the lefty. Kerr, an undrafted free agent, went 17 appearances from June 27th to August 20th with just one earned run allowed over 27.1 innings. He had 36 strikeouts and a .147 BAA.
Listen Here to LHP Ray Ker Discuss His Journey to the Mariners
Listen Here to Performance Coach Mikey Sadler Discuss Kerr Hitting 100 MPH
Listen Here to a Group Interview Discussing the Moment Kerr Hit 100 MPH for the First Time
Overall, the Nuts continued to struggle. After the July 15th promotions, the Nuts went 4-9 over their next 13 games.
On July 30th, the Nuts were again able to right the ship thanks to McKinney who had become the ace of the Nuts' staff. McKinney was perfect against the Ports through 5.1 innings before surrendering a solo home run in the sixth. That was the only run allowed by McKinney in a nine-inning complete game. McKinney allowed just two singles with no walks as he struck out 12 batters on 105 pitches. It was the Nuts' second complete game of the season.
Listen Here to Mariners Pitching Coordinator Max Weiner Discuss Workload Management
On the offensive end, Kelenic, healthy again caught fire. His base hit in the 5-1 win on July 30th began a nine-game hitting streak for the teenager that carried over into August.
At the end of July, the Nuts' pitching staff had collected a total of 1,188 strikeouts in their hunt to break the 1970 Bakersfield Dodgers mark of 1,423.
As the calendar flipped to August, the Nuts sat three-games back of a playoff spot. On August 1st, the Nuts won 8-3 against the Ports thanks in part to a two-hit day from both Jarred Kelenic and Joe Rizzo.
The Nuts continued to beat up on the Ports in the second half. They went 11-1 against Stockton after the all-star break, including 6-0 on the road.
On August 2nd, the Nuts got three hits and a homer from Jake Scheiner who would put up his best month of the season to close 2019. Scheiner would finish his August with nine home runs, 29 RBI and a .557 slugging percentage. Jack Larsen doubled and homered that night as well on the way to a .299 average in August with ten doubles.
Listen Here to OF Jack Larsen Discuss His Adjustments in August
Despite the strong offensive effort, the Nuts lost another one-run game in walk-off fashion. Matt Hearn of the Lancaster JetHawks completed a four-run comeback by the JetHawks in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run single.
On August 6th, the Nuts received some more help in the form of Jose Caballero. The infielder was the return from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a trade for RHP Mike Leake. Caballero had started the season with the Rawhide but a hand injury had kept him sidelined from mid-May until the first week of August when he made his Nuts debut.
On August 8th, in a lopsided win against the Inland Empire 66ers, Kelenic had three more hits including a home run. At that point, Kelenic had recorded a hit in each of his previous nine games. He had recorded six multi-hit games in that span while batting .447 (17-for-38). On August 9th, Kelenic was pulled after three innings in San Jose to be promoted to Arkansas (AA).
On August 16th, the Nuts sat two games back of a playoff spot when another major Mariners prospect joined the final push for the playoffs. 18-year-old Julio Rodriguez was promoted from West Virginia (A).
Listen Here to Mariners Hitting Coordinator Hugh Quattlebaum Discuss Julio Rodriguez
Rodriguez, known as the JRod Show, began his California League career with a bang. In a lopsided win against the JetHawks, Rodriguez went 4-for-5 with a grand slam. The next night, Rodriguez was plunked in the elbow forcing him to leave the game. Luckily for Rodriguez and the Nuts, he missed just one game as a result of the hit by pitch.
Listen Here to OF Julio Rodriguez Discuss His Big Debut
Following the final off day of the season on August 19th, the Nuts went into the final two weeks of the year sitting 1.5 games back of the final playoff spot. The Nuts won two straight games before a ninth-inning single broke a late tie sending the Nuts to another two-run loss.
On August 21st, LHP Ian McKinney was promoted to Arkansas (AA), taking the Nuts top arm out of the rotation for the final playoff stretch.
Their final road trip of the year took them to Visalia for a pivotal four-game set. RHP Devin Sweet replaced McKinney in the rotation and threw quite well in the series-opener against the Rawhide but an eighth-inning collapse by the bullpen sent the Nuts to a 6-1 loss.
On August 24th, the Nuts got back in the win column thanks to a five-hit day from Joe Rizzo, a six-RBI night from Jake Scheiner and a three-hit day from Julio Rodriguez. The Nuts won their second straight game of the series with four home runs and a nine-strikeout performance from Austin Hutchison.
Listen Here to INF Joe Rizzo Discuss His All-Star Season
On August 26th, the Nuts went into their final road game sitting just a 0.5 game back of the Giants for the final playoff spot. Things looked good early for the Nuts as they opened a two-run lead. That was erased on a two-run homer in the seventh. The Nuts squandered a chance to grab the final playoff spot when they gave up a walk-off RBI single. The Nuts suffered ten walk-off losses over the course of the season.
On August 28th, Devin Sweet struck out Nico Giarratano in the second inning for the Nuts 1,424th strikeout of the season, surpassing the 1970 Bakersfield Dodgers' California League strikeout record.
Listen Here to Three Nuts Pitchers Discuss the Record
Heading into the final homestand of the season, the California League's postseason awards were announced. LHP Ian McKinney earned California League Pitcher of the Year honors. C Cal Raleigh was named the Rookie of the Year. RHP Ljay Newsome was named a postseason all-star as well.
To open their penultimate series of the season, the Nuts did something they hadn't done since late May. They won in walk-off fashion on Jake Scheiner's RBI double. The next night, the Nuts secured their second straight win when Julio Rodriguez recorded five hits and four RBI. In his first 12 California League games, Rodriguez was batting .587 (27x46) with nine extra-base hits, 15 RBI and nine runs scored.
Watch Here to OF Julio Rodriguez Breakdown His 5-for-5 Day
Their third straight win on the homestand was a victory behind Jack Larsen's walk-off double. The Nuts opened their final series of the year, a four-game set with the Rawhide, with a loss to keep them 1.5 games back of the final playoff spot heading into the August 31st match up with the Rawhide.
After Steve Moyers posted an eight-inning, two-run performance, the Nuts and Rawhide went to extras. In the tenth, Joseph Rosa bunted Connor Kopach to third as the winning run. On the second pitch of Jose Caballero's at-bat, he executed a perfect suicide squeeze to win in walk-off fashion keeping the Nuts' playoff hopes alive.
Sitting a 0.5 game back of the Giants with two games to go, the Nuts eked out another one-run victory thanks to three RBIs from Scheiner, four more hits from Rizzo and a home run by Rodriguez.
Rizzo finished August with 34 hits and a .327 average in his best month of the year.
Listen Here to Hitting Coach Jose Umbria Discuss Rizzo's All-Star Season
This sent the Nuts into game 140 sitting a 0.5 game back of the Giants for the final playoff spot. That means the Nuts needed a win and a Giants loss to get to the postseason. The Nuts fell behind on a fourth-inning home run to the Rawhide before coming back to take the lead on a Rodriguez double. The Rawhide tied the game with a RBI single in the sixth before Jorge Perez's pinch-hit two-run double put the Rawhide in front. In the seventh inning of the Nuts' game, the Giants game went final. With the San Jose victory over Stockton, the Nuts were eliminated from postseason play.
Overall, the Nuts finished the season with 65-75 record overall and 1.5 games back of a playoff spot. 65 different players got into a game for the Nuts. There were over 130 transactions throughout the season. The top three prospects in the organization according to MLB.com played with the Nuts. Overall seven of the top 30 spent significant time with Modesto.
A number of Nuts received post season honors from the Mariners. Pitching Coach Rob Marcello received the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award. OF Jarred Kelenic received the Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year. RHP Logan Gilbert received the Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year. INF Joe Rizzo received the Alvin Davis "Mr. Mariner" Award. RHP Penn Murfee received the "60 ft. 6 in. Club" Award.
Click HERE to listen to all the interviews from the 2019 season