Not much new was learned about the Modesto Nuts after a six games series against San Diego Padres Single-A affiliate Lake Elsinore Storm – they’re a team with an electric offense, but inconsistent pitching.
Last week, the Nuts spilt the road series with the Storm, losing 11-7 last Tuesday, 7-1 on Friday and 6-3 on Sunday while pulling out wins on Wednesday 8-1, Thursday by a 5-0 score and on Saturday 8-5.
Whether it was in a winning or losing effort, one of the most consistent bats of the road trip was Josh Hood, the Mariners’ sixth round pick in this past year’s MLB Draft. By series end, the Vineland, New Jersey native and former North Carolina State star racked up eight hits and seven RBI against Storm pitching. He is now slashing .318/ .530/ .882 with 21 hits, four walks, two homers and 15 RBI on the year.
During one of his last batting practices at John Thurman Field in Modesto prior to the road trip, Hood was humble in demeanor when assessing his season thus far, admitting that he has no clue what his statistics are.
“I don’t know, I don’t pay attention to that,” the 6’2” infielder said with a laugh. As he said during preseason media day, he just wants to help his team win.
Hood, who also happens to be the Mariners’ #29 ranked prospect, is just the tip of the iceberg of the 2023 Modesto offense. As a team, the Nuts lead the California League in nearly every single offensive category. They have a combined .272 batting average, .369 OBP, .445 slugging and an .814 OPS.
Unfortunately for first-year manager Zach Vincej and first-year pitching coach Jake Witt, the offense is being relied on a bit too much. Through the first three weeks of season, their 5.11 team ERA is second worst in the California League, only better than the 6.48 ERA of the Stockton Ports. Gutsy performances from Michael “Moose” Morales on Wednesday, Brandon Schaeffer on Thursday and Tyler Cleveland on Saturday may have saved the staff from being in the basement.
Morales, who is the Mariners’ #20 ranked prospect, tossed six scoreless innings, striking out eight and only allowing four hits and one walk in the process. Schaeffer struck out seven while giving up five hits and one walk over seven shutout innings of his own the next day. Cleveland’s three runs surrendered on four hits over his six innings of work were enough for him to earn the win.Speaking of the Ports, they rolled into Modesto on Monday night ahead of a six-game series, which kicked off on Tuesday night. The Oakland Athletics affiliate give the Nuts a prime opportunity to gain ground in the California League standings. The 8-7 Nuts currently sit in second place in the Northern Division behind the 10-5 San Jose Giants while Stockton is experiencing some tough times with a 3-12 record, the worst in all the California League.