Zach DeLoach admitted he wasn't sure what was going down when his hitting coach at High-A Everett called him in for a postgame meeting Sunday.
But by the time they'd moved from the office to the conference room and Louis Boyd walked in behind DeLoach, the Mariners' No. 11 prospect figured what was coming next.
Just about 48 hours later, DeLoach made his Travelers debut.
"I was pretty filled with emotion," DeLoach said of the promotion. "I'm thankful that the Mariners were able to see something in me to give me another challenge."
Batting third and playing right field, the 2020 second-round selection got his first taste of Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock on Tuesday night as the Travs dropped their series opener against the Wichita Wind Surge 4-1. Arkansas brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning in Austin Shenton, but a 390-foot-plus flyout to straightaway center field was hauled in for the final out.
Through Tuesday, the Travs were tied the lowest team batting average in the Class AA-Central at .227 and rank eighth of 10 teams in OPS at .707.
While that will certainly be helped with the return of top prospect Julio Rodriguez, who is currently in Tokyo representing the Dominican Republic in the Olympics, DeLoach should give the Travs another offensive lift. In 58 games with the AquaSox, the left-handed-hitting outfielder batted .310 -- good for second-best in the High-A West -- with 9 home runs, 37 RBI and a .930 OPS.
DeLoach acknowledged that he knows the pitching is going to take a step up at the Double-A level, and he certainly got a taste of that against the Wind Surge. Twins No. 2 prospect Jordan Balazovic started and threw seven shutout frames, striking out six and lowering his ERA to 2.44.
An eighth-inning walk salvaged an otherwise rough night for DeLoach -- he went 0-for-3 with a pair of pop-outs and a ground out to short.
"It's just about continuing to improve as a player," DeLoach said. "Playing throughout the whole season, I've been sticking with what I've been doing. ... As far as continuing to get one percent better each day, that's what I'm going to continue to do."
The Mariners already have plenty of outfield talent at the big-league level with Jarred Kelenic, Mitch Haniger and Jake Fraley on top of a future star in Rodriguez. But DeLoach is looking more and more like someone who could soon join that group.
When Rodriguez returns, DeLoach will likely shift over to left field, which could settle some positional issues for the Travs. Jake Scheiner, who typically splits his time between the corner infield spots and designated hitter, played shortstop Tuesday night.
Regardless, it's yet another opportunity for DeLoach. He got to show off for the big-league club during summer camp and at the alternate site last year before going to the developmental league in Arizona.
Now, he'll get to keep building on the growth -- and boost his new team in the process.
"I've just got to embrace the challenge," DeLoach said.