Each Monday during the minor league season, I will give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The focus will be to concentrate only on true prospects, but if any player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. This isn't a "stock going up" or "stock going down" on the player, just simply a recap of their week.
The goal is to not only keep you up to date on the goings on, but to try and give you a better look of what talent is in the system by spreading the coverage around.
Here now is the abbreviated week one look at the hot and not so hot.
Brad Miller - High Desert Mavericks: .500/.571/.1500 (9-18), 2 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBI
Yes it is the California League, and yes it is High Desert, but after four games Miller is leading the minor leagues in home runs (4), RBI (11) and total bases (27). The Mavericks have a 1.169 OPS and 31 extra base hits as a team and the club boasts the top five players in OPS in the Cal League, but Miller himself is leading the league in runs (9), hits (9), triples (2), home runs, RBI (where he is the only player in minor league baseball in double figures), SLG (1.500) and OPS (2.071). Not one to discriminate against any one category on the stat sheet, he's also drawn three walks.
While this type of outburst wasn't exactly expected of Miller, let's not forget that he hit .415/.458/.528 in 14 games with Clinton last year after signing at the deadline. He's shown his bat plays as a pro. Now he just needs to work on cleaning up his defense (he's made three errors in 26 chances in the first four games).
James Paxton - Jackson Generals: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.35 WHIP, 5 2/3 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 10 Ks
Paxton was dominant to end the 2011 season in Double-A, and he didn't skip a beat in his 2012 debut. He needed just 84 pitches in racking up 10 strikeouts against the 19 batters he faced. His fastball/curveball combo has been deadly enough, but he put in a lot of work on his change-up over the off-season, and that pitch is making him more dangerous.
Paxton's next start (on MiLB.TV) is slated for Wednesday morning against the Tennessee Smokies, the Southern League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, who have struck out 35 times in their first four games. Get a good look at him now if you can, because Paxton doesn't figure to be in Double-A for long.
John Hicks - High Desert Mavericks: .500/.611/.857 (7-14), 5 2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB
Splitting his time between catching and being the DH, Hicks is one of four Mavericks players hitting .500 or above. He's reached base in all four games, doubled twice in the first two games of the year, drew a walk in each of the first three games and has at least one RBI in three games.
After a slow start last season in Clinton he came on strong at the plate, ending with a .309/.331/.446 slash in 38 games (all at catcher) in his debut. I ranked him as the No. 3 prospect on the catching depth chart last month, and his hot start is backing that up.
Vinnie Catricala - Tacoma Rainiers: .133/.125/.200 (2-15), 2B, 2 RBI, 4 Ks
Following a spring during which he was hitting lasers all over the park -- both at the big league level and in minor league camp -- Catricala's slow start in his debut at Triple-A is a bit of a surprise. Especially when you consider how well he handled the jump from High Desert to Jackson -- jumping to Double-A is widely regarded as the hardest advance in minor league ball -- just last year.
He garnered the hat trick Friday night before coming up with a big RBI double in the Rainiers' comeback win that night, but he's had a couple of bad at-bats, including an 'excuse-me' tapper back to the mound. On the bright side he has handled 11 chances in the field at third base flawlessly, and while he hasn't shown great range, he goes have good hands and his arm looks better than advertised.
Carlos Triunfel - Tacoma Rainiers: .125/.125/.188 (2-16), 2B, RBI, 6 Ks
Triunfel had a hot end to Spring Training, too, going 7-12 with all extra base hits in the final three minor league camp games as I covered in last week's Three Up, Three Down, but he's been flailing and failing since he got to Tacoma. The six strikeouts are especially bad for Triunfel, who's always been good at putting the bat on the ball. He struck out a career high 88 times last season (including 17 in 111 at-bats in Tacoma) which isn't great, but this early pace is just ugly.
He's hitting in the 2-hole right now which may be putting some pressure on him, but the hits will come. And he, too, has played well in the field to this point as he's been in on a number of double play turns early.
Forrest Snow - Tacoma Rainiers: 0-1, 7.20 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 5 BB, 2 HR allowed
A clean sweep for the Rainiers in the disappointment department this week as Snow grabs the third spot here. He, of course, pitched great late last season, especially in the AFL, with a lot of his success coming because of his command. That command escaped him in his 2012 debut on Sunday as he allowed five walks in 5 innings. To be fair to Forrest, four of the five free passes were issued to Mike Trout and Ryan Langerhans, who are two of the most patient bats you'll find in the PCL this season.
But he also allowed back-to-back home runs in the 3rd inning and dug the Rainiers into a 4-0 hole that they couldn't climb out of, and frankly his defense helped him out or it could have been worse. Not the best way to kick off the season, but Snow is strong mentally and will bounce back.