Each Monday during the 2013 minor league season, I will again give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The goal is to concentrate only on true prospects (age 26 and under and not on the big league roster), but if any player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. 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.
This past week was once again filled with weather issues for the affiliates, but there was still enough action to pick out six players who's weeks were particularly noteworthy for reasons good or bad. Without further delay, here is a look at those players.
Jabari Henry - OF, Clinton Lumber Kings: .409/.500/.909 (9-22), 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 5 BB, 3 SO
Henry has been the hottest hitter in the entire system for the past few weeks, hovering around .400 for most of the early season, but this past week the right-handed hitter out of Florida International finally turned on the power. The athletic Henry nearly doubled his season total in extra base hits (5 on the week, 11 on the year) and smacked three homers, including two Thursday, to give him four on the year. The 6-foot-1, 200 pound Henry -- one of two Jabari's in pro baseball's history, both currently playing in the Seattle system (Jabari Blash) -- has a great package of speed, defensive ability, plate discipline and power that he really showed in the 2nd half of 2012 in Pulaski.
Henry's plate discipline has seen him hitting leadoff for the LumberKings in 12 of the season's first 24 games, but the bat he has could definitely play in the middle of the order, too. While all four of Henry's homers have come on the road this season, he is hitting .429/.516/.531 on the road. As a seasoned college player, Henry could definitely see a mid-season promotion if his bat keeps producing the way it has been for Clinton.
Carlos Triunfel - SS/2B, Tacoma Rainiers: .375/.423/.625 (9-24), 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, BB, 5 SO
Triunfel has been a little streaky this season already, which is typical for him, and this last week was surely part of a hot streak. The right-handed hitting middle infielder hit for the cycle this week (he did so in one game back on April 17) while turning in two multi-hit, two multi-RBI and two multi-run games for a hot Tacoma team. His 15 extra base hits lead the Rainiers and his 10 doubles are tied for fourth in the PCL.
Starting three times at second base and four at shortstop this past week Triunfel didn't make an error and his fielding continues to improve at both positions. With more than 700 plate appearances in Tacoma now under his belt and a .720 OPS to show for it, the complete package that Triunfel presents as a ballplayer in starting to become more visible on a daily basis. The ceiling isn't as high as was hoped six or so years ago, but he's performing at a prospect-worthy level.
Matt Brazis - RP, High Desert Mavericks: 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, .133 oAVG, 4 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO
Bazis turned in some of the most impressive minor league bullpen numbers in all of baseball last season but got off to somewhat of a slow start this season in High Desert in his High-A debut. But after missing a few weeks early in the season on the DL, the right-hander with a fastball/slider combo now has multiple strikeout performances in four of his seven outings in 2013 for the Mavs. This past week he only pitched twice, but he racked up five punchouts in each outing (games of 2 1/3 and 2 IP).
He still has a 6.52 ERA and 1.55 WHIP on the year for the High-A affiliate and has been getting hit pretty hard by left-handers. A late round draft pick in 2012, Brazis certainly still has areas like those that he can work on to improve his game, but his 16 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings so far in 2013 are proving that his 2012 performance was no fluke.
Anthony Fernandez - SP, Jackson Generals: 0-0, 8.64 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 8 1/3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 HR, 6 BB, 5 SO
Fernandez had his spring cut short by injury and once he was healthy enough to pitch again he returned to Double-A Jackson's rotation, where he posted a fine 3.32 ERA in 13 starts last season. But the early returns for Fernandez haven't been great, and two things that haven't plagued him in the past have bit him already this season: home runs and walks. The home runs are going to happen from time to time, but control/command is the biggest plus that Anthony has to his game, and he needs to get that back on track to be an effective starter.
Although he doesn't have a lot of hype in the prospect world, he's on the 40-man roster and the Mariners clearly like him as a player. But as a guy that excels much more on command than on stuff, throwing strikes and keeping the ball low in the zone to avoid both homers and walks are vital to his present success and his overall future.
Mike Zunino - C, Tacoma Rainiers: .100/.100/.250 (2-20), 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 8 SO
If you ask anyone in the Mariners front office about prospects they will tell you that they would prefer that the players encounter some rough patches along the way before they reach the big leagues. Zunino is certainly doing that. He has 28 RBI in his 22 games for Tacoma and still has a .791 OPS, but that is being held up almost entirely by his slugging percentage (.488). There are strikeout issues (30 in 99 PAs) and he has only two hits in 46 home plate appearances. He only played 15 games above Short Season ball before this season so the talent level of the pitching is certainly a challenge for the right-handed hitting catcher.
But the Mariners wouldn't have given Mike the challenge if they didn't think he could handle it, and while the strikeout numbers are high there is no reason for anyone to panic over Zunino's performance yet. The fact is that he still needs some seasoning in the minor leagues, but despite the struggles he has 12 extra base hits and 10 walks in 22 games and is still definitely on track to be a huge piece of the Mariners future.
Mike McGee - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .063/.167/.063 (1-16), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO
McGee is the lone holdover from the 2012 outfield in High Desert and he got a late start after battling an injury out of spring. He started off decent, but he was abysmal this past week and is now hitting just .136 through his first 32 plate appearances. His OPS (.648) is being almost entirely supported by his nine walks, and as he has been seeing no time in center field this season after seeing only six games there in 2012, his bat simply has to carry more of the load for the 2011 15th rounder.
McGee is an under the radar prospect but he has some talent, including power (17 HR), speed (11 steals) and a patient approach (47 walks) which he all displayed in 2012. A former shortstop, he is very athletic and quick, but again, he needs to tap into the tools more frequently if he is going to be a corner outfielder while he repeats in the hitter-friendly California League.
Some other notes of interest from this past week include Alex Liddi continuing to find success (.910 OPS, 2 HR) despite rarely making contact (10 more Ks in 26 ABs) and lefty Scott DeCecco turning in two quality performances and earning two wins for Clinton (2-0, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP in 14 IP). Liddi is no longer a rookie and DeCecco is a low profile starter, but they are both producing at the minor league level for Seattle in 2013.
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