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.
A couple of new names pop up this week for their first appearance while a couple of the top prospects in the organization continue their seemingly inevitable march towards the major leagues. Check out the details below of this week's Three Up, Three Down.
Stefen Romero - OF, Tacoma Rainiers: .444/.500/.556 (12-27), 3 2B, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SO
Romero has been hitting well for most of the season in his initial taste of Triple-A, but the power that he showed last season in High Desert and Jackson -- and even the year before in Clinton -- hasn't been as apparent in Tacoma. The PCL is a hitter's league and a power league with anISO of .150 and SLG of .422 as a league overall. Romero is showing the average part of the equation, but the three doubles last week were a welcome sign after a 10-game stretch with no extra base hits.
He's still fighting the plate discipline battle more than he has at any other level with a 24.4% K rate, well above his previous high of 15.4% that he hit last year in Double-A. I never thought he was a 25-30 HR bat and that is starting to show itself more now, but as he gets more accustomed to advanced pitching his natural abilities should enable Romero to hit for a high average and show a bit more power.
Brad Miller - SS, Tacoma Rainiers: .357/.424/.679 (10-28), 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO
Like Romero, Miller is striking out more than he has in the past in Triple-A, but unlike Romero, he's also continuing to drive the ball. He led the PCL in RBI last week, hit a moonshot of a homer in the Colorado Springs merry-go-round game and has now been moved from the bottom of the Rainiers' order to the leadoff role because of his quick adjustments to the level.
With Dustin Ackley down in Triple-A and Nick Franklin playing all of his games at the big league level at second base, it is clear that Miller is still the organization favorite as the heir-apparent to Brendan Ryan at shortstop in the future for the Mariners, and his patience, plus offensive profile, improving defense and hustle look like they could be a great fit for Seattle, perhaps as early as late-2013.
Janelfry Zorrilla - OF, Clinton Lumber Kings: .480/.500/.560 (12-25), 2 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 4 SO
Zorrilla played four seasons in the DSL, and as we've discussed before, those guys don't typically turn into prospects. But in seeing Janelfry a number of times in person in Everett last season, it's clear that he has potential in the outfield and at the plate with some nice tools, even though he's still pretty raw and inconsistent. He's been hitting ever since he got to Clinton late this season, and this past week pushed his season numbers up to .307/.333/.467 in a pitching league.
Zorrilla is another player who struggles with plate discipline and he hasn't made huge strides in that so far this season (3.8% BB rate, 21.8% K rate), but his power is still showing up in game action and he's putting better at bats together even when he isn't muscling up. He's average defensively in both arm and range in center and is a rangy athlete with some speed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds. An older 22 (born 9/2/90), Zorrilla needs to show he can continue this stretch in the Midwest League and then improve at the next level, but he is worth watching.
Jamal Austin - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .148/.179/.222 (4-27), 3B, 4 RBI, 6 SO, SB
Austin is a burner who needs to put the ball in play on the ground or on a line to be successful, so High Desert isn't the type of environment that will largely inflate his performance due to the hitting/weather conditions (although he is OPSing about .130 higher at home). He's actually been decent this season, posting similar numbers to what he put up in Clinton last year, but this past week was not his best effort. The strikeouts are just something he can't afford as a low-impact bat with blazing speed.
Austin's plus speed and solid defense in center (albeit with a fringe arm at best) paired with some good plate discipline look like things he can build on, but he has to limit his strikeouts and put the ball in play on the ground as he simply doesn't have even gap power. A lot of that stems from his size (listed at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds), but he also hits more or less flat footed.
Gabriel Guerrero - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .087/.087/.087 (2-23), 3 SO
Two singles is all that the streky Guerrero could muster up over Clinton's six games. That is about as empty of a week as it is possible to put up in pro baseball. Still very young for the Midwest League and showing signs of life at times, plate discipline remains Gaby's biggest detractor as even when he isn't striking out he still is chasing a lot of offerings and putting the ball in play on pitcher's pitches.
He has 14 extra base hits but he hasn't homered still after 51 games and is sporting a slash of just .218/.242/.303 after winning the DSL MVP a season ago with a slash of .355/.409/.605 in 50 games. These are growing pains and there is no reason to get off of Guerrero as a prospect, but it would be nice to see him start to make some more consistent improvements.
Forrest Snow - RP, Tacoma Rainiers: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, .320 oAVG, 6 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO
Snow was perhaps climbing faster than any prospect in the organization not named Taijuan Walker heading into 2012, but Triple-A kind of ate him alive in the early going, and he's been struggling to find it again since. Back in Triple-A again now after 36 games in Jackson the past two seasons, he was hit hard in three outings this past week and it is still the same thing that is plaguing him.
Snow has a solid repertoire of good to above average offerings, including a fastball that can get up to 95 out of the bullpen that has solid sink, but he hasn't been able to locate that pitch -- or any other in his arsenal -- frequently enough to get himself into advantageous counts, often pitching up in the zone and making things easier on the hitter. He's got a great frame for a pitcher and is an easy 70, possible 80 of a person, but the results just haven't been there lately for Forrest.
A lot of prospects in our Top-50 are making noise around the minors for Seattle, so make sure you check in often to see the latest. Draft coverage is going to dominate the next week or so, but Three Up, Three Down will always be here on Mondays. See you next week!
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