Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

Recapping a somewhat abbreviated week around Seattle's minor league system with one huge highlight of note and some other noteworthy performances.

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.

The All-Star break in the PCL and Southern League trim down our options this week, but there were still a few easy picks to fill out our six prospects to highlight this week.

Without further delay -- Three Up, Three Down.


Victor Sanchez - SP, Clinton Lumber Kings: 1-0, 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 SO, .000 oAVG
The 18-year-old Sanchez -- Seattle's number 9 prospect in our mid-season Top-25 update -- turned in the start of his career with a no-hit gem this week, just barely missing a perfect game for Clinton. He threw just 105 pitches and struck out a season high eight, lowering his batting average allowed on the season by over 30 points in the process to .233. The big right-hander had recently missed time (nearly all of June) due to his grandmother's passing and had his mother in attendance -- a rare treat -- making the game all the more special.

The 6-foot, 255 pound right-hander really excelled in the Northwest League last year and he's no allowed three earned runs or less in 11 of his 12 starts in the Midwest League as an encore. You'd like to see him missing more bats, and that may still come as his breaking stuff catches up to his fastball/changeup combo, but Victor is now rocking a sparkling 2.83 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 5.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio as one of the youngest players in full season Low-A ball. Even if there isn't a lot of projection left, Sanchez still looks like a true prospect.

Patrick Kivlehan - 3B, High Desert Mavericks: .292/.357/.875 (7-24), 3B, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO
Through his first 24 games in the hitter-friendly environment of the Cal League, Kivlehan -- the reigning NWL MVP -- had managed only four extra base hits and a modest .287/.368/.351 line for the Mavs. But something seems to have clicked and Kivlehan exploded for his first multi-homer game of the year on Wednesday and kept hitting the rest of the week. He's now slugging .500 for the month of July (21 games) and is sporting a season line that looks more in line with what was expected of the 23-year-old this year.

Another encouraging split that he's put up is hitting .320/.389/.520 off of right-handers with High Desert. But he's also made six errors, struck out 30 times and slugged just .288 in 13 road games in High-A. But the former college football player is still showing a lot of tools and athleticism and could still have a nice future ahead of him.

Jeffrey Zimmerman - 1B, Pulaski Mariners: .524/.565/.762 (11-21), 3 2B, 3B, 7 RBI, BB, 5 SO
Seattle's 19th round pick in this June's draft, Zimmerman has hit very well for Pulaski so far to kick off his pro career, collecting eight multi-hit contests in 17 games played. The 6-foot-3 lefty swinging first baseman/designated hitter got four of those this week, leading the APPY in OPS (1.327) along the way. Zimmerman had an outstanding freshman campaign with Northern Illinois (.326/.398/.540, 11 HR in 56 G) that he couldn't repeat in his sophomore or junior seasons, but the M's still liked what they saw enough to grab him in the draft's middle rounds, making him the first junior draftee from the school since 2008.

Zimmerman is splitting first base duties with Kristian Brito for Pulaski, but he's been penciled in the middle of the order in 13 of his 17 games and has delivered, hitting .385/.429/.615 with runners in scoring position so far. Zimmerman doesn't have great bat speed but he's a polished hitter with a solid approach and has gotten off to a strong start for the M's.


Tyler Olson - SP, Everett Aquasox: 0-2, 9.45 ERA, 3.15 WHIP, 6 2/3 IP, 17 H, 7 ER, 4 BB, 6 SO, .459 oAVG
Olson, who led off the upside of this list a week ago, certainly didn't get any help from his defense this past week -- as his second baseman made two big errors that led to five unearned runs in a 13 to 1 blowout loss on Monday -- but it wasn't all his defense's fault. Following up his complete game, 1-hit shutout with 10 Ks, Olson couldn't get to the fifth in either of his starts this week as he started in a couple of lopsided losses for the Frogs. The 17 hits he allowed were almost as many as he'd surrendered in his first five starts combined before this week.

The M's seventh round choice this year out of Gonzaga, Olson gets a lot of his outs via his big curve, and if the command is off on that pitch, he can have troubles. With three of his seven starts going terribly wrong so far this season while he's been nearly unhittable in three others, it's clear that Olson isn't quite where he needs to be with his consistency just yet, but the upside is apparent when he is on.

Aaron Brooks - RP, Everett AquaSox: 0-0, 17.18 ERA, 2.45 WHIP, 3 2/3 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 6 SO
Everett's bullpen has had an extremely hard time trying to hold onto leads and keep the club in games so far this season and this past week seems as though it was Brooks' turn to have his troubles late in games. The 6-foot-6 righty out of Edmonds CC entered the week with a 1.38 ERA and .170 oAVG, but Vancouver and Boise each jumped all over the 21-year-old this week, almost snatching victory away from the AquaSox in each contest.

Brooks throws hard and has a solid slider which has helped him to limit right-handed bats to a .487 OPS so far this year. But lefties are a different story, hitting .367/.424/.500 off of him in 33 plate appearances. Brooks could definitely benefit from a quality third pitch to help there, but improved location and sequencing could do the trick, too.

Carter Capps - RP, Tacoma Rainiers: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 HB, 1 BB, 1 SO
Capps had really been getting knocked around at the big league level before being sent down, and unfortunately his luck hasn't immediately turned around now that he's in Triple-A, really for the first time in his career. The big righty with the huge velocity had a disastrous outing for Tacoma on Saturday night, with a sequence that looked like this: Hit batter, flyout, strikeout, double, wild pitch, walk, hit batter, and finally, ground out. 24 pitches and just 13 strikes. Really he could have had a lot more damage done with how poorly he pitched.

Capps' velocity and herky-jerky, crossfire delivery would seem to make him tough on right-handers, but his location has been abysmal the past few months and left-handers are just destroying him right now. Three of four lefties have reached against him in Tacoma and it is clear that Capps may have to mix in a third pitch more frequently to try and keep them honest. Hopefully he can get his stuff harnessed, because it still rates among the best in the system.

. . . . . . .

Sanchez's no-hitter was the second one in two seasons for Clinton. Lefty Jordan Shipers twirled one for the L'Kings in 2012. Shipers started this year with the Mavericks in High-A but was injured early and is currently rehabbing with the AZL M's. Jesus Montero recently completed his rehab in Arizona and is back with Tacoma working on improving his hitting and learning first base.

We'll cover this all again in seven days, so come back again and check out -- Three Up, Three Down.

Looking for more Mariners news, articles and player interviews? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse site Editor Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.

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