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 names in Tacoma -- who could very well be seeing their final auditions in fighting for a 2014 roster spot in Seattle this September -- had very different weeks. A top draft pick started to turn it on and one of the M's 2013 MVPs stood out among a team of massive performances.
All that and more follows in this week's take on Three Up, Three Down.
Patrick Kivlehan - 3B, High Desert Mavericks: .520/.586/1.000 (13-25), 3 2B, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO
Kivlehan lead all of minor league baseball in RBI this past week thanks to four multi-RBI games. That was highlighted by six ribbies in High Desert's obsurd explosion against Lancaster on Friday night, but he did damage otherwise, too. In fact Kivlehan had a hit in every game this week, extending his organization-best hitting streak to 16 games in the process. The 2012 Northwest League MVP is hitting .438/.500/.750 (28-64) over that stretch, raising his OPS with the Mavs .155 points to .944 and doubling his High-A home run total in the process.
Kivlehan has brought his combined season average (60 games in Clinton before 49 games in High Desert) up over .300 now and in comparing his MVP line to his 2013 line it is easy to see that improvements are being made. That said, he is unquestionably benefiting from playing in Adelanto on offense, where his OPS in more than .400 higher than on the road. He's made six of his nine errors there, too, so perhaps we shouldn't judge negatively on his defense if we aren't giving him full credit for his offense. High Desert makes it tough to judge off the numbers, and Kivlehan is almost 24, but he isn't your normal 24-year-old, thanks to his extended break from baseball. He's definitely worth tracking as someone among the club's Top-20 or so prospects still, in my opinion.
D.J. Peterson - 3B, Clinton LumberKings: .429/.467/.786 (12-28), 2B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 SO
Just like he did in Everett to start his career, Peterson started a little bit slowly in Clinton following his promotion, enough so that he landed on the "Down" list here early on. But since that slow start Peterson has collected hits in 10 of 12 games and has hit five home runs, bringing his total in Clinton to six -- the same (league leading) total he had when he left Everett after 29 games. He hit three of those this week, including his third Grand Slam. tying him for the organization lead with Stefen Romero in that category. He has an 1.199 OPS in August and is tied for the organization lead with four homers this month, too.
D.J. has also made only one error at third base for the LumberKings and has so far proven himself to be a bit more agile and sure-handed than he was given credit for in most pre-draft write-ups. While Peterson may not climb up another level this season, I fully expect him to go to the Arizona Fall League for Seattle and start no lower than Double-A Jackson in 2014 for the Mariners. His powerful, compact, right-handed swing is producing great results and he legitimately looks the part as the 12th overall pick in this past June's draft to this point.
Carlos Triunfel - SS, Tacoma Rainiers: .455/.520/.500 (10-22), 2B, 2 RBI, BB, 3 SO, SB, 2 HBP
Triunfel didn't hit a lick in Seattle and then slumped pretty badly following his demotion from the big club, which is at least partly excusable considering how infrequently he was playing with the Mariners -- but he's picked it back up over the last two-plus weeks for the Rainiers, and he checked in with three multi-hit contests this week in running his hitting streak to seven games. His season slash is now back up to .290/.335/.429 for Tacoma, which still stands as a slight improvement over his 2012 line.
He's playing second base much less frequently now and hasn't played third in over two months, but he could still have a spot on the M's next year as a utility infielder if he shows this September that he can handle the bat a little better than he has in his two previous cups of coffee. Of course, his fielding seems to still be as inconsistent as ever, and although the tools still hold some promise, the clock is definitely ticking on Carlos's future with Seattle.
Blake Beavan - RHP, Tacoma Rainiers: 0-1, 7.50 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 12 IP, 20 H, 10 ER, 4 HR, 2 BB, 6 SO, .364 oAVG
Blake had another rough week for the Rainiers, giving up double-digit hits in both of his starts and getting popped with the long ball again, too. Beavan has allowed more hits than innings pitched in nine of his twelve Tacoma starts this season and has a 5.53 ERA, 5.14 FIP, 1.45 WHIP and .315 oAVG for the Rainiers in Triple-A. He also still just has a strikeout rate of 11.1%. He's 24 now and in his sixth year in professional ball, and it certainly looks like the results are getting progressively worse.
The tall right-hander made a much publicized adjustment to his pitching mechanics this spring, hoping to get more movement on his pitches while helping him maximize the benefits that come from being tall. Getting more ground balls and getting more swinging strikes was the goal. It hasn't quite worked that way. His ground ball rate has gone up a touch from 2012, but the damage done on the fly balls he's allowed has grown more, as his HR/FB rate in the majors jumped from 10.5% to 14.0%. He was miscast a bit as a big league reliever, but his stuff just plain and simply isn't good enough to hand the ball to every fifth day at this point.
Jabari Henry - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .143/.250/.143 (2-14), 2 BB, 4 SO
Having a bad week while playing for the Mavericks wasn't an easy thing to accomplish this week, but Henry didn't play in the crazy offense game. And he isn't playing everyday since his promotion to High Desert, because he isn't hitting. His slow week brought his High-A numbers to .132/.244/.211 and he amazingly hasn't recorded an extra base hit yet in his six home games for the Mavs. He has only three hits in 29 at bats against right-handed pitching in High-A, with hits in only four of his 11 games following his move up.
His struggles extend back further than that level jump, however, as the right-handed hitting outfielder has hit just .191 (37-194) over his last 51 games since starting off hitting .366 (37-101) through the season's first two months and 31 games. Henry is still part of the outfield rotation in High Desert and has seen time at all three outfield positions, batting in the 5th through 7th spots in the order and he also has solid BB% and K%, perhaps getting a little unlucky (.143 BABIP) but the toolsy 22-year-old from Orlando could use a kickstart at the level to finish strong.
Jose Valdivia - RHP, Everett AquaSox: 18.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 2 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, HR, 2 BB, 2 SO, .250 oAVG
Valdivia hit his appearance in the NWL All-Star game having allowed just one earned run over his last 12 appearances for the AquaSox, with a 1.57 ERA and .145 oAVG on the year. But this past week so him meltdown and lose the All-Star game in the 9th for the North (with more than a little help from the defense) and then his first August appearance that counted nearly doubled his season ERA as he allowed four earned runs and his first home run.
The 21-year-old Nicaraguan right-hander has a really good arm, regularly running his fastball up to 95 with good movement and a slider that flashes plus at times. But now in his 3rd season stateside with the Mariners, he hasn't been able to find consistency. The club moved him to the bullpen full-time for the first time this year in hopes that a change in roles could help him, but Valdivia is still battling many of his usual demons with control, command and consistency issues. He's young and the arm is talented so he's not anywhere near running out of chances, but he needs to find that key to more consistent outings to put it all together.
Triunfel and Beavan will both probably see Seattle after the Triple-A season ends and the rosters have expanded to fit up to 40, and it could be the last real shot for each to show what they have to offer to Seattle. As 40-man roster spots are getting more and more precious as the players drafted by Jack Zduriencik and Tom McNamara are getting to the spot where they need to be protected or exposed to the Rule 5 draft. The club also appears to be heading towards a more respectable position overall, too, meaning that the quality and MLB-ready level depth is going to quickly become a big priority.
The 23-year-old Triunfel's plate discipline and defensive focus and consistency remain issues. Beavan's new delivery hasn't produced any noticeable positives. The time for holding on to "maybe" guys -- especially those with several years of chances to take that next step -- is drawing to an end for the Mariners, and that could mean the end of guys like Triunfel and Beavan.
We still have a couple of weeks left in the regular seasons in the minors, so check back every Monday for the remaining month left to see if your favorite Mariners prospects make the cut for Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down.
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