Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

The last full week of the minor league regular season brought the M's system some more ups and downs. We do our weekly check in on the top performers and biggest struggles for the Mariners system over those last seven days with this final regular installment for 2013 of Three Up, Three Down.

Each Monday this season we presented this rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners' system. Hopefully we've kept you up to date on the goings on -- good and bad -- of your favorite M's prospects while also shining a little brighter light on some of the lesser known standouts in the system by spreading the coverage around.

Plenty of Seattle's top prospects ended up on our weekly checks more than once, but we still covered more than just our Top-25 or Top-50 with these looks. This final regular installment for 2013 is no different as we cover a couple of the most well known names and some who have a little quieter profile.

Let's get right down to it now with this week's Three Up, Three Down.

THREE UP

Ji-Man Choi - 1B, Tacoma Rainiers: .450/.522/.850 (9-20), 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO
In Choi's first six games with Tacoma he had all of one hit and one walk. That equated to a .178 OPS and led to a drop in the Rainiers' batting order to the 7 spot. Well, that seems to have stimulated a response from Choi's bat as just a week later he now boasts a .244/.326/.439 slash in 12 Triple-A games which includes four extra base hits and four walks and his combined season slash -- which already includes three stops -- is very close to the .300/.400/.500 mark.

The 22-year-old left-handed hitting former catcher seems to have answered a lot of the critics that thought his bat would hold him back as he progressed with his performance in 2013. The power has been impressive, with 60 extra base hits and 226 total bases in 122 games combined, and his 13.6% strikeout rate is a very encouraging sign for Choi's future. Will the first base profile power in terms of home runs show up? That is still up for debate, but the 18 he's hit this season are already eight more than he had coming into 2013 in his minor league career in more than 500 plate appearances.

Kevin Rivers - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .417/.517/.917 (10-24), 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 5 BB, 5 SO
10 hits, six of them going for extra bases, and five walks is a very impressive week, even for a top prospect. But Rivers' name hasn't regularly been on many M's prospect lists. Very quietly, Rivers has put together one of the better seasons in the entire system for Seattle here in 2013. This past week capped off a great month, a great second half and a great season for the left-handed hitting outfielder that joined the organization back in 2009 as an undrafted free agent out of Franklin Pierce University.

Rivers leads the organization in RBI (96) and total bases (244) while ranking second in home runs (20), 3rd in doubles (35), 4th in walks (66) and 3rd in runs scored (90). He is 24 and still has some troubles with left-handed pitching (.250/.333/.375 in 108 PA this season), but Rivers has been a very good find for Seattle and he should get a shot in Double-A in 2014.

Forrest Snow - P, Tacoma Rainiers: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 13 SO, .160 oAVG
Snow once again showed his versatility while flashing the great stuff he has this past week for Tacoma, coming out of the pen twice and twirling five shutout innings in a spot start. The 24-year-old right-hander had a standout end to the 2011 season for Tacoma which saw him sent to the AFL for the M's and he was climbing fast up prospect charts from that performance before a rough '12 through the brakes on those high hopes. But his 2013 -- which saw Snow post a combined 2.96 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 9.2 SO/9 in 82 innings -- has Forrest back on the radar with Seattle.

Born and raised in the Seattle area and a former pitcher for the Washington Huskies that worked at Starbucks when he was younger, Snow is a great interview and a very good teammate, but his stuff has really taken a step forward since he was Seattle's 36th round pick back in 2010. His big rebound year here in 2013 should have him in the conversation for big league bullpen consideration in 2014.

THREE DOWN

Lars Huijer - SP, Everett Aquasox: 0-1, 37.80 ERA, 4.80 WHIP, 1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, .583 oAVG
Huijer -- who started in the NWL All-Star Game -- has been incredibly consistent for Everett all year, but even the most consistent performers have off days every now and then. This past week's start in Spokane certainly falls under that category for Huijer, who gave up seven runs in a blink in the second inning. The 19-year-old right-hander had an ERA under 2.00 after his first 12 appearances in 2013, but that mark now stands at 3.03 after some tougher starts of late. Lars had a 0.82 ERA in July but got knocked around to the tune of a 6.86 ERA in August.

Huijer is still tied for the league lead in wins (8) and remains near the top-10 in ERA among qualified starters, and whatever has happened the past month and whatever does happen when he's handed the ball in the playoffs, this season has been a resounding success for Huijer. He's gone from relative unknown to a legitimate prospect and has shown that he can excel as a starter after pitching exclusively out of the pen in 2012.

Matt Anderson - SP, High Desert Mavericks: 0-1, 11.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP, 9 IP, 14 H, 11 ER, 3 HR, 5 BB, 6 SO, .350 oAVG
Anderson is another right-hander who has improved his stock greatly in '13 but who had a rough final week. Two rough starts in the last seven days and four less than stellar starts out of his last five have seen Anderson's ERA balloon from 3.51 to 5.90 with the Mavs. After throwing only 8 2/3 in 2012, Anderson now has 136 2/3 here in 2013, and it is very possible that the long season is starting to catch up to him. While Matt has seen his strikeout rate get back up to a more respectable level in High Desert (7.7 in 50 2/3 IP), the walk rate has gone up, too, and in the California League that is a recipe for disaster.

Another undrafted free agent, Anderson was creating some buzz with a fastball that was consistently in the mid-90s towards the end of the Arizona Rookie League last year. He's still made some great strides here in 2013 and he's thrown the 5th most innings in Seattle's system as basically a first year pro. Still just 21, Anderson figures to get a shot in Double-A next year in what should be a more friendly environment to pitch.

Patrick Kivlehan - 3B, High Desert Mavericks: .138/.182/.207 (4-29), 3B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 10 SO
It almost doesn't seem fair to put Kivlehan on this list with the season that he's had, but this game has a way of leveling out. Following his 25-game hitting streak, Kivlehan has now gone hitless in four of his last eight games and turned in the worst week of his season, numbers wise, in this last full week of the minor league campaign. The strikeouts have gone up a bit over the past three to four weeks, and 10 in 33 plate appearances is way worse than his season numbers; his 19.5% strikeout percentage is a huge improvement over the 29.4% he had in 2012 as the Northwest League's MVP.

Kivlehan could be running out of gas a bit as he's 3rd in the organization in plate appearances on the season (549) after yesterday's double header. Hopefully he can recover a bit in the next couple of weeks, because Patrick is headed to the Arizona Fall League for Seattle soon to try and prove even more than he already has over what has been a very successful first two seasons as a pro.

. . . . . . . . .

The Mariners had a lot of ups and downs in their system this season, with some players taking huge steps forward, some stalling out and some seemingly going backwards. Hopefully this weekly feature has helped you to keep a close watch on the goings on, good and bad, and maybe even introduced you to a few new prospects to watch in Seattle's system.

This feature will definitely be back in 2014, and SeattleClubhouse will also be bringing you the best and worst seasons overall for 2013 shortly. Stay tuned for great playoff and offseason coverage of the organization, too, but be prepared next March for our every-Monday entry of 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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