Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

The best and worst from May 5th - May 11th in the minor leagues for the Seattle Mariners, including one top prospect knocking very hard on the door, asking for another shot.

Every Monday we present a rundown of the best and worst performances from the past week within the Seattle Mariners' organization. The goal is to keep you up to date on your favorite M's prospects while also shining a little brighter light on some of the lesser known standouts in the system, spreading the coverage around and highlighting those that deserve it most.

With all of the recent MLB graduations, Seattle's system isn't nearly as top-heavy in talent as it has been in years past. But that means that there is more to be learned on some of the better prospects in the organization. Three Up, Three Down should help with that learning, covering players in their age-26 or younger season who still have MLB rookie status.

As the season starts to get a little deeper, we're beginning to see the more familiar names rise to the top of the statistical ranks in the system and also seeing some of those players with struggles have their struggles compound. Here are six players giving us a little deeper look this week.

THREE UP

Nick Franklin - SS/2B, Tacoma Rainiers: .556/.618/.963 (15-27), 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 6 BB, 2 SO, 3-3 SB
Wow. That is an impressive stat line for Franklin, who the Mariners aren't going to be able to keep in Triple-A much longer. After struggling last week and landing on the "Down" side of this report, his most recent week included the best OPS in the Mariners' system and the fourth best in all of minor league ball at 1.581 and he led the organization in home runs, extra base hits and total bases (26), too. The 23-year-old switch-hitting middle infielder has his season slash up to .388/.470/.673 for Tacoma with 25 RBI, 14 extra base hits and 16 walks in 25 games.

Technically Nick is no longer a prospect and I'm breaking my own rules above by including him here each time I do, but he is definitely a player that most fans of the Mariners want to keep tabs on, and for good reason. And the stats he is putting up warrant mentioning. With starting shortstop Brad Miller struggling mightily at the plate and in the field for Seattle, Franklin's name is constantly on the minds and lips of M's fans.

Tyler Olson - LHP, Jackson Generals: 0-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO
Olson's second Double-A start couldn't have been more different from his first. He allowed just two hits and five baserunners (two hit batters) to Huntsville, striking out 10 of the 25 batters he faced and needing only 88 pitches to cruise through seven innings of the Generals' eventual 2-1, 13-inning loss.

Seattle's 7th round pick out of Gonzaga just last June, Olson made eight starts for Everett in 2013 before being shifted to the pen to lighten his workload to finish up the year. He was either dominant or bad in those eight starts, allowing two runs or less six times and six runs or more in the other three. His first start for Jackson (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO) paired with his dominant outing this week seem to indicate that trend could continue for Olson. When his fastball command is on it helps the lefty get to his big curve, which can be a big swing-and-miss offering for him.

D.J. Peterson - 3B, High Desert Mavericks: .357/.400/.679 (10-28), 3 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, 2-2 SB
Peterson missed just over a week towards the end of April with a hamstring injury, but he homered in his first game back and has contributed multi-RBI games four times in his 12 total games since returning. This past week saw three such games, with Peterson capping his week with a 2-homer game at home Saturday against Lancaster. Peterson now has 12 extra base hits and 25 RBI in 29 games on the season for High Desert and is consistently showing the big time power that made him the 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Peterson isn't likely to spend the entire season in High Desert, and more weeks like this past one should accelerate his move up to Double-A. Even though Patrick Kivlehan recently was promoted to Jackson and they both are technically third baseman, Peterson played first with Kivlehan at third only twice while they were with the Mavs together, so Kivlehan's presence in Jackson shouldn't affect Peterson in any way. He'll be moved when the club feels he's ready.

THREE DOWN

Jabari Blash - OF, Tacoma Rainiers: .208/.286/.375 (5-24), 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 13 SO
Blash hit his first Triple-A home run -- a solo shot on Wednesday in Reno -- this last week, but he also led the entire organization in strikeouts with 13. After showing very strong plate discipline numbers in Jackson this year, Blash now has 17 strikeouts and just three walks in his 11 Triple-A games. That has long been the black mark on Jabari's status, and even though he has always drawn a lot of walks, earlier in his ascension through the system Jabari himself said that he was perhaps too patient at times. There has been some of that in Triple-A, but a lot more of the strikeouts have come from him expanding the zone.

Blash absolutely tore through Double-A and had a lot of momentum and MLB-potential rumblings going around about him at the time of his promotion to Tacoma, so perhaps the whispers have led to him trying to make a huge splash to get over that last minor league hurdle too quickly, having him trying too hard. He certainly wouldn't be the first prospect to succumb to smelling a promotion too early. Blash remains one of the best hitting prospects in Seattle's system and he'll figure Triple-A out soon.

Joe DeCarlo, Clinton Lumber Kings: .100/.200/.100 (2-20), 3 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO
Speaking of strikeouts, DeCarlo is having a harder time making consistent contact than almost anyone else in the organization. His strikeout rate is 31.1% and his season and 33.9% dating back to the start of last year. His slash line now sits at .141/.263/.212 in 119 plate appearances and the M's second round pick in 2012 is seriously in danger of facing a demotion. DeCarlo has plus power potential and he leads Clinton hitters in walks (16) on the year, but the strikeouts are getting hard to ignore and making it harder for his other tools to show up in games.

Defense has been a bit of an issue since turning pro for DeCarlo, too. The prep shortstop has played third base almost exclusively and has 20 errors in 98 games as a third baseman, seven of those in 91 chances this year. In all DeCarlo isn't making much of a case to remain in the Midwest League and is a prime candidate to be sent to Everett once they get going next month.

Matt Anderson - RHP, Jackson Generals: 0-1, 24.30 ERA, 2.70 WHIP, 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 9 ER, 2 BB, .389 oAVG
Anderson was bumped up to Double-A along with Kivlehan even though his numbers weren't all that great in High Desert. Of course, not many pitchers post sparkling stats there, so the organization likely saw something different that they felt warranted the promotion for the 22-year-old right-hander. Whatever that may have been, it didn't show up in his debut for Jackson as he allowed 10 runs, nine of them earned, while getting just 10 outs and not striking out a batter.

Anderson exhibited good control before he got to the California League, walking just 2.65-per-nine in 95 innings, but he walked 4.77-per-nine in 84 innings with the Mavs and that led to a lot of the damage that was done to him. Sometimes pitchers get hesitant to pound the strikezone pitching in that hitter-friendly environment, but he walked two and hit a batter in his Double-A debut, too. Without the fastball command, Anderson is just an organization arm, but if he commands and works ahead, he has enough stuff to get hitters out.

. . . . . . . . .

That does it for this week. Check back in next Monday for more Three Up, Three Down, and stick with SeattleClubhouse throughout the year for reports from all of the Mariners' affiliates.

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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