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.
With the year rolling towards summer, the weather is hopefully starting to turn in the favor of the affiliates now, enabling the clubs to play their full slate of scheduled games each week and allowing for a bigger sample size here each Monday. That didn't happen this week, but there are six worthy mentions regardless.
Carlos Misell - RHP, Clinton LumberKings: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 9 IP 4, H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, .129 oAVG
Nine innings without an earned run in the week for Misell, and it could have been even more if not for weather suspending his first start after two innings. But the 22-year-old right-hander made up for that abbreviated start with his start Sunday, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out five in seven shutout innings against Beloit. After ringing up 10 strikeouts in just 4 2/3 regular season innings a season ago and being dominant in the playoffs for Pulaski out of the pen, Misell is getting his first taste of starting as a pro in the Midwest League this year and through his first eight turns things are looking good.
Misell, who was suspended for a positive PED test a couple of years before signing with Seattle, has a good fastball and a changeup that can make hitters look silly. Right-handers are hitting under .200 off of Misell and while lefties have hit him better, they have a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate against Carlos than do righties. Even though Clinton has their starters staying under 85 pitches, Misell has gone 5-plus innings in five of his eight outings, but his real future may still lie in the bullpen.
Trevor Miller - RHP, Jackson Generals: 2-0, 0.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 11 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 9 SO, .132 oAVG
Miller got one start and had one long relief outing this week -- piggy-backing on Victor Sanchez's first start back from the DL -- and turned in two of his best outings of the year and picked up wins in both. That makes three straight outings with a win for Miller after starting the year 0-and-4, but he's pitched better than that overall. The right-hander, 22, has been very good at home for Jackson, sporting a 2.28 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 27 2/3 innings, compared to a 5.59 ERA and 1.35 WHIP on the road.
Miller's fastball can get to 90-91 and he locates well, but he doesn't really have any secondary offerings that have plus potential at this point. What he does have is an attacking style and a bulldog mentality that help his stuff to play up by pitching with a lot of confidence. He also has good size (6-foot-3, 190 lbs), and as a former 40th round pick, he's already paying dividends for the M's by performing in Double-A in his fourth minor league season with 75 appearances and 65 starts under his belt.
Gabriel Guerrero - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .478/.538/.565 (11-23), 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SO
Guerrero's hot week has him up to third in the Cal League in the batting title race, and while there wasn't a lot of thunder to talk about this week, those three walks continue an encouraging trend for Guerrero. He's increasing his walk rate and seeing his strikeout rate drop as the season progresses, and being just 20-years-old in High-A and making that kind of in-season improvement while still hitting the ball hard and hitting for average is an impressive accomplishment.
Also impressive is Gaby's work against left-handers: .500/.549/.609 in 51 plate appearances against southpaws so far in 2014 for the right-handed hitting Guerrero. He still can get over aggressive at the plate and while his outfield defense and decision making is improving it still isn't ideal, but Guerrero's offense is shining through more often in game situations, and that is an encouraging sign.
Ty Kelly - IF, Tacoma Rainiers: .148/.148/.296 (4-27), 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 5 SO
Any week where Kelly picks up two or more extra base hits usually would be a good week for the switch-hitting infielder, but Kelly -- who has 29 walks and 22 strikeouts on the year -- didn't draw a single free pass this past week, striking out five times, hitting into a double play and making an error to boot. The 25-year-old came over to Seattle in the Eric Thames trade last year. Thames is now in Korea while Kelly has hit .293 and drawn 80 walks in 91 games for Tacoma since joining Seattle's system.
Kelly doesn't have much power and isn't a plus defender at any spot on the diamond, getting almost all of his value from his plate discipline and line drive approach that has allowed him to carry a lifetime .285 minor league average. There isn't much chance of him cracking the roster in Seattle without a slew of injuries, but he remains interesting because of his plate discipline and versatility. There will be better weeks for Kelly.
Logan Bawcom - RHP, Tacoma Rainiers: 0-1, 15.43 ERA, 3.43 WHIP, 2 1/3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, .571 oAVG
After being incredibly consistent and very good for Tacoma last season (2.91 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 64 strikeouts in 65 innings with 21 saves), Bawcom has had some shaky outings in the early season for the Rainiers this year. He allowed runs in each of his three relief appearances this past week and saw his ERA shoot up from 4.26 to 6.00 and his batting average allowed up from .239 to .317. He's had only four clean innings in his 15 appearances on the year so far, and while he's throwing a lot of strikes after some control issues early in the season, he's struck out only two hitters in his last six appearances combined.
Bawcom has a good fastball/slider combo and did pick up a save on Saturday, still acting as Tacoma's closer, but there haven't been a ton of positives so far in 2014 for the big Texan right-hander. He should bounce back, though, and when he gets right he'll immediately be an option for a big league spot if/when bullpen help is needed in Seattle.
Tyler Smith - SS, High Desert Mavericks: .000/.227/.000 (0-17), 4 BB, 7 SO
Smith got a lot of looks in big league camp in spring training and impressed enough that he jumped from Rookie Pulaski all the way up to High Desert to open the year, but after a hot start he's cooled off considerably in the hits department, culminated by this past week where he was blanked entirely. Smith homered in his second game back from a brief time on the shelf with injury but is just 2-for-29 since, and his OPS has plummeted all the way down to .627 while strikeouts (nine in that stretch, 30 in 155 plate appearances overall) have started to add up.
Smith has been playing strong defense at shortstop for the Mavericks and it is encouraging that his one California League home run to date came on the road (in Rancho Cucamonga off of a right-hander) in one of the stingier parks in the league. The offense should come back around for the 2013 Appalachian League MVP and Seattle's 8th round pick out of Oregon State in 2013 remains a prospect worth following for sure.
That does it for week seven's recap. Check back in with us next Monday for more Three Up, Three Down, and stick with SeattleClubhouse throughout the year for reports from all of the Mariners' affiliates.
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