Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

The top and bottom three performances in the minor leagues for the Seattle Mariners from May 19th - May 25th.

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.

A few sluggers (Peterson, Blash) made some noise this week for the M's, but they didn't make the cut for inclusion on this installment of Three Up, Three Down thanks to some white-hot hitting elsewhere. All of those who did make it on the upside this week have previously been on the downside this season. Here are the six most worthy mentions in our eyes.

THREE UP

Tyler Smith - SS, High Desert Mavericks: .483/.531/.621 (14-29), 4 2B, RBI, 3 BB, 2 SO
After going hitless in six of his previous eight contests, Smith collected five multi-hit games, with hits in all seven games on the week, this past week. The right-handed hitting shortstop had back-to-back three hit games Thursday and Friday and upped his OPS from .627 to .719 on the season with this outburst. Being in High Desert, every stat deserves a closer look, and those signs are good for Smith. He's hitting better against same-handed pitching (.274/.350/.395) and on the road (.284/.373/.375) so far this year for the Mavs.

With a .366 SLG on the year, Smith isn't hitting for a lot of power, but he's showing the same approach he did a season ago as the Appy League MVP and hitting line drives all over the park. He's also made only one error in his last 20 games as the Mavericks' shortstop and has the defensive chops to stay at the position, even though he isn't a flashy defender. The Mariners have to be pleased with the way Smith is playing on the season after an aggressive promotion.

Jordy Lara - 1B, High Desert Mavericks: .417/.533/.875 (10-24), 3 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 5 BB, 6 SO
Lara picked up three more multi-hit games this week for High Desert, bringing his season total to 14 in that category. The right-handed hitter had one of those games -- including his third triple on the year -- on his 23rd birthday Wednesday, and he's now hitting .311/.387/.533 with 21 walks and 21 extra base hits on the season. His strikeout rate is up a bit this year (22.4%), but he's walking at a career best and better-than-league-average clip (10.2%) and is just outside the top-10 in the league in OPS (.921).

Lara was a November, 2008 sign by the Mariners out of the Dominican Republic and didn't really start to show his tools in game action much until last year with Clinton, but his body is developing and Lara looks to be growing into his power while learning to be more patient at the plate. He's played a few games in the outfield this season, but it appears that his long term home may be at first base, and that means those hitting tools will be key.

Leon Landry - OF, Jackson Generals: .545/.545/.682 (12-22), 3 2B, 4 RBI, 3 SO
After torching the Cal League the year that Seattle acquired him in the Brandon League deal, Landry had basically been struggling to hit since being promoted to Double-A Jackson prior to last season. But he's 16 for his last 29 with Jackson, picking up six extra base hits, peppering line drives all over the park in the process and raising his season slash from a whimpering .389 to .594 in the span of just eight games. Five of those games have been multi-hit affairs, and Landry now seems like he could be climbing out of his year-plus long slump in a real way.

The left-handed hitting Landry has quick hands and speed to spare, but he was still cheating for fastballs quite a bit, maybe trying to drive the ball too much, with Jackson. It appears that he's figured out that going back to his old approach and just getting the bat to the ball is enough with his skill set. Landry, who hit .341/.371/.584 in 104 games in 2012, was a 3rd round pick of the Dodgers in 2010 and has the tools to turn into a useful big leaguer still.

THREE DOWN

Burt Reynolds - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .050/.050/.100 (1-20), 2B, RBI, 9 SO
Reynolds isn't really viewed as a prospect, as the 25-year-old had been out of affiliated ball the last three years before joining Seattle as a favor to his cousin, Robinson Cano. But he started the season in Clinton and tore the cover off the ball, hitting .326/.426/.739, legitimately earning a promotion to High-A ball. But it has been a struggle with the Mavs, this past week the most difficult. He's now struck out 14 times in 32 plate appearances in the Cal League and has picked up just four hits in eight games.

Again, Burt isn't exactly a top prospect, but his hot start to this season -- despite his advanced age for the level -- made it seem possible that the right-handed hitter had figured some things out while playing in the Can-Am League the past few years. He does still own a .250/.337/.539 slash on the season combined between Clinton and High Desert, but the likelihood of this Burt Reynolds seeing his name in lights for the big show is slim.

Tyler Pike - LHP, High Desert Mavericks: 0-1, 31.50 ERA, 3.50 WHIP, 2 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, HBP, 0 SO, .455 oAVG
Often top pitching prospects skip the California League for teams, as the atmosphere breeds offense and can dampen the outlook of young hurlers if teams aren't careful with them. Let's hope that doesn't happen to Pike, because right now he has a lot of reasons to be down. He allowed his second multi-homer game of the season this past week and has allowed a career worst seven long balls on the season already. And the damage being done may be making him a bit gunshy, as Pike has also walks more (33) than he's struck out (32) on the year, sporting an unsightly 7.1 BB/9 rate.

Having just turned 20 in January, Pike is quite young for the level, and it is very possible that the adverse conditions can help the lefty better learn to use his secondary offerings to get batters out in the long run, but the results right now aren't pretty for Tyler, who ranked 5th on our annual Top-50 Mariners prospect countdown before the year.

Stephen Pryor - RHP, Tacoma Rainiers: 0-1, 40.50 ERA, 6.75 WHIP, 1 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 1 SO, .667 oAVG
Pryor is in Tacoma trying to work himself back into form following a rare injury and surgery to repair a torn lat muscle on his throwing side. The stuff hasn't come all the way back as his fastball isn't touching the high-90s right now still, but the results have been even more frustrating. He's walked (16) more guys than he's struck out (13) on the season combined between Jackson and Tacoma and he's allowed five extra base hits already, too.

Pryor surrendered just three home runs in the minor leagues through his first 96 games and 127 1/3 innings, but he's allowed four in his 16 games and 18 innings so far in 2014. The big right-hander's SO/9 number is also all the way down to 6.5 right now. The seriousness of the injury that Stephen suffered is becoming more apparent as he tries to work his way back from it, and it doesn't appear that he is particularly close to being MLB-ready at this point.

. . . . . . . . .

That does it for the recap of minor league week eight. 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.

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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