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.
Clinton, High Desert and Jackson reached the midway point of their seasons this week and are in the All-Star break, and while none of these players will be playing in their respective league's All-Star games, their weeks were the best in Seattle's system. Here we go with Three Up, Three Down.
D.J. Peterson - 3B, High Desert Mavericks: .417/.440/.917 (10-24), 3 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 1 BB, 7 SO
The 12th overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Mariners, Peterson drove in multiple runs in each of the final five games of the first half for the Mavericks, ending the Cal League first half (and probably his Cal League career) with 64 RBI in 60 games. He leads the organization in doubles (19) and is second in homers (15) and is up to 60 extra base hits and 111 RBI through his first 115 games as a pro, over which he's also carrying a .310/.366/.565 slash in 506 plate appearances.
After what could be considered a bit of a slow start at the High-A level this year, the right-handed hitting D.J. has 13 home runs in his last 32 games for the Mavs and he has a comfortable lead in the organization in total bases (146), ranking second among all California League hitters in RBI and tied for second in homers. Peterson has 12 errors and an .882 fielding percentage on the year at third base, but his bat is to the point where a promotion looks like a must.
Jabari Blash - OF, Tacoma Rainiers: .391/.500/.870 (9-23), 2 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2 HBP
Blash ended this past week with homers in three straight games and he'll head into Monday with a season-best 10-game PCL hitting streak. He's raised his organization-leading home run total to 17 now and although the strikeouts are still there (14 in 14 June games) he's doing serious damage when he puts the ball in play as 11 of Jabari's 18 hits this month have gone for extra bases, seven of those being home runs.
That has enabled the right-handed hitting outfielder to bump his season OPS with Tacoma from .645 at the beginning of the month to .871 in just 14 games. The 12 home runs he's hit with Tacoma are tied for the second most in the PCL in that span and he's been playing a solid right field, too. The strikeouts will always be a part of Blash's package, but the rest of his game is rounding into shape and he's continuing to look like a solid prospect that could see some big league time this season for the M's.
Victor Sanchez - SP, Jackson Generals: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO, .091 oAVG
Sanchez turned in easily his best start of the 2014 season for the Generals this week, picking up his second career complete game shutout (the other being his no-hitter last year) by blanking the Jacksonville Suns for seven innings in the second game of Friday's double header for Jackson. The eight strikeouts tied the right-hander's career high and helped to push his season mark to 7.9 strikeouts-per-nine through his first nine starts, also a career high.
The shutout also marked the first time this season that Sanchez didn't allow a home run, and after surrendering just nine long balls through his first two pro seasons, Victor has allowed 10 this season (2.0 HR/9). That is a little troubling for the big right-hander, considering the league environment and his profile as a pitcher that survives off of getting weak contact. But, again, the spike in strikeout rate will hopefully counteract that as Sanchez -- still just 19 years of age -- continues to refine his craft.
Corey Simpson - OF, Clinton Lumber Kings: .083/.120/.083 (2-24), 1 RBI, 1 BB, 15 SO
Simpson's season of struggles to make contact continued this past week, with an organization-worst 15 punchouts in 25 plate appearances. That brought the season total to 77 strikeouts in 181 plate appearances for Seattle's 6th round pick from a year ago. That 42.5% strikeout rate is the second worst in pro ball among the 1,200+ players who have 150 or more plate appearances in 2014, and I still think that Simpson will end up in Everett or Pulaski very soon to hopefully finish out 2014 on a stronger note.
Again, despite the big raw power that Corey has, his difficulty in making contact has led to just a .296 SLG on the year -- the sixth lowest mark in the system among hitters with 100 or more plate appearances. Pair that with just nine walks and he has the lowest OPS in the system at .540. Simpson could still turn into an interesting watch if he can more consistently tap into his plus power, but that pitch recognition and plate discipline have a long ways to go.
Jack Reinheimer - SS, Clinton LumberKings: .138/.219/.207 (4-29), 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 7 SO
Reinheimer is probably a little mis-cast in being the LumberKings No. 3 hitter most of this season as he doesn't have much extra base power (12 extra base hits, zero home runs in 2014), but this past week was one of the few times that the 2013 5th round pick has struggled to hit the ball and get on base as a pro. His 2014 slash with Clinton (.264/.332/.328) is almost identical to his 2013 numbers with Everett (.269/.359/.325) and he's been consistently one of the best hitters on Clinton's roster this year. He's also hitting .280/.360/.400 with runners in scoring position for the LumberKings, leading to his 28 RBI -- the third highest number by a shortstop in the Midwest League.
Despite the struggles with the bat over the past few games, Reinheimer did steal his 23rd base during the week, and he remains tied for the organizational lead in that category and has been caught only five times on the year after going 18-for-23 in steals in 2013. He's also been remarkably consistent defensively as he owns a .975 fielding percentage in his two seasons of play in the system at shortstop and second base.
Dylan Unsworth - SP, High Desert Mavericks: 0-1, 27.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 3 1/3 IP, 8 H, 10 ER, 2 HR, 2 BB, 1 SO, .444 oAVG
As we've covered before in these pieces, Unsworth survives and succeeds off locating his fastball and inducing soft contact. Unfortunately for the 21-year-old South African, soft contact hasn't happened much against him in 2014. His start last week marked the fourth time in 13 starts this season that the right-hander has allowed five or more earned runs and the third time in those starts that he's allowed two home runs. That brought his season total to 13 homers allowed, pushing his ERA on the year to an unsightly 7.18 in 62 2/3 innings.
Unsworth has enjoyed a lot of success in his minor league career prior to this season for Seattle, but his profile just isn't a very good match for the Cal League. That isn't an excuse for this season so much as it is an explanation for the prior seasons. Unsworth still has time to improve on his secondaries and work towards becoming a more complete pitcher that can get outs on his own, but the command approach that he's been beating hitters with to this point needs adjustment.
There you have the best and worst from week 11 in the minors for the Mariners. 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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