For the fifth season, SeattleClubhouse is checking in each Monday with a rundown of the best and worst performances in the minor leagues from the past week within the Seattle Mariners' organization. The goal with this weekly piece 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.
While the roster in Seattle doesn't have a lot of soft spots, the talent in the system still is a very important part of the ability for the Mariners to sustain success. And there is still quite a bit to be learned on some of the better prospects in the organization. Hopefully Three Up, Three Down helps with that learning, covering players in their age-26 or younger season who have not exhausted their MLB rookie status.
Let's get to this week's look at six players who are hoping to make some positive strides in their game on their way towards Seattle in 2015. Here we go, Three Up, Three Down.
Jordy Lara - 3B, Jackson Generals: .423/.531/.692 (11-26), 2 2B, 3B, HR, 4 RBI, 5 BB, 3 S)
Lara, who was the Co-Minor League Player of the Year in 2014 for the Mariners, had a very slow start to 2015, but he's turned it on since April started and is looking more and more like that breakout hitter from a season ago again now. Four more extra base hits and five more walks during the last eight games and has six multi-hit efforts in the 15 games played in May. Lara still has just two homers on the season, but he's picked up seven extra base hits in his last 15 games, raising his SLG from .242 to .390 in the process.
Also of note on Lara is that he has been getting the lion's share of time at third for the Generals over D.J. Peterson. He has a great arm and the player development staff voiced their wishes for him to continue seeing time at third to me last season, his first year of not having any time at the hot corner. His fielding percentage is under .900 so far in 67 chances there, but if Lara can prove himself able to handle that position to increase his versatility, it will make his move towards the major leagues a little easier. But as with most hitting prospects, the bat is the key here.
Jabari Blash - OF, Jackson Generals: .435/.500/.826 (10-23), 3 2B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, BB, 2 SO, 2 HBP
After his 50-game suspension a year ago as a member of the Rainiers, Jabari came back and was demoted to Double-A Jackson, where he continued to show power, patience and a penchant for the strikeout. Blash began 2015 in Tacoma, but only picked up six hits while punching out 18 times through the first 11 games there, earning himself a third trip to Jackson. But since he made it back to the Generals, the power has been consistently playing. He has 11 extra base hits in 12 games, picking up at least one in eight of those contests. Jabari had three multi-hit games this past week and only struck out twice, really looking locked-in in the process.
The Mariners might be in a bit of a conundrum at this point with the 25-year-old Blash: His performance in Jackson (.281/.410/.563, 22% strikeout rate in his three stops overall) continues to show that he's perhaps too good for Double-A, but his struggles in Tacoma (.202/.304/.465, 33% strikeouts rate) definitely show that he needs to step up his performance at Triple-A. The power and patience combo paired with a capable defensive outfielder doesn't come along often, but the swing-and-miss track record leads you to be cautious. He still has growing to do, but Blash remains a prospect that could turn into something big if the right progress can be made.
Paul Fry - LHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.46 WHIP, 2 G, 4 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 SO, .133 oAVG
Fry didn't throw a lot out of the pen this week, and he only has 21 innings under his belt on the season, but he continues to impress. The left-hander was Seattle's 17th round pick in 2013 as the first draft pick out of St. Clair Community College in Michigan in 22 years, but his performance on the field in his first two-plus years and the reports on his arsenal make his seem like a legitimate one to watch as a bullpen arm. Following a disastrous outing on April 27th, Fry has struck out 16 of the last 31 hitters he's faced while allowing only three baserunners, with all of his action coming in multiple-inning outings.
Fry's 12.9 SO/9 number this season is best in Seattle's system, and his 10.5 mark over his first 121 pro innings is encouraging for a lefty without a big fastball. But more encouraging is that he isn't seeing an overwhelming majority of his success against left-handed hitters, suggesting that there is more in Fry's future than just becoming a LOOGY. Bakersfield is a long ways from Seattle, but again, Fry looks like he could be a a potential valuable bullpen fit down the road.
D.J. Peterson - 1B, Jackson Generals: .154/.214/.192 (4-26), 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 11 SO
One-quarter of the way into the minor league season, Peterson still hasn't started to hit for the Generals. One of the top power hitting prospects in all of baseball, he has just one home run and only six extra base hits in his 133 plate appearances to date, with only one coming in his last 53 trips to the plate. He ended last week on an 0-for-14 slide and has just one stretch of more than two straight game where he's picked up at least one hit on the season.
Peterson has only started three games in the past month where he hasn't struck out at least one time, and he had three more multi-strikeout games this past week, running that total to seven already in his first 32 games of 2015. His Isolated Power sits at .066, in the bottom 20% of qualified Southern League hitters. He's also started just six times at third base on the season, seeing most of his action at first base for the Generals. Still in the top-tier of Seattle's hitting prospects, for sure, but a disappointing start to 2015 that makes it seem like a big league debut this year is unlikely.
Tyler Marlette - C, Bakersfield Blaze: .143/.182/.286 (3-21), 2B, 3B, BB, 5 SO
After starting the season on fire and really carrying the Blaze offense through the majority of April, Marlette is now in an 4-for-52 stretch that has dropped his average almost 130 points since the calendar flipped to May. He picked up a couple of extra base hits this past week, but continued to struggle putting the ball in play and finding holes when he did. After tearing through the Cal League a season ago (.301/.351/.519) and ending 2014 with a solid showing in nine games at Double-A Jackson (.250/.333/.500), Marlette is struggling more than he has at any point as a pro this year for Bakersfield.
Marlette is continuing to improve defensively, and the former third baseman who didn't move behind the plate full-time until his senior season has nailed 40.0% of would-be base stealers so far this year for the Blaze. He has the ideal build for a catcher (5-foot-11, 200 lbs), a plus throwing arm and is getting better at blocking balls and being quick with everything. Still, Marlette's bat is the real prize of his package, and he'll need to get back on track again if he plans on seeing Double-A here in 2015.
Jordan Shipers - LHP, Jackson Generals: 0-1, 19.64 ERA, 3.82 WHIP, 2 G, 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 2 HR, 4 BB, 2 SO, .476 oAVG
Shipers, a 2010 draftee who was climbing as a prospect after his first two years as a starting pitcher, has really struggled while working around some injuries the past three seasons. And so far 2015 has been his most difficult season. He's allowed runs in nine of his 12 appearances this year, including four straight (13 ER in 6 1/3 IP), and picked up one loss while allowing another close game get away from the Generals this past week.
Shipers has only managed to get three 1-2-3 innings under his belt this season (out of 19 2/3 innings pitched) and he has a WHIP of 2.29 on the year while allowing a .375/.437/.602 slash line against him. He's coughing up a 14.6% extra base hit rate and a 30.4% line drive rate. Shipers is an undersized lefty that doesn't have a big arm, and when his command and control are as lacking as they are right now (12 walks this season, 6.5 BB/9 in 24 Double-A outings), it is very hard to see him succeeding in any role.
That will put a wrap on this week's installment of the hot and not-so-hot in on-field performances in Seattle's system. We have a lot more coverage to come as the year goes on, so check back in with us as each week as we incorporate "Three Up, Three Down" into our regular reports. And make sure to stick with SeattleClubhouse throughout the entire calendar year for reports from all of the Mariners' affiliates and prospects.
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.