Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

Our fifth look of the season at the hot and not from the past seven days around the Mariners' minor league system.

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 for our readers, 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.

THREE UP

Jabari Blash - OF, Jackson Generals: .304/.515/.609 (7-23), 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 8 BB, 4 SO, SB, 2 HBP
His two-plus weeks in Tacoma to start the year didn't go very well (.167/.268/.389, 43.9% strikeout rate), but Jabari has been showing basically since he arrived back in Jackson that he is probably too good for Double-A. He's driven in 20 runs and picked up 14 extra base hits in 19 games for Jackson and checked in with his second 2-homer game in the past two weeks this week and was on base two or more times in six straight games.

Blash entered the game in Pensacola in the fourth on Sunday and didn't reach base in his three trips to the plate, ending a streak of 11 straight games of getting on via walk or hit at least once that saw him raise his OPS from .868 to 1.212. His 2015 season OPS is up to .992 overall and his Double-A line in 85 games over the last three seasons is now .283/.420/.567, which includes a 10.9% extra base hit rate and a 16.1% walk rate. Blash will likely be challenged with Triple-A again soon.

Jack Reinheimer - SS, Jackson Generals: .393/.452/.464 (11-28), 2 2B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB
Reinheimer started the week with a 3-hit game and ended it with four straight 2-hit games, leading the organization in hits and picking up more than .050 on his season's OPS number in Jackson's seven game week. The 2013 5th round pick is a plus defender at shortstop and his bat seems to be playing about the same -- not great, but serviceable -- at every stop so far.

After a slow start to the 2015 season, Reinheimer has two or more hits in 15 of his last 25 games, raising his average from .180 entering play on April 28th to .265 entering play today. He's also more than trimmed his strikeout rate in half over those 25 games, down from 23.8% at the beginning of the season to 11.3% since. Add to that his 12 steals in 13 attempts (second most bags in the system), and Reinheimer remains a prospect to watch for the Mariners.

Zack Littell - RHP, Clinton Lumber Kings: 1 G, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, .143 oAVG
In just his second start in the Midwest League, Littell showed the poise and mastery of his repertoire that make him an intriguing prospect to watch. The 19 year old right-hander struck out eight of the 22 River Bandits batters he faced and cruised through six innings to beat the best team and best offense in the league. And after yielding four walks in 4 2/3 in his first start of the year, he walked only two this time around.

Littell won five times and pitched five or more innings while surrendering three runs or less in nine of his 13 starts for Pulaski last season, and the 2013 11th rounder has a fastball that gets up to the mid-90s. He could be a big climber in future prospect rankings here if he continues to succeed with Clinton.

THREE DOWN

Tyler Marlette - C, Bakersfield Blaze: .111/.200/.167 (2-18), 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 7 SO
Marlette's rough season at the plate continues for Bakersfield, as he turned in yet another sub-.400 OPS week. Through April 17th, the right-handed hitting catcher was basically the Blaze's only source of offense as he was hitting .500/.556/.792. But since then, Tyler has picked up just 14 hits in 114 plate appearances over 27 games for a .135/.211/.231 slash. This week he had three more multi-strikeout games and he continued his struggles by not getting a hitting streak of more than two games for the entire month of May, during which he is hitting .086/.169/.143.

Tyler has thrown out 13 of 32 would-be base stealers on the year and has allowed just five passed balls as his defense behind the plate continued to improve, but the club's 2011 5th round pick has fallen back in nearly every facet of his offensive game. Still just 22, Marlette has lots of potential with the bat and the defensive strides he's made give him better potential than he had a few seasons ago.

Ryan Yarbrough - LHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 2 G, 0-1, 7.59 ERA, 1.78 WHIP, 10 2/3 IP, 16 H, 9 R, HR, 3 BB, 11 SO, .333 oAVG
Yarbrough has had rough outings four of the last five times out after dazzling to start the season for Bakersfield. The left-hander that checked in at No. 14 on this year's Top-50 countdown has found the going a little tough overall with his aggressive push to the California League in 2015. This week he allowed 19 of the 51 hitters he faced to reach base and saw his ERA climb from 2.88 to 4.00.

Yarbrough has continued to pitch with good control, walking just nine on the season in his nine starts to date, but his command within the zone -- getting too much of the fat part of the strike zone and not living in the bottom of it like he needs to -- has led to some of the crooked numbers that teams are putting up against him. Even though the other numbers haven't been pretty of late, he's pushed his strikeout rate up near 20% in his last six starts after some high contact rates early, and the 22 year old lefty remains a very talented arm that could move quickly if he gets right.

Stephen Landazuri - RHP, Tacoma Rainiers: 1 G, 0-0, 37.80 ERA, 4.80 WHIP, 1 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 0 SO, .667 oAVG
Landazuri got a no-decision in a fine Triple-A debut last week (6 innings, 2 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts), but his PCL road debut against the Cubs affiliate in Iowa was a short and ugly one. The right-hander was touched up for eight hits -- including three doubles -- and seven runs while getting just five outs thanks to a second inning that went like this before he got an out: single, single, double, single, single, double.

Landazuri, who was touched up a bit in the AFL this past October, was our No. 36 prospect on the Top-50 this season and isn't always viewed as a flashy prospect, but he has enough stuff and has produced at a level that would seem to warrant a little more attention. If he can bounce back from this ugly start and turn in more quality outings like his first one for the Rainiers, he truthfully isn't too far down the pecking order for big league innings as a starter at this point.

. . . . . . . . .

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.


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