Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

For the seventh time this minor league season, we check in with a Monday recap of the good and bad of the past seven days in the Seattle 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 three players on each side of the spectrum on their way towards Seattle in 2015. Here we go -- Three Up, Three Down.

THREE UP

Patrick Kivlehan - OF, Tacoma Rainiers: .308/.321/.769 (8-26), 3 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 7 SO
After struggling for much of the month of May (including striking out 30 times), Kivlehan has picked up four multi-hit games in his past seven starts for the Rainiers, and he clubbed three home runs this past week for Tacoma to move him into a three-way tie for the minor league lead in the system with 11 long balls. The versatile former football player has started at six different positions this season and played four of those this past week, adding three more doubles to his stat line to climb up to the system lead there, too, with 12.

The one thing that continued to plague Patrick even during a successful week is the strikeouts. The right-handed hitter has 49 now in 221 plate appearances on the season (22.2%) while only picking up 13 walks (5.9%). The 25 year old's bat is going to get him to the big leagues at some point, but where he plays defensively and if he'll manage the plate discipline parts of the game are what will determine how much he plays and how long he stays.

Carlos Misell - RHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 3 G, 1.50 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 SO, .105 oAVG
After 34 straight starts, Misell switched back to the bullpen for his three appearances this past week, and he once again looked like he could be dominant in shorter stretches, letting just three men reach base while striking out six in his six innings of work, five of those coming in his three innings of work on Sunday. Misell had a 5.10 ERA in those 34 starts the past two seasons while he's allowed only one earned run as a reliever in 13 2/3 innings of pro ball.

The roster in Bakersfield looks to have plenty of starting pitching right now, so Misell could be at his new, permanent home as a reliever now. The 23 year old right-hander out of Venezuela has stuff better suited for the bullpen, where his fastball can touch the mid-90s in those shorter stints, and if this switch is permanent then he could find himself moving up the ladder quickly for Seattle.

Paul Fry - LHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.25 WHIP, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 SO, .077 oAVG
Seattle's 17th round pick in the 2013 Draft out of St. Clair Community College, the 22 year old lefty Fry makes the "Up" on our list for a second time this season, despite again just getting two appearances in relief over the last seven days for the Blaze. But Saturday's performance -- three innings, one hit and eight strikeouts in the 10 batters he faced -- put an exclamation point on the success that the left-hander has been having for that past month-plus that sees him now rank second in the organization in strikeouts with 52 despite being a full-time reliever.

Since the start of May, Fry has struck out 38 of the 91 batters he's faced (41.8%), walking only three and allowing just 13 to reach via hit while holding opposing teams without an earned run in that time. His ERA has dropped more than three full runs over those 11 appearances while his opponent's average is down more than 100 points in the same period. Fry hasn't allowed a home run this season after allowing just one in 66 1/3 innings last year, and his career numbers now stand at 163 strikeouts against 173 baserunners in his 136 1/3 professional innings. And if the multiple-inning outings aren't enough to convince you that he could be more than just a LOOGY, consider that right-handed hitters have been able to put up just a .494 OPS in 91 PAs versus Paul this season.

THREE DOWN

Jordy Lara - 3B, Jackson Generals: .115/.179/.154 (3-26), 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 SO
After a slow start to 2015, Lara had a very strong May (.297/.409/.495) for Jackson, but he was back to struggling this past week, picking up just three hits despite only striking out two times. After 71 extra base hits a year ago, Lara now has just 12 through his first 50 games of this season, and he's nowhere near his pace from a season ago for RBI.

While Lara has been playing better (and more often) at third base this year and has also cut way down on the strikeouts while increasing his walk rate, if he isn't hitting for extra base power, he simply isn't a prospect that is going to take that next step for the Mariners. If he gets the power stroke back and maintains those other fixes, Lara could be one of Seattle's Top-5 or so bats in the system.

D.J. Peterson - 1B, Jackson Generals: .148/.303/.222 (4-27), 2 2B, 6 BB, 7 SO
In 58 games in the 2nd half with Jackson in 2014 Peterson hit .261/.335/.473 with 21 extra base hits and 22 walks. This year in 51 games Seattle's No. 1 pick in the 2013 Draft has hit just .202/.287/.288 with 12 extras base hits and 22 walks. The strikeouts aren't really up alarmingly higher than a year ago (233% vs. 20.6%), but Peterson's power is basically non-existent this go 'round.

Peterson has had about three times as many starts at first base than at third base this season, and he's made an error in each of his last two games at the hot corner. It's been a tough season for the M's system as a whole in terms of prospect performance, but perhaps no one in the organization has struggled more than D.J.

Tyler O'Neill - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .176/.176/.176 (3-17), 1 RBI, 0 BB, 7 SO
O'Neil ended his week with a 1-for-6 game that saw him strike out four times on Saturday. That brought him to six games of two or more strikeouts out of the last 12 and up to an organization-high 66 strikeouts (and only eight walks) on the year in his 205 plate appearances. While O'Neill is another in the system tied for the lead in HR (11), the 32.2% strikeout rate paired with the 3.9% walk rate signals that the strong right-handed hitter still has a lot of ways to go before he can be taken more seriously as a rising prospect.

That isn't to say that O'Neill isn't a prospect now. Just 20, he's one of the youngest players in the California League and one of the youngest players at the High-A level throughout the minors and he's tied for fifth in an offensive league for home runs, behind guys that are six and seven years his senior. But the plate discipline is a big key to Tyler's future.

. . . . . . . . .

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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