Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

As the minor league All-Star breaks approach, SeattleClubhouse checks in with our weekly recap of the ups and downs in Seattle's system from the past seven days (6/8 - 6/14).

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

Tyler O'Neill - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .414/.419/.793 (12-29), 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 1 BB, 9 SO, 2 SB
O'Neill has been hitting for power all season long, and he continued to do so this past week, hitting three more home runs to give him 14 on the season. That number is pacing the M's organization, ranks third in the California League and twelfth in the minors overall. Tyler is easily the youngest player in the Top-15, so it has been an impressive season in terms of power for the 20 year old. But this past week also saw the right-handed hitter have a little more overall consistent production than has been the norm for him, collecting five multi-hit games and raising his average .025 while driving in at least one run in every game during the week.

The strikeouts (organization-high 75) and plate discipline (just 9 walks) continue to be a problem, but just imagine how much damage O'Neill would be doing this season if he added in that missing piece. There is time for him to figure that out still, as there is time for him to improve his outfield defense; O'Neill is one of the youngest players in the Cal League this season. It won't be a fast climb the rest of the way for Tyler, but the offensive potential is big for this former 2nd round pick.

Eddie Campbell - LHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 2-0, 2 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 11 SO, .200 oAVG
Campbell's 2015 got off to a rocky start as the left-hander allowed five or more runs in three of his first four outings for High-A Bakersfield, but this past week saw him twice spin 6 innings without allowing any earned runs and racking up strikeouts while limiting baserunners through hits and walks. With one scoreless road game and one home game, Campbell lowered his ERA from 13.15 to 6.84 and ran his personal winning streak to three while lowering his oAVG on the year under .300 (to .297).

Campbell is a left-hander with a good curve that can miss bats, and he now has 21 Ks in 25 innings of High-A pitching. And while he's started in 42 of his 44 pro appearances, his stuff does look like it could play up quite a bit if he were to switch to the bullpen. For the time being, however, Seattle's 15th round selection in the 2013 Draft will continue to start for the Blaze, hopefully building on the success he found this week.

Dan Paolini - OF, Jackson Generals: .400/.483/.680 (10-25), 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 BB, 4 SO
Paolini has quietly put together four solid, .800+ OPS seasons since signing as Seattle's 10th round pick in the 2011 Draft out of Siena. He was slow out of the gate in 2015 repeating Double-A, but he put together another strong week this past week and started to finally show some of his home run power again, hitting two out for the Generals. Paolini is hitting .327/.411/.436 over his last 33 games for Jackson now after piling up three multi-hit games in his last six.

A second baseman in college, and a late convert to full-time hitting in high school, where his pitching is what first got him recognized, Paolini has been a man with a bat but without a position for much of his minor league career to date. He's been focused primarily on first base and left field the past three seasons now, and while he won't ever pass for a plus defender, his routes, throwing and hands are getting better with experience. But Paolini's bat will always be the driver.

THREE DOWN

Guillermo Pimentel - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .115/.115/.154 (3-26), 2B, 2 RBI, 11 SO
A couple of seasons ago Pimentel was thought of as one of the best prospects in Seattle's system and as a Top-100 prospect in baseball at the ripe old age of 17. While he still has the biggest driving tool -- plus power -- at his disposal that earned him that recognition, injuries and lack of plate discipline have dimmed the shine on his star quite a bit over the past four seasons, and Pimentel -- now 22 -- still hasn't cracked the Double-A roster for the Mariners. This past week continued to show why that move still isn't in the near future, as the left-handed slugger struck out 11 times in 26 trips to the plate, whiffing twice in every game but one during the week. He's now up to 38 strikeouts in 30 games (31.7% K rate) on the season and 384 in 336 games (29.3%) for his minor league career.

Pimentel has big power but not a massive over-swing-type swing, giving promise that he could still develop his raw power into game power given time to develop, but the plate discipline and pitch recognition must improve. It will certainly have to improve at the High-A level for the balance of 2015, as Guillermo hasn't shown enough to this point to warrant any in-season promotions in the near future.

Rohn Pierce - RHP, Clinton LumberKings: 0-1, 2 G, 38.57 ERA, 5.14 WHIP, 2 1/3 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 2 HR, 1 BB, 1 SO, .611 oAVG
Pierce, Seattle's 19th rounder in 2014, has actually been mostly a very good reliever for the Mariners in his 80+ innings, running one of the highest SO/9 rates (11.0) in the system in that time while being a valuable multi-inning arm in Pulaski in 2014 and Clinton this year. But this past week saw him get touched up for a loss on Wednesday and then imploding on Sunday's second game of the double header that saw Clinton's losing streak reach a Midwest League record-tying 15 straight. He got just one out in the nine batters he faced, allowing five singles, two doubles and a 3-run homer in his one trip through the order in the LumberKings' 16-1 loss.

Before that outing, Pierce had only allowed more runs than innings in four of his 38 appearances. A starter in college, Pierce has picked up a few ticks on the upper end of his fastball working out of the bullpen as a pro, and also has a sweeping slider and good changeup. Although still not a power arm, he is a reliever that has enough stuff to succeed as he climbs the minor league ladder.

Estarlyn Morales - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .167/.200/.208 (4-24), 2B, RBI, BB, 5 SO, SB
After spending three seasons in the Dominican and one more at Rookie Level Peoria, Morales took a big step forward last year in his age-21 season in Pulaski (also Rookie ball), but this year -- his first in A ball -- has been a challenge so far. After a decent April, he's hit just .224/.263/.313 since May 1st, striking out in 25% of his plate appearances. He made decent contact this past week, but couldn't find any holes. His extra base hit rate has dropped from 10.2% a season ago to 6.8% this year, and his ISO has fallen below .100 on the year. That is a troubling number for someone that has started better than 80% of his games in the 3, 4 or 5 spots in the order.

Morales is well down the list in the organization's depth chart for outfielders, but he has some tools and a bit of a track record of trending in the right direction with skills we look for (plate discipline, power, etc.) that make him worth following, even if all of those numbers came from an extended stay in the Rookie Leagues. The remainder of this season will be a good barometer as to how much we pay attention to him going forward.

. . . . . . . . .

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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