For the fifth consecutive 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.
Luis Liberato - OF, Everett Aquasox: .458/.480/.833 (11-24), 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO, 2-2 SB
The best offensive week by any player in the system was turned in at the Short Season level in Everett by a prospect that isn't all that familiar to most. Incredibly athletic and toolsy, Liberato struggled to start 2015 while he was in the Midwest League in Clinton, but since Everett opened their season, he has been showing up big in nearly every game they've played, and did so a lot this past week.
A 19 year old from the Dominican, Liberato unleashes a violent left-handed swing when he's going for power and it has served him well so far in Everett as he currently leads the NWL in hits (16), home runs (3), SLG (.821), OPS (1.273) and total bases (32) through the season's first 11 games. He also has shown good speed on the bases and a good arm and good range while playing all three outfield spots.
Freddy Peralta - RHP, Peoria Mariners: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.20 WHIP, 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, .063 oAVG
Though his first start of 2015 wasn't very good (4 ER, 8 base runners in 4 1/3 IP), Peralta followed up with a gem in his second start of the AZL season to make us take note as to why so many are high on this young right-hander out of the Dominican. He faced one over the minimum and allowed just one single in the 16 Dodgers' batters he faced, striking out seven and getting the win as two relievers combined to hold them at one hit for the whole game.
Peralta signed in 2013 and has put up a 3.30 ERA in 106 1/3 innings over two seasons of rookie ball (one in the Dominican and one in Arizona) before this year. Since he is undersized at just 5-foot-11, there hasn't been a ton of noise about him. But the arm speed (fastball up to 93-94) and repertoire (solid curve and developing change) are there for Peralta. He just turned 19 and has a long ways to go to evolve from thrower to pitcher, but he's an arm from the lower levels to watch.
Arby Fields - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .368/.455/.684 (7-19), 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO
Signed as a minor league free agent by the Mariners, Fields played two sports at three college stops and was drafted twice before finding his way to Seattle's system in 2014. He spent the majority of his season with Pulaski last year, hitting .331/.429/.503 for them while stealing 19 bases. Moved up to Clinton full-time this year, he's gotten off to a strong start, hitting .286/.426/.401 through 44 games, leading the organization in OBP. He added some power to his stat line this past week, hitting a home run right-handed on Friday and one from the left side on Saturday.
5-foot-9 with good speed and a stocky build, the former college running back has the explosiveness in everything that he does that you would expect from a football guy. The combination of plate discpline, defense and speed are a great mix for a player to get ample opportunities in the minor leagues to make that jump. Sprinkle in some extra base power -- even for someone like Fields, 24, who is a little old for the level -- and you have yourself someone who's name is worth remembering.
Braden Bishop - OF, Everett AquaSox: .143/.217/.143 (3-21), 1 RBI, 6 SO, 2 HBP
While Liberato has crushed in Everett as a 19 year old, the 21 year old Bishop -- his outfield teammate for the Frogs -- has had a tough time getting going in the pro game so far. Seattle's 3rd round pick this year out of Washington and an incredibly exciting defensive player, the bat was always the question with Bishop. So far, that question hasn't been answered in a positive way. Through his first nine games in Short Season ball, Bishop has reached almost as many times getting hit by pitches (3) as he has by getting a hit (5). He's walked just once while striking out nine times and hasn't looked all that comfortable in doing it, as three singles and six strikeouts in his first full week attest.
Bishop has already flashed the leather on a couple of occasions for Everett and he has both of their outfield assists recorded as a team so far, but it is clear that he is playing at the correct level right now in terms of where he is with the bat. He doesn't hit with his lower half much, and while the M's are typically patient with kids when they first enter the system before doing major mechanical overhauls, I suspect that Bishop's swing will eventually get one. If they can make him into a decent hitter, his glove and speed could carry him to the big leagues in time.
Edwin Diaz - RHP, Jackson Generals: 0-1, 9.64 ERA, 2.14 WHIP, 4 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO, .300 oAVG
Diaz, Seattle's top pitching prospect, started slow in Double-A after earning an early promotion but had turned it on in recent starts. But facing Birmingham for the second straight outing with this past week's start, Diaz fell back into the trap that was hurting him when he was first promoted, as his command led to walks and unfavorable counts and, ultimately, runs. Diaz did still manage to punch out four batters, running his season number to an organizational-best 80, but the rough outing pushed his ERA in Jackson up to 5.48 and WHIP up to 1.45.
The 21 year old right-hander is much younger than most of his competition in the Southern League and has already turned in four very good to dominant starts, offering glances of his overall substantial talent. But the four rough outings in Jackson speak to the development that is still left to go for Diaz. As he continues to refine his craft and understand how to sequence his offspeed pitches to compliment his mid-90s fastball and keep more advanced hitters off-balance, Edwin should find himself in Triple-A, and eventually in the big leagues. But that learning process isn't always sunshine and strikeouts for young pitchers.
Gareth Morgan - OF, Peoria Mariners: .250/.276/.321 (7-28), 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 12 SO
Morgan is off to a better statistical start in terms of counting stats through this season's first seven games of action, but the 12 punch outs were the high mark in the system this past week and remain a concern for the M's 2014 second pick. Morgan is still very young and very raw, as his 15 Ks in 7 games overall on the season show, but he is showing early signs of willingness to go the other way and attack the right pitches, which is a move in the right direction. So, too, are the seven hits he picked up -- more than any six game stretch from a year ago. He's struck out at least one time in every game this year and only had four games last year where he came to bat four or more times that he didn't have a strikeout.
Morgan has massive power and great bat speed, but his approach -- which I've been told has improved dramatically from a year ago. He's had a couple of big hits in pressure situations already, including a big hit going the other way, and the organization is pleased with the work he's put in to get to this point. Plate discipline and pitch recognition are often the most difficult pieces of the puzzle for hitters, but if Morgan -- still just 19 -- gets those dialed in, his big time power will make him one of the top prospects in the organization to keep tabs on.
That will put a wrap on this week's installment of the hot and not in on-field performances in Seattle's system. We will have a lot more coverage to come in the year's second half, 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.