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.
Every Monday, we look at three players on each side of the spectrum who dream of being on their way towards Seattle in 2015. Here is this week's installment of Three Up, Three Down!
Tyler O'Neill - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .379/.387/1.000 (11-29), 3 2B, 5 HR, 11 RBI, 1 BB, 8 SO, 2 SB
O'Neill has been having perhaps the best season of any offensive player in Seattle's system that hasn't yet cracked the big league roster in 2015. The 20 year old outfielder slugged five home runs and eight extra base hits this past week, bringing his season total to 24 home runs -- fourth best overall in the minors. He's homered eight times in his 11 games since returning from winning Pan Am Gold with Team Canada and has homered 10 times in 19 games since the Cal League All-Star break.
Seattle's 3rd round pick in the 2013 Draft out of Canada, O'Neill is a muscular kid that caught and played the middle infield as a prep but has converted to the outfield in the pros. He's made a lot of strides defensively, moves well and has a strong arm so he should be fine long term in an outfield corner. While the power is playing in games already at a young age, Tyler's offensive game isn't without warts, as he has just 15 walks and 100 strikeouts on the year.
Austin Wilson - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .400/.500/.720 (10-25), 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 5 SO, 5 HBP
Another Blaze bat caught fire this past week as Wilson got into the swing of things, picking up three multi-hit games -- two of those of the 3-hit variety. He added more than 1/3 to his extra base hit total and was making more and louder contact all week, too. And in closing out July with a .269/.400/.404 slash, Austin got over the hump of being at or below .200 each month this season. The strong week represented the best seven day stretch that the Stanford product has turned in in what has been a very challenging season for him.
Wilson is more than three years older than O'Neill, but he doesn't seem to be advancing and adjusting as quickly. His strikeout rate has climbed to 24.8% and his average was at .192 when the week began. The big, strong right-handed hitter is slugging under .250 against left-handed pitching on the season. His strong arm has helped him pick up six more outfield assists and he's already stolen a career best six bases, but the power bat is Wilson's ticket and he needs to do more with that tool.
Erick Mejia - 2B, Everett AquaSox: .429/.467/.607 (12-28), 3 2B, 1 3B, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, 2 SB
Mejia has been everywhere this season as the organization has been short on middle infield bodies, but Everett is probably where the 20 year old truly belongs. He had a great week for the Frogs this past week, getting at least one hit in every game he started and picking up three multi-hit games in the process, which gives him seven multi-hit games out of 18 played in Everett. The switch-hitter also knocked four extra base hits and struck out just one time in 30 trips to the plate while stealing two more bases. Mejia was No. 46 on our pre-season Top-50, and that scouting report is staying true for him this season.
While he has played mostly second base for the AquaSox and has made nine errors in 61 chances during his time at short at Tacoma, Clintonm Everett and the AZL, Mejia has the defensive chops to play shortstop at a high level as he matures. The bat he's shown this season and last -- both in his ability to make contact and in his ability to hit the ball hard -- say that there is a chance for him to make some noise in the system even if he's ultimately moved off of short, though. Keep an eye on him.
Estarlyn Morales - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .048/.091/.095 (1-21), 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO
After being a Midwest League All-Star, Morales was pushed up to High-A Bakersfield about three weeks ago. He went 0-for his first seven games there before hitting his stride with a five game hitting streak, but Seattle felt it would be best to get him back down to Clinton. But in his five games back with the LumberKings this week, Morales scratched out just one hit.
After spending three years in the DSL, the 22 year old hit .303/.379/.495 for Pulaski last year, but his combined slash this season is a disappointing .231/.281/.332. Morales does have 11 outfield assists this year, but he also has made 10 errors -- the fourth highest number among outfielders in Seattle's system.
Lukas Schiraldi - RHP, Clinton LumberKings: 0-1, 9.45 ERA, 2.55 WHIP, 6 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 9 BB, 5 SO, .308 oAVG
Schiraldi was also a Midwest League All-Star this season, but he's averaging less than five innings a start since the break and had two more tough outings this past week, allowing almost as many base runners as he recorded outs, walking nine to run his season total to 49 in 97 2/3 innings. Aside from the walks, he's also thrown three wild pitches twice in his last four outings.
Schiraldi is still getting a fair number of ground balls and he's yet to allow a home run to a right-handed hitter this season, but his 1.45 WHIP is easily the worst among the 40 arms with the most innings in the Midwest League. Bloodlines and repertoire hint that there could be a better pitcher in there, but it has been rough outside of May for Lukas in 2015.
Darin Gillies - RHP, Everett AquaSox: 0-1, 81.00 ERA, 10.50 WHIP, 2/3 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, .750 oAVG
Seattle's 10th rounder this year, Gillies had a great start to his pro career for Everett as he boasted a 1.84 ERA after his first five appearances. But he had a really rough go of it against Salem-Kaiser on Friday to close out July, failing to make it out of the first inning while allowing seven runs to score in an 8-7 loss. Staked to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, Gillies struck out the leadoff hitter before finishing his outing with this sequence: BB, 1B, 2B, 2B, 1B, 1B, K, 1B.
The Arizona State product is a sinker/slider arm from the right side that works around 90 mph with his fastball, but so far as a pro it is the right-handed hitters that have been getting to him, hitting a combined .303/.410/.530 off of Gillies in 78 plate appearances to date.
That does it for this week's installment of the highlights and lowlights in on-field performances in Seattle's system. 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.
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