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.
The system doesn't have the strength and depth that it once did, but 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.
On Mondays throughout this season, we've been taking a look at three players on each side of the spectrum who dream of being on their way towards Seattle. Here is this week's installment of Three Up, Three Down!</p>
Tyler Pike - LHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 1-0, 1 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO, .125 oAVG
Pike, who has had two years worth of struggles after a very promising start to his career, had his best start of those past two years this week, workin seven shutout frames and walking just one on his way to his sixth win of the year for Bakersfield. The left-hander, Seattle's 3rd round pick in the 2012 Draft, was roughed up in four of his previous six outings (even though he'd won three of those starts) but this performance to end his 2015 campaign flashed the type of pitcher that Pike has shown he can be in the past. The most encouraging part for the start - and really for the last eight starts he made this year - was the control. After walking 60 in his first 20 starts of the year (6.0 BB/9), Pike walked just one for the fourth time in his last seven starts in this one and he walked an even 3.0/9 in his last eight starts of the year.
Still just 21, Pike figures to open the 2016 season with his third shot at Double-A, hoping this time to stick and have better results. In his 16 starts in 2014 and 2015 for Jackson, Tyler has pitched to a 7.35 ERA and 1.90 WHIP while walking 6.9-per-9. Even with his struggles, Pike has a lot of talent and has an arm that is easy to dream on.
Ian Miller - OF, Jackson Generals: .478/.458/.652 (11-23), 2 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, 4-5 SB
In his third season in the Mariners' system, Miller managed to stay relatively healthy for most of the season for the first time in his career, and the numbers he managed to put up - especially in the season's second half - have been very solid. In the final full week of the year, Miller put together a 5-game hitting streak with two 2-hit games and two 3-hit games. That hot stretch saw him raise his average 16 points and his OPS 34 points. Miller also swiped four bags to give him an organizational-best 50 (in 68 tries) on the year.
Miller has played his customary solid defense in center field this year again, too, and while his bat will never strike fear into the opposing pitcher, he has continued to make good contact and make good use of his best tool - speed - in his approach at the plate. After hitting just .221 for Jackson in the first half, he's hit .260 in 65 games for them in the second half. Miller could see himself back in Jackson in 2016.
Ryan Yarbrough - LHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 1-0, 1 G, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, .154 oAVG
Yarbrough had a big debut for Everett in 2014, turning heads after posting a 1.40 ERA and 12.3 SO/9 in 12 games for the Short Season affiliate. He's battled injuries in 2015, but turned in his longest outing this past week in picking up his 4th win of the season while striking out eight and allowing just five baserunners. That outing gave the big left-hander a 2.77 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 26 innings in his five starts since coming back to the California League to close out his year.
Seattle's 4th round pick in the 2014 Draft, Yarbrough ended up making 22 starts in all this season and more than doubling his innings total from a year ago (42 2/3 to 96 2/3), working six or more innings in half of his 16 starts for the Blaze. Look for Ryan to take the next step in 2016 with an assignment to Double-A, where he'll hope for a fully healthy campaign to help bolster his prospect status.
Corey Simpson - OF, Everett AquaSox: .048/.167/.048 (1-21), 2 BB, 11 SO
Simpson had a strong second season for the Frogs, improving in most statistical categories and tying for fifth in the Northwest League in home runs (8) and ranking third in RBI (45) while providing a powerful right-handed presence in the middle of the lineup. But this past week, again, highlighted his weakness as a hitter, as he struck out in 11 of his 24 trips to the plate. The 21 year old now has 78 strikeouts in 65 games for Everett, the fourth most in the league this year.
Simpson started very hot for the AquaSox in this 2015 season, cranking seven of his eight homers and hitting .290/.342/.486 after 35 games. But his final 30 regular season games yielded just one homer and a .216/.276/.324 slash for Corey. The strikeout remains his glaring hole and he'll likely be back in Clinton - where he struck out 91 times in 213 plate appearances to open 2014 - to try and improve in that area to open 2016.
Jabari Henry - OF, Jackson Generals: .118/.250/.412 (2-17), 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 9 SO
Henry's last full week of the minor league season went much the way his entire year has gone - a few extra base hits, a lot of strike outs and a lot of outs, period. One of the breakout performers from the 2014 season, when he hit 30 home runs for the Mavericks, Henry again picked up just two hits (in 20 PA) this week while striking out nine times. Henry now has 99 strikeouts and just 49 hits on the 2015 season.
Unable to ever get any type of a roll going, Henry has hit under .200 in every single month of the year, toping out at .195 in August for his best month. If you're looking for a silver lining, Jabari's second half has been much more productive than his first half and he has maintained a solid XBH rate (8.3%) and walk rate (13.1%), but everything else has been a huge struggle from the opening gun. He's most likely earned himself a return assignment to Double-A Jackson to open 2016.
Alex Jackson - OF, Everett AquaSox: .059/.333/.059 (1-17), 1 RBI, 4 BB, 8 SO
Jackson, widely regarded as one of Seattle's top prospects, didn't enjoyed the type of success in his first full year that many had hoped, and this last week - which followed perhaps his best week as a pro to date - was another example of how much development the 19 year old still has to do. Jackson struck out eight more times against Northwest League pitching, running his season total to 96 Ks in 76 games overall and 61 in 48 games for Everett. His 30.2% strikeout rate on the season is the 49th highest mark in baseball among the 1,263 minor leaguers who have surpassed 300 plate appearances in 2015.
Even with the struggles with contact, Jackson tied for fifth in the league in home runs with eight and ranked seventh in the league in slugging at .466, speaking to the big power ability that is in his bat. Jackson figures to get another crack at the Midwest League to open 2016, and I'd bet on the results being much, much different the next time around.
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That does it for this week's installment of Three Up and Three Down in Seattle's system, and puts a wrap on our weekly check-ins for the 2015 season. Check back in with us often as we bring you reports from all of the Mariners' affiliates and prospects.
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