2016 will be the sixth consecutive season that SeattleClubhouse will bring you a fresh report 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 who's performance most deserve it.
The rebuilding in Seattle under the new front office has a clear focus on player development in the minor leagues, and while the talent in the system isn't where it has been in the past, the farm remains a very important piece of the puzzle for the Mariners. And there is still quite a bit to be learned on some of the better prospects in the organization. Hopefully our weekly Three Up, Three Down installments helps with that learning for our readers, covering players in their age-26 or younger season who have not exhausted their MLB rookie status.
With this first week's look, we'll actually cover more than seven days, starting back at the MiLB Opening Day and counting through yesterday's action to bring you a look at the best and worst on the field so far for the M's minor leaguers. Here we go, for the first time this year -- Three Up, Three Down.
Guillermo Heredia - OF, Jackson Generals: .378/.419/.514 (14-for-37), 2 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO
Heredia's intro into the Mariners' organization consisted of him getting on base in his first nine games, walking four times and picking up a Grand Slam. The 25 year old right-handed hitter showed very little rust having been almost completely out of competitive baseball since 2013. His 14 hits were tied for fourth most in the organization through the first 10 games and he's played strong defense in center field, too.
As I covered in his profile for the Just Outside the Top-50 piece, the Cuban is a plus defensive outfielder with the instincts and range necessary to stick in center and a strong enough arm to hold down right.
Edwin Diaz - SP, Jackson Generals: 2 G, 1-1, 1.64 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 11 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 16 SO, .154 oAVG
Diaz made 20 starts for the Generals last season and ended the season 13th in the Southern League in strikeouts, but his time there was still very much up and down. Through his first two starts this season, there has been nothing remotely resembling down for Diaz, as he's struck out 16 and allowed just six hits and one walk in his first 11 innings.
The 22 year old right-hander that checked in as our No. 2 prospect before the season started could see Tacoma before the first half ends in the minor leagues if he keeps this pace up, and has an outside shot at a cameo in Seattle in 2016.
Ryan Horstman - RP, Bakersfield Blaze: 4 G, 0-1, 2.35 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 7 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 SO, .154 oAVG
Most importantly, Horstman has been healthy enough to get himself into four of the Blaze's first 10 games. But he hasn't just pitched, he's dominated. After allowing three hits, a homer and two runs in his first game of the year, the left-hander has struck out 13 of the past 21 batters he's faced, giving him 14 Ks -- the second highest number in the system so far -- in 7 2/3 on the year.
Our No. 29 prospect before the season started, the 23 year old now has 44 strikeouts in 30 pro innings to date. And a healthy Horstman could climb that ranking and the last few steps of the minor league ladder quickly.
Austin Wilson - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .211/.348/.316 (8-for-38), 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 8 BB, 17 SO
While Wilson has shown some positive signs early, drawing an organization-high eight walks and hitting one of Bakersfield's five homers, the 24 year old 2nd round pick out of Stanford in 2013 has also struck out a system-high 17 times in first 46 plate appearances at a level that he is repeating from last season.
Wilson -- who landed at No. 7 on our pre-2016 Top-50 countdown -- ended 2015 with a .935 OPS over his final 30 games, but the strikeouts remain a big concern for the muscular right-handed bat.
Austin Cousino - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .167/.205/.222 (6-for-36), 2 2B, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 13 SO
Cousino missed a big chunk of last year due to injury and struggled at the plate when he was healthy. Starting off at a new level to open 2016, Austin has had more rough waters, striking out 13 times -- and at least once in each game -- through the first eight games of the season. A hitter who sometimes sells out for power, I'm sure that he is one of the players that the new regime would like to see "Control the Zone' more effectively.
No. 23 on this year's countdown after being No. 18 a year ago, Cousino is a plus defender with good speed and good instincts...he just needs the bat to come around to complete his game, and that means a better approach.
Nick Wells - SP, Clinton LumberKings: 2 G, 0-2, 12.96 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, 8 1/3 IP, 14 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 10 SO, .378 oAVG
Now 20, Wells is probably one of the prospects this year for Seattle with the most interest around him after coming over from the Blue Jays in the Mark Lowe trade and showing some very high quality stuff. Long with a big arm, the lefty has been touched up in each of his first two starts for Clinton, getting two losses while allowing 18 baserunners and 12 runs in 8 1/3 innings. Lefties have gone 6-for-13 off of him early, too.
Wells is young (20) and this is his first action above Short Season level, but I'm sure he and the Mariners were hoping for a faster start for the No. 24 pre-season prospect for the club.
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.