Once again in 2016, SeattleClubhouse is bringing you a fresh report each Monday highlighting 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 whose 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 the full-season affiliates have jumped out to a fast start. There is still quite a bit to be learned on some of the fast-rising prospects in the organization, and as with any change in player development philosophy and personnel, unexpected players could rise up. Hopefully our weekly Three Up, Three Down installments help with that learning for our readers while highlighting the special performances each week, covering players in their age-26 or younger season who have not exhausted their MLB rookie status.
This week's look gives you the best and worst on the field from the third week of game action from the M's minor leaguers. Here we go with this week’s Three Up, Three Down.
Tyler O'Neill – OF, Jackson Generals: .318/.375/.636 (7-for-22), 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 6 SO
O'Neill continued to impress for Jackson this past week, with homers in back-to-back games to end the week for the Generals. And continuing his encouraging trend that we highlighted last week, Tyler drew two more walks this week, bringing his 2016 total to 10 in just 22 games (10.6% BB rate) after walking a career-best 29 times in 449 plate appearances (6.5% BB rate) in 2015.
One of the youngest players in Double-A, Tyler is proving to be up to the challenge at the plate. And his defense – at least in terms of routes to balls to his left, right and coming in – and his throwing continue to be solid, too.
Barbosa is a light-hitting, speed and defense outfielder, but he’s taken to the “Control the Zone” philosophy quite well to open 2016, drawing seven walks and striking out just once through his first 38 appearances since joining Clinton late out of spring training.
The 24 year old played almost all of 2015 up a level at Bakersfield and posted one of the stronger walk rates in the system, but he struck out at a good-but-not-great clip of 15.8%, too. Obviously his current 2.6% rate isn’t sustainable, but it seems that Barbosa is putting together more consistent plate appearances that take full advantage of his skillset.
Warren – who made just six relief appearances in his first pro season last year – has been very good in each of his four starts so far for Clinton, going longer each time out (5, 5 1/3, 6, 7), and picking up three wins in the process. Right-handed bats have managed just five singles in 51 plate appearances against him, and he’s only walked one lefty in their 42 trips.
Seattle’s 23rd rounder last June, Warren made my Top-50 (at No. 48) after the glowing reports that I got from a few members of the player development staff on him at the end of last year which were backed up by a scout who saw him throw in a playoff game. Looking like good placement so far.
Wilson’s slow start continued this week, and even though he picked up a couple of extra base hits and some walks, the strikeouts continue to be a huge red flag. 11 whiffs in 24 plate appearances this week give the big right-handed hitter 39 in 99 plate appearances on the year – the worst in the system by 50%.
Wilson struck out at a 26% clip a season ago, but repeating the California League as a 24 year old in his fourth season, I was expecting a significant step forward from the club’s 2013 second round selection, and that hasn’t happened thus far.
Marlette is another player who moved down a level in 2016, and while this year is his third year in the California League, they seem to be getting progressively worse. He picked up just one hit this week and has just one RBI in 62 plate appearances so far in 2016, striking out at a 27.4% rate.
Tyler struggled to a .672 OPS in 2015 after back-to-back seasons at .815 or above, and his OPS sits at .510 so far in 2016 for the 23 year old, which includes a 2-for-17 showing against lefties for the right-handed hitter. Not trending in the right direction.
Those numbers for Schiraldi hardly appear to be enough to land him on the “down” side of this week’s report, but the total in the walks column is the continuation of a troubling trend that is preventing the 2014 15th round pick from being more than a talented tease at this point. Schiraldi has now walked 19 in his five starts and 24 2/3 innings this season and four or more in nine of his last 13 starts in the Midwest League dating back to the end of last July. His last three starts have included five wild pitches and a hit batter, too.
Schiraldi has stayed out of trouble this season thanks to giving up just 13 hits so far, with just one of those going for extra bases, but the 6-foot-6 right-hander with big league bloodlines still has a lot of polish to go to make himself a prospect.
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