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 fourth full week of game action from the M's minor leaguers. Here we go with this week’s Three Up, Three Down.
Zach Shank - 3B, Jackson Generals: .429/.484/.500 (12-for-28), 1 3B, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 6 SO
Seattle's 28th round pick in the 2013 Draft and a favorite of mine since then, Shank has reached base in all 27 games he's played for Jackson this year and is currently second in the Southern League with a .344 AVG. The 25 year old Shank has already turned in nine multi-hit efforts this year for the Generals and his .817 OPS is second on the club.
The right-handed hitting Shank has just three extra base hits (one double and two triples) in 107 plate appearances this year, but the Marist product owns a solid .269/.340/.392 career minor league slash from Rookie Ball to Triple-A in 1,214 plate appearances to date and has started at seven defensive positions.
Andrew Moore - RHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 2 G, 1-0, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 12 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 SO, .135 oAVG
Moore dazzled again this week for the Blaze, turning in two more solid starts and allowing just one run in the process. His 0.90 WHIP leads all system starters, his 5.9 H/9 mark ranks second and his 1.48 ERA is third in Seattle's minors here in 2016. Right-handed hitters are hitting just .163 off of Andrew, and though lineups have been stacked with lefties against him (101 PA vs 86 PA for RHH), they've managed just a .610 OPS.
The right-hander who was Seattle's second pick last year (No. 72 overall) is tied for the California League lead in innings pitched (48 2/3) and he has gone at least six innings in all but one of his eight starts for the Blaze in 2016. All told, Moore has allowed more than two earned runs just one time in his 22 career MiLB appearances.
Dylan Unsworth - RHP, Jackson Generals: 2 G, 1-0, 1.46 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 12 1/3 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO, .239 oAVG
Unsworth's two-start week was highlighted by his first career shutout, and while it was "only" a 7-inning shutout, it continued the trend of dominance for the 23 year old South African native. Unsworth is also once again showing his pinpoint command as he's walked just seven in seven starts. His career total is 75 in 536 1/3 innings (1.3 BB/9).
While he doesn't have overpowering stuff, he is proving that he knows how to pitch as right-handers are hitting Dylan at just a .162/.219/.265 clip so far in 2016 and lefties have a 22.8% strikeout rate against him.
Kody Kerski - RHP, Bakersfield Blaze: 2 G, 0-1, 27.00 ERA, 3.75 WHIP, 2 2/3 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 1 HBP, 0 BB, 2 SO, .588 oAVG
After two very strong seasons in Everett and Clinton (2.26 ERA in 99 2/3), Kerski has been getting hit hard in 2016 for Bakersfield. Kerski was touched up in both of his outings for the Blaze this week, getting hung with the loss while allowing five runs and seven of 10 batters faced to reach on Monday then following that up by surrendering three runs and four of seven batters to reach on Sunday.
Left-handed hitters own a 1.048 OPS against him in 34 plate appearances in 2016. Kerski's tough week has his season totals now at 17 earned runs -- most in the system for relievers, and "good" enough for a 9.98 ERA -- and 31 baserunners allowed (2.02 WHIP) in 15 1/3 innings on the year.
Austin Cousino - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .091/.130/.136 (2-for-22), 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 8 SO, 1-1 SB
Cousino opened in Bakersfield but had a tough time making contact there and getting on base (.167/.220/.274, 27 strikeouts in 93 PA). Moved back down to Clinton where he spent the healthy portion of his 2015 (.190/.253/.254 in 57 games), the left-handed hitting outfield hasn't found the going any easier. Through the first seven games with the LumberKings, Austin is at .111/.143/.148 with 10 strikeouts.
A plus defender in center field with good speed, I put Cousino 23rd on this year's Top-50, but his contact issues are becoming more of a problem as time goes on. He could easily become a 4th OF-type if he gets that turned around.
Tim Lopes - 2B, Jackson Generals: .154/.148/.269 (4-for-26), 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 7 SO
Lopes has been one of Seattle's more consistent and impressive minor leaguers in 2016 so far, handling the bump up to Double-A quite well, but a 4-for-26 stretch saw his average drop more than 30 points and his OPS drop more than 60 in the last seven days. The seven strikeouts were a very high number for him, too, as his season rate was at 13.9% prior to the week.
Along with the good start with the bat that he hopefully can get back to, Lopes has been playing solid defense at second base and has been successful on seven of eight early season steal attempts after being thrown out 18 times last year in 53 tries.
That puts a wrap on this week's look at the very best and very worst performances in the Mariners' minors from the past seven days. Check back in every Monday for a fresh look at the hot and not in Three Up, Three Down.
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