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.
Here we go with this week’s Three Up, Three Down.
Chantz Mack - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .444/.448/.778 (12-for-27), 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 1 BB, 9 SO
Mack led the organization in hits, extra base hits, total bases, triples, and RBI this past week, hitting for the cycle on Sunday and taking over the organization lead in RBI from Tyler O'Neill in the process. He's also now second in the system in walks (35) and third in total bases (125). A 29th round pick in 2013 out of Miami, Mack doesn't have any plus tools, but he has several average tools offensively and defensively and has shown a knack for consistently barreling the ball throughout his minor league career so far. The walk rate is among the best in the system again this season, but the strikeout rate remains above 20%, too.
His success this season has been very pull-happy and very BABIP-driven (.380 BABIP), but he has some room for that to level off and still be an effective fourth outfield type of prospect thanks to the way his bat has progressed with one big "if" attached. Mack is 25 and doing his damage right now in High-A. He's seen just 27 PA so far above that level in his career, so at some point in the second half the M's should probably get a read on whether or not Mack's bat will play at a higher level.
Alex Jackson - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .344/.382/.469 (11-for-32), 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 9 SO
Jackson got a late assignment to Clinton to open 2016, and while the power started showing right away (two home runs in his first three games) in his second taste of the Midwest League, the hits didn't come and the contact was few and far between. The club's top prospect was just 4-for-38 and fanned 15 times in 11 May games. But in June the 20 year old right-handed hitter is slashing .260/.278/.416 and already has taken over the LumberKings' team lead with five home runs.
Jackson's approach remains the same as last season, as he's hit twice as many balls up the middle or the other way as he's pulled, and that is a good sign that the young power hitter isn't selling out to get to his power. Alex now has six multi-hit games the last 11 time out, but the strikeout rate remains quite high. If he can get that in check than Jackson could still develop into a middle of the order bat for the Mariners in time.
Art Warren - RHP, Clinton LumberKings: 2 G, 2-0, 2.13 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 12 2/3 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO, .224 oAVG
Warren got two more wins this past week and leads the organization with eight wins on the season. He's also running a 54.2% ground ball rate while allowing just one home run in 69 innings of work. The 23 year old has walked just 15 in 13 starts and has allowed more than two earned runs just twice on the year. I had a good feeling about Warren heading into this season based on what I'd been told of him, and he is definitely delivering on that hunch for Clinton so far in his first full pro season.
Another arm who may be moved up in the second half, although with his injury history and relatively light workload last season, the club may choose to take it slow with Warren in 2016.
Zach Shank - 3B, Jackson Generals: .136/.240/.182 (3-for-22), 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 10 SO
Shank started this week by being promoted back to Triple-A Tacoma to take Chris Taylor's infield spot on the roster, but he ended it by struggling at the plate for the Generals. The strikeouts from this week saw his season K rate climb from 17.2% to 20.1% overall. He also made his fifth error at third base for Jackson, and while he was slugging a remarkable .619 in Triple-A, the right-handed hitting former 28th round pick has collected just five extra base hits in his 152 PA in Double-A this year.
The 25 year old utility man has starts at five positions this season and seven positions in his four seasons in the system, but his .309/.378/.406 batting line this year has opened some eyes. Without any standout tools, it is Shank's versatility that will move him along and keep him in baseball.
Paul Fry - LHP, Tacoma Rainiers: 4 G, 0-0, 10.80 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, .412 oAVG
Fry is the one arm who really stood out in Seattle's system a year ago, striking out 113 in 80 relief innings and entering spring training with virtually everyone keeping an eye on him. But the 23 year old lefty has been inconsistent this year in his first shot at Triple-A for Tacoma, allowing runs in 10 of his 22 outings and really not pitching quite as well as his ERA (3.96) would suggest. That continued this past week as Fry surrendered runs in two of his four outings and gave up seven hits and three walks in just 3 1/3 innings of work.
Fry could still see some big league innings this year, but his fastball/slider combo hasn't been nearly as deadly this season as it was last season as he's now pitched the same number of innings in Tacoma that he did for Jackson last year (25) and he's struck out 14 fewer batters (29 to 43) while walking five more (15 to 10).
Joe DeCarlo - 3B, Bakersfield Blaze: .185/.290/.185 (5-for-27), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 9 SO, 2 HBP
DeCarlo had been a hot hitter for the Blaze since returning from a stint in extended spring training leading up to last week, putting up a .325/.436/.627 slash in 101 plate appearances, but the third baseman checked in with just five singles in the past seven days, punching out nine times. He did get his season long hitting streak up to 14 games, but then went hitless in three of the last five games of the week, striking out two times in each of the last four games of the week.
The 22 year old is still having his best overall season to date, as the 2012 2nd rounder is hitting .248/.370/.438 for Bakersfield in 43 games. Long praised for having elite-level defensive potential at third, he's also made just three errors so far in 103 chances in 2016.
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