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.
As we get set to celebrate Independence Day with all seven affiliates in action today, here is what we have for this week’s Three Up, Three Down.
D.J. Peterson - 1B, Tacoma Rainiers: .500/.636/.938 (8-for-16), 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 6 BB, 4 SO
Peterson's schedule this past week was a little abbreviated as it was interrupted for a well-earned promotion to Triple-A, but while he was on the field -- for the Generals and for Tacoma -- the right-handed hitter continued his hot hitting, driving in four with four hits in his second Triple-A game while extending his hitting streak to 11 games. He's hit .390/.456/.662 over his past 20 games overall, and that includes four games with three or more hits.
Peterson has been letting the ball travel more and staying on the ball longer this season, which has not only allowed him to hit the ball with more authority the other way, but also punish mistakes to the pull side better. With the first base and DH platoons in Seattle among the best in baseball, there is no rush to get D.J. to the big leagues, but the performance for the club's former top prospect is a huge boon to the system after a disastrous 2015.
Conner Hale - 1B, Clinton LumberKings: .522/.556/.826 (12-for-23), 1 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 3 SO
After hitting just .163/.231/.211 in 164 plate appearances last year for Everett in his pro debut, Hale is coming on strong for Clinton as one of the breakthrough statistical prospects on the season. The 23 year old picked up five more multi-hit games this past week and now has 21 on the season and has his 2016 numbers up to .292/.331/.415. He is tied for the LumberKings' team lead with six home runs and is second on the club in total bases with 98.
Hale hits the ball to all fields but all of his power is to his pull side, and after playing exclusively at third base for Everett, the 2015 9th round pick out of LSU has primarily been locked in at first base for the past month for Clinton, where he's played errorless baseball and shown soft hands.
Jake Brentz - LHP, Everett AquaSox: 2 G, 0-0, 0.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 9 2/3 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 14 SO, .194 oAVG
After a couple of off starts to open his 2016 season with Everett, Brentz turned in two dominant outings this past week, leading the system in strikeouts for the week while dialing in his control and posting a 3.5:1 SO:BB ratio. Brentz has also been an extreme ground ball pitcher so far this season, getting 28 ground balls out of the 49 balls that have been put in play off of him.
Converted to pitching late in his prep career before being the Blue Jays' 11th round pick in the 2013 Draft, he'll play this entire season at age 21 and can consistently work his fastball in the mid-90s. Control and command are the only things currently holding Brentz back from being a big name in the system for the M's.
Austin Wilson - OF, Bakersfield Blaze: .174/.259/.174 (4-for-23), 3 RBI, 3 BB, 10 SO
After putting together a solid 15-game stretch that saw him hit .340/.435/.453, Wilson fell back into his strikeout-prone ways this past week, striking out 10 more times in 27 plate appearances, including his first four strikeout game of the year on Sunday. The muscular right fielder now has twice as many strikeouts (96) as hits (48) on the season and his extra base power has been almost non-existent, even when he was going well as his season mark for XBH% is just 4.2%.
Even when he was going well in terms of results, the process still seemed to be off for Wilson. Bakersfield is 22-3 in their last 25 games and they have a number of players playing great, but Austin now has a .351 SLG to show for 701 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly California League the past two seasons, and 2016 is looking more and more like it will be a lost year for the club's 2013 2nd round pick.
Logan Taylor - 3B, Clinton LumberKings: .120/.185/.200 (3-for-25), 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 11 SO
Taylor has been much the same player for Clinton this year as he was last year with Everett when he was a NWL All-Star in his pro debut, but the 22 year old is in a rough patch over his past 15 games or so for the LumberKings. He tied for the most strikeouts in the system this past week and picked up just three hits.
Seattle's 12th round pick last year, Taylor leads Clinton in RBI (43) and is second in walks (36), but he's now hitting under .250 on the season for Clinton after finishing June at .198 with 30 strikeouts. The right-handed hitter is also hitting just .213/.309/.277 versus left-handed pitching on the season.
Lane Ratliff - LHP, Everett AquaSox: 2 G, 0-1, 94.50 ERA, 13.50 WHIP, 2/3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, .800 oAVG
Ratliff threw just 2/3 of an inning combined in his two outings this past week, but he still managed to give up the most runs in the entire system. The 21 year old lefty is in his third year in the organization and is repeating in Everett, where he put up a 7.06 ERA as a starter a year ago, and outside of a 2 1/3 inning, 5 strikeout performance last week, the early appearances out of the bullpen haven't shown much improvement.
Ratliff has walked just one so far this season in his nine innings while striking out 12, but he's been hit around the park at an alarming rate; perhaps that means he's been catching too much of the zone too regularly. We'll monitor the 6-foot-3 lefty going forward to see if he can improve his results.
That does it for this week's recap of the ups and downs in Seattle's system. Check back in next Monday as we give you another installment of Three Up, Three Down.
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