Each Monday during the minor league season, I will give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The focus will be to concentrate only on true prospects, but if any player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. This isn't a "stock going up" or "stock going down" on the player, just simply a recap of their week.
The goal is to not only keep you up to date on the goings on, but to try and give you a better look of what talent is in the system by spreading the coverage around.
This is the look at the first full week of minor league action and Mariners' organizational "hots" and "nots".
Jack Marder - High Desert Mavericks: .444/.500/.667 (12-27), 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI
Marder didn't put up great numbers at Oregon, but he has talent -- including very good bat speed -- to go along with his all-out playing style. He had some of that talent on display this past week, leading High Desert from his leadoff spot and drawing two walks while striking out just once in 30 plate appearances. Those numbers were good enough for 3rd in the Cal League in AVG, t-4th in OBP and 6th in OPS (1.167).
He picked a runner off of first from behind the plate and stole two bases during the last six games, as well. His confidence oozed in his interview with SeattleClubhouse, and this past week of showing what he can do should tell you why he has that confidence.
Danny Hultzen - Jackson Generals: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 5 2/3 IP, 1 H, 3 BB, 9 Ks
After a less than stellar pro debut last week, Hultzen righted the ship in his start this past week against the Smokies. Working quickly and confidently, Hultzen struck out nine while allowing just four baserunners in trimming his ERA from 11.25 to 4.66. Viewed as more of a control guy than a power arm, hee has now struck out 16 of the 41 batters he's faced in 2012.
Lefties have managed just one hit off Hultzen, who has a little deception in his delivery, but right-handers have struck out in exactly half of their plate appearances, speaking to the quality of his off-speed offerings. He still doesn't have a win, but the process was much better in his second start and it should be clear to everyone watching that Hultzen is a very special talent.
Stephen Pryor - Jackson Generals: 1-0, 1 Sv, 0.00 ERA, 0.18 WHIP, 5 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 Ks
Pryor allowed three baserunners and two earned runs in the season opener, but since then it has been shut-down city every time he's come in to the game. In the past week for the Generals Pryor allowed just one baserunner and struck out eight while pounding the strike zone with his heavy fastball. With just one walk on the season in five appearances, Pryor is showing the command that he had at the end of last season with Jackson.
That command he has now sets him apart from many hard throwers. The Mariners have a few talented right-handed bullpen arms in the upper minors, but Pryor is the biggest and nastiest of that group and figures to get a shot at closing in the big leagues at some point in the near future.
Chance Ruffin - Tacoma Rainiers: 0-1, 23.14 ERA, 2.14 WHIP, 2 1/3 IP, 3 BB
Ruffin actually had one good outing this past week (1 IP, 2 Ks, 11 of 14 pitches for strikes on the 9th), but his other one was so bad that he finds himself on this list for the week. Three walks, a hit batter, a wild pitch and a 1:1 strike-to-ball ratio on the 12th versus Colorado lead to six earned runs for Chance in just 1 1/3 innings.
We saw last season at the big league level that his control can escape him at times, and if he can't command his fastball, then he really doesn't have another weapon to go to as everything else he throws depends on being set up by his fastball. It's early and he has talent, but it isn't a good sign that Ruffin has needed 85 pitches to get through his 4 1/3 Triple-A innings so far this year.
John Hicks - High Desert Mavericks: .182/.217/.227 (4-22), 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 6 Ks
From the penthouse to the outhouse, Hicks was on the "Up" last week, but he had one of the worst weeks by OPS of any player in the California League this past week and has struck out in five of his last (hitless) eight at bats - his first such at bats away from the hitting heaven of High Desert.
Splitting time with Marder between catching and DH, he hasn't shown enough with the bat to think he can make an impact if he doesn't stay behind the plate, but Marder is clearly the more complete player at this point. He does have a good approach and makes good contact, but he doesn't have enough power to be an option as a DH down the road.
Guillermo Pimentel - Clinton LumberKings: .080/.115/.080 (2-25), 1 BB, 9 Ks
Pimentel came out of Spring Training with the shine of being named as the player that best controlled the strike zone in minor league camp, but that control is all but gone now in week two of Midwest League action. He had the 4th worst OPS and the 3rd highest strikeout total in the league over the last seven days for the LumberKings. He's also 0-14 with seven punch outs against left-handed pitching, a weakness in his game that must be improved on (.177/.209/.290 in 62 PA vs LH in '11).
Pimentel is still among the youngest and least experienced competitors in the Midwest League, but his slow start in not encouraging despite the acknowledged gap.
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