Each Monday during the minor league season we give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The focus is aimed to be on true prospects, but if any organizational player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. This isn't necessarily a season long "stock going up" or "stock going down" on the player, just simply a snapshot and 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.
In this week's Three Up, Three Down, we catch up with a few regulars and also a few performers from one of the Mariners Rookie League teams.
Dario Pizzano - Pulaski Mariners: .533/.531/.833 (16-30), 4 2B, 3B, HR, 8 RBI, BB, 4 SO, SB
Pizzano not only led the Appalachian League in hits this past week, he led the entire minor leagues. In fact, he leads the minors in hits for the whole month of August with 35 (in 77 ABs). He had a 15-game hitting streak (.450/.507/.600) end on Friday, but all he's done since is go 8 for 14 with three extra base hits and seven RBI. The left-handed hitting outfielder is now hitting .359/.448/.521 on the year for Pulaski.
A 15th round selection out of Columbia this year, the 21-year-old lefty swinging Pizzano was the Ivy League Player of the Year and has a good approach and great eye at the plate. He's a corner OF/1B/DH type of athlete but without ideal power, so his bat will have to stay red hot from an average standpoint for him to remain a legitimate prospect for the M's.
Danny Hultzen - Tacoma Rainiers: 0-0, 1.04 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, .074 oAVG, 8 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 9 SO
OK, sure, that is a small sample size. But those first two starts following a 17-day layoff -- especially considering the two starts that preceded that layoff -- are enough to warrant a spot on this list for Hultzen. Especially considering that his outing Sunday included 5 no-hit innings. Hultzen's overall numbers in Triple-A still don't look great (4.35 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 29 BB in 41 1/3 IP), but since 2/3 of his starts have actually been pretty good, it is possible that he just needed a bit of a layoff to get back on track.
The problems that he has encountered in 2012 have all centered around command, and when his command is better -- as it was this past week -- then his stuff, which has never wavered, can be dominant. At 21 starts and 116 2/3 IP now on the year between Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, who knows how much longer Danny's season will last, but the club would surely like him to end the year on a high note. That means that if he can put together two more good starts in Triple-A over the next 10 days, a September call-up still is in play.
Taijuan Walker - Jackson Generals: 0-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .207 oAVG, 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 SO
Walker didn't dazzle with high a strikeout total or a low-hit game this week, but he still made his first start as a 20-year-old memorable. After not going more than six innings in any of his first 21 starts in 2012, Walker made it through eight innings in his latest, and did so on a very economical 103 pitches for the Generals. It was just the 2nd time in his minor league career that the 2010 draftee had made it eight or more innings, covering 44 starts.
With all of the hype around Walker, Hultzen and James Paxton this year, the fact that Walker has put up a 4.11 ERA in 111 2/3 Double-A innings with good command and a lot of swings and misses mostly as a teenager may not seem like such a huge accomplishment, but the shine is most definitely not off of Taijuan Walker and his ceiling is still sky-high.
Carlos Peguero - Tacoma Rainiers: .160/.300/.320 (4-25), 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 12 SO, 3 HBP
Peguero remains the hitter in the Mariners organization with the biggest and loudest power, but as we saw once again during his time with the big club (6-41, 22 strikeouts in 12 games), the strikeouts just kill his ability to contribute at the highest level. And following that latest MLB stint, it seems that a bit of the wind is out of the sails for Carlos. He's hitting just .220/.352/.356 and has struck out two-plus times in 13 of 17 August games for the Rainiers -- 32 strikeouts in all during those 17 games.
After a red hot start to the year and better than usual contact rates early, the big lefty now has 97 K's in 66 minor league games this year, and while his walk rate is better than usual, the 25-year-old Peguero just doesn't seem to be able to recognize pitches well enough to enable him to make consistent contact. It's likely that we've already seen what Carlos Peguero is and that he won't do much improving any more.
Joe Dunigan - Jackson Generals: .111/.273/.278 (2-18), HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 13 SO
Much like Peguero, Dunigan started this season making more contact and doing more damage than was his norm, but this past week looked a lot like a bunch of Joe's recent weeks -- not a lot of contact. 13 punch outs in five games this week and 48 in his last 22 games now has Dunigan's season total up to 158 in 104 games on the year. That total is enough to rank him 4th in all of minor league ball.
Dunigan is already old for his level (26) and more or less a man without a defensive position, but the power (22 2B, 23 HR) still catches your eye when reading across the stat sheets. But no stat is more glaring than the Ks, and the former 5th round pick -- like Peguero -- is what he is at this point.
Phillips Castillo - Pulaski Mariners: .167/.200/.333 (4-24), 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, 10 SO
Unlike the first two on the "Down" list here, Castillo is still a very young prospect with a lot of upside. But just like them, he has been struggling mightily with plate discipline and pitch awareness. This week was his 2nd straight with double-digit strikeouts, and after a strong stretch to end July, the 18-year-old outfielder now sees his season line down to .219/.307/.385 in 48 games for Pulaski.
Castillo is now hitting just .140 in 16 games since collecting three hits (in 11 plate appearances) in the club's 23-inning, two day marathon game back on the 2nd of August, and his BB (13) and strikeout (49) numbers haven't really improved all that much from his '11 debut (15 BB, 61 SO in 48 games in the AZL).
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