Each Monday during the 2013 minor league season, I will again give our readers a rundown of the best and worst from the minor league week that was within the Seattle Mariners system. The goal is to concentrate only on true prospects (age 26 and under and not on the big league roster), but if any player has an exceptionally noteworthy good (or bad) week, he could appear here as well. 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 past seven days was the first full week of minor league action, and every affiliate for Seattle had at least one day where they played more than one full game. Here is a look at six of the players who stood out for their performances, good or bad, during the week.
James Jones - OF, Jackson Generals: .368/.455/.789 (7-19), 3 2B, 3B, HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, SB
Jones, a notorious slow starter, was hitless is his first two games of the season but was an RBI machine over the weekend, driving in seven runs while watching his OPS jump up to .922. Formerly given a nod as a Top-100 prospect in all of baseball by Keith Law, Jones is a true five tool player. Always a very talented hitter but with an unpolished approach at times, the former pitcher has settled into right field for the Generals and is putting the ball in play and avoiding the strikeout early, which bodes well for his success.
Jabari Blash - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .304/.370/.652 (7-23), 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO, 2 SB
Another extremely talented hitter that confuses at times with his ultra-passive ways at the plate, Blash has the raw power to explode in the California League, and he took a step in that direction this past week. The 6-foot-5 right-handed hitter launched four extra base hits andr drove in seven runs and now has seven extra base hits and 12 RBI on the nine game old season for the Mavs. Blash's combination of power, speed and patience make him a player to watch, but he needs to show consistency in his approach this year to take a big step forward.
Brad Miller - SS, Jackson Generals: .350/.458/.600 (7/20), 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 SO, 2 SB
Miller has been on base via hit or walk multiple times in six of 10 games so far this season and his early season line of .389/.463/.667 just seems to confirm what we already knew; he can hit. A sidebar from this past week that is worth noting is that Miller hit and fielded well over the past week while making his first regular season pro starts at second and third base. Miller lasted the entire big league spring training and played all three of those infield positions for Manager Eric Wedge well and that versatility, along with the profile as a player he already had, is what led me to bump him up in the preseason Top-20 rankings. Miller could ultimately be the first infielder that gets a big league shot in 2013 for the M's.
Gabriel Guerrero - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .238/.238/.286 (5-21), 2B, RBI, 7 SO
Guerrero lit the Dominican League on fire last summer and carried over that success to Arizona in a late season promotion stateside, impressing with his power and improving approach. Given a challenging placement into the pitching atmosphere of the Midwest League, the youngster is being exploited a bit on the plate discipline front, racking up 11 strikeouts in 31 plate appearances and struggling to put the ball in play hard. As he showed from 2011 to 2012, Guerrero is smart and makes adjustments to the way that pitchers are working him, but he's having a rough go of it as a teenager in Clinton so far.
John Hicks - C, Jackson Generals: .200/.200/.250 (4-20), 2B, 2 RBI, 4 SO
Hicks had a fantastic 2012 season in High Desert and impressed for a second straight spring in Peoria while in big league camp, but he's found the environment in the Southern League much tougher to start the 2013 campaign. Hicks has yet to draw a walk and is at just .182/.182/.242 through his first eight games of Double-A ball. On the bright side, his strong defense seems to be holding up as he's already gunned down three of seven would-be basestealers on the year after throwing out nearly 54% -- the best in the minors -- in 2012.
Chance Ruffin - SP, Jackson Generals: 0-0, 7.50 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, .333 oppBA, HR, HB
Ruffin had a decent first outing for Jackson in his pro debut as a starter, but Montgomery touched him up pretty good on Saturday in his second start in a game that Jackson eventually won 10-9. Ruffin, who pitched in 15 games out of the bullpen for the Tigers and Mariners in 2011, had a down season in 2012 in Tacoma when his SO/9 dipped from 10.4 to 6.9 and the right-hander continues to have trouble striking hitters out early in 2013 with only four punchouts in 12 innings in his first two starts. Ruffin has the stuff to strike even big league hitters out, but his command has been suspect for quite some time now and the former 1st round pick is looking for answers in Double-A.
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With the rough weather that all of the affiliates have faced early it is easy to understand how some of these results are a little more volatile than even our typical small sample size, but strong starts or bad starts still have a way for setting the tone for seasons. Let's see how these six players react. And check back next week as we cover another six in Three Up, Three Down.
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