Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

The hot streak continued on from last week for two players making a second consecutive appearance on the "Up" side of our weekly look around the good and bad of the Mariners system. Check out the latest Three Up, Three Down report inside.

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.

Early in the season and there are already some repeat offenders on both sides of the ledger here with some regularity. It's good to see one name that dealt with a demotion to start the season put up another strong week and hopefully begin to put more than a year's worth of struggles behind him. Continue reading for Three Up, Three Down.

THREE UP

Vinnie Catricala - 3B, Jackson Generals: .357/.419/.643 (10-28), 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 4 SO
Catricala continued to hit the ball hard this past week as he picked up four more extra base hits and the first two home runs of his 2013 season. Since the calendar flipped to May Vinnie is hitting .368/.446/.544, more than doubling the OPS he psted in April (.439). Back in Double-A where he dominated and really made a name for himself as a prospect in the second half of 2011, Catricala seems to have recaptured the magic of that year over the last 20 games or so.

Early in the year there were some questions around his effort and overall mental state as he struggled to string together good at bats, but he has cut his strikeout numbers way down, drawn some walks and consistently hit the ball hard over the past three weeks for the Generals and the right-handed hitting 23-year-old Catricala could make a push for Triple-A Tacoma soon if his hot streak continues.

Julio Morban - OF, Jackson Generals: .350/.435/.600 (7-20), 3 2B, 3B, 5 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO
Morban just continues to hit when he's in the lineup, and he'd be leading the league in average (.348) if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. He played in six of Jackson's eight games this week (three in the outfield, three at DH) and put together a four hit/four RBI game on Wednesday at Home against Tennessee to highlight his week. On the 40-man and hitting lights out, Morban looks the part of a future big leaguer at the plate for the Generals night in and night out right now.

But 13 starts in the outfield and 12 as the club's designated hitter probably is about the way things are going to go for Julio until he can make some strides from the physical standpoint to keep his legs healthier when playing multiple games in a row in the outfield. He's proving that the Mariners made a wise move when they identified him as a 40-man option and the power and consistency in his bat could land him in the big leagues soon if his health will allow it.

Chris Taylor - SS, High Desert Mavericks:
Taylor put together four multi-hit games in five contests this past week and the right-handed hitting shortstop now has 10 such games in May (out of 17 games) and 17 overall on the year (in 42 games). He leads the organization in plate appearances, at bats, hits, runs, walks and steals and he leads the Cal League in AVG at .347 while his .974 OPS ranks fifth in the circuit. In a league and park notorious for big offensive numbers, Taylor is impressing because he is doing work on the road (.875 OPS) and against right-handed pitching (1.053 OPS) while still showing the promise of a true plus defender at shortstop.

With other big name prospects ahead of him on Seattle's middle infield depth chart, it is hard to see how the 2012 draftee fits into the long-term plans of the organization right now. But if the 23-year-old continues to hit like this he could make the club make some chain reaction decisions soon on their middle infielders at the higher levels in order to see what it is they have in Taylor.

THREE DOWN

John Hicks - C, Jackson Generals: .095/.136/.095 (2-21), BB, 8 SO
Hicks has definitely shown that he is a streaky hitter, getting hotter than anyone and colder than anyone just a few days later. He has nine multi-hit games and eight multi-strikeout games. He has two eight game hitting streaks and has also gone hitless in nearly one-third of his contests this season. This last week was a struggle for John and once again it was strikeout that were one glaring weakness.

A very good fastball hitter, the more advanced pitchers in the Southern League have given him troubles at times this year with breaking balls away. When Hicks stays on the ball with his short stroke he's been doing alright, but he's fallen into the trap of trying to pull the ball too much at times, too. And with only two walks to his 30 strikeouts on the season, it is something that is being exploited. Still a fine defender and one that has popped 10 extra base hits despite his ups and downs, Hicks has time to get turned around and he's still probably the 2nd best catching prospect in the organization.

Steven Proscia - 1B, Jackson Generals: .120/.154/.160 (3-25), 2B, 3 RBI, BB, 11 SO
Proscia spent a couple of weeks with Jackson last year and hit four home runs during the season in which he led the Mariners organization in homers (28) and RBI (103). With that experience behind him, Double-A seemingly wouldn't be as difficult a task for the first baseman in 2013. But the strikeouts and breaking balls have come more often than the fastballs and home runs for the powerful right-handed Proscia and this past week was one of the hardest that Steven has had.

Proscia is among the best fastball hitters in the organization. But with the 4th most strikeouts (41) in the Southern League so far it is clear how he is being attacked by Southern League pitchers -- with the breaking ball. He has very good power when he connects, but he's not playing third base anymore and the contact isn't what it was a year ago. Proscia plain and simply needs to make an adjustment and work on hitting the breaking ball better.

Gabriel Guerrero - OF, Clinton Lumber Kings: .130/.130/.261 (3-23), 2B, 3B, RBI, 9 SO
Speaking of hitting the breaking ball better -- here is Guerrero. Young for the league and dealing with his aggressive assignment in his first full season stateside, Guerrero had a hot stretch about a week ago. But the punchouts are taking over his game once again and the 19-year-old is looking overmatched. He has just six walks to 37 strikeouts on the season and has the 9th lowest OPS in the Midwest League (.531) after destroying the DSL and AZL last year as an 18-year-old.

Every prospect goes through some growing pains and Guerrero has picked up nine extra base hits, 13 RBI and two three-hit games, but Vladimir's nephew with plus raw power hasn't homered yet and could use a strong week or two to get his confidence going and boost that .213/.240/.291 slash line.

. . . . . . .

Jackson played eight games this past week which makes it easier for them to have players who show a true hot or cold streak. There were some noteworthy appearances elsewhere, though, including Ji-Man Choi hitting .500 for the week and Seon Gi Kim having another five run implosion on the hill in High Desert. And down in the five team Venezuelan Summer League, 19-year-old swith-hitting catcher Johan Quevedo got two or more hits in all six games during the week and posted a 1.423 OPS. Their stories will need to be told another day -- perhaps as early as next week. So check back for more Three Up, Three Down next Monday.

Looking for more Mariners news, articles and player interviews? Want to keep up with which prospects are hot and cold for the M's? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse site Editor Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.

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