Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

Kivlehan still among the games' hottest bats

Two M's affiliates are scratching and clawing trying to stay in the playoff race while another just keeps putting up gaudy numbers (good and bad). Let's take a look at the best from those clubs and all of the Mariners minor leagues in Three Up, Three Down.

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.

Our leadoff name here is possibly the hottest hitter in all of baseball right now, at least in terms of driving in runs. And while the Cal League is a tough place to judge the numbers, these numbers leave no questions about how well he's playing.

Let's get straight to this week's Three Up, Three Down.

THREE UP

Patrick Kivlehan - 3B, High Desert Mavericks: .440/.464/.800 (11-25), 3 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 5 SO
Kivlehan is having an August to remember. He could basically go hitless the rest of the month and still count August as a very good 31 days. He drove in 12 runs in 6 games this week and now has 31 RBI and 29 hits in his 16 contests this month, raising his average to .341 and reaching a Mariners' 2013 organization-high 22-game hitting-streak in the process. Patrick has raised his OPS just under .200 since his last hitless game and he also has nine walks over that extended stretch of success. He's 2nd in the Cal League in total bases (122) since his call-up and has also chipped in with 10 steals in 13 tries for the Mavs.

Kivlehan has been doing everything right for High Desert and is certainly putting together a worthy follow-up season to his 2012 Northwest League MVP campaign for Everett. He still needs to work on his defense at third base as he's committed 21 errors in his 102 games at third this year, but there is no mistaking that Kivlehan will be driven through the Mariners' system by his offense. How far can he go and how far will his athleticism and tools continue to carry him? Hard to tell, but it is clear that the Cal League is presenting very little challenge to him now.

Kyle Petty - 1B, Everett AquaSox: .368/.458/.632 (7-19), 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 4 SO, 2 SB
He isn't the NASCAR driver/host but Petty has already been moving pretty fast in the Mariners' system. A 23rd round pick this season out of California University of Pennsylvania where he was a catcher and reliever, the 6-foot-5 Petty has settled in at first base both in Arizona and Everett for the M's and he's showing some plate skills. He collected three extra base hits this week for the AquaSox and has his OPS well over .800 through his first 16 games after his promotion.

Petty slugged .674 and stole 37 bases this year in college, a rare combo -- especially for a tall, thin right-handed hitter. He's shown a lot of speed over his career and actually stole two bags, including home on a double steal, on Sunday in Everett. That mix of tools made him intriguing enough to the Mariners to become the first draft pick in 18 seasons out of Cal U, where GM Jack Zduriencik went to college.

Jesus Ugueto - OF, Pulaski Mariners: .421/.476/1.105 (8-19), 2 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, BB, 4 SO, 1 SB
Last year's VSL MVP got off to a rather slow start in Pulaski, but he's picked it up of late and was driving the ball all over the park this past week for the M's. He collected six extra base hits in five games this past week and has 19 on the season. He also has raised his OPS by .139 with his current 7-game hitting streak. That OPS now sits at .820, the 10th best mark in the Appy and 2nd best on the M's affiliate.

Ugueto hit an amazing .388/.458/.554 in 323 plate appearances in 2012 for the Mariners' Venezuelan Summer League team, but that was his fourth season in the VSL and that was just a four team league still. The plate discipline that he showed in numbers there (11.0% BB% and 15.1% K% in four years, 10.8%/11.8% last year) appears to have been the biggest mirage from that small league as Ugueto has drawn just five walks (3.2%) in his first 39 games in the Appalachian League while striking out 37 times (23.4%). Still just 22, he has a chance to continue to adjust to better pitching and develop as a player with his tools.

THREE DOWN

Jeremy Dobbs - RP, High Desert Mavericks: 2 G, 0-1, 40.50 ERA, 5.50 WHIP, 2 IP, 11 H, 9 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 2 SO, .688 oAVG
A month and a half ago Dobbs had a 1.10 ERA and .140 oAVG out of the Mavs' bullpen, pitching great and making a little bit of a name for himself as a former 33rd round pick for Seattle. But the left-hander's been getting beat up ever since, allowing 24 runs (22 earned) in his last 17 appearances and seeing his ERA balloon up near 5. Although Friday was his first loss for High Desert this season, 27 baserunners in his last 11 1/3 innings is a clear indication that Dobbs simply isn't getting it done at the moment.

Perhaps this collapse shouldn't be too shocking as Dobbs had walked 12 in 7 1/3 in Clinton before being brought up to High Desert. Strangely, all of his implosion games have come on the road and the 23-year-old still has a 2.42 home ERA in 17 appearances and 26 innings in the roughest of conditions in Adelanto. Dobbs also still has better than a strikeout per inning on his season's ledger and he's held lefties pretty well in check this season. A 5.26 ERA, 1.57 WHIP and 10.1 H/9 in 155 2/3 career minor league innings are easy to look past, but Dobbs was dynamite earlier this year.

Rigoberto Garcia - SP, Clinton LumberKings: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, 4 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, .368 oAVG
Garcia started his 2013 playing season in Everett and pitched very well in five starts, not allowing more than three earned runs in any of those games. He had a decent first start in Clinton and turned in a beauty back on the 8th (7, 4, 1, 1, 3, 4) in a loss, but his other starts in the Midwest League have been uninspiring at best. He's allowed 19 runs and 24 baserunners in three starts at home, covering just 12 innings, including hitting two batters and throwing three wild pitches.

Garcia is a big, strong right-hander at 6-foot-5 and more than 200 pounds, and while there is solid velocity there that finds him at 93 regularly, the delivery isn't clean and it certainly doesn't look like he maximizes drive. Despite his size, he doesn't do a great job of creating downhill plane (which plays out in the numbers with his 0.51 GO/AO ratio) and the command certainly leaves much to be desired. He's a solid arm with some ability, but he is still a major project at this point.

Alexy Palma - OF, AZL Mariners: .111/.238/.111 (2-18), 2 BB, 10 SO, HBP
Palma spent three years in the VSL for the M's after they signed him as part of their vaunted 2009 international class. He was hitting well in Arizona this year for the most part up until this last week, when he hit a nasty stretch of, well, not hitting. 10 punchouts in 21 plate appearances all but wiped away his mid-season progress in contact rate and his K% now sits at 29.2% through 120 plate appearances. One of the reasons that Palma was on the radar in coming over this season was because of his 14.4% K% and 13.6% BB% in the VSL, so you can see the problem here.

The power was said to be Palma's best tool back at the time of his signing and as he's filled out (up to 195 pounds now) that is starting to show a bit more, and he still boasts a .284/.392/.471 slash in his first stateside season in his 20-year-old year, ranking him 11th in the AZL in OPS (.862), but contact rates just become more troubling as players -- particularly internationals -- progress through organized ball. Keep an eye on that in particular for Palma going forward.

. . . . . . . . .

Just two more full weeks of minor league action left in the regular seasons, so just two more weekly versions of 3U3D are left for us in 2013.

Be sure and check in every Monday to see who made the cut, good and bad, in the Seattle Mariners organization.

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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