Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

Proscia's finding his stroke in Jackson.

SeattleClubhouse with our weekly look at the statistical bests and worsts around Mariners minor league baseball of the past seven days.

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 necessarily 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.

The weather played havoc with the schedules at a couple of levels, but we still have plenty of players to fill each category. Here is the good and the bad week in review of the Mariners minor leagues.

THREE UP

Steven Proscia - Jackson Generals: .364/.417/.773 (8-22), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO
Proscia was called up to Double-A to fill the power shoes vacated in Jackson when Rich Poythress went on the DL, and he hasn't disappointed with his performance thus far. He started the week off with a two-homer game and had four multi-hit contests during the six-game week while ranking 3rd in the circuit in OPS (1.189).

Of course we knew that Proscia had good power as he hit 12 long balls in just 44 games after being drafted last season and had three jacks in one game earlier this year in High Desert, but Proscia is doing more that encourages than just hitting the long ball right now: he's struck out just five times nine AA contests and is hitting right-handers at a much better pace than he showed both last year and earlier this season in Jackson (.323/.364/.710). Sure the sample size isn't huge, but Proscia is also likely building himself some confidence along the way as he excels in a promotion that was born more out of need than out of performance.

Julio Morban - High Desert Mavericks: .455/.500/.818 (10-22), 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 4 BB, 6 SO
Morban is a guy that has shown flashes of great tools in the past but that just hasn't been able to keep healthy long enough to really let those tools translate into on the field production. And while he has already missed a little time in '12, too, he is getting enough consistent playing time in the early going that his skills and ability to rack up numbers are very evident so far.

Those numbers include the league-best 11 RBI he delivered this past week for the Mavericks and his 15 extra base hits in 27 contests in all. He has 10 multi-hit and seven multi-RBI games for High Desert and has already eclipsed his previous career high for HR in a season with the seven long balls he's hit. Morban bulked up a bit over the winter and hopefully the added strength will help him with his durability as this year, because I'm certain that the career season best that Morban and the M's would most like to see him fly past is in games played (just 80).

Danny Hultzen - Jackson Generals:
As I wrote last week, I think it is pretty clear that Hultzen is the closest to being big league ready among the "Big Three", and in his start this past week, Danny really showed why as he put it all together in what was definitely the best and most complete start of his very brief professional career.

Hultzen shook off the command problems that had been ailing him of late and pitched seven very strong innings against Mobile, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out eight in his fourth win. Left-handers basically stand no chance against the left-hander, managing just three hits in 43 at bats thus far (.070/.200/.116), but right-handers haven't exactly pounded him as they've hit just .159/.286/.252 in 107 at bats. In all Danny has allowed just 20 hits in his eight pro starts (44 2/3 innings) and is showing that he could be ready for not only Triple-A, but probably the major leagues very, very soon.

THREE DOWN

James Gillheeney - High Desert Mavericks: 0-1, 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 4 IP, 11 H, 8 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 1 SO
Gillheeney is a little under the radar as a prospect for Seattle, but I think he is about in the same class of arm that could surprise as Andrew Carraway, who has had a breakout of sorts thus far in 2012. A little bit older and perhaps wiser than some of his competition, the 6-foot-1 left-hander was performing about on par with Carraway until his start this past week for the Mavs, when he posted the 2nd worst one-start week of any California League hurler.

He pitched four unimpressive innings and gave up two home runs for the 3rd straight start in the process while seeing his ERA raise a run and a half, from 2.75 to 4.28. And after averaging exactly one strikeout-per-inning in his first 36 frames on the year, he got just one punchout in his lackluster home loss to Visalia this past week. Gillheeney does have a 3.12 ERA in five road starts this season and is holding left-handed hitters to a .237/.310/.316 slash, but if he can't get strikeouts and keep the ball in the park, he doesn't have much chance of breaking on to a 25-man roster in the future.

Forrest Snow - Tacoma Rainiers: 0-1, 13.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, 4 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO
Snow makes up one half of the "what in the world is going on with these guys" duo in Tacoma with Vinnie Catricala. The yummy baseball sundae that was his crazy, fast-tracked start to his pro career was topped with the cherry of a breakout performance in the AFL over the winter where he led the prospect-laden circuit in ERA with what could only be described as masterful pitching as both starter and reliever. But while that quick ascension raised expectations considerably for the former 36th round pick heading into 2012, his fall may be happening even faster.

Working exclusively as a starter for the Rainiers this season, Snow has turned in just one quality start (a no-decision back on April 18th) in eight tries and following this past week's disaster he now sits with an 8.17 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in his 39 2/3 innings in '12. The primary culprit for his woes seems to be his control, as Snow entered the year averaging just 2.8 BB/9 as he ascended towards the big leagues, but he's walked 5.9-per-nine thus far pitching just down I-5 from his ultimate dream destination.

Francisco Martinez - Jackson Generals: .217/.308/.217 (5-23), RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO
Martinez is doing a lot of things well for Jackson this season, including being on pace to blow past his previous career high in BB (28, has 18 now) and steals (20, has 14 now), but one glaring weakness in his game right now is his lack of extra base hits, including still having a big zero in the home run column. And while his walk rate has increased quite noticeably, the power has gone away without the strikeout rate going down at all.

Martinez is a big, strong kid with a good swing that should see him hit for power, but he has now gone 10 straight games without an extra base hit and has just nine extra base hits on the season in 43 games after hitting 13 in 33 games for Jackson in '11 following his trade to Seattle. It's possible that his full focus right now is on plate discipline, baserunning and defense (where he has seen a marked improvement), but the lack of pop is still disheartening.

Looking for more Mariners prospect player interviews, news and articles? "Like" SeattleClubhouse on Facebook and follow SeattleClubhouse's Rick Randall on Twitter at @randallball.

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