While the parent club stabilizes a bit after a tough three-plus weeks, perhaps the most important happenings in the entire Seattle Mariners organization is the revival occurring down on the farm. Or should I say, revivals.
Down on the Farm
Forget the fact that each of the affiliates have won more games than they have lost this season — with Triple-A Tacoma, Double-A Jackson and Class-A Clinton among the better teams in their respective leagues — and put the fact that top prospect Tyler O’Neill has exploded this season on the back burner for a moment. The most critical happenings include D.J. Peterson, Alex Jackson and Luiz Gohara. All three entered the season needing to rebound and rebound sharp. That appears to be the case for all three.
Peterson made an upper-half adjustment that ended up earning him a promotion to Triple-A where he’s off to a fast start. And for Peterson, this happening quickly is most important since he’s 24 years of age already and running out of time as a prospect of any kind.
Jackson started slow; he spent the first six weeks of the season in extended spring training, first to recover from a minor injury and then to refocus under the new player development plans. Shortly after arriving at Class-A Clinton, Jackson fell into the same funk we saw a year ago. The 20-year-old went 4-for-38 in his first 11 games and the first four days of June weren’t much better. From June 5 to July 4, however, Jackson has batted .294/.363./.451 and the alarming strikeout rate is slowing down just a bit.
While there’s still a lot of work for Jackson to do, the trend is positive and he’s yet to give up on his swing to make more contact — which is counterproductive and changes his profile for the worse. Oh, and he’s lined out as much as any hitter in the system the past three weeks. Hard contact,
Gohara, granted in a small sample size, was strong in three starts at Short-season Everett, walking just three batters in 15 1/3 innings while punching out 21. His first start for Clinton did result in three bases on balls and seven hits in four-plus frames, but the stuff remains promising — 93-97 mph, flashy curveball and occasional changeup with some sink and deception. Gohara is in a little better shape this year, too, which will remain his biggest challenge until it’s not a challenge for him anymore. He doesn’t repeat well yet, either, but it’s been better in 2016 than in previous years. Gohara appears at least somewhat more focused and in his lone start for the LumberKings thus far I’m told he showed a little bulldog mentality to get through the fourth inning without his best command.
Beyond the aforementioned three, things are solid in the M’s farm system. Still, most of their best young talents remain below Double-A — Drew Jackson and Braden Bishop at Advanced-A Bakersfield after Bishop’s promotion, the entire Clinton starting rotation including Gohara, Zack Littell and Nick Neidert, first-round pick Kyle Lewis in Everett, as well as shortstop Chris Torres and right-hander Jio Orozco in the Arizona League. All are performing at satisfactory levels or better, many at a youngish age for the level.
The system still is a few years away from being anything but a bottom-half group, but at the start of the year it was bottom five — bottom two or three for some — and the bounce-back and progress have pushed them into the 20-22 range. Most of the improvement is due to the reemergence of the three noted above, but also due to the O’Neill explosion and steady progress of the young arms.
(Photo: Zack Littell by Paul Gierhart/MiLB.com)