Mariners Prospect Watch: Three Up, Three Down

Cousino off to a hot start with the bat in Everett

The 13th week of the minor league season was lucky and unlucky for some in the Seattle Mariners' system. We give you the three best and worst from the organization in this week's installment of Three Up, Three Down.

Every Monday we present a rundown of the best and worst performances from the past week within the Seattle Mariners' organization. The goal is to keep you up to date on your favorite M's prospects while also shining a little brighter light on some of the lesser known standouts in the system, spreading the coverage around and highlighting those that deserve it most.

With all of the recent MLB graduations, Seattle's system isn't nearly as top-heavy in talent as it has been in years past. But that means that there is more to be learned on some of the better prospects in the organization. Three Up, Three Down should help with that learning, covering players in their age-26 or younger season who still have MLB rookie status.

With all of the recent MLB graduations, Seattle's system isn't nearly as top-heavy in talent as it has been in years past. But that means that there is more to be learned on some of the better prospects in the organization. Three Up, Three Down should help with that learning, covering players in their age-26 or younger season who still have MLB rookie status.

The biggest name in the minors for the Mariners is back in this thirteenth installment of our weekly peek at the best and worst in the Seattle Mariners farm system that we call Three Up, Three Down.

THREE UP

Taijuan Walker - RHP, Tacoma Rainiers: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, .129 oAVG
In what will be his last Triple-A start (at least for a while), Walker turned in his first career shutout and just his second nine inning complete game of his young pro career this week, spinning a 4-hit shutout with only one walk on Tuesday against Oklahoma City while striking out a Triple-A season high eight. Walker, who was named PCL Pitcher of the Week today, has now walked one or zero in four of his six starts for the Rainiers and will get his fourth pro start -- and third against the Astros -- on Monday.

Walker dominated this week the same way that he did in 2013 in the minors and with Seattle; by establishing his mid-90s fastball and working ahead. If he can continue to do that in the major leagues, his stuff is good enough that he will succeed and even sometimes dominate despite not having pinpoint command or plus offspeed pitches all the time. Look for him to try and get ahead early with the fastball and use a heavy dose of his low-90s cutter to left-handers tonight.

Aaron Barbosa - OF, Clinton LumberKings: .500/.519/.615 (13-26), 2B, 3B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 3 SO
After going undrafted out of Northeastern University, the undersized Barbosa hit an Appy League best .356 in 30 games with Pulaski a season ago, walking more than he struck out, stealing bases and not hitting for any power whatsoever. He's carbon copied that recipe for his production so far this season at two stops -- 22 games for Clinton and 34 with High Desert -- hitting .295/.414/.329. Despite not showing power, his bat-to-ball skills can't be ignored, and neither can hitting .500 in a week. He's hit .364/.440/.424 in the 18 games since being sent back down to Clinton, and it is clear that the Midwest League isn't a huge challenge for him.

At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds with a ground ball/line drive approach, Barbosa isn't a smart bet to ever hit for any type of extra base power, but he's walking at a 16.1% rate and has stolen 17 bases in 22 attempts while playing strong defense in center field. Contact hitters with plus speed and plus defense will stick around for a long time in this game, and if he can continue to learn and grow in the system, Barbosa has a shot to develop into a player that sees some MLB time down the road.

Austin Cousino - OF, Everett AquaSox: .393/.400/.500 (11-28), 2B, 3B, RBI, BB, 4 SO, 4-5 SB
Seattle's 3rd round selection in this June's draft out of the University of Kentucky, Cousino is a little like Barbosa in his profile although he has a little more power and a little less patience. The good news on that front, though, is that after walking just seven times in his final season with the Wildcats, Austin has already drawn five walks in his brief time with the AquaSox. That and getting on base via hits has allowed him to already rack up seven steals in eight attempts through his first 14 games. Four of those came this week when he picked up nine singles and his third and fourth extra base hits of the year for Everett.

Cousino has a hit in 12 of the 14 games he's played and already has five multi-hit games to his name. The lefty has also started off strong against southpaws, hitting .417 with only one strikeout in 14 plate appearances against them. He was a Freshman All-American in 2012 after hitting .319/.408/.515 before struggling to a .249/.383/.402 mark as a sophomore. And even though he was among the very best defensive outfielders in college baseball, he slipped to Seattle in the third round because of concerns about the offensive profile. The Northwest League isn't the biggest challenge for a college bat, but it is good to see him off to a strong start there.

THREE DOWN

Gabriel Guerrero - OF, High Desert Mavericks: .217/.269/.217 (5-23), 4 RBI, 2 BB, 6 SO
Guerrero has been enjoying a strong season for the Mavs and was named to the Futures Game for Seattle just last week, but he has been struggling for much of June and is in the midst of a pretty power-less stretch right now with lots of swings-and-misses. He has nine multi-strikeout games in June and his road slugging percentage is down to an even .400 after collecting just one home run over his last 23 games away from High Desert. He personally left 13 men on base over the week and is down to a .279/.325/.428 slash against right-handed pitching following this latest stretch of struggles against breaking balls.

Overall Guerrero has just one extra base hit in his last eight games and is hitting just .247/.281/.315 in June after hitting a combined .326/.375/.489 in April and May. But his season numbers do still stand at .303/.348/.439 and he's punishing left-handers at a .370/.414/.469 clip. He's also still quite young for his league and the game power has shown up much more this year than it did in Clinton a season ago.

Andrew Kittredge - RHP, High Desert Mavericks: 0-0, 14.40 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 2 G, 5 IP, 11 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 2 HR, 4 BB, 9 SO, .423 oAVG
Tweeted on Monday about the strikeout binge that Kittredge had been on, and while that binge continued this week, that was about the only area where the former Husky succeeded in his two appearances during the week. Kittredge allowed half of the batters he faced to reach base and gave up his seventh and eighth homers of the year last Monday against Rancho. He didn't take a loss in either outing (15-11 and 14-7 losses) but he sure didn't help the Mavs out in either outing.

Kittredge still has the second highest K/9 among full season pitchers in the system (11.3) and he has a 3.86 ERA on the road, but he's been hit hard at home, having allowed 16 runs in his last six appearances there. Undrafted after completing his time at U Dub, the right-hander has always struggled with the longball despite posting good strikeout numbers and solid walk rates.

Carlos Misell - RHP, Clinton LumberKings: 0-1, 21.60 ERA, 4.20 WHIP, 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 3 HR, 2 BB, 3 SO, .455 oAVG
Misell has been hit-and-miss this season, turning in some great starts and some stinkers, with the only common theme seeming to be that he's more Jekyll at home (3.34 ERA in 6 starts) and the evil Mr. Hyde appearing more in road games (5.15 ERA in 9 games). His worst start came this past Saturday when he only retired five of the 13 batters he facced and was saddled with his fourth straight loss in a 9-5 beating at the hands of Cedar Rapids. He's now allowing a .302 opponent's average and has given up 33 extra base hits in 15 games.

Misell's seven homers allowed are tied for the sixth most in the Midwest league and his 10.9 H/9 given up is fifth worst among qualified starters. He's only walking 2.8/9 and is picking up his fair share of strikeouts (54 in 73 1/3 IP), but the damage he's been hit with has been real in the starts where he hasn't dominated in the other direction. Just 20 games into his pro career after being suspended before even joining an MLB organization, Misell does have a lot to dream on in terms of abilities, but the Midwest League hasn't been as soft a landing as the M's probably anticipated for the 22-year-old.

. . . . . . . . .

There you have what we see as the best and worst from week 13 in the minors for the Mariners. Check back in with us next Monday for more Three Up, Three Down, and stick with SeattleClubhouse throughout the year for reports from all of the Mariners' affiliates.

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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