While it was an ugly day on the field for our baseball team, it was dubbed a good day on the draft front. I’m not going to pretend to know a ton about the MLB draft. I started following it last year and have gained some knowledge but not near as much as other websites such as Pro Ball Northwest. Over the last two years it’s started to grab my interest though. I like following it as much as I like the NBA or NFL drafts, maybe because I like baseball more.
As Matthew noted, the Mariners took a small gamble with their first round pick in RHP Taijuan Walker. For the record, I like the pick. It makes sense to me, especially when you put it into context with some of the picks today. Yes, there’s not much buzz about Walker but this was the 43rd pick. It’s not like we were drafting in the top 10 (we might next year, with the way this season is going). This wasn’t a strong draft either.
Anyway, here’s a few highlights from today:
- In the 2nd round (67th pick), we selected Marcus Littlewood. Many people thought this is where the Mariners would go with their first round pick. Using basic logic, it’s nice that the Mariners got this guy in the second round when many people thought we’d take him in the first. Littlewood is a switch-hitting shortstop but most scouts don’t think he has the range to stay there long-term. I read a few accounts of him having slow feet. With that being said, he has great hands and great instincts that can make up for being a bit slow. As far as hitting goes, Baseball America has him pegged as a .270 hitter with limited power. 10-20 home runs a year should be expected. Many people feel as if Littlewood was a steal at 67 and most feel as if he’ll be a major league contributor (maybe as a utility guy) at some point in his career. He doesn’t have star power but he’s solid.
- In the 3rd round the M’s nabbed Rybe Stanek. Most draft services had Stanek rated higher than Walker, but Walker had a higher ceiling. Stanek is said to be a solid Arkansas commit, so we’ll have to buy him out of that. Since the first two picks won’t break the bank by any means I’m not extremely worried about this. Stanek is more developed than Walker with cleaner mechanics and a mid-90’s fastball. He’s already 6’4” and is expected to grow a little more. The Mariners drafted some really tall people. If you can’t beat people on the field you might as well beat them in height! This was a great pick, especially if you were a fan of the Walker pick.
- The 4th round brought a pleasant surprise. LHP James Paxton was selected as the 132nd pick. Really, this is maybe the best pick of the Mariners draft if they can sign him. Paxton was drafted last year by Toronto in the supplemental round (the round between the 1st and 2nd) last year but they failed to sign him. Before he was drafted he pitched for the University of Kentucky and was electric. This year he’s pitched in the independent league and reports have shown more of the same. His fastball is 91-94 and can reach up to 97 and has a plus curveball to go with it. He has struggled with a few injuries over his career but our organization has handled young pitchers with injuries pretty well recently (Michael Pineda for instance). Pro Ball NW say that if Paxton signs he is put into our top 10 prospect list right away. This is great news for an organization that doesn’t have quality pitching depth.
- Stephen Pryor was selected in the 5th round. He goes to the same college, Tennessee Tech, as my cousin so that’s kind of exciting. Pryor might move faster than any of this years draftees because he projects as a late inning reliever. He’s a big right-hander with a fastball that can reach triple digits. The organization may start him in the rotation but expect him to be in the bullpen if he ever makes the big club.
- In rounds 6-8 the Mariners grabbed a few position players. Round 6 brought us catcher Christian Carmichael. He’s a defensive-first player who’s a switch-hitter. No one is overly excited about him, as he generally projects to be a backup. In round 7 the Mariners got Maguire Wiswall, who has the best name of all the draftees. He’s a first baseman out of Boston College. I heard someone compare him to Adam Laroche with a little less power. Jabari Blash (another sweet name) was picked in the 8th round. He’s an outfielder who has shown great potential but is very raw. He’s a big boy who needs to hit for power if he wants to make the show.
- Round 9 brought us our first local product of the draft, RHP Luke Taylor. Another tall pitcher, 6’6″, who is said to have great mechanics. Taylor is thought to be a strong commit to Hawaii but maybe the local ties and the money will help persuade him to sign. In round 10 the M’s selected another pitcher who may move fast through the system in route to the bullpen. Tyler Burgoon is a right-hander from Michigan with low 90’s fastball and an above-average slider.
The Mariners went on for another 20 rounds after these picks but I’m sure some of you have lost interest already. All in all, it was a good draft day. The Mariners selected 20 pitchers out of the 30 picks which will help fill the void that prior GM’s left Jack Z with. Tomorrow we have Day 3 of the draft which will be rounds 30-50. While that may not be very interesting, it might be more enjoyable than watching an Ian Snell start. My goodness, Snell is bad. Thanks for reading!