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The Mariners of the Future: First Base

After looking at the interesting and fairly loaded catcher position yesterday, we move to the grassless pastures of first base.  Once past the big league roster, which is bare enough, most of the future first basemen in the organization are likely to be moved from other positions.  Most of the current first basemen in the minors are not really prospects for one reason or another.

The Breakdown

It’s too much to say the position begins and ends with Justin Smoak, but he is still the primary hope for 1B production.  We could write posts for days about Smoak.  I’m a big supporter, or have been in the past, but time is clearly running out.  There are plenty of big time prospects that take a long time to find themselves in the majors, so there’s still hope.  The question is how long the Mariners can wait for him to become that player.  Given the current state of the team and the lack of better options, they can keep waiting for a while, but Smoak needs to show some consistency before this season ends. Continue reading

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Mariners Draft Some Guys

In the last 2 days, the Seattle Mariners have drafted 16 players.  I almost wrote that they now have 16 players but, surely, some of these players will not sign with Seattle.  The Mariners have merely drafted the right to negotiate a contract with 16 new players who won’t likely reach the big leagues for at least another 2 years.  I’ve just explained to myself why most people don’t find the MLB draft interesting.

I still think it’s interesting and that’s why all of you readers have gotten about 5 posts about it.  Suckers.  It’s definitely more interesting than watching Blake Beavan tonight.  I’m ready for Erasmo or Hultzen to come up anytime.  Oh, right, this is supposed to be about the draft.  By most accounts the M’s had a good draft day.  Of course, we’ll be able to actually tell you in 5 years if this was a good draft but for now I’ll say that the M’s had a good process in who they picked according to most scouts. They may have to pay over-slot on a number of guys which would mean that a few of them may not sign, since the M’s don’t want to suffer the new penalties that go with going over their allotted budged for the draft.  That’s all a bit confusing, but the main gist of it is that the M’s have an amount, set by Major League Baseball, that they’re allowed to spend on their top 10 round picks.  This amount is the sum of the monetary value that each draft slot the team owns, is given.  If they go over that amount then they will suffer penalties (as severe as losing draft picks for next year).  I could go into more detail but I’d rather talk about the actual players.  I’ll give you a few sentences on each player and tell you if I think they’ll sign over-slot or under-slot, starting with first round pick and moving down.

1st round (3rd overall) – Mike Zunino (C), University of Florida

Matthew gave a bunch of links and wrote a bit about Zunino last night.  The consensus about Zunino seems to be that fans would have loved to have one of the high-upside teenagers (Buxton and Correa) but since they weren’t available, this was the best pick.  There aren’t hardly any concerns about Zunino having to move away from catcher, and while his bat isn’t at a superstar level it’s quite good.  This was a good pick.  If Zunino signs over-slot, it won’t be by much.  Most think he’ll be right at slot.

2nd round (64th overall) – Joe DeCarlo (SS), Garnet Valley HS, Pennsylvania

I wonder when the last time the M’s drafted someone from Pennsylvania was.  DeCarlo may stick at shortstop but could also be a candidate for third base.  He’s a pretty big guy (6-0, 205) who will probably grow some more since he’s only 18.  He’s got a good swing and is thought to have some power with that size.  This is the 4th year in a row the M’s have taken a shortstop with their 2nd pick.  I think that DeCarlo is more of a signability pick, as BA ranks him as their 287th prospect.  I imagine he will go under-slot.  He’s committed to Georgia but I’d be surprised if he didn’t sign.  Another thing to keep in mind is that, with the new rules on the money and signing bonuses, high-schoolers may be taken higher because they are more likely to go to college if they’re selected later and not given as big of a bonus.

3rd round (98th overall) – Edwin Diaz (P), Caguas Military HS, Puerto Rico

Diaz is right-handed pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball.  He has hit 98 MPH a few times.  He’s tall and skinny (6-3, 163) and is more of project pick.  He will need to develop better off-speed pitchers and his mechanics seem to be a little weird but his upside is high.  He’s ranked as the 75th prospect by BA (just to let you know, those rankings are just a few scouts opinions.  Don’t pay too much attention to them) and will probably sign just over his slot, if not right at it.

3rd round (126th overall) – Tyler Pike (P), Winter Haven HS, Florida

This pick was compensation for not signing last year’s 3rd rounder.  Pike, a lefty, may have the most signability concerns of these first 3 picks, but this is one of my favorite picks for the M’s.  He’s a lefty with a high 80’s to low 90’s fastball and a good change-up.  His velocity may go up as he grows.  He will have to work on his breaking pitch but many scouts call him crafty.  He was rated as the 94th prospect by Keith Law, and will likely go overslot.  He is committed to Florida State but if he signs, this will be a good pick.

4th round (131st overall) – Patrick Kivlehen (3B), Rutgers

Kivlehen has an interesting story.  He played on the Rutgers football team for 4 years and then tried out for the baseball team.  He quickly went on to be the Big East Player of the Year.  If the Mariners do have a trend in drafting college players, I’d say it’s that they draft based on results rather than projected upside.  That’s not to say that the college players they pick don’t have upside but it’s surprising how many of those guys have won conference players of the year.  Maybe it’s just me, and every team does this but it doesn’t seem like this.  I like this approach.  Anyway, Kivlehen can hit.  He had better numbers than Zunino this year.  I don’t know anything about his defense but surely he’s athletic since he was a defensive back at Rutgers.  That or he was just a really crappy defensive back.  I would guess Kivlehen will go right around slot, if not under.

5th round (161st overall) – Chris Taylor (SS), University of Virginia

The other knack the front office has had is drafting guys from the same college or area.  Sure enough, Taylor was shortstop on the team with Danny Hultzen, John Hicks, and Steven Proscia (all now current M’s farmhands). Taylor is a very good defensive shortstop with plus range and a strong-arm.  There are concerns about his bat.  He doesn’t have much power, although he’s hit a good amount of doubles.  If he can hit adequately, his defense will carry him.  I would guess that he would sign at about slot.

10 more picks to cover after the jump!  Thanks for coming this far!  Continue reading

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