What to look for in round 1:
- Most people have Seattle on a hitter. Some pitching under performed this year and "Seattle likes to go for right-handed hitters" which means they apparently don't realize it's Scott Hunter's first time running a draft for us. That said, here's your most-talked-about bats for us:
1) Jake Burger - a RH 3B built like Youkilis. Expect the same 3B/1B crossover - which makes him a lot like DJ Peterson. Hopefully he hits better, faster. He's built like a fireplug but he's several inches taller than Seager. He's got enough pop for a corner and can hang at 3rd for a while, but if you just think Downside = DJ, Upside = Youk you'll be okay. I wouldn't be disappointed to add him.
2) Pavin Smith - a leaner LH UVA first baseman, built more like Mark Grace. The guy just doesn't strike out (just 12 walks all year against 38 walks) but doesn't have the power that Burger has shown with a KBIZLT approach that uppercuts with a natural flourish. He's more likely to run a Brandon Belt line with home runs in the teens and more of a setup man than an RBI masher, but gets some Olerud comps. Everything about the way he plays is like watching the fly-fishing scene in A River Runs Through It. It's just so dang RELAXED... so he's interesting too.
3) Keston Hiura, a college RH 2B who blew out his UCL and needs Tommy John surgery. He played DH all year because he can't throw right now, and still hit .440 / .570 / .690. He's a doubles machine and would be ready around the time Robbie might be moving to first base. Hiura also drew more walks than Burger or Smith. He was a good-but-not-great 2B though, and a move to the OF might be hampered by that arm as well. If Seattle is willing to wait (since he'll likely need that surgery right after the season) then he's got tons of potential.
My order of preference on the 3 is actually Smith / Hiura / Burger, but I expect Burger to be the most likely pick to be there and be chosen so he's #1 here. They're all pretty good picks for where we're at, so I don't have a lot of hate to spew on the hitter end. I don't think any of them are as good as last year's Kyle Lewis, but they could still be impactful hitters. If "all" we want is another Kyle Seager then maybe these guys can provide that. There are other bats that could be considered (Evan White is the slightly inferior version of Pavin Smith, for instance), but I'll run em down if we actually pick a different one because...
- I'd rather go with a pitcher, but it's a weird class. Lot of talent, lack of greatness perhaps. Here are a lot of options since it's hard to figure out who might be around:
1) David Peterson, LHP from Oregon. He doesn't really have one out pitch but ruins people anyway with a 90s singer and slider combo. He walks nobody and strikes out the world (140:15 K-to-BB ratio in 100 IP, which is funny without "a strikeout pitch") but is essentially a 1-year wonder. Pitchers do that, though. Simplified mechanics and a slight change in arm slot can really turn a mediocre guy into a beast. I think Peterson is a beast with that low armslot that annihilates lefties and puts extra movement on his heater. He's got a changeup and a curve too, and should be on his way to being a complete pitcher. You want a lefty for the rotation who can do Paxton-type things in a couple years? It might be Peterson.
2) Seth Romero, LBP from No School. Funny story - Romero couldn't keep his act together long enough to stay on his college team (Houston). There was a potential shoving incident with some fans, a tweet of himself holding a bong, a failed drug test and probably some other shenanigans. There would be some research to do here, but Romero is a top-10-pick arm and the only reason he may freefall is that he has a 10-cent head. If you think he's got his head on straight, the talent is absolutely there - he struck out 80 dudes in 45 innings and consistently runs a 4:1 K-to-BB ratio with low-to-mid 90s stuff as a lefty. He's a wide-body, though, and his motivation is in the same boat as his maturity. If you don't like the risk in those areas you pass.
3) Tanner Houck, RHP from Missouri. Low arm slot, almost sidearm, but potentially NASTY stuff. He comes around the corner on righties and dumps a low-90s sinking fastball or biting slider in their laps. His secondaries wander in effectiveness, though, and with that armslot some people are almost certainly going to want him to go to the pen. As we all know, there's nothing I love more than taking a potentially-great starter and tossing him in the pen for no reason. With Diaz and now Povse having been bullpenned, I'm leery of drafting Houck for a one-inning setup role.
4) Alex Lange, RHP from LSU. Kind of like Houck in that he has a great arm but never really got better in college. He's an interesting sleeper who has a good fastball and a phenomenally great curve. Like Houck, he might be turned into a reliever the Papelbon Way to see if he can get a few more mph on his fastball, which Ms like to do. I like Lange, but he pulls his head off to the side rather severely as he throws which messes with his fastball accuracy. If someone can get him to keep his head more still through release he might find that consistency he needs to be a top arm.
5) Corbin Martin, RHP from Texas A&M. Reminds me of a typical As starter, really. Not a lot of hype, college team wasn't sure what to do with him, but he has upper-90s heat when he's in the pen or low-90s heat as a starter. He has the body and mechanics to start, so it's really up to whomever drafts him to figure out what they want from him. He's malleable, and I don't think ever really reached his peak in college thanks to limited innings. I think he's a late bloomer and someone will take him in the first.
There are a couple of prep arms, Sam Carlson and DL Hall who are interesting as well. Carlson is from my typically-preferred cold-weather clime (Minnesota in this case) where baseball players don't get that year-round uber-coaching that So Cal and Florida prospects get. If you like a cold-weather and a warm-weather teen the same, then take the cold weather one because he should have more growth left. DL Hall is a Kazmir type of lefty and I don't expect him to get down to Seattle, but if he does they'd probably snatch him up. I'm not interested in Griffin Canning, who keeps getting talked about at our slot. His motion is TERRIBLE - talk about a guy meant for a bullpen - and he's had some medical concerns pop up this week. To me he seems to have maxxed out his polish with his current motion but still doesn't have great stuff. Maybe it would tick up in a pen but I'm not taking a potentially-damaged reliever in the teens of the draft. No thanks.
- Our range is weird, and this is a draft of closely-clustered hitters and pitchers. I don't know who we're taking, but there are a bunch of good-but-not-obviously-great players in our area of the draft. Picking the right one could net BIG rewards. Picking the wrong one means the rest of the draft had better be pretty special, and we've been short on deep, special drafts for a while now as Mariners fans. We don't have a comp pick this time around and have a relatively small draft allowance. The Mariners pick at 17, 55 and 93 out of the top 100. They have work to do to restock the farm. Let's hope they nail some picks this time.