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Mariners satisfied with balanced Draft approach

After starting with premier hitting, Seattle selects series of young arms

The Mariners didn't go the way of some of their Major League counterparts and make splashy, late-round selections that were sure to generate publicity on Day 3 of the MLB First-Year Player Draft. You probably won't see Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the Padres' 28th round selection, donning a Mariners hat any time soon.

No, Saturday consisted of Seattle taking 30 players -- a majority from the East Coast -- in rounds 11-40.

With third baseman Kyle Seager (University of North Carolina), left fielder Dustin Ackley (University of North Carolina), first baseman Justin Smoak (University of South Carolina) catcher Mike Zunino (University of Florida), shortstop Brad Miller (Clemson) and center fielder James Jones (Long Island University) already on the Mariners' roster, it's easy to see amateur scouting director Tom McNamara's connections on the other side of the country.

From 1994 to 2000, McNamara was the Mariners' area scout in the Northeast, helping the club sign former players such as pitcher Brian Sweeney. He is a Pearl River, N.Y., native. He attended Dominican College in New York and coached at Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y., after his playing career was finished.

McNamara's roots were evident again Saturday, as the Mariners tapped into the northeast and southeast parts of the United States on the final day of the draft.

The Mariners began in the 11th round by selecting right-handed pitcher Jay Muhammad out of Coral Springs Christian Academy in Florida and ended it with 40th-round selection Scott Manea, a catcher out of St. John's High School in Shrewsbury, Mass. By an unofficial count, 20 of the 30 selections on Day 3 of the Draft last played on a high school or college team on the east side of the country.

"We go where the players are," McNamara said.

In total, the Mariners drafted 21 pitchers (12 righties, nine lefties), nine infielders, five catchers and five outfielders. They took players from 17 different states. It was the sort of balanced approach that reflected McNamara's philosophy of taking the best player available rather than drafting because of needs at the big league level.

The club's first two picks came from the prep ranks, but with promise they could advance quickly through Seattle's farm system.

McNamara was excited -- perhaps even surprised -- that first-round selection Alex Jackson, a standout catcher/outfielder from San Diego was available when the sixth overall pick rolled around. Jackson was primarily a catcher in high school, but the Mariners could move him to a corner outfield spot, assuming he turns pro instead of honoring his letter of intent to the University of Oregon.

Cheers could be heard from inside the Mariners' draft room when they selected outfielder Gareth Morgan with the final pick (74th overall) on the first day in Competitive Balance Round B. A power-hitting corner outfielder out of Blyth Academy in Toronto, Morgan is committed to North Carolina State, but is plenty familiar with the Mariners' brass.

General manager Jack Zduriencik and scouts saw Morgan, 18, when he played with the Canadian Junior National Team in the Dominican Summer League. He also played for the Langley Blaze, a club team near Vancouver, British Columbia, a three-hour drive from Seattle.

Like Jackson, Morgan, at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, showed flashes of being the type of power, right-handed bat the Mariners want in the middle of their lineup.

"These are the type of players our fans can get excited about," McNamara said Friday.

McNamara said picking sixth and 74th was challenging, because the club didn't have a true idea of who'd be available right up until they were on the clock.

"How do I think this year's Draft went? It was different," he said. "Obviously, we took two high-end high school position players that are offensive guys. It took a lot of work, but we were really pleased to get two players that we had really high on our board."

The Mariners took 31 players from college and nine from the prep ranks. Four had ties to the state of Washington, including left-handed pitcher Nick Kiel (18th round, Bellevue College), shortstop Taylor Smart (26th round, Tahoma High School), left-handed pitcher Andrew Summerville (34th round, Lakeside High School) and Sam Lindquist (37th round, Mercer Island High School).

Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for

Seattle Mariners