Mariners find 'one of the prettiest swings in the Draft' at No. 21

Seattle selects SS Young in 1st round, adds 1B/3B Locklear, RHP Ford to round out Day 1

July 18th, 2022

SEATTLE -- More than most Major League general managers, Jerry Dipoto loves talking about his prospects. And that was of course the case on Sunday when Seattle’s president of baseball operations discussed the Mariners’ newest addition to the pipeline. 

“I thought this was one of the prettiest swings in the Draft,” Dipoto said. 

That left-handed cut belongs to Cole Young, the shortstop who the club selected with the No. 21 overall pick in the first round out of North Allegheny High School in the Pittsburgh suburbs. The 18-year-old was ranked No. 20 in this year’s Top 250 Draft prospects from MLB Pipeline.

In many ways, Young’s journey to the Major Leagues started in 2014, when he was the 9-10 year-old division champion at Major League Baseball’s Pitch, Hit & Run program at Target Field. Eight years later, he’s getting a chance to break in at the Major League level.

A preseason All-American, Young’s feel for the game is advanced. While he doesn’t project to be a power threat, he boasts some of the best natural bat-on-ball skills of this year's prospects. After batting .437 with 23 RBIs and six home runs in 27 games as a junior last year, Young hit .433 with 15 RBIs in his senior season for North Allegheny.

Here’s a look at his grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, from MLB Pipeline: Hit: 60 | Power: 40 | Run: 55 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

“The well-rounded-ness of the player,” Dipoto said. “Cole does everything well.”

He already has stellar plate discipline, as he only struck out 24 times in high school -- 15 of which came during his freshman year. He drew 53 walks in the same span and stole 43 bases. He was graded with a 55 speed by MLB Pipeline.

A standout with the glove, Young should stick at shortstop. In his 73 high school games, Young finished with a .951 fielding percentage, committing 12 errors, and helped turn 22 double plays.

“To a man, everyone in our room says he’s going to stay at shortstop,” director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter said. “With him, who knows how long that lasts as he gets bigger, gets stronger? But he’s one of the most consistent fielders. I don’t think you’d say he has 60s in every box. He’s probably a 55 runner with 60 hands and average range. But to a man, to our scouting group, the kid can play. He gets the most out of our natural talent.”

Even if Young is a little older than the average prep prospect (he’ll turn 19 at the end of July), his advanced age has led to his game having fewer holes than other prep prospects. While he’s probably never going to hit 40 home runs, Young’s tools should lead him to being a solid ballplayer for years to come.

Slot value for the pick is $3,291,200, and the Mariners will need to sign him by the Aug. 2 deadline. The club does not have concerns over sign-ability, and there’s hope that Young can play in the Arizona Complex League before the season’s end. Young signed with Duke University last year but is expected to forgo that scholarship to begin his pro career.

The Mariners had two additional picks on the first day of the Draft:

2nd round, No. 58 overall: Tyler Locklear, 1B/3B, Virginia Commonwealth University
Pete Alonso, anyone? That was the comp that MLB Network analyst Dan O’Dowd shared after Seattle selected the 21-year-old and made him VCU’s highest pick in 18 years. Ranked No. 98 by MLB Pipeline, Locklear possesses the kind of raw, untapped power that organizations drew on, and it carried even more credibility after he hit nine homers in the Cape Cod League last year. At VCU over the past three years, where he helped lead the team to a pair of Atlantic 10 Conference titles, he’s hit 37.

Locklear, who slashed .402/.542/.799 (1.341 OPS) this spring, split time at first and third base, though most scouting reports suggest that he’ll likely project at the former long term.

3rd round, No. 74 overall: Walter Ford, RHP, Pace (Fla.) High School
The 17-year-old was reclassified this past year and went on to wow with a 1.00 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings. Ranked as the No. 53 prospect by MLB Pipeline, he throws two separate breaking balls and was sitting at 96 mph this spring. The command is “a little spotty,” per Hunter, but the Mariners are banking on the overall athlete and upside.