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Mariners' focus on college talent on Day 2

Catcher Raleigh, lefty Plassmeyer among club's 8 selections
June 5, 2018

SEATTLE -- Looking to bolster their upper Minor League levels with a strong infusion of young talent, the Mariners hit the college ranks hard on Day 2 of the MLB Draft on Tuesday.After selecting Stetson right-hander Logan Gilbert and Louisville outfielder Josh Stowers in the first two rounds on Monday,

SEATTLE -- Looking to bolster their upper Minor League levels with a strong infusion of young talent, the Mariners hit the college ranks hard on Day 2 of the MLB Draft on Tuesday.
After selecting Stetson right-hander Logan Gilbert and Louisville outfielder Josh Stowers in the first two rounds on Monday, Seattle continued adding established college players with all eight of its picks on Tuesday.
Draft Tracker: Follow every Mariners Draft pick
The Mariners tabbed four more pitchers as well as two promising catchers, an outfielder and shortstop on the second day.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
Scouting director Scott Hunter said the high school players the club was interested in went off the board early, but the college players fit well with the organization's desire to add talent capable of moving quickly up the system.
"We're trying to create waves of talent, and hopefully these kids will start jelling together," he said. "It does solidify the middle of our organization a little. Because we were so thin, we looked to build up from the college ranks so [Class A Advanced] Modesto and Double-A [Arkansas] get a little more stable. It does give you comfort if you build up the foundation of an organization and then you can start swinging for the fences a little."
Mariners draft Stetson righty Gilbert at No. 14
Hunter said eight of the 10 players have already committed to signing and he's hopeful the other two come to terms once their collegiate seasons end.
The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at 9 a.m. PT.
Here are Tuesday's selections:
Round 3: C Cal Raleigh, Florida State
The 21-year-old is an intriguing catching prospect as a switch-hitter with power and a high on-base percentage. Raleigh posted a .326/.447/.583 slash line at FSU with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs in 62 games this season and was a first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection.
At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Raleigh has good size and has been extremely durable as a three-year starter for the Seminoles. He is regarded as a good pitch framer who still needs work behind the plate to develop his defensive skills. But he's a good enough athlete to have been a basketball standout as well at Smokey Mountain High in Cullowhee, N.C., where he was the conference player of the year and led his team to regional championships in back-to-back years.
Raleigh comes from a baseball family. His father, Todd, played at Western Carolina before signing with the Red Sox and serving as the head coach at Western Carolina (2000-07) and Tennessee (2008-11). His uncle, Matt, was a 14th round Draft pick of the Expos and played 10 seasons in the Minors.
Round 4: LH Michael Plassmeyer, Missouri
The 6-foot-2 junior left-hander emerged as Missouri's top pitcher this season, going 5-4 with a 3.06 ERA with 103 strikeouts and 17 walks in 91 1/3 innings over 14 starts. While not a power arm with a fastball in the 87-90 range, the 21-year-old has outstanding control and a high spin rate that helped him rack up 199 strikeouts with just 35 walks over three collegiate seasons.
The Mariners have an inside connection with Plassmeyer as he worked with current bullpen coach Brian DeLunas at Premier Pitching and Performance in his native St. Louis before DeLunas took a job on Seattle's coaching staff this season.
Plassmeyer's older brother, Mitch, is a pitcher for Bradley University and they both worked out at DeLunas' facility last summer. After a disappointing sophomore season where he posted a 4.83 ERA and lost his starting role in midseason, Plassmeyer improved his velocity several miles per hour and looks like a lefty on the upswing. In three years at Missouri, his ERA dropped each year from 5.12 to 4.83 to 3.06 and his opponent batting average went from .350 to .285 to .249.
Round 5: RH Nolan Hoffman, Texas A&M
The side-arming reliever broke out with a big junior season after transferring from Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, going 3-1 with a school-record-tying 14 saves and a 1.15 ERA in 33 outings for the Aggies. The 6-foot-4 right-hander had 53 strikeouts and 12 walks in 55 innings and he was one of 20 finalists for the 2018 Pitcher of the Year award from the College Baseball Foundation.
Hoffman, 20, was a starter at Hutchinson CC and set a school record with 168 strikeouts in 160 innings in his two seasons. He was 8-1 with a 3.43 ERA in 13 starts as a sophomore.
But Hoffman was struggling early at Texas A&M until coach Rob Childress suggested he try a submarine-style delivery in the fall. He wound up quickly developing that style with a fastball in the 89-92 range to go with a slider and changeup that allowed him success against both right- and left-handed hitters.
Round 6: Joey O'Brien, RHP, College of Southern Nevada
O'Brien grew up in Japan, where his father took up residence after being stationed in Okinawa in his long military career, but O'Brien moved to the United States to live with an uncle while playing baseball the past two years for the junior college in Henderson, Nev.
The 20-year-old was a two-way standout for the Coyotes, posting a .330/.457/.549 line with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 57 games as an outfielder this season. But the Mariners drafted him as a pitcher after he went 6-4 with a 2.61 ERA with 69 strikeouts and 16 walks in 51 2/3 innings in 17 games and showed a fastball up to 94 mph.
O'Brien has signed a letter of intent to play for Hawaii.
Round 7: Jake Anchia, C, Nova Southeastern University (Fla.)
The 21-year-old catcher has some pop in his bat, hitting .340/.402/.713 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs in 51 games this past season as a junior. The Miami native is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds and he was a four-year letterwinner at Archbishop McCarthy High where he helped his team win three state titles.
He hit eight home runs his first year at Nova Southeastern to break the school's freshman record of five set in 2007 by Tigers standout J.D. Martinez and he followed up by batting .326 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs as a sophomore.
Round 8: RH Joey Gerber, Illinois
Expected by many to land in the fourth to fifth rounds, the 21-year-old fell to the Mariners and they happily added another strong-armed college reliever to their mix. Gerber never started a game in college, but he features a 92-96 mph fastball and sharp slider that proved effective out of the 'pen.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander is a three-time All-Big-10 Academic selection as an accounting major and his numbers added up this year for the Illini bullpen as well, when he struck out 45 with 14 walks in 28 2/3 innings with a 3.14 ERA and a school-record-tying 14 saves in 14 opportunities.
Round 9: CF Keegan McGovern, Georgia
McGovern was the first fourth-year senior selected by Seattle and he brings a left-handed power bat, hitting .319/.431/.644 with 18 homers and 50 RBIs in 58 games this season while earning first-team All-SEC honors.
The Mariners are listing McGovern as a center fielder, though he played primarily left field as a four-year starter at Georgia. The 22-year-old also became the first Bulldog to be named the SEC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year since current Mariners infielder James Beckham in 2008. He's a biology major who also was a two-time selection to the SEC Community Service Team.
Round 10: SS Matt Sanders, Troy University
Seattle's second fourth-year senior selection is a speedy 21-year-old who hit .378/.463/.538 with five home runs, 26 stolen bases and an NCAA Division I-leading 90 runs in 63 games this season. At 5-foot-8, 175 pounds, Sanders doesn't bring a lot of power, but he has good range and is a strong defender in the middle infield.
The Alabama native finished his senior season with more walks (44) than strikeouts (33) and hiked his OBP from .380 as a junior to .463.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.