Mariners may eye pitching early in MLB Draft
Club could opt for high school arm with second-round selection
SEATTLE -- The 2015 Draft will take place from Monday, June 8, through Wednesday, June 10, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 75 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,700 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Mariners, whose first selection is the 60th overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Mariners gave up their top selection by signing free agent Nelson Cruz, so it's tough to tell what direction they'll go in the the second round. But in a similar situation in 2010 when they didn't pick until 43rd, they opted for an inexperienced, but athletic high school pitcher with a lot of upside in Taijuan Walker and the move proved astute as Walker developed into one of baseball's top prospects. They'd love to land a similar high-upside selection this year.
While this is generally considered a thin Draft by many scouts, with projections for a better class in 2016, there is believed to be some decent pitching depth, particularly on the high school end. Thus with their top picks coming at Nos. 60 and 72 (a Competitive Balance Round 2 pick), the Mariners still should be in position to land a promising arm or two. The hard part has been figuring out exactly whom to zero in on with their top scouts, since there hasn't been a lot of consensus among teams on some of the upper-echelon talent and that muddled picture makes it difficult for a team like Seattle to know who might be on the board when its turn comes.
While the Mariners will be on the sidelines in the first round, they'll be watching with interest as things play out before their first two picks late Monday. The D-backs have the No. 1 choice and appear to be debating between Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson and Florida prep shortstop Brendan Rodgers. The Astros have two of the top five picks, while the Braves have six of the first 89 selections. One name to watch for Mariners fans is Daz Cameron -- the son of former center fielder Mike Cameron -- who is expected to be a top-five pick as a high school outfielder out of Georgia.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to 5 percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75 percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75 percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100 percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100 percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Mariners have been assigned a pool of $4,186,900, which ranks 27th in the Majors. The value assigned to their top pick -- the No. 60 overall selection in the second round -- is $1,025,900.
After developing and dealing away some well-regarded young relievers in the past two years in Brandon Maurer, Matt Brazis, Yoervis Medina and Carter Capps, and promoting Carson Smith to the Majors, the Mariners need to re-stock their supply of power arms in the Minor Leagues. With high school pitching being one of the depths in this Draft, Seattle may be able to take a shot at some youngsters to help in that regard in the early rounds and then look to add young position talent later to bolster the organizational depth.
As much as the Mariners will tell you they don't draft for need, the club has used its top picks to pursue offensive help the past three years. Last year, they grabbed Alex Jackson, widely regarded as the top high school hitter in the Draft. In 2013, they chose D.J. Peterson, tabbed by many as the best pure college hitter on the board. In '12 it was catcher Mike Zunino, selected with the third overall pick. Not since 2011 have they pursued pitching with their first pick when they took Danny Hultzen. With no first-round selection this year, the Mariners are wide open to landing whatever quality talent they feel falls to them. But don't be surprised if they reverse their recent trend and make pitching the first priority.
RECENT DRAFT HISTORY
Patrick Kivlehan, a fourth-round pick out of Rutgers in 2012, has climbed the ladder each year from Low-A Everett to Class A Advanced High Desert to Double-A Jackson and this season to Triple-A Tacoma, proving at each stop he's an excellent athlete and capable hitter. The former Rutgers defensive back got off to a slow start this season at Tacoma, but he has begun hitting well in recent weeks and has elevated himself to one of the club's top position prospects. What position, exactly, is a key question. After working primarily at third base and some first base in the lower Minors, he's played the majority of his games in the outfield this year -- at left, center and right -- while also still getting some time at first and third. That versatility should give the Mariners some options if and when they decide Kivlehan's bat is ready for the big leagues.
Only one player from the two most-recent Drafts has already made it to the Majors and that is left-hander Tyler Olson, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who opened this season in the bullpen and pitched 11 games for Seattle in the early going. Olson is currently on the 15-day disabled list after being sent down to Triple-A Tacoma, but he's already had a chance to experience his big-league dream after growing up in Spokane (Wash.) as a Mariners fan and modeling himself after Jamie Moyer as he developed at University High School and Gonzaga University.
In The Show
Eight of the Mariners' players on their 25-man roster are products of the Draft, including first-rounders Zunino (2012), Walker ('10) and Dustin Ackley ('09). Shortstop Chris Taylor was a fifth-round pick in 2012 and reliever Dominic Leone was tabbed in the 16th round that year; utility man Brad Miller (second round) and reliever Smith (eighth) were selected in 2011; and Seattle landed All-Star third baseman Kyle Seager with a third-round pick in 2009. Also, left-hander James Paxton (currently on the 15-day disabled list) was a fourth-round pick in 2010.
The Mariners' recent top picks
2014: Jackson, OF, extended spring
2013: Peterson, 3B, Double-A Jackson
2012: Zunino, C, Mariners
2011: Hultzen, LHP, Double-A Jackson
2010: Walker, RHP, Mariners