SEATTLE -- The Mariners landed one of the more advanced high-school hitters in the MLB Draft when they selected third baseman Joe Rizzo of Oakton High School in Oak Hill, Va., with their second-round selection on Thursday.Along with first-round pick Kyle Lewis, a center fielder out of Mercer University, the
SEATTLE -- The Mariners landed one of the more advanced high-school hitters in the MLB Draft when they selected third baseman Joe Rizzo of Oakton High School in Oak Hill, Va., with their second-round selection on Thursday.
Along with first-round pick Kyle Lewis, a center fielder out of Mercer University, the Mariners thought they landed two quality position players with the addition of the left-handed hitting Rizzo with the 50th overall selection.
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"He's a tough kid, great kid, baseball kid," said Tom McNamara, the Mariners amateur scouting director. "We like his bat a lot. It's a short, compact stroke. He's got a good approach."
Rizzo, 18, was a 2016 preseason Rawlings-Perfect Game First Team All-American and has hit .392 with 14 runs, four homers and 12 RBIs in the first 16 games of his senior season. The youngster batted .606 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 22 games during his junior year when he was the Virginia 6A Player of the Year and participated in the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego.
Rizzo was the 40th-ranked Draft prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com. He has signed a letter of intent to South Carolina.
"I've always dreamed of playing in that big league stadium and getting it done there," Rizzo told the Washington Post. "There's no one I really modeled my game after. It's really been me and my dream, and working toward my dream."
Some have questioned whether the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder is athletic enough to play third base, but McNamara thinks it's his natural position.
"One of the things about Rizzo that really impressed us, he worked on his agility and his hands," McNamara said. "I was a little surprised, our scouts went in and said this guy had gotten a lot better at shortstop, where he was playing. I think third base would be the position for him. He's got an accurate arm, his actions are good."
But more than anything, the Mariners are high on Rizzo's advanced offensive approach.
"That's the thing about two players we took today," McNamara said. "They both have controlled-aggression approaches, a control-the-zone [approach] as we like to call it. They're selective, but they're aggressive. They know the strike zone.
"We sweated it out there a little for pick 50, but that was the guy we wanted. It happens a lot in the Draft where you don't get the player you wanted. The two players today, we're very happy with."
The Draft continues on Friday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m. PT.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
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