SEATTLE -- Nonstop scouting around the year culminates with three days in June for the First-Year Player Draft. And now that the 40 rounds are complete in the 2012 Draft, the Mariners like where they sit.
"Overall, we're very pleased with the athleticism, talent level and character of the players we drafted," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "Our scouts did an excellent job traveling all over the country finding the top talent at both the high school and college levels. We look forward to getting many of these young men signed and in uniform."
Throughout the Draft, the Mariners maintained the mantra that they would select the best players available. It was one that led them to some speedsters, some power hitters, some slick fielders, some good arms -- essentially, a little bit of everything.
"Sometimes, you don't think, there's certain players you see in front of your face, you're not sure whether or not they'll get to you in a certain round, so you got to jump up and take them," McNamara said. "You don't want to sit there after the Draft or three or four years telling people, 'Well, we really like these guys.' You got to step up and take the players you like."
The Mariners began by selecting Florida catcher Mike Zunino with the third overall selection. Zunino, a first-team Louisville Slugger All-American this year as a junior and the SEC Player of the year in 2011, was highly praised by the those in the Mariners' front office for his leadership and character.
"There's a lot I like about Mike Zunino," McNamara said. "One is character, his integrity, the family he comes from. We talk about it all the time in our meetings. He's a winning player with character.
"Obviously, you have to have talent to be the No. 3 pick in the country. He's a good defensive catcher, he's got extra-base power and he's a leader."
After selecting Zunino, the Mariners went hard after offensive threats, currently a hole that needs to be filled at the big league level. Of the first 16 selections through the first two days, Seattle took 12 position players, of which McNamara labeled six as true hitters.
But that doesn't mean the club turned away from pitchers during the Draft. The Mariners took 20 pitchers, roughly half of the 41 players they selected. The group of pitchers is headlined by third-round pick Edwin Diaz. The hard-throwing right-hander out of Puerto Rico is one of seven high school pitchers Seattle drafted.
Now that the Draft is over, the Mariners will turn their attention to signing their draftees. With 41 selections, it will be nearly impossible for the Mariners to sign each pick, especially with new rules that have pushed up the signing deadline for college juniors and added signing restrictions past the 10th round, but that didn't keep Seattle from pushing through until the final selection.
"Basically, what I try to tell our guys every year, is there's big leaguers from round 16-40 and we got to keep grinding," McNamara said. "And we feel very good about the guys we drafted [Wednesday]. Obviously, it's going to be difficult to sign all these players, like it is every year, but we'll do the best we can -- and we want to sign the right players."
As for the widely-held notion that this would be a down year for the Draft?
"I like to stay positive when it comes to baseball," McNamara said. "I've heard that every single year. I've heard, 'Oh, this is a great Draft, or this is a below-average Draft, or this is an average Draft.' Maybe I'm just simple. I just go out and look at what players can do.
"We saw a lot of players with ability this year, and we're pretty excited about bringing them into this organization."