First off, there are already some really great posts up on the draft from Mariners prospect experts. Our friend Jay Yencich has a ton of stuff up at USSM as well as at his own blog, Mariners Minors, Jon and Conor have several great posts up over at PBNW, and Jason Churchill has a recap up over at PI. Harrison Crow also has some nice informative stuff up over at Far From Port. Check all of these out.
Now, I’m not nearly the prospect expert that guys like Jay and Jon are, but I do strive to be, and I’d like to put up some thoughts on the Mariners’ draft.
First off, I’m generally pretty fond of the M’s early round picks. While I’m not huge on Taijuan Walker, he’s really young, he’s got a fair bit of upside, and he could certainly be useful to a system that’s lacking young pitching depth. I’m in agreement with JY, in that I think I would have preferred the team draft Stetson Allie, but I really don’t have any complaints about the route they chose. Walker also seems to be extremely signable, which is a plus.
Marcus Littlewood, the Mariners’ 2nd round pick, is another one that, while not ecstatic about, I don’t have any issues with. It’s been said a million times – if he can stick at short, it could turn out being a golden pick. If not, it could easily be one that’s forgotten quickly. The fact that this organization wanted him so badly leads me to believe that they’re confident he will in fact be able to stick at shortstop long term. Hopefully they’re right.
The Mariners opted to go with arms in both the 3rd and 4th round, and I’m extremely satisfied with both picks. They were RHP Ryne Stanek and LHP James Paxton, respectively. Both have extremely high ceilings, though Stanek’s stuff is more impressive at the moment. Paxton’s name may sound familiar to you, and if it does, it’s because he was drafted by the Blue Jays last year, but didn’t sign. He’s also had a fair amount of health issues in the recent past, which is why this pick is a bit of a risk, but it also has a chance to be quite rewarding.
Looking at the rest of the Mariners’ picks, the one thing that really jumps out at me is the amount of pitchers. 19 out of 30 picks are pitchers, and I like that. Despite having a really solid overall draft last year, the one thing the team was criticized for was the virtual absence of high upside arms. Well, that certainly won’t be a problem this year. Guys like Walker, Stanek, Paxton, as well as lower round picks like Luke Taylor and Jon Keller are all intriguing, young arms with potential futures in the starting rotation. While it might not end up being quite as exciting as last year’s, the 2010 draft looks like it will go a long way towards replenishing this organization’s high upside pitching depth in the lower levels.