I love College Baseball and follow it along with the MLB Draft pretty religiously. Last February, I named Taijuan Walker as one of 6 possible high school draftees the Mariners may look at in the 2010 sandwhich round. I do my home work and while my shadow draft wasn’t great, I do have random quasi solid ideas. You can expect to see that I will get more into the draft as the college season rises and things start happening.
With that said, I’ve got the first name for you to put into your hat. No, it’s not Gerrit Cole. Short of the Pirates having a brain aneurysm and not going with Anthony Rendon, the Mariners could consider a few other names but Gerrit Cole is the favorite, so if you didn’t know about him remember that name too. (Cole vs others, of course, will be widely and wildly debated as we get closer to June, so stay tuned.) The name I submit to you is that of Andrew Kittredge. The (former?) University of Washington staff ace.
With all the anticipation of spring training and the rest of the baseball world focused on various professional baseball news, that we’ve used to whet our collective appetite, it’s no surprise that the news of the young Washington ace being deemed academically ineligible went under the radar. Kittredge will still be able to pitch this year, however, the draft eligible junior will be forced to miss the first fourteen games games of the year.
That’s too bad, but of course the first thought of everyone is “how does this affect the Mariners?” Let me get there.
I’ve seen Kittredge as high as the third round in a few pre-season “mock drafts”. With another solid season of 9+ strikeouts per nine/innings, a BB per nine under 3 and sustained velocity in the mid-90′s he could have seen his stock sail as high as the sandwich round.
Now, with missing out on all of the out of conference games and tournaments, short of making the college world series, Kittredge will have missed his best chance to pitch in front of the biggest audiences. There is a slight possibility he could pitch against UCLA in April with the Bruins sporting arguably the best pitching combo in college baseball with Gerrit Cole (see above) and Trevor Bauer (you could argue Vanderbilt has a better two in Sonny Gray and Jack Armstrong, but read here).
Outside of the ever-so-slight possibility he out pitches one of the two best college pitchers, he is bound to see his draft stock drop. Couple that with the fact that college arms, this season, are extremely prevalent in the draft, it’s possible that his stock could drop beyond the tenth round and even further with possible bonus demands.
This is where the Mariners angle comes, they already have a prior relationship with Kittredge when they drafted him back in 2008 with the #1360 overall (in the 45th round). They’ve scouted him and already are a fan. Then you consider that they have an well established relationship with Lindsay Meggs (UW coach).
This may seem far fetched but looking at the fact the Mariners had drafted Forrest Snow back in 2007 prior to drafting him in 2010. Bennett Whitmore, Mariners 24th round 2010 draftee, was also drafted by the Mariners the previous year in 2009 in the 32nd round. Dennis Raben wasn’t just a sandwhich pick in 2008, but was also the Mariners 49th pick in 2005. So there is a precedence for this occurring.
Kittredge has solid upside and could be a potential steal. The one thought I have is the further he drops the smaller the bonus and the more likely he is to return to college for a senior year to restore some of his stock.
The only real concern I have is an outside element….the Tampa Bay Rays. The ray are notorious for digging through in the greater northwest for draft gems. If there is a player of value up here they are going to find them.
The Rays have 12 of the first 100 picks and because they have so many they are going to go with some guys they know will accept deals at slot, meaning some of the choices will be economic vs being top talent. This is a good thing for the Mariners (and really the rest of the league) because it means that there is going to be better talent available later in the draft. But on the flip side a guy like Kittredge could be lucrative.
Bottom line: put the name in the cap for June. He’s a local guy who you should be able to remember and watch through the college season. It may not even matter come April. But, it’s something fun to keep a lookout for and should be interesting to see how the Mariners approach this draft.
I have my own opinions about what they are going to do but that’s for another time.