The MLB Draft is less than a week away. There are a lot of different opinions floating around, especially on this blog, concerning what the Mariners should do, but here is my outlook on the first round of this year’s draft.
The Mariners have the third overall pick. In my opinion, there are two players that would fit what the Mariners need. These two players are five-tool outfielder, Byron Buxton, and powerful catcher, Mike Zunino. Both guys have skill sets that are otherwise lacking in the Mariner farm system. However, it is nearly certain that Buxton will be taken first or second overall, so Zunino’s availability will depend on if the Twins take him with the second pick. Common logic says that the Minnesota will pass on a college catcher considering that the currently have Mauer, but injury concerns could cause them to take the Florida catcher.
A recent resurgence by Stanford hurler Mark Appel has caused his draft stock to rise again, so there is a good chance that he will go first or second overall along with Buxton. However, if he, or any of the other pitchers in the draft are passed on by Minnesota, Zunino may be off the board before he can fall to Seattle. In this situation, Seattle would have to look elsewhere for their first round selection.
In this scenario, there are a lot of different options for Seattle, but most of them are pitchers. There will be tons of great college and high school arms available including, Mark Appel, Lucas Giolito, Max Fried, Kevin Gausman, Lance McCullers Jr., Kevin Zimmer, and many other guys worthy of top ten selections. All of those names have the potential to be good major league starters, but the Mariners don’t need another pitcher. We already have the big three tearing up double A hitting, good looking starters of the future at the big league level, and other promising starters scattered throughout the farm system. Think about the starting rotation in three years. In my opinion, Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Blake Beavan, Hector Noesi, Charlie Furbush, Erasmo Ramirez, Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Forest Snow, Brandon Maurer, Andrew Carraway, and Jordan Shipers are all possibilities to be members of the rotation. I don’t see the point in adding another arm in the first round that may never even be needed in Seattle.
On the other hand, there aren’t many good position player options that will be on the board early. Shortstop, Carlos Correa, and outfielder, Albert Almora, will be the only hitters worthy of top five selections. Harrison actually projected the Mariners to take Correa in a recent article. I am not such a fan of Seattle taking a shortstop due to the fact that we have so many shortstops in the system. As I have noted in previous articles, we have drafted a shortstop in the first two rounds of the draft in each of the last three years. We don’t need another shortstop on the farm right now. Between Nick Franklin and Brad Miller, the future of the position is looking good without another shortstop clogging it up.
To sum up, I believe that this will be a successful draft for the Mariners if they can get either Mike Zunino or Byron Buxton in the first round. While any of the pitchers, Carlos Correa, or Albert Almora are good players, I do not think that any of them would add anything to the future of the Mariners except potential trade bait. Later in the week, I will give a look at what the Mariners may do with their second round draft pick.