Jun 10, 2011; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators catcher Mike Zunino (3) follows through on a two run single against the Mississippi State Bulldogs during the second inning of the Gainesville super regional of the 2011NCAA baseball tournament at Alfred A. McKethan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

1st Round Draft Preview

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.

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Tags: 2012 MLB Draft Albert Almora Byron Buxton Carlos Correa Feature Mark Appel Mike Zunino MLB Draft

  • Coug1990

    I am actually liking Correa as well.  He would be years away anyway and who knows what will happen then.  I have read that many think that Miller ends up in the outfield and we will have to see if Franklin can stay at short or is moved to 2nd.
    There is nothing wrong with drafting player and ultimately trading that player for equal value at another position.
    Things have a way of working themselves out.  However, never having seen any of these players play, I can only give impressions based on what others think.  So, my six degrees of separation doesn’t mean much.

  • maqman

    My choices are Buxton, Giolito and Zunino in that order.  Doubt if Buxton falls to us.  Giolito has the best upside of any arm available and his medical problem seems to make him damaged goods.  I saw a video clip of him playing long toss at 200 feet today and his arm didn’t fall off.  Starting pitchers are the gold standard of trade chips, you can never have enough.  He’s the closest thing to Dylan Bundy in this draft.

  • JCondreay

     @maqman Pitchers are valuable trade pieces, but a power hitting catcher with a glove can be extremely valuable as well. Just look at what Montero brought, and he projects mainly as a DH. If we have the choice of either a catcher or a pitcher, we may as well take the one that could actually be useful in Seattle. I dont see an arm in this year’s draft making the rotation in the next 5 years. 

  • Mariner_Melee

    I like Correa, even if he doesn’t stick at SS, he profiles well as a 3B and while the organization has some talent at 3B, they really are lacking a stud or start right now.

  • JCondreay

     @Mariner_Melee Thats true. The thing is, I think the Mariners will be a playoff quality team in 2014. In 2014, Correa will probably be a 20 year old in AA still. On the other hand, I see Zunino being a contributor in the MLB in two seasons. He wont be a stud, but he will be a solid 23 year old backstop who can pitch in 15 homeruns from the 7th spot in the order. Zunino is a safer pick and will pay off quicker. If the Mariners were earlier in the rebuilding process, Correa would be a better pick, but we are just around the corner right now, so I think it makes more sense to take a player who is just around the corner.

  • Mariner_Melee

     @JCondreay I agree with you. If Buxton isn’t available at 3, then I am more than in favor of drafting Zunino. Defensively savvy, offensively capable catchers don’t grow on trees after all. 
    I do like Correa, but he is a very, very risky pick.