June 18, 2012; Omaha, NE, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks pitcher Ryne Stanek (55) throws against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second inning of game eight of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

An Early Look at Possible Future Farmhands

The 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft (hello unnecessarily long name) is coming up in less than a month, starting on June 6th. There isn’t quite as much build up for it as there is for the other major drafts. Mainly because it takes place in the middle of the season, and because it is crazy long.

But, there are still people talking and speculating about who will go where. Over at Lookout Landing, Chris Crawford has been putting up weekly posts on various prospects that the M’s could take, and mock drafts are starting to pop up around the internet. The problem is, there never seems to be a consensus like there sometimes is for other sports. In the NBA, we know who is going to go #1 almost to a tee, and the whole top 10 is generally easy to predict. But with baseball, it is not nearly that simple. Each team has a different way of evaluating players, and value different aspects of the game.

It is still fun to try and speculate about some possible targets, even if you can’t know for sure who your team is going to take. As a general rule, teams will take best player available. In baseball, that is really the best option. No one goes right to the bigs, so these prospects won’t be of value to your team until two, three years off, maybe more. What may be a set position at the time of the draft could be a hole when the draftee is ready to contribute. Prospects can also be valuable trade chips also, so even if a player is blocked, you can get some good value out of him.

So I picked a few guys who I think could be around at #12 that the M’s may have at or near the top of their big-board. This is by no means an extensive list, and there was some personal bias when choosing what four players to highlight. But this is my post dangit. I will do with it what I so choose…within the guidelines of the site and the interests of the readers of course. Also, keep in mind I am no scout, so I am relying on what people who know more than I do have said, as well as what I have seen from the players.

Austin Wilson, OF, R/R
Stanford University
6-5/245

Wilson is a strong athletic outfielder with lots of power potential. He has struggled a bit this year, both with injury and his production. It has caused him to drop a little on some mocks, but he still looks like a decent choice at #12 for Seattle. John Sickels has him going 20 to the Tigers, but I have seen others that have him at 10 or better. The Mariners lack a big time outfield prospect, and that is exactly what Wilson could be. Scouts have his power at as high as a 70 for the future, with that being his best tool. However, it is not his only tool, as he looks fairly solid across the board. He has a massive build, but he does not play like it. He should stick in right field, and looks like a decent base stealer as well.

If everything goes as planned for Wilson, he could be a very good player all around. He figures to be an above average corner outfielder thanks to his speed and arm. The bat is a little different, because there are some holes. But if he turns out like most expect, you are probably looking at a .270/.340/.480 type player, in the mold of a Nelson Cruz, or even Jay Bruce. If he reaches maximum potential and everything that can click does click, then he could be closer to Carlos Beltran or Yoenis Cespedes type player, but that isn’t likely. Then of course, if the contact deficiencies present a problem, he could turn into a Chris Carter type player.

He definitely has a high ceiling, but it is really hard to pinpoint where he stands right now. He could go top 10, or he could fall to 20. He kind of gives off a high school boom or bust vibe despite being a college player. If he is there at 12 though, I think there is a good chance the M’s take him.

Reese McGuire, C, L/R
Kentwood HS (Kent, WA)
6-1/190

I recently saw McGuire play in person, and was very impressed with what I saw. He is a very sound defensive catcher, and just looks like he knows what he is doing back there. If it weren’t for my friends and classmates out there playing against him, I might have thought I was watching a college, or even minor league game.  He is a great athlete, and looks like he should be able to stick at catcher if his team chooses to keep him there. But he would also be fine moving to the outfield, and he has good speed as well. At one point, he outran Bothell High’s hitter to first when going over to backup a throw to first. That kind of thing impresses me as much as home runs and doubles. He also has a cannon of an arm, and very good power from the left side.

I have also seen him going all across the board, from 6 to 23. But, Sickels has him going #12 to Seattle, so obviously there are educated people who think he will be there for the M’s.

The projections for him are a little tougher as he is only 18 and still has a ways to go, but here they are anyway. The low end looks to me to be somewhere around .250/.320/.410, the high end around .280/.350/.465, and the most likely may be something like .265/.340/.440, all of which may not look all that great. Keep in mind though, he is a catcher. A .780 OPS behind the plate is not the same as .780 OPS in general. That production coupled with what projects as above average defense is a very valuable combination, so it is easy to see why people are so high on him. I would say the best comparison is somewhere between Ryan Doumit (with better defense) and Brian McCann. That’s pretty good company.

High schoolers are always risky players. The game is just so much different, and these kids are so far off from their potential. Most of the projections are purely guesswork, and that is not a very stable system. But all signs point to McGuire being a very solid contributor in a few years, and he is receiving high praise all around.

Ryne Stanek, RHP
University of Arkansas
6-4/180

Remember when I said it is all about best player available in the MLB Draft? Well, this is where that comes in. Stanek is one of the higher rated arms in this year’s draft, and most reports have him around where the M’s will pick. Problem is, he is a pitcher, and the Mariner’s farm system already has tons of those. But again, best player available is often the best choice, and if Jack and co. think he is the best on the board, then they will take him.

Plus, the Mariners have already drafted him once. Back in 2010, Seattle took him in the 3rd round but failed to sign him away from college. So obviously they liked him the first time, so that could speak to the chances that they go with him again.

Stanek is a big righty whose fastball sits in the low-mid 90’s with some sink. He also mixes in a solid slider and less-than-solid changeup. He can be a little wild at times, but if he gets his command right, he could be special. Many people say he is a future ace if everything goes right, but looks to be at least a #2/3 if it doesn’t.

I don’t really see the M’s going with another pitcher because there will likely be at least one other bat who they are higher on. But you can’t rule it out, and his Mariner connections could influence their thoughts of him also. He didn’t sign the first time, so maybe they don’t want to deal with him now.

Honorable Mentions:

Justin Williams, OF, Terrabone HS

Williams was connected to the M’s frequently for a while, but that has since died out. A lot of mocks are now leaving him out of the 1st round entirely. This is mainly due to some contact problems, questions about his ability to stick in he outfield, and signability due to his commitment to LSU. There is a chance the M’s love his huge raw power and 35+ HR upside. But they may also be scared away by his  easy comparisons to guys like Chris Carter.

Colin Moran, 3B, UNC

Moran is often mocked at or near #12, and its easy to see why. He is a good hitter with above average patience and moderate power. But there is also some concern that he will have to move off of the hot corner, and to the other corner. If that happens he should still hit enough to be a valuable player, but “moderate power” is not often praised from a first baseman. His line drive swing though indicates that he should be a fine hitter wherever he is, and could maybe (probably not) be a Billy Butler-type hitter in that he is a gap hitter who has enough loft to still lose 20 a year.

Tags: Draft Prospects Seattle Mariners

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