Over the past three seasons, the Seattle Mariners have had some success with the MLB Draft. In those years, they have opted to take college players with their first pick and save the high school players for later rounds.
And while several mock drafts suggest the Mariners will end up taking a pitcher – such as Hartford’s Sean Newcomb or LSU’s Aaron Nola, I think the Mariners should look at filling one of their most glaring needs – an outfielder with power.
Enter Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto.
Before you say it, yes, I know he’s a left-handed bat. But this year’s lefty dilemma won’t necessarily be the dilemma of the 2016 or 2017 Mariners.
The two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year and Golden Spikes finalist has the power/patience combination that Seattle so desperately needs. What do I mean by that?
Conforto slashed .345/.504/.547 while walking a school-record 55 times and striking out only 35 times. His walk total was 2nd in the nation. Conforto led the Pac-12 in slugging percentage, on-base average and runs scored (52), is fifth in average and hits (70) and tied for third in both doubles (16) and total bases (111).
He also hit seven home runs (which was his lowest total of his three years at Oregon State) and knocked in 56 runs – 2nd in the Pac-12 only to his teammate Dylan Davis.
His one knock on his scouting report is in his fielding. He is not considered to be a great fielder and would more than likely project as a right fielder in the majors.
Some would suggest that despite his bat being quite arguably the best one available right now, picking him at #6 would almost be a waste. There are other potentially potent bats available that have bigger upside, but with them you are taking a risk.
One of those is catcher Alex Jackson, whom the Mariners are reportedly interested in. I don’t see the interest to be honest. Jackson projects to be a top-level prospect, but he’s just finishing high school and the Mariners haven’t been drafting high school players early.
Not only that, but they have Mike Zunino behind the plate for the foreseeable future, there is no need there.
There is a need in the outfield for a potent, but patient bat. Micheal Saunders has shown signs of improvement this year, but who knows what will happen to him in the coming years. The Mariners have fellow Oregon State alums Stefen Romero and Cole Gillespie, but neither has shown long-term potential on this roster, yet.
There is also the possibility that because of his lack of natural ability fielding the ball in the outfield, Conforto could be converted to a first baseman. Now, the Mariners currently have Justin Smoak, but like Mike said yesterday, his days could be numbered.
The Chicago Cubs, according to some reports, are thought to be interested in Conforto. They have the 4th pick. If the Cubs pass on him, I can’t imagine why the M’s would let the nearby Woodinville, Washington native slip out of their grasp.
Let’s just hope the Mariners don’t try to out-think the room and try to get all cute with their picks. Stick to the plan that has worked the past few years in nabbing D.J. Peterson, Mike Zunino and Danny Hultzen in the first round.
Go get your potent – but patient – bat of the future.