Coming in at #17, we have one of the more interesting players in the ranks, local product Austin Shenton. Shenton played his high school ball in Bellingham and stuck around the area, playing one season of college ball for Bellevue CC before transferring to Florida Atlantic University.
Shenton had a great 2018 at FAU and carried the bat into the Cape Cod League, giving him some helium as a potential top 100 pick entering the 2019 season. Unfortunately, he struggled early, no doubt in part to the troubling news that his mother was undergoing cancer treatments across the country, but turned it on late to salvage enough value for the Mariners to select the local product in the 5th round of the 2019 draft.
Shenton is similar to prospect Joe Rizzo. His carrying tool is his bat, particularly his bat to ball skills and plate discipline. Shenton has a plan for every at-bat and takes a fair amount of walks while hitting the ball to all fields. He has the bat speed required to generate 20-25 home runs but will need to tweak his swing to add more loft.
Shenton’s power will be the key to his development. He is currently fringe-average at third base and won’t be unseating Evan White any time soon at first base. His best position may be left field, where he could become average defensively.
Shenton could hit .270/.340./.450 in a few years and hit his way from the Northwest League to A-ball West Virginia in his first taste of pro ball. Shenton played well enough in that time to give him a shot to start 2020 in High-A Modesto, where new hitting coach Shawn O’Malley will get to work with him.
Shenton has some work to do to become an MLB regular, but the hit tool alone gives him that chance. Don’t be surprised if he spends all year in Modesto and gets his first shot at big league time late in 2021.