The MLB Draft is going to be different this year. But with fewer bites at the apple, the first round for the Seattle Mariners may be more important than ever.
The MLB Draft will be in July instead of June and could be as short as 5-rounds. As asinine as MLB’s plan is, it is a new reality the Mariners and GM Jerry Dipoto, as well as scouting director Scott Hunter, have to adapt to.
The new reality is, with fewer high round picks, they’ll need to nail their first two picks to maximize the value they get out of the draft. They still hold the 6th overall pick in the draft and will have plenty of candidates to choose from, but with the possibility, prep arms may go to college increasing, it seems likely that a college player is a virtual lock for Seattle at this spot.
Perhaps the best overall player in the class is Vanderbilt shortstop Austin Martin. The 6’0″, 180 lbs Martin is expected to go inside the Top 3 but could fall to 6, which makes him worth talking about now.
Martin has average or better skills across the board. In fact, that is probably an undersell. Martin as above-average tools across the board with the exception of his power grade, which is still expected to carry a respectable 50-grade.
Martin, to use a cliche, is a “professional hitter”. He works counts, uses the whole field, isn’t afraid to hit with two strikes, and rarely chases outside of the zone. He makes consistent, hard contact and has no problem finding the ball with the barrel of his bat. His size may limit his power ceiling, but a 12-15 home run landing spot is reasonable.
Martin will be able to stick at shortstop. He has quick feet and soft hands, as well as an above-average arm. Martin would also be a Gold Glove-caliber second baseman, giving his drafting teams an up-the-middle player to add to their system.
He isn’t a burner on the bases, but he has above-average speed and instincts, making him a great base-runner who can steal 20 bases a season. His hit tool is on par with Nick Gonzalez, but Martin is a significantly better defender and a better bet to help his team in multiple ways.
If Seattle could land Martin, he may challenge Jarred Kelenic or Julio Rodriguez for the #1 spot in the prospect ranks. Martin will likely go inside the Top 5, as Nick Madrigal did before him. But it isn’t out of the question he slides to 6, at which point the Mariners should strongly consider pulling the trigger on this selection.