Seattle Mariners 2020 MLB Draft Big Board: 11-20
20. Heston Kjerstad, OF Arkansas
Meet Heston Kjerstad, a player Jerry Dipoto has already selected one as a 36th round draft pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. Kjerstad was headed off to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks with a firm commitment that took him off most teams boards. The previous selection likely won’t mean much this year, but in theory, Kjerstad could be an interesting under-slot pick at number six.
The 6’3″, 205 lbs Kjerstad swings a powerful left-handed stick at the plate and he broke the school’s record for home runs by a freshman with 14 in 2018. He would later prove that the power was legitimate by slugging 17 homers as a sophomore.
But the power comes with significant trade-offs. He has a lot of hand movement in his load and could struggle to catch up with plus velocity. Like many power hitters, Kjerstad is boom or bust and will always have high strikeout totals as a result. If his timing is off, he is prone to prolonged slumps. Kjerstad is a below-average runner with a strong arm that gives him a right-field profile.
Kjerstad is a fine prospect with plus-power but has a limited upside. If everything goes right, he could be Seattle’s version of Max Kepler at the plate.
19. Casey Martin, SS Arkansas
A teammate to Kjerstad in high school and college, Casey Martin finds his way into our Top 20. We just wrote a nice profile on Martin on Monday, so for a full report, click here. But to make a long story short, Martin has plus power and double-plus speed, with the athleticism and arm to stick at shortstop or handle second, third, and centerfield. Contact issues and questions about his swing keep him from the Top 10, but he certainly has the tools to land there.
18. Robert Hassell, OF Independence (Tenn)
Robert Hassell is one of the most interesting prep players in this draft class. The 6’2″, 195 lbs Vanderbilt commit has a strong tool belt that includes above-average grades for his run and arm tools and a plus bat with interesting power potential.
Hassell has a similar profile to Jarred Kelenic, though just a half-grade off in most areas. The thing keeping Hassell outside of the Top 10 is a difference in opinion between evaluators about his power grade. Some believe he can regularly pop 20 home runs while others think he tops off at 15.
But at his best, Hassell has great bat-to-ball skills and peppers the field with line drives from foul line to foul line. Hassell has a strong arm and a decent shot to stick in centerfield. If he can fill out some in the next few years and gets to an average power grade, he will have plenty of value going forward.
Vanderbilt commits often require top dollar to turn down a scholarship to play in Nashville and Hassell is no exception. He may be the type of player Seattle can woo with a rather significant over-slot pay at 43 and would give the Mariners a legitimate complement to Julio Rodriguez and Jarred Kelenic 3-4 years down the road.
17. Cole Wilcox, RHP Georgia
Now, according to Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider and the Baseball Things podcast, the Mariners may be considering an under-slot pick at 6 to be able to double-dip on the first-round talent at pick 43 and Wilcox is one of the names being discussed. Teammate to projected top 5 picks Emerson Hancock, Wilcox is no slouch himself.
His arsenal includes a 93-97 MPH running fastball and a slider and changeup that will both be above-average offerings and flash as plus pitches. He is strong and athletic, but he doesn’t have the cleanest delivery, causing some evaluators to worry that an injury is inevitable and assignment to the bullpen may follow.
Wilcox has the stuff of a top 10 pick, but if the Mariners are truly considering him at six, they need to strongly believe they can and will clean up his mechanics. Wilcox is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he has some leverage to work with during negotiations. Wilcox would be a risky pick, but one that could pay off.
16. Dillon Dingler, C Ohio State University
There is some debate amongst evaluators over who is the best college catcher in the class this year: Dillon Dingler or Patrick Bailey? I prefer Dingler to Bailey and as such, rank him just outside our top 15.
Dingler is a rare catcher prospect that has above-average foot speed. And not “above-average for a catcher” run times, but above-average for any position. Dingler also has an absolute cannon and does a nice job blocking balls and has steadily improved his framing skills along the way.
Dingler has steadily gotten better and should now be an average or better defender with a near-elite arm. Offensively, Dingler has some interesting raw power he has yet to tap into and has a good knowledge of the strike zone. He will never be much more than an average bat, but that skill, combined with his insane arm, defensive prowess, and intangibles make him one of the better catching prospects we have seen in a while.