Pick 43: Mariners select Nick Loftin, SS Baylor
There are some players that just ooze upside. There are some that just ooze safety. Nick Loftin is closer to the latter, but anybody who profiles as every day, up-the-middle player is interesting. Loftin has a fundamentally sound shortstop, who makes all the routine plays with soft hands and a strong arm. He isn’t going to make many “flash” plays, but his solid defense plays just about anywhere.
Loftin played multiple positions for Team USA last summer, including getting some time in the outfield and possess the skills to be a solid utility option if the bat doesn’t prove to be an everyday trait. However, there are reasons to like Loftin at the plate. He has a simple swing and a sound approach at the plate.
He hits line drives from the foul line to foul line and has some surprising pop at times. The swing itself isn’t designed to generate much in-game power, but the bat speed and strength suggest a small tweak to generate more loft and backspin could unlock average in-game power.
Loftin’s best chance to play every day with the Mariners may be at second base, where he would provide above-average defense and a solid bat-to-ball skillset with a fair amount of walks.
Pick 64: Mariners select Justin Lange, RHP Llano (Texas)
In order to get Lange at 64, Seattle might need to promise an over-slot deal, similar to what they did with Sam Carlson back in 2017. But the 6’4″, 210 lbs righty from Texas carries the upside to make it worth it. Lange features one of the best fastballs in the class, a burning heater that sits in the mid to upper 90s.
The slider shows real promise as well and has all the makings of an above-average offering now and in the future. This issue with Lange is two-fold. First, he lacks a third, average offering, and his changeup still needs a lot of work. Second, Lange needs to throw more strikes and clean up a bit of effort in his delivery.
Lange is one of the best athletes in the class and actually shows plus raw-power and speed when he’s not on the mound. The athleticism will help him clean up his delivery and throw more strikes, which could unlock some of his massive upside. But if the command and delivery issues can’t be cleaned up, he may be nothing more than a middle reliever, which may scare some teams off him in the second round.