Round Five(137): Mariners select Braiden Ward, CF Washington
Most years, Braiden Ward would be a typical player selected in rounds 6-10. Obviously, this leaves him vulnerable to going undrafted this year, which would have him return to UW in hopes of being drafted as senior with no leverage. This could lead Ward to take a below-slot deal, once again giving Seattle a little more money to pursue Winn.
Braiden Ward isn’t a bad prospect. In fact, he is arguably the best base-runner in the class. He possesses 80-grade speed, that is he has elite speed. He backs up the speed with great instincts on the basepaths, which has allowed him to lead the PAC-12 in stolen bases three consecutive years. Ward also made the Cape Cod League All-Star team in 2019.
Ward uses his speed and good fundamentals to give plus defensive value in the outfield, though his fringe-average arm makes him a center field and left field option only. There isn’t much power in Ward’s game, though he did slug .446 in 2019, thanks in large part to his 11 doubles and five triples in 193 PAs.
Mariners fans should have a good point of reference when picturing Ward in the majors. His game is extremely similar to former Mariner Jarrod Dyson and current Mariners Mallex Smith. Ward has improved his plate discipline as well, shows good strike zone awareness, and understands his limitations well enough to not try to do too much.
Ward isn’t going to be a star, but he should hit for some average, take walks, and be a weapon off the bench late in games, just like his player comparison, Jarrod Dyson. At his worst, Ward is Terrance Gore. At his best, he’s an everyday centerfielder that post league average OBP and steals 40 bags.