Even in the middle of December, there are still MLB Draft rumblings out there. The MLB Draft is the best way for teams to improve their organization's future organically. There are opportunities to draft superstar players at the top of the board and to develop late-round picks into big league regulars. As an organization that has a draft, develop, trade mindset the draft is the one that comes first because it is the foundation of the organization.
The Seattle Mariners have been criticized heavily this winter for their lack of willingness to spend on free agents and for their seemingly self-imposed budgetary cuts. If these are long-term cuts they could have an impact on the way the Mariners draft players because if the club has to rely more heavily on the players that are drafted and developed in their minor leagues then they need to be absolutely sure they are drafting someone who can contribute to their big league club in the future.
Joe Doyle of Future Stars Series has put out a new mock draft where he mocked players to specific teams based on the types of players they have drafted in the last few years. Doyle, "created a model that tries to accurately predict what specific players possess the traits and qualities a specific team looks for in any given draft. It takes into account the Top 100 picks from the last three drafts and puts weights on specific tools each team drafts toward."
I like the way Doyle looks at the draft and I think that this model he has made is good because it doesn't just weigh his or anyone else's prospect rankings and spit out a mock draft based on those rankings. This model takes into account past history by times and that is more valuable to know than everyone's prospect rankings.
The Mariners moved up a few spots after the MLB Draft Lottery and hold the 15th pick. I like this spot for the Mariners front office because they have been very successful in this range in their history. When having a pick between 10 and 20 since 2016 Seattle has drafted Kyle Lewis, Evan White, Logan Gilbert, and Harry Ford. Lewis and White have been disappointing but those two suffered multiple significant injuries but still did reach the big leagues.
Gilbert is the best pick out of this foursome because he has totaled 8.5 fWAR in his first three seasons in the big leagues. "Walter" is a horse at the top of the Mariners rotation and will be going forward. Ford is a top prospect and has yet to reach the big leagues because he is the only one to be drafted out of high school. He should reach Double-A next year and I think he should be kept around.
With the 15th pick in Doyle's mock draft 2.0, he had the Mariners selecting high school shortstop Caleb Bonemer. He has them going in this direction because "Seattle’s extreme insistence to draft high school talent at the top of the draft heavily skewed this pick toward the highest high school bat on the board. Eight of the team’s last eleven Top-100 picks have been preps."
Bonemer is Doyle's second-ranked high school player in the draft class in a light prep draft class. The right-handed hitting and right-handed thrower stands at 6-foot-1 and weighs 195 pounds. He has a good frame but is still fluid enough to stick on the infield and maybe even stick at shortstop. Getting one of the best prep players in any draft class would certainly be exciting to me. To get to know Caleb Bonemer more watch Joe Doyle's interview with him.
Having the 15th pick in the draft is really a sweet spot for the Mariners. If a top ten talent type player starts to slide then the Mariners would have a perfect opportunity to nab him at 15. If they wanted to go over-slot for a player at 15 and pay him more than the slot value they could. They could have their pick of a top prep talent or they could get a college guy with multiple years of experience.
The tactic of taking a prep guy the last few years has been exciting because I think guys like Colt Emerson, Cole Young, Tai Peete, and Jonny Farmelo have tremendous upside and could turn into plus players in the big leagues. However, they are quite risky. The Mariners don't really have a ton of great pitching prospects coming up in the next few years so having the next Logan Gilbert or George Kirby would be incredibly valuable, especially in the doomsday scenario where the M's don't have the money to resign those two.
It will be interesting to see if the Mariners draft approach changes this year. They recently lost their Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting to the Miami Marlins. This could change their approach on taking high school players in the first round and we might see something different. They could go back to the college bat approach or the college pitching route. Regardless of what happens it will be fun to watch how it plays out.
The MLB Draft is so fascinating and there are so many different players the Mariners will have a choice between. There are also so many different strategies the team can take and I trust this organization to do a good job in the draft because of their history of drafting big leaguers and current high value prospects.