MLB Draft Primer: College Hitters that Mariners Could Draft

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We are less than one week away from the MLB Draft taking place on Sunday July 9th in Seattle, where the Mariners hold three picks in the top 30 and four in the top 56. This is a very exciting time for the Mariners because of the significant talent that they will be able to add to their farm system. Nailing this draft is going to be really important for the organization because this is a very unique opportunity to add three first rounders where all 29 other teams are just getting one.

With this unique opportunity in front of Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto and Amateur Scouting Director Scott Hunter, here is a preview of some college hitters that I think could and should be targets for the Mariners.

Tommy Troy and Matt Shaw

Tommy Troy and Matt Shaw are both infielders who have real offensive impact who could be the Mariners second baseman of the future and be the long term solution to that position. Troy is from Stanford and hit 17 doubles and 17 home runs while playing a solid third base this season. Shaw hit 20 doubles and 24 home runs while playing shortstop for Maryland. I wrote about both of these players as the most realistic best case scenario for the M's in the draft.

Brayden Taylor

Brayden Taylor is an infielder from TCU who has a powerful left handed swing. He has played mostly third base for TCU but there is potential for him to play some second base in his career. He isn't going to be an elite defender but I don't believe that his defense will hurt him or his team at all.

Joe Doyle of Future Stars Series has him ranked as his 14th best prospect in this draft class and says, "Taylor's profile is actually carried by the bat, showcasing loud line drive and fly ball exit velocities to his pull-side. Taylor shows a keen eye at the plate, refusing to expand his zone in favorable counts and commonly walking more than he punches out."

It is possible that Taylor gets picked before the Mariners come on the clock at 22, but if he makes it there he would be a good selection. He will be able to stay on the infield and he hits from the left side of the plate. He is the all time TCU home run king, and he has some real power. He doesn't have elite power, but I think he will hit 20 or more homers multiple times. His profile reminds me of Mike Moustakas a bit. Taylor is much more athletic but could put up similar offensive numbers.

Enrique Bradfield Jr.

Enrique Bradfield Jr. is one of the most fascinating players in this draft class. He is an elite athlete who could be the fastest player in baseball and is an excellent defender in center field. He did not have his best offensive season at Vanderbilt in 2023, but he still slashed .279/.410/.429. He did steal 37 bases in 42 tries after not getting thrown out in 2022. He also walked more than he struck out, which is impressive in the SEC and could be a reason Seattle would like Bradfield Jr.

MLB Pipeline ranks Bradfield 21st and had this to say about this about the Vanderbilt products skillset, "With game-changing speed and a slender frame, Bradfield understands what he needs to do on offense. He focuses on making contact with a flat left-handed swing, uses the entire field and excels at bunting for base hits. While he'll never be a slugger, he does have some sneaky pop to his pull side and swatted 14 homers the last two seasons after going deep just once as a freshman."

It is easy to compare Bradfield Jr. to Kenny Lofton because of their speed and contact approach, but it is a good profile comp because of that speed and athleticism. Lofton was nearly a career .300 hitter and Bradfield may not do that in his career or hit .296 at age 40 like Lofton because Lofton was an elite hitter. But if Bradfield could hit .285/.362/.365 that would be an awesome player in this day and age. That is what Lofton hit in his first full year in the big leagues in 1992 with over 60 stolen bases.

It would be so fun to watch Bradfield Jr. lead off for the Mariners and get on base and steal second base and be in scoring position for Julio Rodriguez to drive in and for Jarred Kelenic to follow. I think he could be a real energizer for this Mariners offense and create an elite defensive outfield trio with those other two young players.

Chase Davis

Chase Davis is a left handed hitting outfielder from Arizona who swings almost exactly like former Colorado Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez. Davis exploded this year as he hit his way to a .362/.489/.742 slash line with 17 doubles and 21 homers. He also has a good eye at the plate and walked more than he struck out.

Joe Doyle of Future Stars Series had this to say about a prospect that has risen significantly up his board, "Outside of Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford, it's difficult to find another hitter in the entire country who posted a more well-rounded offensive profile than did Davis. Scouts now see a player who can not only hit for average, but should draw plenty of walks and hit for power too."

Doyle really likes Davis' offensive potential and he would certainly provide some thump in the future for this lineup. Davis would likely be the third best defender in an outfield with Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, and himself, but he would certainly make them a formidable offensive trio to face in the Mariners lineup.

Jacob Wilson

Jacob Wilson is a shortstop from Grand Canyon and is the son of former big league veteran and Mariner Jack Wilson. He started the year as a potential top ten pick but has seemed to slide a bit in public rankings mainly because many are questioning Wilson's upside and power potential. GCU does not have a trackman unit at their stadium so teams don't know how hard Wilson hits the ball consistently, unlike many other players who have their exit velocities widely available.

Besides the questions about Wilson's power, there is no doubt that the GCU shortstop is a plus hitter. He is one of the best pure hitters in this draft and proved it by hitting .412/.461/.635 this season. He simply doesn't strike out. He struck out just five times last year and only 31 times in 697 career plate appearances in college. This is because he swings a lot, but he doesn't swing and miss, which would be a welcome change to some of the heavy strikeout players in the Seattle lineup.

Wilson could probably stick at shortstop but he would not come up as a rookie and supplant JP Crawford. However Wilson could play a very nice second or third base for Seattle. His contact and average approach would profile well at second base, but his 6-foot-4 frame could fill out more and make him a better fit for third base. Either way, Wilson is likely a big leaguer who might not be an all star, but I think he can be an every day big league contributer.

Brock Wilken

Brock Wilken is a right handed power hitting third baseman from Wake Forest. He stands at 6-foot-4 225 pounder with a strong powerful frame. He hit 31 home runs this year to go along with .345/.506/.807 slash line. He is one of the most powerful hitters in all of college baseball and he could be a target for the Mariners at the 30th pick.

MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 25th best prospect in the class and hard this to say about his defense, "Although Wilken is a well-below-average runner, he moves well enough to provide adequate defense at third base. His hands work fine at the hot corner, and his strong arm draws plus-plus grades from some evaluators."

Wilken could easily be the third baseman of the future behind Eugenio Suarez and be a very similar type of player to Suarez's 2022 performance where he hit more home runs than he has so far this year. Power leads Wilken's profile and he could find himself on his way to Seattle in the draft.

Whatever Seattle does in the draft with their first three picks, all in the top 30, they will add some quality talent in the draft. Fans should trust that Dipoto and Hunter will do a good job with these picks and that whoever they pick should be embraced by the fanbase. It will certainly be a fun draft to look forward to.