M’s Draft Notes: Morgan, Day 2

Morgan 300x199 Ms Draft Notes: Morgan, Day 2Rounds three through 10 of the 2014 MLB Draft took place Friday, with the Seattle Mariners selecting sixth in each round. It was an excellent Day 1 for the club, tabbing Alex Jackson at No. 6 and selecting Gareth Morgan at No. 74. I’ll have more on Morgan over the weekend, but here’s a look at what the club did Friday, pick by pick.

Round 3: Austin Cousino, CF — Kentucky (No. 80)
Cousino, pronounced Co-Sino, like ‘casino’ but with the ‘oh’ sound and a softer ‘s,’ comes to pro ball as a glove-first center fielder. He was the SEC’s freshman of the year two years ago when he led the team in hitting at .319 and was third among regulars with .408 on-base mark. He blasted nine home runs that year and slugged .515, stealing 15 bases in 16 attempts.

He struggled a year ago, managing a paltry .249 average and .402 slugging percentage, but did maintain his on-base percentage at .383. He bounced back some this spring, ending the year at .308/.365/.441 and swiped 19 bags in 20 attempts.

He’s a 60-grade runner with an average throwing arm, and has terrific defensive instincts, projecting as a plus glove. Despite standing just 5-foot-10 he’s stronmg at 185 pounds and gets the bat through the zone quickly.

Some of his struggles since his freshman year are attributed an overaggressive approach at times. He’s been susceptible to decent breaking balls and one scout opined that Cousino appeared to lose sight of what he was on the diamond after the big year two years ago. Nine homers in college is like 18-20 in the majors.

Shortening up and focusing on hard contact could do wonders for him, but the swing needs work, including where his hands start, how he loads and finally how deep the load ultimately is.

Cousino, if he signs, could hit Short-season Everett this summer and start 2015 in the Midwest League. He could decided to take another year in school to put up better numbers, but his draft stock isn’t likely to improve all that much better than the third round.

Round 4: Ryan Yarbrough, LHP — Old Dominion
Yarbrough is a senior sign that I believe was overdrafted because the club may need to go over slot with each of their first two picks. He’s 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds and sits in the 87-90 mph range, touching 91-92 on occasion. He also offers a curveball and changeup, with the latter showing plus potential.

Yarbrough is likely a long-term bullpen arm, and perhaps a candidate work on a cutter or slider to go with the fastball-changeup combo.

Round 5: Dan Altavilla, RHP — Mercyhurst College
It took me 11 attempts to find a scout I knew that had seen Altavilla and had enough on which I could write here. The right-hander sits 90-94 mph with life, a little sink and the run is armside. The slider is below average but has good shape and breaks late, suggesting more work could improve it to average or better levels.

He tends to telegraph his changeup, but there is fade and sink to it. This particular scout believes Altavilla is destined for the bullpen, not only due to a high-effort delivery, but because in such a role the fastball may play up another tick and become more of a strikeout weapon. It doesn’t help that he’s only 5-foot-11, but he is 200-plus pounds and is a very physical pitcher. Think Dom Leone.

Altavilla is another candidate for Everett this summer, and another below-slot overdraft to help take care of the first few rounds.

Round 6: Lane Ratliff, LHP — Jones County JC (Miss.)
Ratliff is a projectable 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds and he’s just 19 years of age. He offers a fastball in the upper 80s, touching 90 on occasion and offering a slurve and kindergarten changeup.

The velocity has a chance to grow as he learns to pitch and scouts have seen him hit 92 in workouts and in shorter stints, but he works off the fastball well as-is, commanding it to both sides of the plate. If his secondary stuff develops, Ratliff has a shot to start long term.

Round 7: Taylor Byrd, LHP — Nicholls State
Byrd, one of five seniors the club selected Friday, was the ace of his college staff thanks to an above-average curveball and average velocity. He’ll to clean up his mechanics and throw more strikes consistently, not to mention improve the changeup, but he’s somewhat similar to the M’s 7th-round pick from a year ago, southpaw Tyler Olson out of Gonzaga.

Round 8: Kody Kerski, RHP — Sacred Heart University
Kerski, an undersized right-hander at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, does possess good arm speed and he’s improved his velocity significant in college. He sat 82-85 mph in high school but he’s added 20 pounds of muscle and has maintained athleticism and a loose arm. He now sits 86-89 and has a sharp 12-6 curveball thrown from a high three-quarter arm slot.

Kerski is another possibility at Everett this summer.

Round 9: Peter Miller, RHP — Florida State
I imagine some of the club’s top heat saw Miller when in Tallahassee to see right-hander Luke Weaver, the ‘Noles ace who went to the St. Louis Cardinals at No. 27 overall.

Miller, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound right-hander, sits 88-90 mph but has been seen pitching comfortably at 89-92. He uses a three-quarter arm slot and offers a 71-74 mph curveball that he tends to telegraph some but that is better when it’s 74 than 71, and a 79-84 mph changeup that needs a lot of work.

Round 10: Adam Martin, C — Western Carolina
Martin, a right-handed hitting catcher, is a big, strong hitter with above-average raw power but a long swing with home run purpose. He’s beatable with good velocity and well-placed breaking balls, reminisce of Justin Smoak or John Buck.

He’s below-average behind the dish, but works hard, possesses leadership skills and has above-average arm strength.

No. 74: Gareth Morgan, OF — Blyth Academy (ON)
Morgan was the top Canadian talent in the class and the Mariners know him pretty well, having known and worked well with his travel team — the Langley Blaze, the same travel team as 2013 third-round pick Tyler O’Neill — and having seen Morgan on the Showcase trail/

He’s 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, swings a powerful right-handed bat and has big raw power from the right-center field alley to the left field line. He has a plus arm, is an average or slightly above-average runner and plays a solid right field.

The hit tool is the only question, but that happens to be the most important tool for a position player, which explains why Morgan was not discussed in the top 40 with the Monte Harrisons and Braxton Davidsons, but the Mariners see a pretty clean swing and a kid dedicated to working at his craft.

This is not a comp, projection or player-to-player comparison in any manner, but the knock on Giancarlo Stanton in 2007 was that his swing was a bit long, he had problems covering the entire strike zone and clubs were worried he might strike out 200 times a year.

All it takes is the right talent, the right work ethic and the right voice to help a kid with Morgan’s physical tools to develop into a good major league player. Clearly the Mariners believe he’s the right talent.

Morgan is committed to North Carolina State, but like Jackson is likely to sign, even though it may take a little more than the $760, 300 assigned value for the No. 74 pick.

Photo of Gareth Morgan by Scott Kurz/Area Code Baseball

Written by Jason A. Churchill

Moi2 Ms Draft Notes: Morgan, Day 2

Executive Editor
Jason founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at Inside the Park and covering prep, college and pro sports for several news outlets, local and national, including MLB.com and ESPN Insider. He currently serves as co-host of the Steve Sandmeyer Show on 1090 The Fan, CBS Sports Seattle.

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21 comments on “M’s Draft Notes: Morgan, Day 2

  1. Derek Neill says:

    People such as Edman drive me crazy. You don’t find people such as this at the Field Gulls website. Edman, your judgement of what Paul was trying to say, just distracts people from having interesting dialogue on here. It’s not your place to tell him how to talk, write, or think. And even if he is making an assumption, why the heck does it matter?!?

  2. Edman says:

    Whatever, Paul. Only you or Jerry could find something to complain about with my post.

  3. Paul Martin says:

    So glad we have Edman here to moderate this blog and provide feedback on all of our coments.

  4. Edman says:

    eknpdx, just for clarification, BA had Gaeth Morgan rated as the #65 prospect, not #82, but the rest of your post is spot on. To draft a guy who’s ceiling could be near Giancarlo Stanton (per BA’s TV commentator’s) comment is well worth the risk. If he’s 85% of Stanton, that’s still pretty impressive. But, he is raw, but the classic kind of guy to pick at #74. And, I do believe he fell to Seattle, so they were happy to take him.

    Seattle has some good outfield prospects, but they are at least two, three or more years away.

  5. Nighthawk180 says:

    If we are going to make a decision ourselves Im sort of siding with Edman on this one. Not on the attitude he used to tell others how to post but how to read what Paul said.

    The first sentence brought up the “lack of outfield depth”. A pretty generic statement with a specific position being addressed (outfield). The second was a question regarding if I’m interpreting it right “is this normal for a team to take so many players to address one organizational need?”. A good follow up question to the first sentence. If Paul would have stopped there I would have said myself that the team did draft 3 outfielders with their first 3 picks but only 2 more the rest of the draft. Thus my interpretation that he was “assuming” the M’s were drafting for need.

    The third sentence “Also, this was a pitcher heavy draft, did they miss out on some good arms while reaching to fill their outfield need?” Further backs up this “assumption” of mine. This question is assuming that the team is “avoiding” or ignoring the deepest position in this draft (pitchers) and that the M’s might be “reaching to fill their outfield need?”.

    Having said all that, I dont have a problem at all with what Paul said it would start a conversation. Since the M’s had 40 selections and only 5 of them were outfielders to say their are filling their needs is a bit of an overstatement but where the top 3 were taken I can see where he was coming from. He also stated this before the final 30 rounds were being picked so in the first 10 rounds the top 3 were outfielders it makes sense.

    I would also like to point out that Edman can be very blunt with the way he posts towards others. I myself have had disagreements with him in the past as well. Having said that I feel he tries (for the most part) to give insight towards other aspects of ideas or concepts being posted. I try not to make things personal from anyone on this site or the internet in general because its not worth my time. For the record I find it funny how really anytime Edman posts their is a disagreement or some sort of trail that follows that most of the time is hilarious from the outside looking in. Sorry for the length just wanted to have my input on this topic.

  6. Jerry says:

    I’ll take Edmans offer to decide for myself: UwDawg is right.

    Edman’s MO has consistently been to attack other people based on really strange interpretations of their comments, often in the form of straw man arguments and misrepresentations of statements. He’s just short of a blog troll.

    It’s fun to discuss things about baseball with other fans who follow the team very closely. Sometimes those discussions turn into debates. I had a debate with a few people recently on drafting for upside versus polished players recently. A lot of us disagreed, but it was civil and people actually listened to each other. Edman definitely wasn’t part of that discussion. If so, it probably would have degraded into misquotes and rhetoric.

    I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I think a lot of people feel the same way as UwDawg.

  7. Edman says:

    UwDawg, believe what you want. I’ll let others judge for themselves.

  8. UwDawg says:

    Edman,

    The passage you just cited could easily mean he was asking if it would be normal to do that to address the need. “Is it normal to take so many players to address a need?” meaning, is it normal for the reason they took so many players at a position to be to address the need. The point is, you went after him for no reason whatsoever. And then you did the exact thing you scolded him for. He was asking it as a question rather than saying a statement because he didn’t know. That is why he asked Jason.

  9. Edman says:

    UwDawg,

    The key word is “address”, That implies that there was a plan, not that it happened by by chance. Secondly, he stated “Is it normal for a team to take so many players to address on organizational need?”

    You’re free to have your opinion, but I’m not buying that he was “simply asking a question”. He was asking a leading question, trying to find support for his opinion. If you want to try to make is sound differently, be my guest.

    If he truly wasn’t asking a leading question, then I apologize. But there was nothing in what he first wrote that sounds remotely like an innocent question.

    So, let’s move on.

  10. UwDawg says:

    Edman,

    Paul said we took players at a positional need, he never said anything remotely resembling an assumption that we took those players because it was a positional need.

    And Edman, you really need to work harder at not making assumptions. You tell off a guy for making assumptions (when he didn’t) and then in your response you use the phrase “I assume…” I hate reading comments on this site because you’re always a smartass who acts like you’re the only one who deserves to be commenting. I literally just made this comment to express how sick I am of your comments. Paul was just asking a simple question, there was no need for you to get all high and mighty on him. And if we’re getting really technical, assuming that it was a draft for need is an assumption as well. Just because it may be more accurate (or may not) doesn’t mean it isn’t an assumption.

  11. Edman says:

    Paul, you wrote this –

    “Looks the the team, sure addressed their lack of organizational outfield depth! Jason, I as this Normal for a team to take so many players to address one organizational need?”

    Please tell me how you didn’t draw an assumption that they were drafting for team needs?

  12. Shawnuel says:

    Keith Law had Morgan rated at #40 in his depth chart.

  13. rjfrik says:

    Morgan was an excellent pick at the end of the 2nd round and he wouldn’t have been there in the third, IMO. The M’s obviously liked the kid (and why not, he has the potential to be a premier power bat) they brought him in for a workout right before the draft. I believe the M’s will have to pay over slot for both Jackson and Morgan and that is why they went with a bunch of college pitchers that they could save a ton of money on. I really like all three OF picks and I think the M’s hit HR’s on them.

    As I said before I think Cousino becomes the under the radar sleeper that the M’s usually pick. It’s hard to find top level defensive position players that have a chance to bit and I think Cousino has a chance.

  14. eknpdx says:

    BA had Morgan ranked at 82, and everyone had him ranked as the best out of Canada. Morgan was in Seattle on Tuesday before the draft for a workout. Twitter comments linked to articles with Morgan basically saying he was ready to get to work on his MLB career, and how McNamara had a good look of Morgan when they were doing homework on O’Neill.

    Combined with how the rest of the draft has played out, I’m guessing Morgan was the best player who was sign-able and filled a need. I doubt there was anyone else on the board at the time they were more confident about.

  15. Paul Martin says:

    Edman, I made no assumptions, I was simply asking Jason a question. I love the first round pick but was wondering if they missed out on a better player (like a pitcher in a pitcher deep draft) by taking more outfielders with their next two picks. I have no idea, but was asking an expert like Jason for his opinion.

  16. Edman says:

    Paul, you really need to work harder at not making assumptions. According to McNamara, who I have no need to disbelieve, Morgan was the best player on their board when they drafted. Picking a pitcher, instead of the best player, might have been drafting for need instead of the best player available. I assumed that the second player the picked, might have been a pitcher, because of depth. But, there is no reason to doubt that Morgan was a “draft for need” kind of player, In fact, McNamara sounded surprised that he was still there at 74.

  17. Jerry says:

    I love this draft. For not having any extra picks, they did well. It’s pretty obvious that rounds 3-9 were focused on signability guys, but that’s fine. I’d MUCH rather have them do that to pay for two guys with big upside. Especially Jackson, who has a brutal agent and some negotiating leverage.

    My question: who is the under the radar college guy this year? Seems like every year the M’s get one college position player in the top 5-10 rounds who hits much better than anyone expects. Seager, Romero, Miller, Taylor, etc. Who is it this year? Cousino? The Ms have done a great job with getting at least one guy who turns into an everyday player. Hopefully they keep it up.

    By the way, love the focus on RH power. That’s the hardest thing to get in baseball now, and particularly for the Ms. It’s wise to focus on rare commodities in the draft.

  18. rjfrik says:

    If you hit home runs on the first two picks it doesn’t matter if you strike out the rest of the draft. And frankly I like Cosino. I think he has the ability to seriously turn his bat around and become a Miller/Taylor type except in CF. Personally I love the first 2 picks and think they have a chance to be big time stars. In fact we might have drafted our 2018 starting OF in this draft.

    So far this is my favorite JZ draft. They actually went with HIGH upside picks in the first few rounds, which seems to be a break from the norm.

  19. skyway park says:

    Jason one other question, I have noticed Tyler O’neill has not played for a few weeks did he get hurt? Also have you heard any reports on Corey Simpson I think thats his name believe he was picked in the 6th or 7th round last year big strong high school kid noticed he hit 2 HR last night thanks

  20. skyway park says:

    I love the first 2 picks but picks 3-10 does not look like there is any upside just from reading your comments on each pick. Jason do you think the first 2 picks will need overslot money so much that they pretty much punted picks 3-10?

  21. Paul Martin says:

    Love these updates!!!

    Looks the the tea, sure addressed their lack of organizational outfield depth! Jason, I as this Normal for a team to take so many players to address one organizational need? Also, this was a pitcher heavy draft, did they miss out on some good arms while reaching to fill their outfield need?

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