Tyler-Kolek-600-2Michael Schwartze and I have ranked the top 2014 prep prospects in each region. Those are being posted daily at AreaCodeBaseball.com. Here are the links thus far:

Northeast Top 10: Top Prospect — Scott Blewett, RHP

Texas/Louisiana Top 10: Top Prospect — Tyler Kolek, RHP

Four Corners/Hawaii Top 10: Top Prospect — Kodi Medeiros, LHP

Next up include the Northwest, Midwest, Northern California, Southern California and the loaded Southeast, plus a Top 100 Prep Prospects list.

Prospect Insider also will feature a pre-season Top 100 overall (college and prep combined), plus a very early Mock Draft in the next week or two.

Photo of Tyler Kolek by Scott Kurtz | Area Code Baseball

Jason A. Churchill


  1. Hultzen was the only pick I questioned, as I thought there were other good alternatives. However he was far from a bad pick, his injury is one of the worst setbacks to the team not named Montero. I have issues about GMZ but none with his draft picks.

  2. rudolf,

    rjfrik said, “Were they are horrible at picking up talent is when they get a top 5 pick. They alway fuck it up it seems”. I was responding to his comment, which IMO, is way off base. He tends to get a little too emotional and spurts out things that get questioned.

    Were you saying Hultzen was a mistake, when he was selected as one of the top three lefthanded pitching prospects, before his injury? At least one publication had him listed as the number one LH pitching prospect in baseball, before last season. Pittsburgh, via rumors, were considering selecting him with their first overall pick. So no, he wasn’t a stretch. And, you can’t calculate his being injured, as criteria for selecting him at the time.

  3. Not horrible. No one is saying horrible. They made sense and we’re all happy to have them. They weren’t the BPA’s, as you like to reference, and I’m getting my info from a multitude of sources which I will not take the time to name.

    The one that hurts is Hultzen. There were so many other options.

  4. Yeah, Zunino and Peterson were horrible first round picks.

  5. Edman,

    Why do you keep mischaracterizing what people say???

    From what I’m reading above, nobody is bashing the M’s approach to the draft. Whether you like Jack Z at al or not, this organization has done a pretty good job in the draft under his leadership. Its the one thing they are pretty good at. I don’t think anyone disagrees.

    I mentioned above – and others seem to concur – that I’d like to see the M’s tweak things a bit and select a higher upside guys at #6. Is that because I hate the team, or think they are stupid, or are terrible at drafting? No. Instead, we’re simply arguing that – given the way things look right now (admittedly early) – there is a lot of high-ceiling prep talent in this class and one o r more of them will be there when the M’s pick at #6. They haven’t selected those types of guys in the past. Not saying that’s bad, but its a pattern.

    I think I can say that without it being a blanket rejection of the M’s approach to the draft. I still hope they continue to do what they’ve been doing. They draft well, and need to keep that up. Especially in the top 10 rounds, they’ve done a solid job. Selecting a different type of player with the first pick doesn’t mean you shit on their entire process.

    This suggestion is contextual. In the past drafts, the available talent and the M’s draft position made their choices understandable. Ackley – at the time – was a no-brainer. He was the consensus #2 talent in the draft. Hultzen wasn’t my favorite, but it was understandable given the subpar talent in that draft. I’d hoped for Buxton or Correa in 2012, but both were gone and Zunino was an understandable selection. And finally, DJ Peterson wasn’t the guy I was hoping for last year, but most of the guys I really liked were already gone at #12. I can’t really knock these selections. In most cases, there were guys I’d hoped would slide to the M’s, but they didn’t. Can’t knock the team for not drafting someone who was already gone.

    However, this draft looks REALLY good. Its still early, but it looks like there is a consensus #1 overall talent in Rodon, followed by two college pitchers who could go early in any draft in Beede and Hoffman, the rare college SS who has both tools and performance in Trea Turner, an elite “token Texas RHP” in Tyler Kolek, and a few prep position players with huge upside. Plus, there are a ton of really good prep pitchers after Kolek.

    The M’s will likely get a better overall player at #6 this year than they did selecting #2 overall in 2011 or #3 in 2012. Again, thats just my impression, but this looks like a great group.

    Unlike those last few drafts, the M’s will likely have a chance to select a big upside prep player with their first pick. I’d love to see them pull the trigger this year.

    Just to be clear, I’m not saying the M’s have been sissies in the past, or that I hate Jack and Tom, or that college draft picks suck, or any other BS argument you are undoubtedly going to try to twist this into being. I just think that there are a lot of high-upside prep players in this draft, and I’d love to see the M’s grab a guy who has the chance to be an elite player.

    If you disagree with that, great. But you can disagree without twisting my point into some silly straw man argument that nobody is making.

  6. You’re not excited for the future now? ~shrugs again~

  7. Exactly. Some refuse to recall those times, now jumping on the Franklin and Walker bandwagon.

    And yes, times were different. Jack had to draft for the now, because the farm system was one of the worst in baseball. He couldn’t afford to wait for a high school player to emerge. Besides the fact that it’s been said MANY times that Tom McNamara runs the draft, without much interference from Jack. So, Jack should overrule the man he pays to evaluate the draft, so that a high school player could be chosen?

    Jack has said many times, that they pick the best available player on their board. I’m sure there is a little debate when it comes to closely rated players. Some of you act like you’ve been in their draft room during the draft. Because they selected a college player, doesn’t mean he wasn’t the highest available. I’ve seen many internet GMs insist that it’s safer to go with a college player, and hope that Tom selects one.

    The idea that any of us here “know” what their strategy is, based on results, is flawed. Unless you know the methodology, you can’t know how the results are were calculated.

    Clearly, things are different now, and Seattle would be more inclined to take a high school player now, because the farm system is producing MLB players. But, if they choose to pick a college player in this year’s draft, it’s not an indication of anything, other than selecting the best player on their board.

  8. Not to be a stickler but I think all those you mentioned were Bavasi drafted players (Fields, Morrow, and Clement) . Fields obviously was signed by JZ but all those were bavasi. As for the rest of your comments I remember people being both ticked and excited about the draft selections at the time. It was not a small majority but it wasnt exactly big either. Back when the bavasi players were drafted we didnt have the easy access to information that we do know with all the insider and independent scouting reports. It was very much about who you knew about and if you didnt people get mad. It’s sorta the same now but we have more information from which to get an opinion on. I personally wait to see after the first 2 or 3 rounds because after that, the scouting reports tend to thin out.

    Also you have to take into consideration where the mariners as a whole were at the times JZ started here he needed to add talent as cheaply and quickly as possible. All this high school players making it at 20 years old is freakishly weird and new. Players dont normally get right to the bigs 2 years after being drafted out of high school. Ofcourse there is Griffey, Arod, Trout, etc. but really the sheer amount of players like this recently is something new. JZ needed to add talent now and you cant tell me that really anyone thought at the time that these kids would break into the majors and produce at the levels they did that fast.

    Having said that I do feel they have been more on the conservative side in the drafting side of things but remember Ackley was universally thought of as the #2 pick after some guy called Strasburg. As for the other picks Tai and franklin were great picks but I didnt know about them at the time until we get some scouting reports courtesy of PI (thx Jason and Crew). I would also like them to be more aggressive with their picks now that they have a foundation in which to built on and some money at the major league level to work with. If the picks fail as so many do or dont live up to expectations now it wont hurt as much as their are possible other ways to get talent that werent really available before.

  9. The high upside guys in the draft in the years that the M’s were picking in the top of the draft were never guys with sign ability issues, those guys the whole world knew not to go near (Bundy being a prime example). The high upside guys were all high school players and the M’s don’t draft high school players at the top of the draft (at least this F.O. doesn’t). That to me is flawed and if they were open to drafting high school guys high our team and our farm would be WAY different. We would actually be excited for the future. Can you imagine having Archie Bradley, Javier Baez, Albert Amora, Francisco Lindor or Addison Russell knocking on the door? It would be AMAZING and all of those guys were considered top 5 guys but the M’s passed on them.

  10. Well I never bashed it. You can go back and look at threads from then (and if memory serves me right we have already been down this road about a year or two ago and I went back and pulled up threads were I was stoked they drafted Franklin and Walker) and you will find that I was very happy about Franklin and Walker.

    Like I said previously, I like how the M’s select in the lower rounds. Were they are horrible at picking up talent is when they get a top 5 pick. They alway fuck it up it seems.

  11. “The foolish way to go is risk a high reward pick, on a questionable player. You HAVE to get value out of the first round.”

    This is a completely ridiculous statement.

    First, there aren’t ANY players that aren’t questionable. Your own example of Ackley illustrates this point well. Even guys who everyone thinks will be at least average sometimes don’t pan out. Want another example? Danny Hultzen. He was the ‘safe’ pick in the draft, as a highly polished, near ML-ready lefty who had #2 upside. And now his career is in jeopardy.

    Second, prep players aren’t all that much more ‘questionable’ than college picks. Especially in the first round. There has been large and extensive body of analysis on this subject. You should read it before making dubious claims. Even timetables are off, as elite prep players can arrive in the MLs pretty quickly. Taijuan Walker (who was raw even for a prep player) only spent three seasons in the minors.

    Thats why I think taking ‘safe players’ is a questionable tactic. Really, there are no safe players. Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, and Danny Hultzen were all incredibly ‘safe’ picks. Look how that turned out. All types of draftees fail, and the difference between different demographics is far less than you think.

    So why not go for upside if there is a guy there who makes sense?

  12. The BPA thing is a really simplistic way to look at it.

    Its not as if all draft prospects have some easily quantifiable talent level, where you can just say “Player X is better than Player Y”. The term “best” is highly subjective, and very much depends on how you weigh upside versus risk.

    Any potential draft target has varying levels of raw talent, current skills, polish, and projection. Plus, you have to consider floor, ceiling, most realistic projection, and bust potential.

    Thus, the term “best” is to a large degree determined by ones views of floor versus ceiling, and likelihood (and ETA) of reaching the big leagues.

    The M’s have a pretty clear set of tendencies. With high first round picks, they almost always go with low-risk, moderate upside guys: Dustin Ackley, Danny Hultzen, Mike Zunino, and DJ Peterson all fit that bill. Those guys are damn good players, but most of their value was in being polished and high probability. Even Ackley was more likely to be a good player (like Darin Erstad) as opposed to a star.

    With 2-4th rounders, they usually mix in higher risk/reward prep players, such as Nick Franklin, Steve Baron, Taijuan Walker, Marcus Littlewood, Kevin Cron, Tyler Marlette, Joe DeCarlo, Edwin Diaz, Tyler Pike, Austin Wilson (a college player, but a relatively raw talent), Tyler O’Neill, and Corey Simpson. They also have had great results taking college infielders with modest tools but good results in the top 5 rounds, including Kyle Seager, Brad Miller, and Chris Taylor.

    Thats their formula: 1st: high-floor college player; 2-4th: prep players with upside; 3-5-6thish: underrated college infielder with better stats and scouting reports. Honestly, I can’t bash that too much, because the M’s have done a good job overall in the draft.

    While all teams say they picked the best player available (even in situations where finances were clearly a consideration), there are MANY things that factor into “best player”.

    The M’s have been VERY risk averse with their top selections, consistently taking guys who were polished, high-probability guys with their top picks. The one thing I’d like to see them do is take a shot at a guy with legit elite upside. This draft is really conducive to that. Guys like Alex Jackson, Tyler Kolek, Braxton Davidson, Jacob Gatewood, Michael Gettys, and Ti’quan Forbes all have HUGE upside.

    We need another A-Rod or Griffey. The best way to get those guys is out of highschool in the top of the first round.

  13. I know you are saying this sarcastically, but that is actually true. Drafting one elite player is more valuable than 2-3 solid starters.

    With picks in the first half of the first round, its best to take a bit of a risk on upside. Why? Because thats the only real way to get that type of player during their prime years.

  14. Thats simply not true. Lots of people didn’t know who Franklin was, and were hoping for more well-known players who had slid. But its not like people were furious over the Franklin and Walker picks.

    The draft picks that people complained about were Josh Fields (NEVER take a reliever in the first round) and Brandon Morrow (over Andrew Miller and Tim Lincecum). I also didn’t like the Jeff Clement pick (valued position too much).

    Regardless, this “internet bashing” you are talking about is a figment of your imagination or a very small vocal minority.

  15. So, you’re all for wasting a pick on a questionalbe player, because he might pan out? Then you’d be all over Jack and company for making too risky a selection. People are funny that way. They love the “hindsight” factor. In a perfect world, they’d have selected Trout instead of Ackley.

    The foolish way to go is risk a high reward pick, on a questionable player. You HAVE to get value out of the first round. “Even though player A never made it past AAA, kudos for taking the risk”, was never spoken by any baseball fan ever.

  16. Yeah, teams should be more willing to risk a first round draft pick on a player with questional risks and signability issues, because that’s the smart way to run a business. ~shrugs~

  17. Baron is the standard reply. But, lots of people on the internet bashed the selections of Franklin and Walker, saying that they were taken too high. You can wish to remember it the way you want, but I assure you there were many who said Jack screwed up those drafts.

  18. Not one person that I talked to lambasted the Franklin or Walker picks. Not Jason or anyone around here when the selections were made. I think you are thinking of Baron, who was in the same draft class as Franklin and was a HUGE reach for a 1st round pick. Franklin and Walker were great picks, taking fliers on guys late in the first round is what you should do and as Rudolf said none said anything about Diaz.

    The issue with this FO is the fact that they would pass on high upside guys for guys that are/were supposed to be safe. The only problem I have with that is the best you are going to get out of a pick like that is a marginal MLBer, but an MLBer none the less and the the worst you’re going to get with that pick is a non MLBer or Danny Hultzen. I would much rather take a flier with my top 5 pick on a guy who at best will be a superstar and at worst not make it. Why not shoot for a better potential? To me that is a better draft strategy then shooting for guys who are safe and most likely will make the team. Hultzen was a question mark at the time of the pick and most were not happy with it and for good reason. Zunino was another safe pick and the jury is still out on him, I just hope JZ didn’t ruin him by promoting him when he was far from ready. Peterson is another safe pick. Ackley was consensus as the #2 and a pick they had to make, it just sucks he didn’t pan out, that is the one year, if you weren’t going to get the #1 pick you would rather have the #10 pick because the M’s would have just drafted Trout at #10 as they thought he was too risky to pick him with the #2. No risk equals no reward and I’m sure they are kicking themselves over that one.

  19. We’re talking about the first pick, an early 1st round pick. I’m not suggesting we’ve never spent a pick on a risky guy.

    Hultzen was drafted for proximity to MLB. Zunino wasn’t the best available, and neither was Peterson. Ackley is debatable. I’m not suggesting these we’re bad picks, or not good picks. They were safe picks. They were not attempts to grab potential superstars. They were college guys with high floors. You know this.

    Walker was an upside pick– an attempt to get a 1st round talent in the suppl. round. Diaz was a 3rd round pick and no one is discussing 3rd round picks.

    The “risk” in Franklin was passing a round and watching someone else grab him. He also was not an attempt to grab a superstar.

    Over the past five years the m’s have grabbed a lot of college guys and they’ve done it for good reason. But there have been no Andrew mccutchen’s in those drafts. No mike trout. No Jose Fernandez, Archie Bradley, or Zach wheeler. No Javier Baez or Addison Russell. We struck gold with Walker, yes. That was a great pick that no one saw coming.

  20. Nick Franklin, Taiwan Walker, and Edwin Diaz weren’t big enough risk potential for you? Seems that at least the first two, were met with a lot of skepticism by most Mariners bloggers. They will always tell you the same thing…..they take the best available players on their board, regardless of their age or education level.

  21. Now that we have something resembling a major-league roster, I sure hope the front office takes more risks in the draft. That means high upside high school players.

    I’m with you guys. Let’s grab a potential superstar. Davidson seems like a pretty good bet. I agree that Jackson will probably be off the board if things play out the way pundits predict. Turner is interesting, though. Miller could move to CF.

  22. This draft is loaded with High School position players, something the M’s desperately need. A young, exciting, positional prospect. But the FO seems to shy away from high school guys with high picks. I hope that changes this year!!

  23. SS Ti’quan Forbes is pretty interesting too.

  24. Is it too early to start talking about who the M’s might be looking at in the draft?

    I know its early and lots will change, but the guys that I think are the most interesting at this point are prep positions players. Particularly OF/C Alex Jackson, 1B/RF Braxton Davidson, SS Jacob Gatewood, and OF Michael Gettys. Those guys seem like the highest upside guys.

    It seems like the upper tier in this draft is college pitchers Carlos Rodon and Jeff Hoffman and college SS Trea Turner (when was the last time there was a really good college SS anyhow?). Hopefully after those guys are off the board, at least a few of the guys above (or some other similar talent that will emerge later in the year) will drop to the M’s. The sixth overall pick seems like a good spot in such a deep draft.

    The one thing missing from the M’s system right now is truly elite position players. I’d love to see the M’s grab someone like Davidson. From reading the scouting reports, he sounds like a Jason Heyward type of player: good pure hitter with easy power who can also help on defense. Thats what we need. Jackson would be ideal, but as it stands right now he’ll likely be off the board.

    With so many promotions the last few years, I’m excited to see how the M’s will restock the farm system.

  25. Yeah they would. Comp picks count.

    They just need to eliminate them. Stupid rule.

    If they really want to give out comp picks, just do it like the NFL based on total players lost/gained over an offseason, with teams not sacrificing picks.

  26. Sorry for the typo. I meant the top 10 picks.

  27. Relievers are not excluded, they can receive a qualifying offer the same as anyone else. But considering the market suggests you don’t have to pay $14 million a year for a reliever, why extend a QO and have them accept when you could re-sign them for much less?

  28. Only the 10 ten picks are protected plus I know the Blue Jays have another protected first round pick due to not signing the draft pick last year. So any pick after the Top 10 would be scarified. Meaning the the 1st round compensation pick the Mariners would get for Morales but signing Cano would sacrifice their 1st round comp pick but keep their 2nd round pick.

  29. I don’t believe it’s true that Seattle would lose its first round compensation pick if Morales signs.

  30. No, relievers are excluded from draft pick compensation. Don’t ask me why, seems kinda silly, but then again, the whole collective bargining agreement is a joke.

  31. Signed Cano – Mariners lost their 2nd round pick.

    Signed Cano and Cruz – Mariners lose their 2nd round pick and 2nd round supplemental

    Signed Cano, sign Cruz and Morales signs with another team before the June draft – Mariners lose their 1st round compensation and 2nd round pick.

    Signed Cano and Morales signs with another team before the June draft. Mariners lose their 1st round compensation pick.

    We don’t lose a pick for Rodney.

  32. Do we lose a pick for the Rodney signing? I haven’t looked up if he was tied to compensation yet.
    Why do we get a 2nd supplemental? I haven’t looked it up yet.


    And if Cruz comes, like everyone (media) is clamoring then we lose our 2nd.

  33. Nice! Can’t wait for draft season to start again.

    Lets hope the M’s can manage to hold on to their picks this year. If Morales signs elsewhere before mid-season, we’ll still have picks in the 1st, 2nd, 2nd supplemental, and all subsequent rounds.

    This seems to be a pretty strong draft. Hopefully the M’s can help restock a farm system that has seen significant turnover in the past two years.

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