The 2021 MLB draft class, as a whole, may not be as deep as this past year’s group, but it may be better at the top with Vanderbilt right-handers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.

Other top prospects include prep stars Brady House, Braylon Bishop, Christian Little, Tyree Reed, and Luke Leto, as well as Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo, Florida outfielder Jud Fabian, Louisville third baseman Alex Binelas and UCLA shortstop Matt McLain.

After the trade deadline that saw Mike Clevinger, Austin Nola, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Jason Castro, Ross Stripling, Cal Quantrill, Mike Minor, David Phelps, Archie Bradley, Starling Marte and others traded for Ty France, Luis Torrens, Taylor Tammell and a slew of other prospects, the fortunes of former and acquiring clubs changed, and in some instances dramatically.

The ‘2019’ column represents a club’s win-loss record last season, which breaks ties. In the case of identical win-loss records (percentages), the club with the lowest win-loss percentage from the prior season gets the higher pick in the current draft order.

This will be updated about once a week through September 21, then once a day for the final week of the MLB regular season.

Note: Despite consideration of other means to determine the 2021 MLB Draft Order, it now appears the league is going to stick with reverse order of 2020 win percentage, though it’s not yet official, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

 …

The Seattle Mariners have completed the process of their 2020 MLB Draft class by signing all six players, including top picks Emerson Hancock and Zach DeLoach. It’s clear at this stage the Mariners didn’t punt parts of the draft as it appeared was plausible after they went down the consensus board with every Day 2 pick … but we’re not here to discuss that just yet.

First, let’s do some firsts, bests and comps for the club’s draft class.

Most Likely All-Star
Emerson Hancock

By many accounts the top pitcher in the draft class and perhaps the safest best among all first-round arms to reach at least a mid-rotation floor. But there’s upside here, too, perhaps all the way to No. 1 starter. He’s built like a frontline arm, has four quality pitches and no significant issues throwing strikes, locating, tunneling the secondaries with the fastball or repeating his delivery.

Hancock could be part of 2022 or 2023 Mariners rotation that also boasts fellow first-round picks Logan Gilbert and George Kirby.


First Bat to the Majors
Zach DeLoach

The club’s second-round pick projects to hit for some average and showed solid plate skills and contact ability that combine for projectable on-base marks in pro ball.

The bat speed and strength DeLoach possesses suggests more power may be in the offing with the proper swing adjustments, which would only help his case for moving through the minors faster than any other bat in the six-player class.

Keenan, the Mariners’ fourth-round selection, isn’t far behind here, however. The biggest difference between the two overall is the defensive value and athleticism DeLoach brings versus Keenan’s likely limits to first base, but bat vs. bat it wouldn’t surprise anyone if either hitter reached the majors first, though DeLoach has the much better shot at a regular role.


First Arm to the Majors
Hancock

The No. 6 overall pick pitched in the SEC, amateur baseball’s highest level of competition, and displayed plenty of stuff and enough polish to make this an easy choice considering the rest of the club’s pitching class is upside-based.

Barring injury snags, Hancock should be on a similar path as Gilbert.


Best Fastball
Hancock

The right-hander has touched 99 mph and sits comfortably 93-96 with relative ease and big-league control and command.


Best Curveball
Hancock

It’s not the former Georgia star’s best present secondary pitch but it’s further along than that of CB-round-B pick Connor Phillips, who is a close runner-up.


Best Slider
Hancock

The best of Hancock’s two breaking balls is his slider, an 82-86 mph late breaker that plays well off his fastball.


Best Changeup
Hancock

The most advanced of Hancock’s offpseed pitches is his mid-80s changeup that has proven to be a swing-and-miss offering. He’s comfortable throwing it a lot and can keep it in the strike zone as an early-count weapon.


Best Power
Keenan

Keenan’s raw power sits somewhere above 60-grade, suggesting a full-season max-out in the 30-HR range.


Best Hit Tool
Kaden Polcovich was the club’s third-round pick on the strength of packing a solid hit tool into his equipment bag.

Led by a short, contact-oriented swing he’s learning to operate at higher efficiency rates, Polcovich enters pro ball equipped to continue the trend of high-quality plate appearances. He’s not going to walk a lot, but he’s also not going to strike out much and will find the barrel enough to hit for average. It’s a poor-man’s Nick Madrigal profile.

DeLoach has more upside in this area, but Polcovich has the present advantage.


Fastest Runner
DeLoach is no burner, but he uses his above-average speed well in the field and on the bases, giving him a slight edge over Polcovich for the honors.


Best Athlete
DeLoach edges Taylor Dollard and Polcovich here, thanks to average or better speed and overall physical tools.


Comps, Comps and More Comps

Round 1, No. 6: Hancock, RHP
I’ve gotten some Jake Peavy and James Shields comps for Hancock, and my own profile comp is Jack Flaherty, the current ace of the St. Louis Cardinals. Another one I have heard is Carlos Carrasco. Also: Chris Carpenter, Matt Garza, Jordan Zimmerman.

Keep in mind when folks find comps for players, it’s about the ceiling, both of the prospect and the comp itself, and that comping a prospect to a Hall of Famer just doesn’t happen very often, including right out of the draft before a prospect has a day logged as a pro.

Round 2, No. 43: DeLoach, OF
The most interesting one I heard was Kole Calhoun, not because it was the strongest or even the best, but because of the reason why.

Calhoun, always thought to be a right fielder, lacked the power of corner bat. Despite his 17 homers at Arizona State his junior year, scouts saw the numbers as a product of the bat (this was before the bat change in college baseball) and thought the hit tool was Calhoun’s best bet, but with a chance to get to average or better power — which Calhoun did. That’s DeLoach in 2020, but perhaps with a better tried and true skill set that projects safer than Calhoun’s.

I’ve also heard Denard Span — like DeLoach, an average center field glove with limited present power that relies on hitting, getting on base and solid skills across the board rather than wowing with one tool. DeLoach has the advantage of more raw power he could tap into, however.

Competitive Balance Round B, No. 64: Phillips, RHP
The most promising — and optimistic — comp on Phillips is Rick Porcello. Phillips is quite raw, however, and while he has comparable athleticism there’s probably not as much room to grow as a Porcello comp suggests.

Sound comps include Ian Kennedy, David Robertson, Daniel Hudson, Luke Gregerson, Jeremy Hellickson and Jeremy Guthrie.

Perhaps my favorite comp is Matt Shoemaker. Phillips tops out in the 93-96 mph range but if he’s to start could settle into the low-90s with average or better command, relying on solid-average secondaries and command, but perhaps with one plus offspeed pitch, which is what Shoemaker has done his entire career as a quality No. 4 starter.

Yes, there are some reliever comps in there — and I don’t really see the Robertson comp in any way — but if Phillips ends up being as valuable as any of these comps it’ll be a good pick by the Mariners.

Round 3, No. 78: Polcovich, UT
I’ve heard some David Eckstein comps, but I think Polcovich is more like Nick Punto, Ryan Theriot or Emilio Bonifacio in terms of skill. Eckstein wasn’t just short, he relied more on instinct and smarts at the plate than Polcovich will have to and the Mariners’ third-rounder has a clear strength and swing value advantage.

Round 4, No. 107: Keenan
Keenan, who likely moves to first base and could see a lot of time at DH as a big leaguers, has average or better hitting tools, including the potential for plus power.

On the upside, Lucas Duda and Luke Voit serve as physical and profile comps. On the profile side, Logan Morrison fits, too.

Adam Lind and Justin Bour also have been mentioned. I really like the Mike Napoli comp, but that’s also on the upside — and yes, I know, Napoli is a right-handed batter.

My favorite comps for Keenan are Eric Hinske and Garrett Jones.

Round 5, No. 137: Dollard, RHP

Dollard has four pitches. The fastball and slider lead the way, followed by his changeup and curveball, in that order. He’ll need more balance to remain a starter but all four project well enough to suggest legitimate promise.

The right-hander served as a reliever for his first two years at Cal Poly but was terrific in four starts in 2020, covering 27 innings and posting a 36-4 K/BB ratio. And before you get all “Cal Poly? They don’t play anybody,” take note: Dollard faced UConn, BYU, Michigan and Baylor this year, and Poly is a strong West Coast program, among the better ones outside the Power 5 conferences.

Dollard drew a lot of uninspiring comps from area scouts, but there were a few worth mentioning — and I really think scouts are putting too much stock in the fact Dollard made just four starts.

Kevin Correia was a fun one to check int.o. Correia pitched for parts of 13 seasons in the majors and at his best was  3-win starter for the San Diego Padres. He made 221 starts and 137 relief appearances. Dollard throws harder, but it’s very much a similar profile — average or above-average fastball (keep in mind Correia began his career in 2003 when the average fastball was in the 89-91 mph range, not 93-94 like it is now.

Other comps: Kevin Slowey, Jake Westbrook, former Mariners righty Scott Bankhead, Jon Garland, and Storm Davis.

The best comp I heard was Scott Williamson, a former reliever for the Cincinnati Reds. Dollard is taller and has a better chance to start long-term, but Williamson was athletic and in his prime touched the mid-90s and relied on a slider and changeup. Even the pitch mix is similar.…

The 2020 MLB Draft has come and gone — thanks to the owners cutting 35 rounds off the back end of the entire event — which means it’s time to have a little fun.

Who’s got the best fastball? Curveball? Who will make the majors first?

All of that and more in some bests and firsts of the draft.

*None of the below players have signed

Most Likely MVP
1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B — Tigers
2. Zac Veen, RF — Rockies
3. Austin Martin, SS — Blue Jays

Most Likely Cy Young
1. Emerson Hancock, RHP — Mariners
2. Asa Lacy, LHP — Royals
3. Max Meyer, RHP — Marlins

First Bat to the Majors
1. Torkelson, 1B — Tigers
2. Nick Gonzales, SS — Pirates
3. Martin, SS — Blue Jays

Day 2
1. Daniel Cabrera, OF — Tigers
2. Freddy Zamora, SS — Brewers
3. Zach DeLoach, OF — Mariners

First College Starting Pitcher to the Majors
1. Reid Detmers, LHP — Angels
2. Tanner Burns, RHP — Indians
3. Hancock, RHP — Mariners

Day 2
1. CJ Van Eyk, RHP — Blue Jays
2. Burl Carraway, LHP — Cubs
3. Chris McMahon, RHP — Rockies

First High School Bat to the Majors
1. Robert Hassell, OF — Padres
2. Austin Hendrick, RF — Reds
3. Veen, RF — Rockies

Day 2
1. Isaiah Greene, OF — Mets
2. Petey Halpin, CF — Indians
3. Blaze Jordan, 1B — Red Sox

First High School Starting Pitcher to the Majors
1. Nick Bitsko, RHP — Rays
2. Mick Abel, RHP — Phillies
3. Justin Lange, RHP — Padres

Day 2
1. Alex Santos, RHP — Astros
2. Jared Kelley, RHP — White Sox
3. Daxton Fulton, LHP — Marlins

Most Likely Batting Champ
1. Martin, SS — Blue Jays
2. Gonzales, SS — Pirates
3. Hassell, OF — Padres

Most Likely HR Champ
1. Torkelson, 3B — Tigers
2. Aaron Sabato, 1B — Twins
3. Jordan Walker, 3B — Cardinals

Best Fastball
1. Lacy, LHP — Royals
2. Nick Bitsko, RHP — Rays
3. Justin Lange, RHP — Padres

Best Curveball
1. Carraway, LHP — Cubs
2. Zach McCambley, RHP — Marlins
3. Detmers, LHP — Angels

Best Slider
1. Meyer, RHP — Marlins
2. Clayton Beeter, RHP — Dodgers
3. Lacy, LHP — Royals

Best Chanegup
1. Hancock, RHP — Mariners
2. Garrett Crochet, LHP — White Sox
3. Jared Schuster, LHP — Braves

Best Athlete
1. Austin Martin, SS — Blue Jays
2. Masyn Winn, SS/RHP — Cardinals
3. Meyer, RHP — Marlins

Best Defensive Player
1. Pete Crow-Armstrong, CF — Mets
2. Alika Williams, SS –Rays
3. Ed Howard, SS — Cubs

 …

The Mariners selected Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock with the No. 6 pick on Day, and under GM Jerry Dipoto the Seattle Mariners have shown a strong tendency to select college players in the MLB Draft, especially when it comes to the Top 5 rounds.

Expect that to change a bit on Day 2 this year.

Dipoto has overseen four drafts with the Mariners, three with current scouting director Scott Hunter. During those four years, the club has selected just two prep players before Round 6 — Joe Rizzo in Round 2 in 2016 and Sam Carlson in the second round in 2017.

The 2020 Draft is a little bit different:

  • It’s merely five rounds, rather than 40-50 it’s been the last several years.
  • The bonus pool for 2020 was locked in at 2019 rates and, obviously, sliced to five rounds worth.
  • Clubs didn’t get a chance to see players extensively, despite a month of the college season taking place before being cancelled.
  • Prep players have had to rely on video and data reporting.
  • Clubs have had to rely on that video and data, plus scouting info gleaned last spring and summer.

Why would Seattle be more prep heavy in a college heavy draft class?

It’s actually not that college heavy. All classes are heavier college than high school, and just about any way it’s diced up it comes out the same: college over high school. But in a year when owners are trying to avert risk, pinch pennies and think even more about the bottom line than ever before, college players are likely to be over-drafted.

For example: Most analysts have Aaron Sabato, the slugger from North Carolina, as a Top 40-60 pick, but not a first-round talent, yet it appears the Texas Rangers have zeroed in on him at No. 14. Jordan Westburg, a college shortstop who’ll move to third base in pro ball is another likely to go late in Round 1, but generally receives second-round grades. Arizona C Austin Wells and Arkansas SS Casey Martin are two others likely to go in Round 1 for reasons not based on pure talent and/or pool manipulation.

While this isn’t unheard of in previous drafts, this strategy is typically reserved for clubs attempting to push some of their bonus pool to later picks, rather than the big splash in Round 1, rather than to avert risk on the player himself.

This strategy will not end after the first round, either. Clubs are still expected to prefer college players more than ever well into Day 2.

The result is the value in the compensation round and beyond is high school talent, more than it otherwise would have been, and more than the last four classes.

Key prep prospects that could be passed on in Round 1  and become great values after that include Texas products RHP Jared Kelley from Refugio High School and two-way star
Masyn Winn from Kingwood High School.

My draft board includes 14 high schools players between No. 42 and 64 and 22 high school prospects between 42 and 80. When the ratio is near half, it’s a strong high school lean, compared to most classes, and there are large pockets after Round 1 where the prep talent is the clear value.

What Seattle has done in recent years is go college for the overwhelming majority of the picks inside the top 5 rounds, then venture out and take some shots at high school players. Carlson represents the only over-slot upside play at the prep level in the Dipoto era. The club went aggressively over slot at $2 million to get a player many believed was a Top 25 talent.

After the first round, Seattle selects at Nos. 43, 64, 78, 107 and 137. If their top pick is a slot player we may see some fancy footwork at 43 and 64 to try and take advantage of the flexibility they created with acquiring the extra pick from Milwaukee in the Omar Narvaez deal and the fact many clubs are looking to avert risk, leaving high school talent on the board.

I don’t expect a high-school heavy draft in general from Dipoto, Hunter and the Mariners, just significantly and notably more so than in previous drafts.

No matter the strengths and weaknesses of the players in a given class, or the value of the class as a whole, every club has an opportunity every June to gain ground on the clubs in front of them and put more space between themselves and the organizations behind them.

The Mariners, even in a five-round draft, have that inherent chance. But they also have a chance to take a few risks on prep prospects and, as I said on Baseball Things Wednesday morning, take the deep three-ball for the win, rather than looking for the push.

The buzz is Seattle wants to do something unique early on Day 2, which likely means prep talent to some extent.

As other clubs lay up, Seattle should be going for it. And it appears they will.

 …

With this year’s MLB Draft being just five rounds, it’s quite easy to go through the entire set, check my board and lay out best-case, worst-case scenarios for all six Seattle Mariners picks.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

Note: These are not projected picks, merely best-case/Worst-case scenarios based on talent and general player projections. I did not refer to my CT&P (club trends & preferences) for this for any club, including Seattle. So if you see a player and think, “hey, fine, but I’d rather the Mariners took a little more risk here to try and get more upside” the truth is they might very well be able to do so.

One more time for those in the back — this is NOT a mock draft.

Round 1 / No. 6

Spencer Torkelson and Austin Martin have virtually no shot to get to the Mariners, but those chances rise above zero for everyone else, including the three top college arms in the class.

Best-Case Pick: Asa Lacy, LHP — Texas A&M
Lacy has drawn comparisons to James Paxton, but is noticeably more fluid, despite still lacking ideal athleticism, and will enter pro ball with a slightly better delivery and breaking ball.

Lacy likely remains a near-slot signing beyond the Top 5 and it’d be shocking to see him get beyond Toronto, but if he does, Seattle is sitting there waiting to pounce.

The Mariners have recently shown an affinity for a wider repertoire from college pitchers, and Lacy has that going for him, too, with two above-average breaking balls led by a plus slider, and a changeup with a good chance to develop.

On the downside of this pick, Seattle could watch their preferred five go off the board before they get a shot. With Torkelson and Martin pretty much out of the question entirely, Lacy, Emerson Hancock and Zac Veen are likely next on Seattle’s board in some order, assuming none of the three sit in the club’s top two.

The Mariners, in this case, would be hoping for Miami (3), Kansas City (4) or Toronto (5) to select Nick Gonzales, Max Meyer or Reid Detmers in order to give them what they want.

The Wild Card here is Hancock. Clubs have expressed at least preliminary concern about his medicals, though it sounds to me like clubs that rely more heavily on data for pitchers are the ones showing the most concern as the draft nears, and it has little to do with his health.

Hancock’s fastball is more of a sinker than a swing-and-miss offering with life at the top of the zone, which suggest a more limited ceiling, despite its velocity easily into the mid-90s. However, I have seen signs of upstairs fastball action from Hancock, including some arm side run, so I’m not entirely convinced clubs should be hung up on the pitch data here.

Seattle is typically one of those clubs that lean heavily on pitch data, so there’s a chance Hancock is not in their Top 5 and instead prefer Max Meyer. If Torkelson, Martin, Lacy and Veen are the first four picks, Seattle will get a shot at either of the two top college right-handers in the class.

And if that’s the worst-case scenario, Seattle is going to be fine here.

Worst-Case Pick: Emerson Hancock, RHP
I’m a firm believer in development, and that includes pitch development. If Hancock’s fastball is a real concern long-term, making some changes to it can be part of the evaluation process. He already owns a plus to plus-plus changeup and two average or better breaking balls. Instead of wondering if his sinker will miss enough bats, perhaps the question to ask should be centered on whether or not it’s feasible to re-grip the pitch in order to generate more backspin, or to simply try and turn the sinker into a dominant ground ball offering.


Round 2 / No. 43

Assuming Seattle goes near-slot in one direction or the other at No. 6, 43 could the most intriguing selection for the club this year because of the depth in the class overall, and the fact they have an extra pick thanks to the Omar Narvaez trade.

It would be easy to go college arm again here, but there’s a good chance the value here will be on the prep side. Jerry Dipoto, Scott Hunter and company will have an opportunity to take an over-slot player here if a top-30 pick slides but wants first-round money.

Best-Case Pick: Masyn Winn, SS/RHP — Kingswood HS (Texas)
Winn is just 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds but everything he does is with elite energy. That energy plays out in all facets of his game, including above-average raw power at the plate and his two-pitch arsenal that includes a fastball up to 98 mph and 65-grade curveball.

Scouts I talk to prefer him as a shortstop for now, where he projects at least average with a chance to be terrific, but admit he’s an interesting two-way opportunity that may develop in both roles.

Even if we ignore the mound ability, this is the type of player Seattle has very few of right now; considerable up-the-middle defensive tools with lightning quick hands and a feel for the game that suggests his bat will develop.

I have Winn in my Top 40 and I got several top 30 votes from checkers back in early May.

Worst-Case Pick: Gage Workman, 3B — Arizona State
I’m not nearly as high on Workman as some, but he’s interesting because he’s young for a college-eligible prospect and is a legit switch hitter, though he’s markedly better from the left side. The problem is it’s all projection. Clubs will have to trust their scout’s eyes on Workman, which isn’t a bad thing, but he lacks production, increasing the risk, especially this high.

Workman could be an under-slot pick at 43, but I’m not convinced that would be helpful unless the No. 6 pick requires a larger-than-slot bonus, because No. 64, the club’s next selection, isn’t likely to offer a player worthy of top 40 money.

One possible exception, however, is Hoover HS (Ala.) outfielder Robby Ashford, a two-sport star who’s committed to Oregon to play quarterback.

To get him to skip football, it may require as much as $3 million — essentially top-20 money. But how great would it be if the Mariners added a 6-foot-4 toolsy outfielder with big upside including power and a chance to stick in center, all while stealing a QB from the Ducks? Unless you’re  a Ducks fan, of course.

Workman could project similarly to Kyle Seager‘s prime at the plate and offer above-average to plus defense. He’s a third-round player for me, but so was Seager in a good draft 11 years ago, and Workman is bigger and more athletic.


Competitive Balance B / No. 64

Best-Case Pick: Isaiah Greene, OF — Corona HS (Calif.)
Green is an athletic outfielder with the speed and arm to project in center, but it’s the hit tool that sells clubs on Green as high as the comp round. He’s a top-50 player for most and if he adds strength and develops even average power there’s a chance at a borderline all-star in the mold of an Angel Pagan, who put up 4.6 and 4.9 fWAR seasons in his prime, or a Michael Brantley, who has had a nice, long career and is still hitting.

Worst-Case Pick: Zach McCambley, RHP — Coastal Carolina
McCambley touches 98 mph — 92-95 as a starter — with a power curveball. He’s just over 6-feet tall and scouts haven’t seen a consistent third pitch, but my biggest concern is the delivery. The right-hander doesn’t use his lower half well and appears to put a lot of torque on the arm, and that’s the reason the reliever concerns are more than real.

At this spot, picking a fringe starter that likely ends up in the bullpen might make sense for the Mariners, especially if they get here behind slot pace, but McCambley isn’t without solid upside, and in the bullpen he likely moves quickly.


Round 3 / No. 78

Best-Case Pick: Kyle Nicolas, RHP — Ball State
Nicolas would rank much higher, but control and command are below average despite a small-sample of improvement before the season was shut down in March.

He’s got starter size at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds and pitches comfortably at 92-96 mph, but he’s shy of a complete arsenal, offering a fringe-average hard slider but a changeup not ready for pro ball.

Still, at 78 this is good value and about the best Seattle could expect.

Worst-Case Pick: Nick Yorke, SS — Archbishop Mitty HS (Calif.)
No, Seattle hasn’t scouted the west heavily — or well, for that matter — in the Dipoto era, but that doesn’t change what we’re doing here.

Yorke probably belongs in Round 4 or 5, but Yorke is a potential under-slot risk worth taking at 78, thanks to physical tools that may produce average pop. He leads with his ability to make consistent hard contact and is already learning to generate more leverage. He’s likely a second baseman if he remains on the dirt, but I love the idea of pushing him to center field from the get-go and trying to take advantage of the instincts.

One scout I talked to doesn’t love how much effort it appears to take from Yorke to field ground balls and make transfers, adding it doesn’t often look natural and his hands don’t seem to fit the middle infield.

For me, there’s not a large difference between the No. 75 player in this class and No. 100, so I can be convinced Yorke is better than Nicolas.


Round 4 / No. 107

Best-Case Pick: Patrick Reilly, RHP — Christian Brothers Academy (NJ)
Reilly offers size at 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds and a fastball that chased down the mid-90s when scouts saw him last summer and fall. He’s used a fierce work ethic and athleticism to put himself in draftable territory and looks like a terrific value at 107.

He offers a projectable curveball and life on the fastball.

I have Reilly at No. 81, while others have him outside the Top 100, so if I happen to be closer or Reilly agrees to an under-slot deal, he’s not even going to be around at this point.

Worst-Case Pick: Kevin Abel, RHP — Oregon State
Abel starred in the 2018 College World Series as the Beavers won it all. He’s had lower back stiffness at times and then was overused by most standards his freshman year and had elbow surgery last spring. He wasn’t set to return until at least May of this season.

He’s 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds and projects as a command-and-feel right-hander that will have to work to get back his low-90s velocity and ability to locate. Abel also has a 55 curveball and 60 changeup.

If you’re the player here, you might have already told clubs you’re leaning heavily toward coming back to school in order to enter the draft healthy with more track record on which to lean. But if he’s signable, Abel represents the low-end of what Seattle can expect at No. 107.

Washington right-hander Stevie Emanuels received consideration here, too.


Round 5 / No. 137

Best-Case Pick: Daniel Susac, C — Jesuit HS (Calif.)
Susac, the younger brother of former big-league backstop Andrew Susac, offers well above-average athleticism for the catcher position which gives scouts hope he can end up at least average defensively. He’s a project both behind the plate and with the bat and he’s a bit old for a prep pick, but there are tools that profile out, including a chance at above-average power.

Worst-Case Pick: Elijah Cabell, OF — Florida State
Cabell offers big raw power and some plate skills, but chases a bit above his hands and the swing can get long, leading to high strikeout totals. He’s a fringe-average defender in a corner, albeit with a plus arm, but he’ll have to shorten up and squeeze his zone to hit big-league pitching.

The tools are intriguing, however, and despite the likelihood Seattle takes advantage of the prep class on Day 2, Cabell represents a solid worst-case scenario in terms of available talent.

One common theme building around the ‘sphere is the Seattle Mariners should prefer the player with the most upside at No. 6 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, and that Louisville left-hander Reid Detmers doesn’t meet the standard, particularly when compared to other prospects that may be available, such as Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer, New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales and Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli.

From recent conversations, I’m starting to believe otherwise.

I think it goes without saying — but I’ll say it anyway — there is at least a semi-consensus Top 5 in this class, in some order: Spencer Torkelson, Austin Martin, Asa Lacy, Emerson Hancock, and Zac Veen. After that, a group including Gonzales, Detmers, Gonzales, Cavalli, and rep righties Mick Abel and Jared Kelly seems to be the harmonious consent.

I’m creating my personal board from a Seattle Mariners standpoint — I shared the first draft on Zoom Wednesday night — but a discussion Thursday morning with an area scout and a check session with another has changed my mind on where Detmers fits.

First, let’s discuss the upside and risk of the other prospects generally considered in this range, using rankings and mock drafts.

Nick Gonzales, 2B — New Mexico State

Gonzales, a college shortstop, likely slides to second base — or even left field for some clubs — but has a quick-moving hit tool and some scouts see at least average power, even if he’s limited after that. We could be talking about a .300/.375/.450 hitter with solid-average defense and base value. The downside is the power, but more and more clubs are convinced he’s a 30-40 double, 12-15 home run bat, where the over-the-fence pop could spill over in an environment similar to 2019.

The most common comp for Gonzales is Milwaukee Brewers first-rounder Keston Hiura, but I’ve heard some Ian Kinsler and Aaron Hill comps, too, and both had multiple 4-fWAR seasons. I don’t think Gonzales ends up as good defensively, but that’s what a handful of scouts thinks of Gonzales’ hit tool and potential for meaningful power.

Gonzales’ upside probably looks something like that — a 4-5 win player in his prime.

Cade Cavalli, RHP — Oklahoma

Cavalli was a two-way talent until this spring when he focused solely on pitching. He’s up to 98 mph and firmly sits 93-95 with the fastball, and complements with two breaking balls, both of which flash big-league average or better. Scouts tend to favor the slider, an upper-80 out pitch, but the curveball is a hard, tight-spinning version, which Cavalli can bury or throw for strikes.

Cavalli doesn’t have a lot of miles on the arm, which is a plus, but his fastball movement is inconsistent. An adjustment may be necessary to get enough fastball value to use his other three pitches, including an improving changeup.

I’m a huge fan of Cavalli, who is a very good athlete, but there have been some ongoing back issues that will understandably concern clubs. He comes with a clean delivery and some projection left, too.

Cavalli brings No. 2 upside.

The Prep Arms

Kelly has the best velocity in the prep class, touching triple digits and living in the 94-97 mph range, while Abel may have the most projectable profile of any arm in the class, starting with very good athleticism and comparable present stuff.

Kelly’s changeup is more advanced than Abel’s, which in some draft rooms will give him the nod — especially this year as clubs look to mitigate risk more than ever. The questions on Abel include where his fastball sits right now — he was 91-94 mph last spring, reached 97 over the summer in short stints, but didn’t get a chance to pitch in 2020 to put on a display.

For me, neither player makes a lot of sense at No. 6, even if the pool savings exceed $1 million, but each brings No. 2 upside with a chance at even more than that. Of course, they come with more risk, too, and are inherently further away from the majors.

Max Meyer, RHP — Minnesota

Meyer is an athletic sub-6-foot right-hander with the best two-pitch combo in the class — an exploding fastball into the triple digits, holding mid-90s deep into games, and a hard, 89-93 mph slider that received a few 75 grades.

He commands both pitches well enough to pitch out of the bullpen in the majors right now. His changeup remains a work-in-progress, but shows promise as he develops command of it.

Size is a factor here, and while it doesn’t scare me, the Mariners, and other clubs, may put a higher premium on that risk, especially with their top pick. I’m more concerned with the development of a third pitch so he doesn’t experience issues finishing off batters and end up building deep pitch counts.

Meyer’s upside may include some No. 1 starter profiles.

Now, Detmers, contrary to every pitcher noted above that projects into the conversations — and we can add Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet and Llano High School right-hander Justin Lange to this convo, too — doesn’t exceed mid-90s heat, nor does he bring much physical projection.

So how in the world can he make as much sense for Seattle at No. 6?

For one, there’s not a lot of risk in taking Detmers. He’s going to pitch in the majors, as a starter, and probably somewhere in front of the No. 5 starter. Relatively speaking, because he’s a pitcher, he carries more risk than Gonzales, but far less than the other arms noted above.

His upside is being slept on, however, and it seems the reason is because many want the big fastball and physical tools that suggest the prototypical frontline starting pitcher.

Side Note: Folks using size to curb a college player’s upside always burns me, especially with pitchers. We’ve learned this lesson, over and over, so I’m not sure why it exists in conversation anymore. Either the stuff and projected performance carry big upside or they don’t. A player lacking certain size doesn’t dictate the upside, it presents reasonable concerns of risk of injury and durability, and factors in heavily to projections, but not upside. Meyer is an example right here in this class.

Look at last year’s fWAR leaders among starting pitchers. In the top 25 are Jacob deGRom, Zack Greinke, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Marcus Stroman, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Marco Gonzales, all 6-foot-2 and under.

Reid Detmers, LHP — Louisville

Guess who else is 6-foot-2? Detmers.

Detmers owns the draft’s best curveball, a shapely hammer in the 71-74 mph range. The velocity is what generally pushes away the doubters. Detmers sits 90-92 mph and is up to 94. His fastball, however, plays up thanks to deception and the consistency and value of his secondaries, which also includes an average changeup with a chance to be plus, and a slider he could use more in pro ball to get inside to right-handed batters.

He also shows a bulldog mentality, ultra pitchability, and leadership.

He profiles as a No. 3 starter. Don’t let anyone suggest mid-rotation is bad. That is, by definition, a No. 3 starter, and they’re typically worth 3.5-4.5 wins a year, not surprisingly very similar to the projection on Nick Gonzales.

But what separates Detmers and gives him a chance to be more than a No. 3 is his command. Some scouts easily hand Detmers 60 command overall, 65 of the fastball, and a few others suggest by the time he reaches the majors we could be watching 70-grade command from a lefty into the 93-95 mph range with two above-average secondaries, including a plus curveball.

That is why Detmers is worthy of consideration over Gonzales.

He has risk and ETA advantages over Cavalli, Meyer and the prep arms, and while he’s unlikely to be signable at a significant discount like some, including the prep pitchers, Garrett Mitchell, Crochet, Tyler Soderstrom, Pete Crow-Armstrong, he’s also not going to take over-slot money.

I wouldn’t say I’m off Gonzales at No. 6, but it’s not as easy a decision as it seemed a month ago, and I’m leaning Meyer, Cavalli or Detmers at No. 6, assuming similar signability and cost in all cases.…

I’ll have at least one other update before Draft Day as I continue to gather info, and may get to 100-150 players.

NOTES

  1. This is a player ranking, not a mock draft
  2. A player not being on the Top 50 doesn’t mean he’s not highly ranked. Maybe that players is 51 or 72 or 85.
  3. Rankings are based on the combined evals of dozens of sources on players and my own profile evaluations based on the information acquired
  4. No two clubs rank players identically
  5. No two analysts rank player identically
  6. Differences in rankings may be due to differences in player evaluation OR the value of the profile
  7. Differences in rankings can also be due to variances in the value of a draft pick and the draft as a whole
  8. The below rankings are ‘in a vacuum,’ not from the angle of any club
RANK PLAYER POS SCHOOL HT WT COMMITTED
1 Spencer Torkelson 1B Arizona State 6-1 205
2 Asa Lacy LHP Texas A&M 6-4 222
3 Emerson Hancock RHP Georgia 6-4 215
4 Austin Martin CF Vanderbilt 6-0 175
5 Max Meyer RHP Minnesota 6-0 188
6 Zac Veen OF Spruce Creek HS (Fla.) 6-5 200 Florida
7 Nick Gonzalez 2B New Mexico State 5-10 190
8 Cade Cavalli RHP Oklahoma 6-4 225
9 Austin Hendrick OF West Allegheny HS (Pa.) 6-1 195 Mississippi State
10 Reid Detmers LHP Louisville 6-2 210
11 Mick Abel RHP Jesuit HS (Ore.) 6-5 197 Oregon State
12 Jared Kelley RHP Refugio HS (Texas) 6-3 218 Texas
13 Robert Hassell OF Independence HS (Tenn.) 6-2 190 Vanderbilt
14 Garrett Mitchell OF UCLA 6-3 205
15 Patrick Bailey C North Carolina State 6-2 195
16 Garrett Crochet LHP Tennessee 6-6 220
17 Tyler Soderstrom C Turlock HS (Calif.) 6-2 190 UCLA
18 Heston Kjerstad OF Arkansas 6-3 205
19 Dillon Dingler C Ohio State 6-3 210
20 Justin Lange RHP Llano Hs (Texas) 6-4 195 Dallas Baptist
21 Pete Crow-Armstrong OF Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.) 6-0 175 Vanderbilt
22 Jared Shuster LHP Wake Forest 6-3 210
23 Slade Cecconi RHP Miami 6-4 215
24 Ed Howard SS Mount Carmel HS (Ill.) 6-2 185 Oklahoma
25 Bobby Miller RHP Louisville 6-5 220
26 Nick Bitsko RHP Central Bucks East HS (Pa.) 6-4 220 Virginia
27 Tanner Burns RHP Auburn 6-0 215
28 Clayton Beeter RHP Texas Tech 6-1 205
29 Daniel Cabrera OF LSU 6-0 180
30 Alex Santos RHP Mt. St. Michael Academy (NY) 6-3 205 Maryland
31 Jordan Walker 3B Decatur HS (Ga.) 6-5 220 Duke
32 Alika Williams SS Arizona State 6-2 180
33 Carmen Mlodzinksi RHP South Carolina 6-2 230
34 Nick Loftin SS Baylor 6-1 180
35 Cole Wilcox RHP Georgia 6-5 230
36 J.T. Ginn RHP Mississippi State 6-2 195
37 Tommy Mace RHP Florida 6-6 216
38 Masyn Winn SS/RHP Kingwood HS (Texas) 5-11 180 Arkansas
39 Casey Martin SS Arkansas 5-11 175
40 Victor Mederos RHP Westminster Christian (Fla.) 6-4 215 Miami
41 Chris McMahon RHP Miami 6-2 205
42 Austin Wells C/1B Arizona 6-1 200
43 Jared Jones RHP La Mirada HS (Calif.) 6-1 185 Texas
44 Isaiah Greene OF Corono HS (Calif.) 6-1 180 Missouri
45 Cole Henry RHP LSU 6-4 215
46 Daxon Fulton LHP Mustang HS (Calif.) 6-6 225 Oklahoma
47 Carson Montgomery RHP Windermere HS (Fla.) 6-2 195 Florida State
48 Dylan Crews OF Lake Mary HS 6-0 195 LSU
49 Jeff Criswell RHP Michigan 6-4 225
50 Carson Tucker SS Mountain Pointe HS (Ariz.) 6-2 180 Texas

 …

Photo: Cody Bellinger (35) & Corey Seager (5), who both could have been Mariners had Seattle drafted perfectly throughout the years.


2020 MLB Draft: Top 20 Prospects
Draft History: Every Teams Best Unsigned Pick


The Seattle Mariners haven’t won a thing since 2001, and the club hasn’t reached 90 victories in a season since 2003. The roster construction has been poor, but the franchise’s scouting and player development has failed miserably during that time.,

Since rebuilding, re-imagining, going young, properly supplementing, or whatever you want to call the club’s attempts over that span requires success in the draft and the Mariners haven’t enjoyed much of that, let’s re-draft for them over the 11-year period between Bill Bavasi’s tenure through Jack Zduriencik’s tenure.

We get to use hindsight here, but I’ll share some draft=day thoughts of each 1st-round pick by the club over the 11 seasons.

Below are the Mariners first-round picks, including 1st-round comp picks, and the re-draft selection based on our 20-20 hindsight.

Remember, other clubs in a re-draft scenario, including those drafting ahead of Seattle, would get shots on these players. The re-draft selection is the absolute best the Mariners could have done with that pick based on results since draft day, presenting what essentially would amount to perfect picks.

Yes, I’m trying to make you mad online about Mariners drafts.

I stopped at 2015 for two reasons. One, that’s the last draft before Jerry Dipoto took over as the GM, and not enough time has passed to do much analysis on draft class after that.

2005
The No. 3 Pick: Jeff Clement, C — USC
The Mariners were heavily linked to Long Beach State SS Troy Tulowitzki and Virginia 3B Ryan Zimmerman — on the recommendation of former GM and then-consultant Pat Gillick — but catching coordinator Roger Hansen signed off on Clement’s hands and feet and the Mariners went the way of the bat-first catcher.

Had Clement not suffered injuries to both knees and to his left elbow, there’s a decent chance he not only would have caught a lot of games in the majors, but hit a little bit, too. But it’s also easy to see why he broke down. Clement was not a great athlete and lacked some of the strength attributes clubs look for in backstops, and Seattle simply went into this hoping Clement could get by in these areas enough to allow his bat to provide the value.

Re-Draft: Troy Tulowitzki

You can make a case for Andrew McCutchen, and by pure rWAR, Ryan Braun, too. Justin Upton may pass them all simply by playing longer. And No. 103 pick Brett Gardner‘s WAR output is between Tulowitzki and Upton.


2006
The No. 5 Pick: Brandon Morrow, RHP — California
Seattle was linked to local arm Tim Lincecum early in the process, but mostly Luke Hochevar out of Tennessee. The fans wanted Lincecum or North Carolina lefty Andrew Miller, who was thought to be the best player in the class at the time by at least a slight majority. Miller went No. 6 to Detroit.

Re-Draft: Clayton Kershaw, LHP — Highland Park HS (Texas)
While it would have been fun seeing Lincecum, a University of Washington star out o Liberty High School, star for the Mariners, Kershaw tuned out to be the best player in the class and is a future Hall of Famer.


2007
The No. 11 Pick: Phillippe Aumont, RHP — Ecole Du Versant
I heard a lot of Beau Mills and Matt Dominguez to Seattle in 2007, and they also were linked quite a bit to Daniel Moskos, who ended up going No. 4 overall to Pittsburgh.

The ideal selection here would have been Jason Heyward, who went No. 14 to the Atlanta Braves. Madison Bumgarner went one pick ahead of Seattle at No. 10 to the San Francisco Giants.

Re-Draft: Freddie Freeman, 1B — El Modena HS (Calif.)
Josh Donaldson, the catcher from Auburn, has compiled the highest rWAR for players picked after the Mariners, but
Heyward would have been a good pick, too, and second-round pick Giancarlo Stanton isn’t far behind. Freeman is less than a season’s worth of WAR behind Donaldson and Stanton and he’s younger than Donaldson by more than four years and healthier than Stanton.


2008
The No. 20 Pick: Josh Fields, RHR — Georgia
This pick was made by the combo of Bill Bavasi and Bob Fontaine and the idea was Fields could be signed and perhaps pitch out of the big-league bullpen later that summer. But he didn’t sign at all in 2008, making the pick one of the worst in franchise history.

But an even worse decision came a year later when Jack Zduriencik decided to sign Fields before the deadline rather than get the No. 21 pick in the 2009 Draft as compensation.

Seattle was linked to numerous players for this pick, including lefty Christian Friedrich — who was my preference at the time — and 1B Ike Davis, whow ent two pick prior to the New York Mets. The Mariners also were linked to Brett Lawrie, who went No. 16 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Re-Draft: Lance Lynn, RHP — Mississippi
Gerrit Cole is the best player drafted after Seattle in this class, but he went No. 28 to the New York Yankees and didn’t sign, even using our hindsight goggles we can’t suggest Cole would have signed with the Mariners.

Brandon Crawford, the shortstop from UCLA, has out-WAR’d Lynn, but he’s running out of steam while Lynn just had his best season. Crawford went to the Giants in Round 4.

Lynn, a draftee of the Mariners three years prior, would have had to give permission to be re-drafted by Seattle, but he’s clearly the next-best choice. Jake Odorizzi, who went No. 32 to the Brewers, wouldn’t have been a bad pick, either.

It wasn’t a good class, with only 11 players compiling 10 rWAR or more thus far.


2009
The No. 2 Pick: Dustin Ackley, OF
At the time this was absolutely the right pick, with no other club believing any other player was worth the risk at No.2 overall.

Re-Draft: Mike Trout, OF — Milville HS (N.J.)

Trout would a lot of clubs’ re-draft pick in this draft, including the Nationals twice and the Diamondbacks twice. At least the Nationals got Stephen Strasburg at No. 1.

The most egregious misses in the round are the Padres at No. 3 selecting Donavan Tate, who never reached Double-A ball and is now out of baseball altogether, and the Pirates at No. 4 getting 0.1 rWAR out of Tony Sanchez.

There was a lot of talent in this class, but a lot of it was prep pitching that didn’t pan out including lefty-hander Tyler Matzek, a name Seattle was linked to as a backup plan in case negotiations went haywire with Ackley, and Shelby Miller.

The No. 27 Pick: Nick Franklin, SS — Lake Brantley HS (Fla.)

While Franklin wasn’t going to be a star or anything, the Mariners’ player development process failed him big time. He was a confident gamer with underrated hands and had plenty of tools to play second base.

Re-Draft: Nolan Arenado, 3B — El Toro HS (Calif.)

Paul Goldschmidt was taken No. 246 overall by Arizona and has compiled 43.6 rWAR to Arenado’s 37.6, but contracts aside, I’d take Arenado if we had a time machine.

The No. 33 Pick: Steve Baron, C — Ferguson School (Fla.)
Baron has all the physical tools to catch, but needed a lot of work at the plate and it never came to fruition. Another development issue, but with Rex Brothers, Matt Davidson and my favorite Tyler Skaggs on the board, this was a largely disappointing decision. Heck, Richards was available here, too.

Re-Draft: Goldschmidt

The Mariners, for picks 27 and 33, were connected to Cal outfielder Brett Jackson, who went to the Cubs at No. 31.


2010
The Mariners did not have a first-round pick in this draft due to the signing of Chone Figgins, but they did have a comp-rounder.

The No. 43 Pick: Taijuan Walker, RHP — Yucaipa HS (Calif.)
By pure rWAR, Nicholas Castellanos has been more valuable to date and he went one pick later, but this story isn’t yet complete. Walker is just 27 years old.

Seattle was linked to Alex Wimmers, Deck McGuire, Jesse Biddle and Jake Skole quite a bit leading up to this pick.

Re-Draft: Andrelton Simmons, SS — W. OKlahoma State


2011
The No. 2 Pick: Danny Hultzen, LHP — Virginia
We all know this story by now.

I was told by multiple sides the Mariners wanted to take Anthony Rendon but couldn’t risk the medicals, and they weren’t the only club convinced that was too big a risk. in the top 5. I was also told Seattle really liked Francisco Lindor and scouting director Tom McNamara told Lindor’s agent he was their guy.

And maybe he was, up until it came time to make the pick, anyway.

Zduriencik and McNamara went to see Hultzen four Fridays in a row and he became the club’s No. 1 target.

Bubba Starling was only signable for Kansas City. Dylan Bundy was only signable for Baltimore. So Seattle went with Hultzen, a lefty up to 96 mph and three potential big-league pitches.

Only problem was, they ignored his red-flag delivery.

Re-Draft: Mookie Betts, OF — Overton HS (Tenn.)
Rendon has the rWAR edge over Lindor entering 2020 but only by 1.5 and Lindor is three years younger. Cole, who went No. 1 to Pittsburgh, also would be a sound re-draft choice, as would George Springer, who has been worth 25.4 rWAR, just 2.2 fewer than Lindor. Springer is 30.

But Betts has a large rWAR lead over all of them, so far, including an MVP in 2018 when he posted 10.6 rWAR. Betts went No. 172 overall (Round 5).

Year Age Tm G PA 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG Awards
2014 21 BOS 52 213 12 1 5 18 7 3 21 31 .291 .368 .444
2015 22 BOS 145 654 42 8 18 77 21 6 46 82 .291 .341 .479 MVP-19
2016 23 BOS 158 730 42 5 31 113 26 4 49 80 .318 .363 .534 AS,MVP-2,GG,SS
2017 24 BOS 153 712 46 2 24 102 26 3 77 79 .264 .344 .459 AS,MVP-6,GG
2018 25 BOS 136 614 47 5 32 80 30 6 81 91 .346 .438 .640 AS,MVP-1,GG,SS
2019 26 BOS 150 706 40 5 29 80 16 3 97 101 .295 .391 .524 AS,MVP-8,GG,SS
6 Yr 6 Yr 6 Yr 794 3629 229 26 139 470 126 25 371 464 .301 .374 .519
162 162 162 162 740 47 5 28 96 26 5 76 95 .301 .374 .519
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/8/2020.

2012
The No. 3 Pick: Mike Zunino, C — Florida

I take issue with folks ragging on this pick in the manner they do. Did it work out well? No. Was it a BAD pick? Absolutely not.

Even if you think Zunino was a more proper fit in this class between Nos. 7 and 12, you can’t argue the No. 12 pick in an average class shouldn’t be better than a 6.8 rWAR player after seven and a half years.

Player development process failed Zunino big-time.

Still, Zunino has been the 13th most valuable player from this class, despite the awful developmental approach by the club.

I had heard Kevin Gausman, Byron Buxton, Kyle Zimmer and, somewhat oddly, Andrew Heaney connected to Seattle for this pick. Heaney may have been a below-slot backup plan, but the club scouted him heavily late leading up to draft day.

Gausman went No. 4 to Baltimore, Zimmer to the Royals at No. 5 and Heaney No. 9 to the Marlins.

I believe they would have taken Byron Buxton if he lasted one more pick.

Re-Draft: Corey Seager, SS — Northwest Cabbarrus HS (N.C.)
Seager has been the No. 2 player in this class so far, behind only No. 1 pick Carlos Correa, and Seager missed all but 26 games in 2018 with Tommy John surgery.

Marcus Stroman is a win behind Seager. Matt Olson is 3.5 wins back and Mitch Haniger, despite his late arrival and injuries, is next in line.


2013
The No. 12 Pick: D.J. Peterson, 3B — New Mexico
Peterson was my least favorite first-round pick in the Jack-TMC era. There were questions about the hit tool, and there were question about his ability to play third base. It appeared Seattle may have selected a .240/.300/.450, 25-homer first baseman ahead of a number of other players with better profiles.

Seattle was linked heavily to Hunter Renfroe, who went a pick later to the Padres, and prep righty Phil Bickford, who went two pick before. I never heard them much on Dominic Smith, but it would have made more sense.

One Mariners checker at the time told me he wanted Aaron Judge, but McNamara wasn’t interested.

Re-Draft: Cody Bellinger, OF — Hamilton HS (Ariz.)
Aaron Judge has been the No. 2 player in this class so far behind Kris Bryant, but Bellinger, the No. 124 pick in this draft,  is the best player in the National League and is just 24.

Other key players drafted after Peterson include Tim Anderson, J.P. Crawford and Austin Meadows.

I know there were scouts in the room fighting for Anderson and Crawford at No. 12.


2014
The Pick at No. 6: Alex Jackson, C — Rancho Bernardo HS (Calif.)
Another instance where the pick was right, but nothing else was.

Jackson was being considered as high as No. 4 and had all the tools to not only hit and hit for power, but catch. Despite being traded to the Braves, Jackson still has yet to put it together. He moved to the outfield early in his Mariners career, but is back behind the plate with Atlanta. He made his MLB debut last season. He’s just 24, so there still is time, but it didn’t happen in Seattle.

Re-Draft: Matt Chapman, 3B — Fullerton State
Chapman has been the class MVP thus far, just ahead of Aaron Nola.

Treat Turner, who went a pick after Seattle took Jackson, would have worked out OK, too.

The popular opinion on draft day was Seattle should have taken Oregon State’s Michael Conforto, who played at Redmond High School. While hindsight tells us that for sure would have worked out better, I’m not 100% sure the Mariners wouldn’t have ruined a lot of these players. Some of the elites like Lindor, Rendon and Trout would have found a way, but I wouldn’t put Conforto in that category.

Fun fact: The top two picks in this draft has yet to reach Double-A.


2015
Seattle did not have a first-round pick in this draft thanks to the signing of Robinson Cano. In Round 2, they selected Nick Neidert, a right-hander out of Peachtree Ridge High School in Georgia.

Jerry Dipoto traded Neidert to Miami in the deal for Dee Gordon and Shohei Ohtani money. Neidert is on the brink of the majors, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be more than a No. 4 or 5 starter, and likely is an up-and-down starter as a command-and-feel arm with below-average stuff.

Brandon Lowe, who went to the Rays at No. 87, would have been the better pick, as would have Harrison Bader, who went No. 100 to the Cardinals.…

Because there are no games, I’ve had to keep in contact with more folks that have seen the top draft prospects for this year’s class, so I thought I’d get back to putting together a board of sports.

The following rankings are based on conversations only. I’ve seen a few of these prospects in small batches, but not enough for my own personal assessment to matter enough for rankings — without outside info.

In the coming weeks, I’ll update expand this to 40.

20. Jordan Walker, 3B — Decatur HS (GA)

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Walker edged Pete Crow-Armstrong, Cole Wilcox, C.J. Van Eyk, Carson Montgomery and Jake Eder here, and you can argue for any of them, but I received slightly better reports on Walker.

For Mariners fans, he might remind you a bit of Kyle Lewis in some of his early video at Mercer. He’s a bit raw and doesn’t run well enough to project well in the outfield, but the power is legit and he has the swing to back it up.

He has a very good arm, and projects to third OK for now, though there are a lot of area guys penciling in a walk across the diamond.

When I asked two checkers to rank Walker, Van Eyk and Crow-Armstrong, Montgomery, Wilcox and Eder, one had Walker No. 1, the other No. 3. Eder received the other No. 1 vote, but was ranked last in the group by the first scout. Crow-Armstrong was ranked No. 2 and No. 3 and would have been No. 21 had the rankings gone that far.


19. Garrett Mitchell, OF — UCLA

There are a lot of folks that have Mitchell going in the Top 10 — I’ve seen him around the interwebs as high as No. 5 — but it’s not a Top 5 profile.

Despite good size at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Mitchell is a hit and run player. He defends well in center and should stick there, but scouts don’t love the swing when it comes to generating power.

“I think he can make an adjustment and get to more,” said an area scout. “We see that happen. But yes, you read my notes on him and you’d think he was 5-11 and 180 pounds.”

He has a good arm, so if had to move to a corner it works fine, and he makes good contact with his line drive swing.

If Mitchell was a prep prospect, clubs might see him as the perfect Top-10 pick, since it’s easy to get value from his speed, defense and ability to make contact and hit for average, while you hope to instruct more power out of his physical tools by helping him make swing adjustments.

He has shown decent power in BP, but one checker sees the swing changes as “pretty big, this isn’t an overnight thing,” so I see why he landed here.

I noticed Keith Law had Mitchell at No. 23 in his first rankings from the middle of March, so it would seem he’s heard the same on the UCLA star.


18. Clayton Beeter, RHP — Texas Tech

I was turned to Beeter by a former scout now coaching in the Big 12.

“Just get a look at Beeter. Nobody’s talking about him out there.”

So I started asking, and sure enough, area scouts like him a lot and a few were trying to keep his name out of the media in hopes they could get him after Round 1.

I don’t know if that’s plausible.

Beeter made four starts before the season was shut down, covering 21 innings and wiping out 33 batters against just four bases on balls.

He’s built like a mid-rotation arm at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, sitting 91-94 mph and touching 96 on occasion. But his knuckle curveball is absolute fire, the best in the class without question, inducing tons of swings and misses, and he commands it well in and out of the zone.

Beeter’s fastball-curveball combo is very good, and despite other college arms having a velocity advantage, the ball explodes out of his hand and with a lot of life up and to his arm side.


17. Ed Howard, SS — Mt. Carmel HS (IL)

I’ve seen Howard ranked as high as the Top 10 and an area scout I spoke to thinks he’s Edgar Renteria, who peaked as a 6-win shortstop and posted four others season over three wins.

He’ll be 19 in August, which is a bit of a ding, but he runs well and has a great shot to stick at shortstop. He keeps it simple at the plate and his current swing isn’t likely to produce more than fringe power, but he has the tool to create more torque and pop enough to warrant everyday work for years– like Renteria.


16. Jared Kelley, RHP — Refugio HS (TX)

Kelley is kind of the tweener between the other two top prep arms in the class. He doesn’t offer the physical projection of Abel or Bitsko and he’ll turn 19 in October, but relatively speaking Kelley offers more probability.

“He might be the safest of the three you’re talking about,” said one crosschecker. Love the fastball, the arm (action) is clean and he’s pretty aggressive with his changeup.”

Kelley has the best velocity of the three at present, touching 98 mph and living 93-96.


15. Nick Bitsko, RHP — Central Bucks East HS (PA)

Bitsko is intriguing beyond the frame and raw stuff, because he’s also a bit younger than most prep prospects — he won’t turn 18 until June 16.

“I only saw Abel a little bit here and there, but from where we stand, if we want to add a kid with big upside, time to develop and now-stuff, this (Bitsko) is probably where we go.”

Bitsko is up to 97 mph and has a plus curveball. He throws a lot of strikes and there’s promie with the changeup, too.


14. Robert Hassell, OF — Independence HS (TN)

Hassell, a Vanderbilt commit, which is important here because Vandy keeps their commits as well as any elite program in the country, is an athletic outfielder with what might be the best chance to hit among prep prospects.

It’s a sound swing offering above-average bat speed and at least average power down the road. Some see him as an average glove in center field, but I did find two area scouts who see him adding a little more weight to his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame and developing into more of a corner player in the Nick Markakis mold.

He has a good arm that fits right field and has the highest ceiling among prep position players in the 2020 class. He got some Top 10 thoughts, but going by the profile — risk, reward, timeline, signability — Hassell may not be Top 20 for me. I’d need to erase signability concerns altogether and buy either his chances to stick in center OR his chances to hit for the kind of power that fits in a corner.


13. Garrett Crochet, LHP — Tennessee

Crochet could land in the top 10 and might be the No. 3 college starter in terms of projection, but he made just one start in 2020 and is lasted three-plus innings. He’s battled a bit of a shoulder issue, though a back injury is what kept him out until March. It’s not considered serious enough at this point to knock him too far down clubs’ boards.

But they’re going to want to see him throw, even if it’s via video with radar readings, and if any more concerns pops up, all bets are off for Round 1. When he’s right, Crochet is up to 99 mph, but will need to clean up his command and find more consistency with his slider.

The changeup was plus last season and at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Crochet fits the bill as a frontline arm from a physical tools standpoint.

Crochet might be an under-slot play in the Top 5 if the back and shoulder concerns and washed away.


12. Heston Kjerstad, OF — Arkansas

Little surprised Kjerstad got this kind of love despite the “ranking” community running with this range from Day 1.

Why?

Because college players with hit tool questions should scare everyone, and Kjerstad is not a great athlete, so it’s his bat you’re leaning on for value.

But Kjerstad was off to the kind of start to 2020 you want to see from a prospect entering the year with such questions. He went 30-for-67 with seven walks, five doubles and six homers.

“I think of Kjerstad was a right-handed hitter we wouldn’t hear Top 10 talk about him. He’s not a first-rounder for me,” said one scout tasked with helping put his club’s board together. “Interesting player, yes, but some work to do there, and honestly I’m not certain I see a big enough payoff in the end. What’s the upside here? Ryan Klesko?”


11. Mick Abel, RHP — Jesuit HS (OR)

All along, my preference among the prep arms has been Abel, followed closely by Bitsko and Kelley. But I didn’t get that sense from the industry until now, though Bitsko was a close second.

“I see a lot more to dream on with him,” said one crosschecker. “Better athlete, too. I think it’s a better place to start with him than the other two, because of the room for growth.”

Abel is 6-foot-5 and 195 pounds, offering a fastball consistently into the mid-90s. It’s a four-pitch mix, too, including a slider and changeup that project to plus and a curveball that should be good enough for him to keep for the long haul.


10. Reid Detmers, LHP — Louisville

Detmers improved his stock over the short spring, showing a plus curveball — maybe the best in the class and certainly the best left-handed curveball in the group.

Detmers is athletic, touches 95 mph and the fastball plays up thanks to deception created by the delivery. I’m not as sold on the changeup as some, but if scouts are asked to pick nits, it’s “he is what he is,” not the stuff.

It’s true, Detmers doesn’t bring a lot of physical projection at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, but the floor is high and he might be the first of the 2020 class to get to the majors.


9. Patrick Bailey, C — North Carolina State

Bailey might be the only catcher to go in Round 1, though positional scarcity could punch a Round-1 grade for Arizona’s Austin Wells and prep star Drew Romo. Also, I’m a big fan of Ohio State’s Dillon Dingler, but not in Round 1.

Bailey is a sound performer with no significant weaknesses, led by above-average defense and arm strength and no issues with contact or swing mechanics. He’s a switch hitter with some power upside from both sides.

Bailey’s unlikely to be a star, but the value of an average player at catcher is markedly more valuable than the description suggests. Plus, I think he’s a better player than Shea Langeliers, who went No. 9 a year ago, illustrating the dearth of catching in baseball.

Scouts seem to love the idea Bailey leads with instincts and isn’t afraid to take charge. He gives up his body and has an accurate throwing arm.

When I asked for a comp, I got Will Smith, Roberto Perez, Jason Varitek, Michael Barrett and Mike Lieberthal.


8. Cade Cavalli, RHP –Oklahoma

If you’re a Baseball Things subscriber you got the full deal on Cavalli when I mocked him in the Top 10 last week.

He’s a strong, sturdy, 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and is 92-96 mph with an above-average slider, average curveball and a changeup that flashes. He’s a very good athlete — he was a two-way player until this season at Oklahoma and hasn’t take on a big workload since he didn’t pitch full-time before 2020 and didn’t start pitching until high school.

The delivery is clean and allows for easy velocity and some deception. He lacks ideal control and command grades at present time, which could hold some clubs back, and he’s had a few injuries — albeit not as a full-time pitcher, and he hasn’t had any ‘pitcher’ type injuries — but everything else suggests a Top-10 talent with No. 2 upside.

He reminds me a little bit of Kevin Gausman, who went No. 4 overall to the Orioles in 2012.


7. Max Meyer, RHP — Minnesota

Meyer is listed at 6-feet but scouts believe he’s 5-11 at best. But pay no attention to that.

Meyer has terrific arm speed and hit triple digits this spring to set up a power slider. It’s a clean delivery, and not one that uses tons of effort to the point of significant concern. He’s more Sonny Gray here than Tim Lincecum.

There’s arm side run to the fastball and he’s flashed a solid-average changeup.

I wouldn’t be shocked in Meyer went Top 5, possibly for a little under slot, since there are enough questions surrounding power arms of his stature he may take $5.5 million as, say, the No. 3 pick ,over full slot 4-8 picks later (all under $5.5M).


6. Zac Veen, OF — Spruce Creek HS (FL)

While this may seem, to me, too, like a ‘Churchill’ ranking — I love Veen and think he’s easily a top 8 player in the class; if I’m KC at No. 4, he doesn’t get past me, no way — I was surprised to see him get this kind of support in my conversations this month.

He’s likely to end up in left field, rather than center, thanks to his physical projection (6-4, 190) and the fact his arm gets average grades. but beyond the plus power, scouts believe in the hit tool and that’s generally the toughest tool to trust in prep players.

He creates leverage with good bat speed and sound swing mechanics. There’s very little wasted movements and he does a good job maintaining balance in his weight transfer. One thing I like watching game video of Veen is the swing is the same as in BP; he gets his hands in good position early in the process and triggers without loading up aggressively.

He’ll need to work on getting his front foot down early enough and it’s likely he’ll have to work on shortening up a bit if he wants to hit for average, but we all said that about Cody Bellinger, too, and he’s the best player in the National League right now.


5. Austin Martin, CF — Vanderbilt

For me, Martin is probably a Top-3 prospect, despite the fact it appears his move to center is sticking with scouts.

He’s a very good athlete who could easily handle third base, and his arm and speed play well anywhere. I’m not sure he’d be bad shortstop, but like Alex Bregman, he can be plus somewhere else.

“For me he’s the best player in the class,” said one crosschecker. “Take the better athlete that also has a pretty high floor. That’s Martin this year.”

Scouts love the projectable bat and the fact Martin controls at-bats well, rarely chasing and handling pitches in all areas of the strike zone.


4. Emerson Hancock, RHP — Georgia

I was pleasantly surprised to hear Hancock get top-5 grades from checkers, because the small-sample that is the 2020 season shouldn’t rip the projection OR previous production from a prospect’s profile.

Hancock did look a little off in his early-spring starts, showing less polish on the mechanics than late last season and lacking a feel for his changeup, an important aspect to his projection.

These are all fixable and not necessarily significant concerns, however. Hancock, in four starts, threw a lot of strikes, posted a 34-3 K/BB ratio and at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds of athleticism brings a frontlin physical profile with the mid-90s heat.

I wouldn’t hesitate with Hancock at around slot anywhere in the Top 10, and I don’t think he gets past Seattle at No. 6.


3. Nick Gonzalez, 2B — New Mexico State

If I trust the profile entirely of both players, personally I’d have Martin here and Gonzalez at No. 5, but that’s not the slightly-prevailing word from scouts. I do think GMs and scouting directors will swap the two enough to justify my preference, but both players could go as high as No. 1, each with a very solid shot at being the Orioles’ pick at No. 2.

Gonzalez is the better bet to hit, and I think that’s the big draw to area scouts and checkers; its a very high floor.

He’s a good athlete, but not a great one, but I think his defensive profile has been picked on too much by some; There’s no reason he can’t be Martin Prado defensively, with Paul Molitor offensive upside.

Most public reports have Gonzalez’s power grade in the 45-50 range, which is probably spot-on, but don’t be scared away by his 5-foot-10, 190-pound frame. We’ve learned that lesson.

Hitters who can square up good pitching consistently can learn to generate more loft and exceed their original power expectations. Jose Altuve did just that. Ketel Marte in 2019, too. Mookie Betts is 5-foot-10 and under 200 pounds and he hits for big power. I’m not comping Gonzalez to Betts, but let’s not sleep on the power. He’s got big bat speed and terrific hand-eye.


2. Asa Lacy, LHP — Texas A&M

Lacy not only held up his pre-season ranking but seems to have hopped over Hancock as the best of good group of college arms.

In the abbreviated 2020 season, Lacy was up to 98 mph with an average slider and changeup, both of which flash, and the breaking ball projects as a swing-and-miss pitch.  He throws enough strikes, but fastball command is inconsistent.

The Athletic’s Keith Law suggested he might be fine if he worked 92-94 mph, easing off the effort in order to finish with better and locate his pitches with more consistency.

Perhaps that’s true, but there’s a No. 2  starter here and 93-98 with a plus slider and average command might be a No. 1.

Lacy punched out 46 versus eight walks in his 24 innings of work this spring, allowing just nine hits. It’s a prototypical build at 6-foot-4 and 217 pounds, the delivery carries no red flags or significant concerns and he uses his lower half well.

He creates some deception by staying closed from an angle, and stays in line to the plate well. He’ll work mostly from the third-base side of the rubber,

If I’m the Orioles at No. 2 and Lacy is available for around slot, this is my pick, even if Torkelson is on the board.


1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B — Arizona State

If Torkelson ends up going No. 1 he’ll be the first first baseman to do so since Adrian Gonzalez went No. 1 to the Florida Marlins in 2000. Before that, we have to go all the way back to 1977 when Harold Baines was the top pick of the Chicago White Sox. Ron Bloomberg was the No. 1 overall selection in 1967 by the New York Yankees. That’s the entire list of first basemen to go 1-1.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Torkelson, however, would the first college first sacker to be the first pick.

But Torkelson, while likely restricted to first base with the glove — he’s played a little left field, but is fringey there — he’s strong at first with a good arm, hands and feet, and is great bet to hit and move quickly through the minors.

The power is plenty adequate to profile in a corner, but Torkelson’s ability to work counts, force pitchers to throw strikes and maximize his opportunities to fat-part the baseball is second to none in recent draft classes.

“I’ve seen him take 10-12 pitches in three at-bats, then hit a rocket out to straight-away left, and a screamer out to straight-away right. Impressive.”

There are scouts that think he’s Paul Goldschmidt. There’s a few that think he’s better.

For the record, I’d rank Lacy No. 1, Martin 2, Torkelson 3, and Gonzalez 4 without outside influence.…

The Seattle Mariners 2020 MLB Draft pick is in good shape as of May 13, 2019. Here’s the draft order if the season were to end before Tuesday’s games.

Entering Tuesday, the Mariners sit in the No. 13 spot. Here some of the most recent No. 13 picks in the draft:

2018 — Connor Scott, OF
2017 — Trevor Rogers, LHP
2016 — Josh Lowe, 3B
2015 — Garrett Whitley, OF
2014 — Trea Turner, SS
2013 — Hunter Renfroe, OF
2012 — Courtney Hawkins, OF
2011 — Brandon Nimmo, OF

Here are the best No. 13 picks of all time, by bWAR:

Manny Ramirez, 3B — 1991
Chris Sale, LHP — 2010
Paul Konerko, 3B — 1994
Frank Tanana, LHP — 1971
Garry Templeton, SS — 1974

No Team GB PCT
1 Miami .256
2 Kansas City 3 .341
3 Baltimore 3.5 .350
4 Washington 5.5 .400
4 Toronto 5.5 .400
6 San Francisco 6.5 .425
7 Cincinnati 7 .439
7 Oakland 7 .442
9 Texas 7.5 .447
10 Detroit 8 .462
11 Colorado 8.5 .475
11 Chicago (AL) 8.5 .475
13 Seattle 8.5 .477
14 New York (NL) 9 .487
15 Los Angeles (AL) 9 .488
16 Atlanta 10 .512
17 Cleveland 10.5 .525
18 Pittsburgh 10.5 .526
19 St. Louis 11 .537
19 San Diego 11 .537
19 Boston 11 .537
22 Arizona 11.5 .548
23 Milwaukee 12 .558
24 New York (AL) 13.5 .600
24 Philadelphia 13.5 .600
26 Tampa Bay 14 .615
27 Minnesota 14.5 .625
28 Los Angeles (NL) 15 .628
29 Chicago (NL) 14.5 .632
30 Houston 15.5 .643

At the conclusion of Sunday’s game we learned the frozen first-round order for the 2018 MLB Draft. Seattle will select No. 14 overall.

Reminder: First-round picks are no longer attached to free agents.



For a list of the top prospects in the 2018 class, CLICK HERE.

Wondering what kind of players have been selected at No. 14 in the past?

YEAR PLAYER
2017 Nick Pratto, 1B
2016 Will Benson, OF
2015 Kolby Allard, LHP
2014 Tyler Beede, RHP
2013 Reese McGuire, C
2012 Nick Travieso, RHP
2011 Jose Fernandez, RHP
2010 Dylan Covey, RHP
2009 Matt Purke, LHP
2008 Aaron Hicks, OF
2007 Jason Heyward, OF
2006 Travis Snider, OF
2005 Trevor Crowe, OF
2004 Billy Butler, 3B
2003 Ryan Wagner, RHP
2002 Russ Adams, SS
2001 Jake Gautreau, 3B
2000 Beau Hale, RHP
1999 Ty Howington, LHP
1998 Jeff Weaver, RHP
1997 Brandon Larson, SS
1996 Dee Brown, OF
1995 Reggie Taylor, OF
1994 Jason Varitek, C
1993 Derrek Lee, 1B
1992 Ron Villone, LHP
1991 Cliff Floyd, 1B
1990 Todd Van Poppel, RHP
1989 Steve Hosey, OF
1988 Tino Martinez, 1B
1987 Cris Carpenter, RHP
1986 Greg McMurtry, OF
1985 Tommy Greene, RHP
1984 John Marzano, C
1983 Rich Stoll, RHP
1982 Ron Karkovice, C
1981 Jim Winn, RHP
1980 Tim Maki, RHP
1979 Joe Lansford, 1B
1978 Tom Brunansky, OF
1977 Ricky Adams, SS

It’s Year 1 under new scouting director Scott Hunter. I don’t expect a significantly different approach from recent years, however, at least not when it comes to early picks.

The Mariners took college players in Round 1 in the following drafts under Tom McNamara:

2009: Dustin Ackley, CF — North Carolina
2011: Danny Hultzen, LHP — Virginia
2012: Mike Zunino, C — Florida
2013: D.J. Peterson, 3B — New Mexico
2016: Kyle Lewis, CF — Mercer

The club did not have a natural first-round pick in 2010 and selected Taijuan Walker in the comp round at No. 43. Seattle had no first-round pick in 2015. In 2009, the Mariners had two first-round picks, selecting Ackley No. 2, then prep infielder Nick Franklin at No. 27.

The only year the Mariners selected a prep player as their highest Round-1 selection was 2014 — Alex Jackson.

I don’t expect the college path to change, but not because Hunter, Tom Allison and Jerry Dipoto are the same in their valuations as McNamara and Jack Zduriencik. College players offer two things prep player do not in probability and a quick return on investment. Not to mention it’s just flat out easier to scout college players from all angles. Hopefully, for the sake of Dipoto’s tenure in Seattle and the future of the organization, the player development department is better equipped to cultivate the talent.

I expect Seattle to go the college route again in 2017, based on all of the above and the fact college talent is the strength and depth of Round 1. Here are some candidates that could land in the range of No. 17, including a couple of prep darkhorses.


Churchill’s Top 30 Draft Prospects

From Hunter Greene to two vastly underrated prospects at the high school level.


David Peterson, LHP — Oregon | @_David_Peterson

Peterson is an imposing 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds and repeats his delivery with a fastball at 90-94 mph and a low-80s slider.

His curveball needs a lot of work but the changeup already is useful and the more aggressive he becomes the better his changeup works.

Peterson pounds the strike zone with everything, making him a safe pick, but with his size and physicality there could be more velocity to extract, or at least a more consistent showing of the upper edges of his velo range.

Peterson is a nice blend of probability and upside for a club drafting in the 15-25 range. Not to mention he could be in the bigs in two years.


Griffin Canning, RHP — UCLA | @griffin_canning

Canning has been linked to several teams selecting between 15-25, and while I get it — he’s up to 94 mph with one of the best changeups in the class — he’s vastly overthrown his slider. And here comes the real shocker — John Savage overused him.

He also has a slow curveball.

Canning is alluring because he throws strikes and is more of a safe pick than one with upside. That typically fits the range Seattle selects in this season, but I worry about his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame already being damaged goods.

He does repeat a simple, athletic delivery, however and could move quickly through the minors.


Evan White, 1B — Kentucky | @Ewhite_19

White, for me, is a better prospect than Burger. Despite being a first baseman, White is athletic. He can run (60) and is an elite defender. He bats right-handed and throws left-handed (with above-average arm strength) or it’d be worth a shot to try him across the diamond. Still, the outfield is a real possibility.

White’s hands are terrific at the platem helping him stay back on offspeed stuff and cover the plate both vertically and horizontally. He uses most of the field and is willing to work counts.

His swing will need some help to generate power, however, but at 6-foot-3 and with long arms, there’s a chance the natural leverage will help him create backspin.

Might he be a right-handed Christian Yelich?


Jordon Adell, OF — Ballard HS (Ky.) | @jordonadell

Adell is higher-risk, higher-reward prep kid that reminds some of a mix between the two Upton brothers because he’s athletic with 65-grade speed, 60-grade range and arm and plus power potential.

Keon Broxton also comes to mind.

Adell projects more like a slugger than a hitter, however — very Justin Upton of him, eh? — and his swing will need work. He doesn’t recognize pitch type yet.

He does have big-time bat speed and already is 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds. Someone’s going to take him in Round 1 and keep him from going to Louisville, but he’s a bit of a project, albeit it one with huge upside.


Keston Hiura, 2B/LF — UC Irvine | @Kestdaddy

Hiura may be the best pure hitter in the draft and has enough power to handle an everyday role at second base. But he hasn’t played the field this season due to an elbow injury that may or may not require surgery and as a result Hiura’s stock has taken a bit of a hit.

One scout comp’d Hiura to Jean Segura at the plate, which is a lofty comparison. He also tossed out Cesar Hernandez. Anywhere in between is ap retty good player, worthy of a top-20 selection, even if he has to move to left field.

I’d take Hiura in a heartbeat and worry about his position later. He works, understands hitting and as one scouting director urged, the hit tool is “becoming an undervalued asset.”


Alex Faedo, RHP — Florida

Faedo is unlikely to fall far out of the Top 10 but may be a candidate to do just that if he negotiates his way out of that range, requesting Top 5 money. He’s been better recently than the majority of the season, resembling the potential No. 1 pick he was entering the season.

After sitting 89-92 mph most of his season, he’s been back up to 92-94, touching 95, better setting up a wipeout slider. He’s built like a starter with a potential third pitch — a changeup — on the way, but without his best fastball he’s more of a No. 3 starter than anything else due to 45 command.

Tanner Houck, RHP — Missouri
Houck has one of the best pure arms in the class and gets good, late sink and run on it at 92-97 mph. He has two offspeed pitches that should get to average levels but the changeup may be limited due to his arm slot; Houck throws from a lower-than-three-quarter slot, making it more difficult to get the proper grip, release and ball action on the pitch.

He’s 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds and he uses his legs to drive into each pitch. He throws cross-body a bit, creating deception. Many scouts love him as a potential high-leverage reliever that can cover 2-plus innings per outing.

Any team drafting him in the first round will give him a chance to start.


Jake Burger, 3B — Missouri State | @burgatron13

Burger can hit and hit for power but it appears I’m the low man on him. He’s not likely to stick at third base and when he faced elite arms was a little more ordinary.

The power remains a tad undeveloped but he can mash the fastball and uses the middle of the field well. He’s not a bad glove and has a plus arm, but he already lacks ideal range for the hot corner. He could be a terrific first baseman, however.

He makes it work in college — mostly versus mediocre pitching — but there’s a near-arm bar in his swing and his back arm stiffens mid-pitch, both of which could impact his ability to hit good velocioty and cover the plate consistently.

I’m not a fan of such a player — a first basemen with some challenges ahead of him — at No. 17 considering the other talents likely to be available. If he was a certain third baseman or a candidate to play right field, I’d feel differemt.

One scout told he, however — “you’d love the guy, I’m telling you.”


Seth Romero, LHP — Houston | @SethR21

Romero’s stock sank once he was booted from the Houston baseball team for off-the-field antics, and that is certainly a concern for MLB clubs who might consider selecting him this high. Several teams have said they’re already off him “for awhile,” which suggests they won’t take him Round 1 and may not want to pay him slot until Round 2 or 3.

Based on ability, Romero is a Top 10-12 talent who worked hard to get in better shape and the results paid dividends. He sits 91-95 mph and has hit 97. The delivery is sound the velo comes easy.

He throws from a three-quarter slot and hides the ball well, helping an already 55/60 fastball play up. His out pitch is a 79-82 mph slider and his changeup has been a useful offering, projecting as above-average in time.

A focused Romero might challenge Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright to be the first player in the class to make the majors.


Logan Warmouth, SS — North Carolina | @LoganWarmouth

Warmouth can hit and if scouts were convined he was a surefire shortstop in the majors he’d rank much higher on boards than he has — among the 8-9 clubs that hinted to me, Warmouth ranks as high as 13 and as low as 31.

He’s sturdily built and uses his lower half well at the plate, generating average bat speed and perhaps average power once he learns to create more loft.

Clubs believe in the hit tool but one area scout is worried he’s got a little Colin Moran in him, in that he’ll hit, but may not hit for enough power to warrant playing everyday at third base.

Warmouth does have the actions to at least play second base, however, where a .270/.340/.430 bat plays quite well.


Jeren Kendall, OF — Vanderbilt | @JerenKendall

Kendall is a long shot to get to 17 despite some swing-and-miss that concern clubs. He’s a 70 runner and plus defensive centerfielder with an above-acerage arm, and average power potential that could land him in the teens in the home run department.

He’s very good on the bases and does draw his share of walks. His strikeout tendency may slow down his trek to the majors, but he has everything going for him.

For smaller players — Kendall is 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds — the swing-and-miss issue tends to be more about pitch recognition and game plan than a mechanical flaw.


Sam Carlson, RHP — Burnsville HS (Minn.) | @SamCarlson33

Carlson is one of the top right-handed prep arms in the class, thanks to a projectable, 6-foot-4, 195-pound fram, above-average control and velocity that’s developing into the low-to-mid-90s range — he touched 97 this spring and sat 92-94.

That velo supports the movement on the fastball, a four-seamer with natural sink and some late life and run to his arm side. The delivery is free and easy though his arm action isn’t perfect, it passes the eye test.

His slider and changeup both flash average with the former porjecting as a plus pitch. Carlson does a very good job with consistent arm speed when going from fastball to offspeed pitch.

I don’t expect him to be available, but there will be surprises in the Top 15 that push someone to 17 that projects higher than that.


My Favorites

Nick Allen, SS — Parker HS (Calif.) | @nickallen10_

Allen is a favorite of a lot of people around the game. Teammates, coaches, even opponents. And scout types adore him for his makeup and leadership as much for his on-field ability.

Don’t let his 5-foot-8, 160-pound frame fool you. Allen is neither small or weak when it comes to baseball skills, and he’s stronger than he looks.

He won’t hit for much power, at least early in his pro career, but the USC commit has bat speed, a future above-average hit tool and all the goods to turn in a Gold Glove career at shortstop — including above-average arm strength and big-time range.

He’s a plus-plus runner with instincts, drawing the easy comps to Jose Altuve, but I think he’s more like Dustin Pedroia physically, just with more lateral range that allow to stick at short.


Drew Waters, OF — Etowah HS (Ga.) | @dwaters121

Waters is strong, has some physical projection left and already shows plus run and throw tools. He’s a switch hitter with a better swing as a lefty but enough bat speed and plate coverage from either side to stay the course.

He may stick in center and reminds me athletically of Mitch Haniger at the same age.

Waters is a strong commit to Georgia, but if he’s willing to take slot at 17, I’d choose him over Adell at over-slot, Canning or Burger at any near-slot tag and many others.

There’s an outside shot, however, Waters is available when the Mariners select again at No. 55, but at that point Waters likely will require an over-slot deal. Pick value at 55 is $1.2069 million.


Heliot Ramos, OF — AC Martinez HS (PR) | @Ramos2136H

Ramos, considered this year’s top prospect from Puerto Rico,  is short to the ball with loose, quick wrists and he covers the vertical strike zone well. Scouts love his foundation, a sturdy lower-half setup and shallow load.

He’s an average or better runner at present with a solid-average arm and reliable instincts in the outfield.  He likely ends up in left field.

Ramos has a chance to hit for average and power. Where his overall value lands, however, is dependent on whether or not he can close a hole on the inner-half, where he has shown struggles to


Top-Right Photo: David Peterson, by Samuel Marshall/Daily Emerald