SeagerShotThe first month of the season is in the books, and Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is less than a month away. It’s a good time to be a baseball fan. The Seattle Mariners have even shown some life in this young season and after Friday night’s loss to the Kansas City Royals, they sit with an 18-17 record. In draft news, East Carolina University right-hander and potential top-five pick Jeff Hoffman will undergo Tommy John surgery next week and miss the remainder of the season. That doesn’t mean he’ll fall out of the first round, however, as several teams are reportedly still considering him a potential option within the top-ten. Let’s take a look at what’s been covered at Prospect Insider over the past month — in case you missed it.

Sticking with the upcoming draft, PI’s Jason A. Churchill opines that the M’s have to make their first selection count this year when they pick at No. 6. Despite the fact Seattle has drafted some very good players in recent memory, they’ve been unable to secure, or in some cases develop, the future All-Star that the organization sorely needs. As Churchill says, the Mariners haven’t drafted poorly, but for a club set to make their fourth top-ten selection is six years, the results simply aren’t there. Some of that could change if arms like Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are able to return from injuries and pitch strong for the remainder of the season, but that doesn’t change the point: impact, All-Star talent is available when the M’s make the No. 6 overall pick on June 5, and they can’t miss with their selection.

If you’re wondering who’ll be around when the M’s make their first pick, Churchill pointed out that the top of the draft is still very unsettled, and several scenarios could take place. There’s no doubt that the Hoffman injury will muddy the waters to some extent, but names like Carlos Rodon, Brady Aiken, and Tyler Kolek figure to all be called within the first couple selections. As far as potential names to watch for the Mariners, Churchill suggests that Trea Turner, Nick Gordon, and Alex Jackson could be in the mix at that point in the draft. Of course any number of things can change over the next several weeks, including concerns over draft pool allocations and a particular player’s willingness to sign with a club, so it’ll be very interesting to see how things shake down when it’s all said and done.

In other draft related news, Eric Longenhagen provides a scouting report for Sean Newcomb — a left-hander pitching for Hartford, and Brendan Gawlowski has scouting reports for Stanford’s Alex Blandino and Washington’s Jeff Brigham. One would also be remiss to not take a read of Gawlowski’s notes on New York Mets’ top prospect Noah Syndergaard and Rob Balboni’s game report for Pittsburgh Pirates’ top prospect Gregory Polanco.

As always, you can view the 2014 MLB Draft Order at any time.

Switching gears to the major league side of things, PI’s Chris Moran took a look at the plate discipline struggles faced by the Mariners this year. More specifically, Moran analyzes the seasons of Mike Zunino, Robinson Cano, Brad Miller, and Abraham Almonte thus far and comes to the conclusion that the Mariners will need far more out of their hitters if they hope to be relevant come August. The struggles of Miller and teammate Kyle Seager were recently noted in depth by Churchill, who came to the conclusion that it’s still a little too early to worry about the pair’s struggles.

Seattle did make a pair of roster moves recently with the demotions of Almonte and Erasmo Ramirez. Churchill analyzed Ramirez’s early season struggles and predicted that a demotion to Triple-A may be imminent, and with Hishahi Iwakuma’s return to the rotation, Ramirez was sent down to the minors to get some work in. He also gave us an introduction to James Jones who was called up to take Almonte’s spot, and has performed well in limited action.

Elsewhere at PI, I took a walk down memory — or make that nightmare road and revisited the Erik Bedard trade now that six years have passed. As we all know, the M’s shipped Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Kam Mickolio, Chris Tillman, and Tony Butler to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for what they hoped would be an ace-calibre pitcher. It would be the Orioles that reaped the benefits of the transaction while Seattle managed a couple injury-plagued seasons out of Bedard before he was dealt.

If you missed the first instalment of Steve Simas’ fantasy series “Nook Nacks”, you can view them here: April 25May 2. In Simas’ latest update, he provides fantasy analysis for Joe Mauer, Anthony Rendon, Scott Kazmir, Nelson Cruz, Mookie Betts, and Alex Meyer.

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