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
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 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.