With the announcement Seattle Mariners 21-year-old phenom Julio Rodriguez was the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year comes a team reward in the form of the No. 29 pick in the 2023 MLB Draft.
Seattle’s own pick in Round is at No. 22. But a few are confused as to why it’s 22 and 29. I thought I’d clear it up to start things off here.
The club’s natural first-round pick is No. 23, and the extra pick earned for Rodriguez’s ROY win would be 31, the first pick after the first round.
But 23 changes to 22 and 31 changes to 29 because of the spending of the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers. The penalty for luxury tax overages exceeding $40 million is a 10-spot drop in draft picks. So, the Mets move from 23 to 33, and the Dodgers from 26 to 36. Seattle’s No. 23 moves up a spot to 22, and 31 moves ahead of both the Mets and Dodgers to 29.
The adjustments apply only to those picks, so the Mariners’ second-20th round picks will not change. Once we lean of Competitive Balance picks we’ll have a full draft order to discuss.
But the draft and international signings remain key for the Seattle Mariners, and the next eight months could put the Mariners back on the top 10-12 among farm systems in Major League Baseball … not that farm system rankings matter, but so many fans love the topic.
Most importantly, the club’s inside track on Dominican shortstop Felin Celesten and their additional draft pick offer multiple opportunities to add premium talent to a system that has graduated or traded the likes of Jarred Kelenic, George Kirby, Logan Gilbert, Cal Raleigh, Noelvi Marte, Brandon Williamson, Connor Phillips, Edwin Arroyo, Levi Stoudt, and Mr. ROY himself.
The 2023 Draft class has more depth and promise than either of the last two, and appears deep in college talent, balanced between bats and arms, pushing down near-elite prep talent to the bottom of the Top 10 and into the teens and twenties, including my favorite name in the class, Arjun Nimmala, a shortstop from Strawberry Crest High School in Florida.
As is, the Mariners possess just one potential future 55 in catcher Harry Ford, and even he comes with enough questions and development in front of him to hold of premium FV tags and trade value. After that, Seattle’s system is full of risky, long-term prospects such as Lazaro Montes, Axel Sanchez, Walter Ford, AJ Izzi, and Juan Pinto, a few potential mid-rotation arms with some bullpen risk and then a load of 40-45 grade talents; big-leaguers with limited upside and staying power.
The club needs to start turning the Fords and Montes types into high-probabilty prospects, but that takes time. Celesten and the international class won’t help that, but the draft very well could, and I’d be shocked if the club didn’t land some college talent early, considering the likely opportunities, especially at 22 and 29.
And it’s not just arms that litter the class. There is power and athleticism, and if it’s pure speed you want, this class has that, too.
Seattle is in a good spot with their farm system, even if the current crop lacks high-end trade bait or high-probably big-leaguer regulars near the majors, and the current front office and player development group knows how to curate and develop young talent into major leaguers.
And it’s about to get better. Maybe a lot better.
Jason A. Churchill
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