Multi-Tasker

Perhaps the most intriguing pick of the entire MLB Draft came in the 5th round, 149th overall, when the Cubs selected Notre Dame pitcher Jeff Samardzija. He has a good arm and also great size at 6'5", but recorded only a 4.33 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 97 and 2/3 innings this season. Samardzija's numbers are not bad, but they certainly are not great either. However, there is reason to believe that Jeff has lots of room to grow because he is a great athlete and has never fully focused on baseball.

But Samardzija's athletic prowess is a double-edged sword. He is a great athlete, so great he also plays football, and by play football I mean catch 77 passes for 1,249 yards and 15 touchdowns. In fact, if Jeff is able to even approach those numbers again this fall he is a lock to go in the first round of the NFL Draft. Samardzija stated before the baseball draft that he was going to play football this fall too, so I thought the Cubs were taking one of the stupidest gambles in the whole draft when they selected him. Then, word broke this weekend that the Cubs have signed Samardzija to a five year deal and that he will likely begin his pro baseball career in Boise, Idaho but still return to Notre Dame in the fall for football. Samardzija has said all along that he wants to play both sports as long as he can and at this point it looks as if he will atleast have the opportunity to become the latest athlete to play in both the MLB and NFL.

Playing one sport at an elite level is hard enough, but playing two simultaneously at a high level is exponentially harder. The most recent man to play both at the same time was Deion Sanders and before him Bo Jackson also pulled the trick, but that's it. Also, Brian Jordan was a successful football player for the Falcons but retired to focus on baseball. Jordan has put together a very good baseball career and is still playing for the Braves today.

A couple other college athletes faced potential MLB and NFL careers in the past few years but took different paths than Samardzija. Josh Fields was a star third baseman and the starting quarterback at Oklahoma State and was considered a pro prospect in both baseball and football. Then, the Chicago White Sox drafted him in the first round of the baseball draft and he dropped football to completely focus on baseball. It appears Fields made a good decision because he is currently hitting well in AAA, so well the White Sox want to bring him up to the majors, but his path is currently blocked by Joe Crede. The most analagous situation to Samardzija's in recent memory is that of Drew Henson's though. Henson played baseball and football at the University of Michigan and, like Fields, played third base in baseball and quarterback in football. However, Henson had a much harder time deciding between the two sports. When Henson first enrolled at Michigan Tom Brady was the starting quarterback and, though he is now an NFL star, he was not as beloved as you would anticipate by Michigan fans. In fact, once Henson arrived many felt he should be the starter ahead of Brady. When Brady graduated and was a mildly surprising late round draft choice of the Patriots (the rest is history), the path was finally cleared for Henson and the expectations were enormous. Henson was expected to be a major contender for the Heisman trophy and potentially be the first player picked in the NFL draft. However, the Yankees decided to draft Henson over that summer and eventually offered him too much money to refuse. He dropped football to focus on baseball and he reached the major leagues but flamed out quickly. Henson returned to football but is now a reserve quarterback for the Cowboys that is yet to show the form that made many believe he could win a Heisman.

Not many people have ever been in Jeff Samardzija's shoes. On one hand, he is a rather obscure professional baseball pitcher. On the other, he is among college football's brightest stars. Samardzija is clearly multiple years away from becoming a Chicago Cub, but he is even more clearly just a year away from becoming an NFL receiver. It is too early to say that Samardzija will be a quality professional football or baseball player, but what if he becomes an NFL star while still pitching in the minor leagues? He would have to attract special attention, maybe even generate sell-outs like Roger Clemens did on his recent comeback tour. Hundreds would show up to minor league parks with footballs, football jerseys, or maybe even helmets that they would beg him to sign. I still think the Cubs made a bad baseball decision by drafting Samardzija so early, but as a sports fan I am thrilled that he is going to get a chance to pitch. With his name and game(s), Jeff Samardzija could be one of the funnest athletes to follow in a long time.

Mariners Ink Morrow

After yet another brutal series against the Oakland Athletics, Mariners fans like myself needed a reason to smile. This morning around 9:15 AM my frown turned upside down when I saw that the M’s had signed their top draft pick Brandon Morrow. A press conference officially announcing it was set for 11 AM and I watched it.

Before even touching on the press conference, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised at how quickly Brandon Morrow inked his deal. Top draft picks just do not sign this early, especially ones as highly touted as Morrow. This speaks volumes about how much Brandon actually wants to play baseball, not just make money by playing baseball. It is a tremendous sign for his future.

Morrow’s press conference yielded little interesting information, but that is the nature of press conferences involving any sort of signing. It started with Mariners head scout Bob Fontaine telling the media how much the organization likes Brandon Morrow and that they are happy they signed him (real earth-shattering comments indeed). After a fairly brief round of opening statements, the media got the opportunity to ask Brandon Morrow some questions and he provided a few interesting comments.

With a rather monotone voice and the ample use of “ummm” from time to time, Brandon Morrow does not appear destined to become a media darling. However, he did avoid using the easy cliché answers and at times offered remarks that I found interesting. One reporter asked Morrow what made him better than other pitching prospects, which really put him on the spot. Understandably Morrow squirmed some, started by saying he didn’t know what made him better, but then gave a little chuckle and said, “I throw hard.” After that he said he hadn’t really seen many of the top pitchers, but that he felt his height made him a little better than one top pitcher he had seen, Tim Lincecum. At that point, Fontaine saved him (I thought he should have intercepted the question from the start because Morrow obviously isn’t going to know as much about other pitchers as the M’s scouts would) but I like that Morrow gave a truthful response and indirectly acknowledged that he is among the best pitching prospects in the draft.

More than anything, Brandon Morrow gave a little glimpse into his mindset at today’s press conference and I was excited by what I heard. At one point Brandon was talking about his time in the Cape Cod summer league, the most prestigious of all the college baseball summer leagues. He was not considered an elite pitching prospect at the start, but Morrow stated that he felt he should have been. Some would consider such a statement too cocky, but all great pitchers view themselves as great pitchers. It helps that he backed up his own opinion by dominating the Cape Cod league and becoming an elite prospect in the scouts’ eyes. Later on, a reporter asked Morrow how long he thought it would take him to reach the majors. He said he had no timetable, but that he expects to succeed at every level and also has no doubt he will be a major league pitcher.

By signing so early, Brandon Morrow has shown he wants to play baseball and that he has a true passion for it. In addition, he exemplified a supreme confidence in himself that is justified and also necessary for any prospect to become an elite player. Morrow looks as though he is destined to succeed.

Turning the Corner

After sweeping the Angels in Anaheim on the heels of a 5-2 homestand, the Mariners are officially on their first hot streak of the season. Their record in June is a robust 8-2, which gives the team a terrific chance to have a winning month for the first time in quite literally years. Two weeks ago it looked like this season, and a certain manager’s job, may be lost. However, today it appears the Mariners have turned the corner and may be in line to make a surprising run at the division title.


The biggest reason for Seattle’s current surge is an improved offense. While many credit the recent improvement to Hargrove’s lineup shuffle a couple weeks back, the statistics show that the offense has actually been steadily improving throughout the entire season. To start with, Seattle as a team batted .249 in April, .275 in May, and are batting .294 so far in June. In addition their on-base percentage was .315 in April, .321 in May, and is .349 in June. However, what has really spiked is the power, as evidenced in the Mariners’ slugging percentage by month. Seattle had a paltry .389 SLG in April, a slightly improved .397 SLG in May, but have a prolific .522 slugging percentage so far this month! The drastic improvement is mostly due to Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre finally hitting the ball with authority, though sizzling months from Ichiro, Raul Ibanez, and Yuniesky Betancourt have certainly helped as well. The offense will probably not be able to keep up their current production, but it is not unreasonable to think that they can hit .275 as a team the rest of the way, with a .330 on-base percentage and .425 slugging or better. Offensive production like that would put them in the middle of the pack.


Like the offense, the pitching has improved too, though not as noticeably. Seattle pitching posted a 1.46 WHIP in April, a 1.33 WHIP in May, and a 1.34 WHIP so far in June. The staff’s strikeouts per nine innings has decreased, but that may not necessarily be a bad sign because the team is also facing fewer batters per nine innings. Interestingly, the team’s WHIP and K/9 IP are nearly identical for May and June, but the team ERA in May was 4.87 while in June it is 3.42. This is because the team allowed 34 home runs in May, but is only on pace to allow roughly 17 in June, literally half as many. Even more promising, the Mariners’ pitching numbers are likely to improve this month because it appears that Felix Hernandez is starting to find the dominating form he flashed last year, and Jarrod Washburn and Joel Pineiro have both struggled so far. Right now, the Mariners pitching is mediocre by major league standards, but if the home run rate stays at where it is in June and King Felix pitches like King Felix, the staff may be in the top third of baseball when the season is said and done.


The Mariners will not continue to win nine out of eleven games, but they have steadily improved despite what appears to be a maddeningly inconsistent season on the surface. If Seattle were to sweep the equally hot Oakland Athletics they would vault into second place in the AL West, be back to .500, and almost guarantee their first winning month in years. Even two out of three would be excellent. However, if Oakland continues to be a city of nightmares for Seattle, all hope is not lost. The M's ability to carry their hot streak on the road last weekend really showed me something, making me believe this team may win more than 75 games. The Mariners proved to me that they have made positive strides in every facet of the game, and even if their level of play begins to plateau, they will hang tough in the division race.

Mariners Draft: Day 2

Here’s a fairly brief look at the Mariners’ 19th through 50th picks:
19. Cameron Nobles, RHP, Jackson HS(WA) – The Mariners started off day two just like day one by drafting a pitcher. Nobles is a local product who pitched for the 4A state champion and second-ranked high school team in the nation this year. He already throws 90 MPH with good mechanics and most likely fell this far because he is not likely to sign out of high school. However, the Mariners are the home town team and may have a better chance at getting him. This was a worthwhile risk to start the second day.

20. Johan Limonta, 1B, Miami Dade CC South – Finally, a first baseman! Limonta is a junior at a small college and I can’t find any stats for him, so I really don’t know what to say about this pick besides the Mariners finally addressed their second most pressing need in the organization, behind pitching.

21. Brent Gaphart, LHP, Delaware – Gaphart pitched in only five innings this past season for the Fightin’ Blue Hens but in 2005 struck out 75 batters in only 60 2/3 innings. He also held opponents to a more than respectable .245 AVG that season, but posted a 5.09 ERA thanks to an alarming number of walks. With a little more control, Gaphart could emerge as a surprise prospect for the Mariners in this draft.

22. Fabian Williamson, LHP, Kennedy HS(CA) – This guy is listed at 6’3”, 180 pounds and that is all I know about him. My guess is the Mariners will not even be able to sign him because few high-schoolers chosen this late do sign.

23. Marcos Villezcas, INF, BYU – Villezcas was a marginal hitter with no power in college, so the chances of him being any type of hitter in professional baseball are slim to none. He was probably drafted purely for depth at the minor league level of the organization.

24. Kyle Parker, RHP, Washington – The Mariners went local again, which is always nice to see. Parker tops out at 89 MPH, but possesses an easy and fluid delivery and a breaking ball with good movement. However, his stuff never translated into success at the UW, which leads me to believe it will not translate to success as a pro either.

25. Tyson Gillies, OF, R.E. Mountain SS(Canada) – I was able to find some video of Gillies and even some 2005 statistics from a premier league in British Columbia. At the plate Gillies looks like Vladimir Guerrero to me, except left-handed, until he actually swings the bat. Gillies lacks plate discipline like Guerrero, but also lacks the once-in-a-generation talent that Vlad the Impaler possesses. Tyson’s best attributes right now are his speed and defense, though it is not out of the question that he could develop a little power. At best, Tyson Gillies is an extremely raw long-term project.

26. Greg Moviel, LHP, Vanderbilt – Moviel pitched only 3 2/3 innings the entire season and was lit up. In fact, he has pitched very little in three years at Vanderbilt thanks to injuries, but he is 6’6”, left-handed, and only a junior. Moviel looks like a draft-and-follow to me.

27. Bryan Ball, RHP, Florida – Ball was 4-9 this year with a 5.57 ERA and opponents batted .313 against him. He has pitched better in the past, but not better enough to believe he is a legitimate prospect.

28. Rocky Collis, RHP, Cornell – Collis had high strikeout rates and a very good K/BB ratio throughout his career with the Big Red, but he gave up quite a few hits. However, that was as a starter and if the Mariners turn him into a reliever that may change. I could see Collis emerging as a surprise prospect out of the bullpen.

29. Greg Nesbitt, LHP, James Madison – Like Collis, Nesbitt has always had a good strikeout to walk ratio, but he was hit very hard his freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons. However, Nesbitt suddenly became much harder to hit as a senior and really blossomed. He is also a good candidate to emerge as a late-round prospect.

30. Matt Vogel, SS, Lewis and Clark – Though undersized at 5’8” and 170 pounds, Vogel produced in a big way with a .376 AVG, .435 OBP, .587 SLG and only 9 strikeouts the entire year. He also had a .950 fielding percentage, which is very good for a shortstop. Whether Vogel’s power projects into professional baseball is highly questionable, but it was more than worth the risk at this pick. This is the Mariners’ third straight selection that I could see emerging as a surprise prospect.

31. David McClain, RHP, San Jacinto College North – McClain had a very good 2006 season, highlighted by an ERA under 2.00, but the season becomes a great one when you consider he is only 19. McClain may be a draft-and-follow, but the Mariners may also want to sign him and develop him themselves.

32. Joe Agreste, 1B, Potomac State College – I couldn’t find many stats on Agreste, but the Mariners must like him because they drafted him last year as well (he didn’t sign obviously). He batted .348 last year and led his team in home runs with 6, a rather high total for a 19-year-old. I don’t know what would make Agreste sign with the Mariners this year since he didn’t sign with them last year.

33. Robert Harmon, RHP, Arkansas-Little Rock – At 6’7” Harmon looks like a beast on the mound but was hit around with relative ease last year. If all it took to make the majors was height, Harmon would make it. However, it takes a little more.

34. Stan Posluszny, OF, West Virginia – Stan was drafted in the 21st round by the Angels last year, but chose not to sign. He slipped further in the draft this year because he did not flash the same power that he had in previous seasons, though he still put up very nice numbers. He looks like a terrible fielder, but the Mariners could use some more pop and this guy was a very good pick at this point.

35. Alex Meneses, SS, Barry – This year, Meneses batted .376 with an incredible .515 OBP, 53 walks, and 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts! He did strike out 25 times which is a just a few more than I would like to see, but his terrific combination of speed and plate discipline make him an intriguing prospect this late in the draft. I like many of the M’s picks on the second day, but Meneses is my favorite so far.

36. Kyle Haas, RHP, Douglas College – Haas is 6’7” and all legs, and also only 18 years old. He tops out at around 87 MPH right now, but the odds are he will start throwing much harder in the very near future as he matures. He is very raw, but has potential. Considering he is so young, he is not likely to sign as a pick this late in the draft.

37. Christopher Walden, RHP, Bellefontaine HS(OH) – I know even less about Walden than I do about Haas, but my guess is most of what I just said about Haas applies here too.

38. Michael Drake, OF, Cosumnes River College – Another 18-year-old that is not likely to sign at this late of a pick

39. Philip Roy, RHP, Miami Dade CC South – Once again, an 18-year-old with a very “projectable” body to use a scouting term (that means he’s tall and skinny) and also unlikely to sign.

40. Haley Winter, RHP, UC-Riverside – Winter had a solid junior year but struggled as a senior. He will not be a major-leaguer and with all the pitchers already taken, the Mariners do not need him for organizational depth. I don’t know what Seattle sees in him.

41. Brandon Fromm, 1B, San Jose State – Fromm didn’t hit much in his career, but it appears that he played in a park that heavily favored pitchers. In fact, he led the Spartans in home runs his junior season with only four. Fromm was very hard to strikeout in college and also very good defensively.

42. Shane Cox, RHP, Alvin CC(TX) – Another very young pitcher with lots of room to develop physically that is highly unlikely to sign

43. Clint Straka, RHP, North Oklahoma College-Enid – See Shane Cox

44. Brian Earley, RHP, Elder HS(OH) – See Clint Straka

45. Jeremy Camacho, RHP, Eagle Rock HS(CA) – Camacho is shorter at 5’10”, but still a high-schooler unlikely to sign.

46. Robbie Dominguez, RHP, Cerritos College – Dominguez spent two years in the Air Force before pitching this year, but was effective despite not playing for two years. He looks like a draft-and-follow to me.

47. Sean Ward, OF, Evans HS(GA) – A high-schooler unlikely to sign

48. Jeremy Beeching, LHP, Volunteer State CC – Beeching struck out plenty of batters, but walked plenty as well. He doesn’t look like much of a prospect, but then again it is rare to get something out of a 48th round pick.

49. Ryne Tacker, RHP, Rice – Tacker didn’t pitch at all this last season, but had good numbers his junior season. Scott Atchison was picked in the 49th round by the Mariners, so it is possible Tacker could develop into a marginal prospect himself.

50. Tyler Sanford, C, Saguaro HS(AZ) – It figures that the Mariners would polish of their draft trying to acquire yet another catching prospect. If Sanford knows what is right for him, he won’t clog up the minors more by signing.

Overall, I like the Mariners’ second day of the draft more than their first day. They got much better value out of their picks and I have confidence that somebody out of these 32 will reach the majors.

Mariners Draft: Day 1

Here is a more in-depth look at the Mariners’ day one selections, or at least a little more insight than “I have no clue who this guy is, but he’s got a cool name,” which I used a few times when I was writing my immediate reactions yesterday.

1. Brandon Morrow, RHP, Cal – Morrow looks like a classic pitcher in the making at 6’3”, 185 pounds with a prototypical overhand delivery and a fastball that routinely is in the mid 90s. He put together a fantastic year in 2006 as he posted a 2.05 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and averaged a little better than a strikeout an inning. However, he was flat-out awful as a freshman and a sophomore, though in limited action. There is good reason to believe Morrow has turned the corner, especially with his quality stuff, but I would have preferred a player with a more solid track record, such as Tim Lincecum. Still, I believe Morrow was a solid pick and that the odds are he will develop into a quality major league pitcher.

2. Chris Tillman, RHP, Fountain Valley HS(CA) – I really don’t like high school pitchers because history shows a vast majority of them never reach the majors. Tillman entered this season as the highest rated in pitcher in all of the talent-laden state of California, but he slipped some due to issues with his consistency. Like Morrow, he has size, a great delivery, and a great arm but he is extremely unproven. Tillman is quite raw and to be brutally honest, history suggests he will never make the major leagues.

3. Tony Butler, LHP, Oak Creek HS(WI) – Another high school pitcher, Butler is a lesser-known commodity mostly because he plays in Wisconsin, a state baseball scouts tend to gloss over a little more than they should. Another tall pitcher with a good-looking delivery and a good-looking arm (sense a pattern forming?), Butler also played basketball in high school and has signed a letter of intent to go to Arkansas. I have more faith in Butler than Tillman, but only because I don’t know anything negative about what he did on the diamond. Truth be told, I don’t know anything about what he actually has done as a pitcher, so I would advise that he go to Arkansas because the odds say he won’t make the majors coming straight out of high school.

4. Ricky Orta, RHP, Miami(FL) – Orta is a college pitcher with a live arm from a great program. That better be one special arm because he never did anything in college that suggested he could be a major league pitcher. This year his ERA was 6.18 and his career ERA is over 5.00. In fact his best year was 2005, where he posted a 4.98 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP and a good 7.1 K/9 IP. Orta can strike guys out, but he was tattooed way too often by college hitters. He does not look like MLB material to me.

5. Nathan Adcock, RHP, North Hardin HS(KY) – If you pick enough high school pitchers one of them is bound to pan out, and if I had to pick who that one would be out of the trio the M’s picked in the first five rounds, I’d go with this guy. Adcock has a great arm and he used it to strikeout 17 batters in one game this season and recently 16 in a district playoff game. From what little information I have about Seattle’s high school picks, Adcock appears to be the only one who truly dominated this year and that is why I like him the most.

6. Adam Moore, C, Texas-Arlington – Bavasi just couldn’t avoid drafting yet another catcher to add to the Mariners ridiculous stockpile of backstops. Moore looks like a solid defender and posted excellent power numbers and good hitting numbers overall, though he did strikeout more often than I would like to see. I certainly felt there were better players available at this point in the draft that addressed more pressing needs for the Mariners, but there is reason to believe Moore could develop into a solid contributor.

7. Doug Fister, RHP, Fresno State – Another tall pitcher that stands 6’8”, Fister was drafted in the sixth round last year by the Yankees but chose to return to Fresno State for his senior year to graduate with a degree in construction management! In fact, Fister chose to attend Fresno State in large part because he liked the academic programs they offered, so he has a good head on his shoulders. Fister posted good numbers in his college career, but not great ones that strongly suggest he is a great prospect. However, his body has plenty of room to fill out and along with that his velocity may increase from around 90 MPH to as high as 93-95 MPH, and that may make the difference between him being a minor-leaguer and a major-leaguer. I am not sold that Fister is big league material, but he is certainly worth taking a risk on at this point in the draft. This was a solid pick by the Mariners.

8. Steve Richard, RHP, Clemson – Richard put up pretty good numbers at Maine before transferring to Clemson, but he really struggled against the ACC. The scouting report says he has a good arm but he does not look like a major league pitcher to me right now. Richard is a junior, so there is a chance he could return to Clemson and I think that is what would be best for him.

9. Justin Souza, RHP, Sacramento CC – Souza posted a 2.10 ERA with 95 strikeouts in just 89 innings of work this season, so he certainly has great numbers. In addition, he only walked 13 batters. Souza was a very good pick by the Mariners at this point in the draft.

10. Chris Minaker, INF, Stanford – Minaker went to high school in Edmonds, so he is a local product and likely grew up watching the Mariners. He steadily improved throughout his career and flourished this season with a .363 AVG, .401 OBP, .598 SLG, 15 walks and only 17 strikeouts! On top of that, he looks like a solid fielder too. This was arguably the finest pick the Mariners made all day. I really, really like this one.

11. Aaron Solomon, RHP, Cumberland University – Solomon had a whopping 53 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings of work, but also had a whopping 32 walks and 5.73 ERA. Those numbers at a lower college level do not indicate future success.

12. Gavin Dickey, OF, Florida – Dickey served as the backup quarterback on Florida’s football team, but he appears to be a better baseball player. This year, he showed much more power than in years past and actually led the team in home runs. However, his 42 strikeouts and paltry 6 walks are a major concern. Dickey is a fantastic athlete with a rare speed/ power combo, but he is an extremely raw hitter. Dickey is a junior and going back to school to see if he can build on this season looks like the best option for him.

13. Joe Kantakevich, RHP, William and Mary – This guy had great numbers in 2004 but has never approached that level since. This year he put up pedestrian numbers at best and I don’t see him ever making the major leagues.

14. Jared Baehl, 3B, North Posey HS(IN) – Baehl has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Evansville and he also pitches for his high school team. However, since the Mariners have him listed as a third baseman, they likely see him as a position player. Baehl did lead his team in RBIs this year. That is absolutely everything I know about Jared Baehl and I have no clue whether this is a good pick or a bad pick. Usually high-schoolers picked at this point are guys that have the talent to go in the first couple rounds but are highly unlikely to sign, but Baehl doesn’t appear to be that type. So, though I have little information to go on, I am going to call this a bad pick by the Mariners. For me, this was easily their oddest pick.

15. Drew Fiorenza, RHP, Clemson – Fiorenza has good stuff and works really hard, but he just wasn’t that good of a pitcher in college for some odd reason. Fiorenza’s numbers say he’ll never sniff the big leagues, but there is enough potential to take a chance on him, especially as a reliever.

16. Austin Bibens-Dierkx, RHP, Portland – Another local kid, Austin actually led the Pilots with a 4.19 ERA! He also posted a pretty good strikeout rate. It is nice to see the Mariners take a chance on a local pitcher, but Bibens-Dierkx does not look like major league material.

17. Dan Runzler, LHP, UC-Riverside – Since he’s a lefty he’s got a better chance than most guys picked this late, especially because he struck out 52 in 41 1/3 innings. Runzler’s ERA was a little high at 4.14 but he was a solid pick at this point in the draft.

18. Kameron Mickolio, RHP, Utah Valley State – He must look intimidating on the mound at 6’9”, but it appears that hitters found a way to get some good swings against him anyway if his 5.30 ERA is any indication. I don’t see this guy ever pitching in Safeco Field.

We’ll see what the Mariners net in rounds 19-50, but very few major league players are picked on the second day. There are fewer guys that excite me in this group of 18 prospects than I was hoping for, so I have to consider this draft mildly disappointing. Ultimately, whether this draft is viewed as a good or bad for the M’s obviously depends on Brandon Morrow, but even more on the trio of high-schoolers they picked early on. If all three pan out, this was a great draft. If two make it, it was still really good. If only one makes it (as I anticipate), it would be okay, depending on how good that pitcher turns out to be. If none make it this will go down as a bad draft in Mariner history.

Following the MLB Draft

9:11 AM – I just got on the computer and on MLB’s draft coverage. The last I had heard was that the Royals were looking at Andrew Miller or Brad Lincoln with the first pick but word this morning is they are leaning toward Luke Hochevar (pronounced ho-CHE-var). Hochevar was drafted by the Dodgers last year but didn’t sign and there’s no denying he is among the best pitchers available in this draft. I like him more than Lincoln and he’s right there with Miller in my opinion. If there are signability issues with Lincoln and Miller, Hochevar would be a very good choice. Plus, if the Royals pick Hochevar, that means the next three picks are likely Miller, Lincoln, and Evan Longoria in some order, which means the Mariners are very likely to have the opportunity to draft Tim Lincecum!

9:41 AM РSaw a great Twins ad on the draftcast. It featured Torii Hunter swinging at a pi̱ata and absolutely destroying it.

9:42 AM – Just saw a Mariners ad on the draftcast! It was the Ichiro one.

9:49 AM – MLB is talking about Drew Stubbs for the second time. He is a great athlete, but he should not be a first round pick. MLB.com’s draft expert even said of Stubbs that he has a ton of talent but he has a bunch of holes in his swing and struggles to hit against good pitching. Hello? Anybody home? EVERYONE in the Major Leagues is a good pitcher! He could turn out to be the next Mike Cameron, which would make him a solid pick at the top of the draft, but I am not confident he will turn out to be even that good. His strikeout rate would scare me off if I were running a team.

10:01 AM – MLB.com just had their two experts start predicting the picks. Both had the Mariners picking Brandon Morrow, and one expert went as far to say that he’s confident that’s where Morrow is going. Not a bad pick, but there are other pitchers I like more. Both their experts have Drew Stubbs going at number eight! One guy has Tim Lincecum going to the Blue Jays at 14 and mentioned he’s heard Lincecum could be going at 12 to the Rangers. Lincecum didn’t even go in the first round on the other guy’s board. Scouts don’t like that he is short. Never mind he’s had no injury concerns, throws in the mid-90s, and has dominated for three years.

10:05 AM – First pick of the draft is in! The Royals did take Luke Hochevar, as was expected this morning.

10:06 AM – Rockies take Greg Reynolds, pitcher out of Stanford. I don’t think this is a great pick. Evan Longoria is expected to go next.

10:07 AM – Devil Rays take Evan Longoria. Wow, the MLB draft does go fast!

10:08 AM – Pirates take Brad Lincoln, Andrew Miller is falling fast thanks to signability issues. The Mariners are next!

10:09 AM – The Mariners take Brandon Morrow. I would have taken Lincecum or Miller, but Morrow had a great season. He just doesn’t have as long of a track record of success as Lincecum. Oh well, maybe Lincecum falls all the way to the second round?

10:10 AM – The Tigers take Andrew Miller, so the consensus best player is finally off the board. Detroit has a great young pitching staff already and Miller makes them even stronger. It’s scary to think how good their pitching will be in a few years.

10:11 AM – The Dodgers take Clayton Kershaw, the first high-schooler off the board. Risky pick, but the Dodgers have a very strong farm system and can afford to take a risk.

10:12 AM – The Reds take Drew Stubbs. I can’t believe he is this high of a pick.

10:13 AM – Orioles take Billy Rowell, a high school shortstop. He’s 6’5”. Can you see the Cal Ripken Jr. comparisons?

10:15 AM – Giants take Tim Lincecum! Fantastic pick! My buddy Peter should be extremely happy. I told him last night that I saw the Mariners taking Lincecum and the Giants having a chance to take Morrow. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.

10:16 AM – Diamondbacks take Max Scherzer. Another pitcher I liked more than Brandon Morrow. Very good pick.

10:17 AM – Rangers take Kris Kiker, a high school pitcher with huge strikeout numbers and a 0.52 ERA. I like all the “K”s in his name.

10:18 AM – Cubs take Tyler Colvin, an OF from Clemson. Didn’t see this coming at all.

10:19 AM – Blue Jays take Travis Snider out of Jackson High! My buddy Kevin went to Jackson High and he must be excited. I remember when K.C. Herren was drafted from my high school in the second round and how exciting that was.

10:20 AM – Chris Marrero goes to the Nationals, a high school position player. Where are all the pitchers?

10:21 AM – Brewers take Jeremy Jeffres, a high school pitcher. He’s been clocked at 100 MPH and he has been compared to Dwight Gooden.

10:22 AM – Padres take Matt Antonelli, 3B from Wake Forest. Antonelli has been talked about as one of the finest hitters in the draft and he’s off the board. One guy just called Grady Fuson a moneyball guy. Ridiculous! More on that later…

10:23 AM – Phillies take Kyle Drabeck. Some say Drabeck has the best stuff in the whole draft, but there are character issues, and he’s a high school pitcher. Risky pick for sure.

10:24 AM – Marlins select Brett Sinkbeil out of Missouri State. I have no clue about this guy. He’s a pitcher with a big fastball according to the MLB.com guys.

10:25 AM – Twins take Chris Parmalee, a high school outfielder. Once again, don’t know much about this guy.

10:26 AM – Yankees take Ian Kennedy, a pitcher out of USC. Since he’s a Yankee, I hope he fails.

10:27 AM – Nationals take Colton Willems, another high school pitcher. Did you know that only about 65% of high-schooler picked in the first round even MAKE the big leagues, and the odds of a high school pitcher making it are even worse. Yet people still pick them.

10:28 AM – Max Sapp, a high school catcher, goes to Houston. Good bat, bad defense apparently.

10:29 AM – Braves select Cody Johnson, and outfielder out of high school. Lots of Florida kids going off the board right now. The Braves almost always go with high-schoolers early, so this shouldn’t be a real big surprise.

10:30 AM – Angels take Hyun Choi Conger, another high school hitter. Angels said they wanted to take a high-schooler.

10:31 AM – Dodgers take Brian Morris, a guy who was drafted last year but didn’t sign with the Devil Rays. Most people projected him to go higher.

10:32 AM – Red Sox take Jason Place, a high school outfielder out of South Carolina. He’s been compared to Drew Stubbs by the MLB.com guys. Oh boy.

10:33 AM – Red Sox take Daniel Bard, pitcher out of North Carolina. I don’t like him as much as most people, but he was supposed to go way higher. Good pick. “He just needs to perform” according to the MLB.com scout. Brilliant analysis.

10:35 AM – White Sox take Kyle McCulloch, a pitcher from the Texas Longhorns. Chicago needs hitters, not pitchers.

10:35 AM – Cardinals select Adam Ottavino, a pitcher from Northeastern. A college pitcher, but I don’t know much about him at all. First round complete!

10:36 AM – I said I’d talk about Grady Fuson being a moneyball guy and how stupid that comment was. Grady Fuson was the head scout of the Oakland Athletics when Billy Beane was hired as the A’s GM, but as anyone who has read Moneyball knows, the two did not see eye-to-eye at all. Eventually, Fuson was fired by Beane because he was the antithesis of a “moneyball guy.”

10:37 AM – MLB really needs to get the draft on television. The names aren’t as big, but the whole first round took just half an hour! College baseball is a bigger deal now too, so some people know some of these names, and there are plenty of people across the nation that would tune in to see where their local kid goes.

10:49 AM – This is cool, the actual draft goes really fast, but now there is a break between the first round and the sandwich round (the sandwich round is comprised of compensatory draft picks for lost free agents). I don’t know if the break is here for MLB.com coverage purposes or if it has always been a part of the draft, but I really like this format much more than plodding through the process like the NFL does.

10:50 AM – Terrible pun. “When we come back, we’ll be eating some sandwiches! We’ll explain when we come back!” Hmm, are the sandwich picks coming?

10:54 AM – If you want to see all the picks, check out MLB.com. I did list all the first-rounders, but now I’m just going to start highlighting certain picks. I’ll have all the Mariner picks of course, but I won’t guarantee having all the picks for any other team.

10:55 AM – Bad sandwich puns aside, the three guys MLB.com has covering the draft are doing a very good job. I keep saying “this one guy” and “the other guy”, so I might as well give you their names. The two scouts are Allan Simpson and Jonathan Mayo, and I don’t know the name of the guy who made the bad sandwich joke.

10:57 AM – The Dodger took Preston Mattingly, son of Don Mattingly. Based on Simpson’s reaction, this is a bad pick. Apparently was picked way too high thanks to the great bloodlines.

11:10 AM – The Mariners just made their second pick and with it they chose Chris Tillman, a high school pitcher out of California. According to MLB.com he has one of the most projectable bodies in the draft, a fastball in the low 90s and a big overhand curve. He also apparently underachieved this last year too. This does not sound like a good pick to me at all, especially with a number of the 15 I highlighted still available.

11:14 AM – Chad Huffman, one of those 15 guys I hoped the Mariners were looking at, just went to the Padres. He’s listed as a second baseman by MLB.com, though I had him at first. It looks like the Padres are definitely taking a Moneyball approach despite Grady Fuson.

11:16 AM – Steven Wright, another one of the 15 I listed, was just drafted by the Indians.

11:17 AM – I forgot to mention that Ronald Bourquin, a guy who was just outside my 15 guys the M’s should look at, was drafted by the Tigers before the Mariners’ second pick. Another guy who I was looking at but didn’t mention, Josh Rodriguez, was just picked by the Indians (Cleveland had back-to-back picks).

11:19 AM – Wade LeBlanc, another of those 15, was just selected by the Padres.

11:25 AM – The Athetics just picked a high-schooler! They picked some high-schoolers last year too! The moneyball approach has clearly evolved.

11:26 AM – Geek statement: “I think the Mets would be thrilled if they got this year’s Matt Garza.”

11:28 AM – Another local guy is off the board. The Nationals just drafted Stephen Englund, an outfielder from Bellevue high school.

11:31 AM – Jon Jay was just picked by the Cardinals. He was one of my favorite 15 guys to watch. I get the feeling the Mariners may really be blowing it.

11:40 AM – We’re through the first round, the first sandwich round, and the second round, and 9 of the 15 players I said the Mariners should be looking at have been drafted. I should also note that Luke Hopkins is a sophomore, so he should not have been on my list. To be honest, I did not expect to have as many of the guys I listed drafted at this point.

11:45 AM – Casey Stern is the name of the host of MLB.com’s coverage. I had mentioned earlier I didn’t know his name, so now I (and you) know.

11:46 AM – With their third pick, the Mariners selected another high school pitcher, Anthony Butler. He is from Wisconsin and I cannot find a bio for him. Another pick I am leery of. Seattle really needs some pitching prospects and I don’t like how risky they are being with all the high-schoolers. He is a left-hander.

11:50 AM – Cyle Hankerd, a guy who almost made my 15 to watch, was just drafted by the Diamondbacks.

11:51 AM – According to Allan Simpson, the M’s most recent pick was thought of as a possible late first-rounder and also played basketball. He’s apparently 6’7” and is obviously a good athlete. I feel better about the pick, but I still don’t love it.

11:53 AM – The Nationals just picked a guy named Stephen King. Let the bad jokes involving horror writing begin.

11:54 AM – Cole Gillespie was just drafted by the Brewers. I really loved him too. He would have been even higher on my list of 15 to watch if not for the injuries.

11:59 AM – Another high-schooler picked by the A’s! They haven’t drafted a college player yet! Unbelievable.

12:00 PM – Casey Stern’s comment about Stephen King: “Nothing scary about his play on the field.” Ugh.

12:10 PM – Another geek statement, this one about middle infielder Adam Davis, who was picked by the Indians: “He’s a more athletic Dustin Pedroia, not to take anything from Dustin Pedroia.” Sadly, I understand the comment because I loved Pedroia coming out of college and he is currently playing at AAA Pawtucket in the Red Sox system, in case you are wondering.

12:13 PM – Allan Simpson just mentioned Eddie Degerman, and said there are concerns about his delivery (apparently it is weird). Now I finally know why he has fallen.

12:19 PM – The Mariners fourth choice is in, and it is Enrique Orta, a pitcher out of the University of Miami(FL). I don’t know anything about this guy, but at least he’s from an extremely good college program. Pitching was a need, but Seattle really needs to develop a first baseman in the next couple years. I would have gone with Cooper or Strieby here.

12:19 PM – I can’t believe this. The Tigers pick Ryan Strieby RIGHT AFTER THE M’S PASSED ON HIM. There aren’t many of my 15 to watch left.

12:25 PM – Of the 15 I said to watch, four are left right now: Craig Cooper, Eddie Degerman, Luke Hopkins, and Whit Robbins. However, I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t have included Hopkins because he is only a sophomore and therefore not eligible for the draft. So there are really only three on the list left.

12:26 PM – Make that two. The Twins just took Whit Robbins.

12:35 PM – Scouting reports use their own language. This is what MLB.com had to say about Judson Morris, a pitcher just picked by the Indians: “Pitchability plus projectability makes a prospect.”

12:42 PM – Eddie Degerman just got picked by the Cardinals at the end of the fourth round. They got Jon Jay and Eddie Degerman, two of my favorite prospects in the whole draft. I really, really hope the Mariners are looking at Craig Cooper now. Outside of the ineligible Hopkins, he’s the only one of the 15 I hoped the Mariners were looking at that is still on the board.

12:55 PM – The Mariners selected Nathan Adcock, a high school pitcher from Kentucky, with their fifth pick. They’ve taken so many pitchers at this point one of them is bound to pan out, even if three of them are high-schoolers.

12:57 PM – A couple picks before the M’s the Devil Rays picked a local shortstop, Shawn O’Malley, from Southridge High School.

12:59 PM – I am disappointed in the Mariners draft so far. If you pick high school pitchers the odds say you have to pick them in bunches because so few pan out, so I see the strategy. However, unless they are planning to move some of their middle infield prospects to first, they really need to address the position. Otherwise, they will be desperately picking a bunch of first baseman a couple years from now, kind of like they are desperately picking a bunch of pitchers this year.

1:02 PM – Extremely interesting back-to-back picks! First, the Cubs took Jeff Samardzija, the star wide receiver for Notre Dame who will likely be a top 10 pick in the NFL draft if he returns to school for his senior season (which he will). He can throw hard, but he’s not that good of a pitcher. The pick will get plenty of publicity, but it was a really stupid one by the Cubs. After the Cubs, the Blue Jays picked Luke Hopkins! So, he was eligible and now there is truly only one guy left from my list of 15 prospects to watch. This only makes me angrier at the Mariners for not addressing first base.

1:27 PM – Mariners just took a catcher with their sixth pick, Adam Moore from Texas-Arlington. How can the Mariners take this guy, yet another catcher, ahead of Craig Cooper?! Bill Bavasi must be in love with catchers.

1:33 PM – Padres just took Tim Bascom, a guy who almost made my 15 to watch.

1:38 PM – Yankees just took Mitch Hilligoss, another guy who nearly made my 15 to watch.

1:39 PM – In case you are wondering, here are the rest of the guys that didn’t make my 15 to watch that I was intrigued by and are still available: Adam Amar, Tim Norton, Zach Dillon, Thomas Berkery, Ryan Khoury, Tyler Mach, Justin Johnson, David Freese, Mike Goetz, Daniel Nava, Brad Boyer, Toddric Johnson, Nathan Southard, and Sam Carter.

1:43 PM – M’s latest pick is Douglas Fister, a pitcher from Fresno State. I don’t know anything about him. He’s tall at 6’8”, so I’m guessing he probably throws pretty hard.

1:45 PM – I’m listening to MLB radio now and they are piping the actual feed that all the major league teams hear and use for the draft. Each team has a guy who announces the draft pick, usually a scout or the GM. However, Tommy Lasorda is announcing the Dodgers’ picks and he is by far the most colorful and fun to listen to. I look forward to every Dodger pick now.

1:50 PM – The last of my 15 to watch just went off the board. Craig Cooper was selected by the Padres. San Diego picked 3 of the 15 I listed yesterday and also Tim Bascom, a guy who I almost put in the 15 to watch. Needless to say, I think they have done extremely well in the draft.

1:52 PM – I hope the Mariners know what they are doing with those high school pitchers and that they start to pick some position players, specifically a first baseman. Adam Amar works for me. They picked Brad Boyer last year but he didn’t sign, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the M’s pick him again in the next few rounds.

1:54 PM – Tim Norton, a guy I seriously considered for the top 15, was just picked by the Yankees.

1:56 PM – Another pitcher for the Mariners, Steven Richard. I don’t know anything about this guy either, except that he is listed at 6’3” and 240 pounds, so he is really built.

1:57 PM – The Reds just picked Travis Webb, the first WSU Cougar off the board.

2:00 PM – I should look for a job with the Padres. They just picked Thomas King, a shortstop from Troy. Though he wasn’t a finalist for my 15 to watch list, I took a hard look at him and I took a look at almost every single guy they have drafted.

2:05 PM – The Mariners just picked again and, surprise, another pitcher. This time Justin Souza from Sacramento Community College, another guy I haven’t heard of. However, I’ve heard of almost none of the last 100 guys picked, yet I still find the draft captivating.

2:10 PM – Absolutely amazing. The Padres just selected David Freese, yet another guy who almost cracked my 15 to watch that San Diego has selected.

2:16 PM – With their tenth round pick, the Mariners mixed it up and went with a position player, Christopher Minaker, a shortstop from Stanford. Minaker grew up in Washington, so he is a local product! Still waiting for a first baseman…

2:20 PM – The Blue Jays just took Scott Campbell, the first player from Gonzaga off the board.

2:31 PM – MLB radio was just talking about Enrique Orta, one of the pitchers the Mariners picked that I know extremely little about. Apparently he has an extremely live arm, one that many said was one of the livest in South Florida. There is tons of talent in Florida so that is saying something.

2:37 PM – Mariners latest pick is in and it’s another pitcher, Aaron Solomon from Cumberland University.

2:40 PM – The Blue Jays just took UW Huskies catch Matthew Lane.

2:41 PM – Another Huskies player just came off the board, this time outfielder Zachary Clem to the Brewers.

2:48 PM – The Mariners latest draft pick is Gavin Dickey, an outfielder from Florida. At the very least he has a great name.

2:55 PM – Ryan Khoury was just drafted by the Red Sox. I considered putting him in my 15 guys to watch blog.

2:57 PM – Joseph Kantakevich, a pitcher from William and Mary, is the Mariners’ latest pick. I’m guessing the Mariners will be targeting Brad Boyer soon because this is the point in the draft they took him last year.

2:58 PM – Never mind, there goes Brad Boyer to the Giants, another 15 guys to watch “finalist” if you will.

3:02 PM – The Phillies just picked Zach Penprase, a guy who I wrote a little blurb about a while ago on my blog. He stole an insane amount of bases this year and had a good average and on-base percentage to go with it.

3:05 PM – The Mariners just picked Jared Baehl, a high school third baseman from Indiana. I don’t know what to make of this pick. High-schoolers picked at this point are generally guys with lots of talent that aren’t likely to sign.

3:11 PM – Toddric Johnson, a guy I considered putting in my 15 the Mariners are hopefully looking at, was just drafted by the Athletics.

3:15 PM – The Mariners just picked Andrew Fiorenza, a pitcher from Clemson. Another cool name.

3:26 PM – MLB radio just did their recap of rounds 11-15 and did not mention any of the Mariner draft picks. I was particularly interested to see if they would mention Jared Baehl but they did not, which makes me really wonder what Seattle was thinking with that pick.

3:27 PM – Yes, another Mariners ad on MLB radio! It was the Big Richie ad, my personal favorite.

3:37 PM – The Mariners went local with their latest pick and went with Austin Bibens-Dirkx from Portland. He’s yet another pitcher with a cool name.

3:39 PM – The Orioles just picked Justin Johnson, another guy I looked at putting on my 15 players to watch list. He played at the University of Illinois-Chicago, not a big school or a big conference, but he is a solid fielder and if memory serves me right holds the school record for home runs. He batted .395 with a .482 OBP and .703 SLG this year.

3:47 PM – And the Mariners select…Daniel Brunzler, a left-handed pitcher from UC-Riverside.

3:48 PM – Tommy Lasorda announces every Dodger draft pick like they’re a hall-of-famer. Unless a prospect is a Giant fan, I don’t see how they could avoid being excited when they hear Lasorda announce their name as a draft pick.

3:50 PM – The Padres just took Tyler Mead, a local product out of Skyview High School.

3:52 PM – Jay Miller, an outfielder from WSU, was just drafted by the Phillies.

3:57 PM – The Cardinals just took Nathan Southard, another player I considered putting in my 15 to watch blog, with the last pick in the seventeenth round.

3:59 PM – The M’s last pick of the day is Kameron Mickolio, a pitcher from Utah State Valley College. He’s huge at 6’9”, 256 pounds.

4:00 PM – Tommy Lasorda had a brief farewell address before the Dodgers’ last pick, thanking Major League Baseball and Dodger owner Frank McCourt before delivering the Dodger pick with his usual bravado.

4:01 PM – The Rangers selected Michael Wagner, another Washington State Cougar.

4:06 PM – The Cardinals finished up today’s final round with Amaury Cazana Marti, an outfielder who did not go to school. I can’t believe I made it through all 18 rounds and I can’t believe the Mariners drafted so many pitchers! As for players that I have looked at that are yet to be drafted, I really hope the M’s are looking at first baseman Adam Amar and catcher Zach Dillon. I think Amar is extremely similar to Whit Robbins, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Twins. As for Dillon, I don’t know how good of a fielder he is, but I know he can hit and that he has extraordinary plate discipline. This season, Dillon batted .374 with a whopping 51 walks and only 18 strikeouts. Overall, it was a ton of fun listening to the first day of the MLB draft, though the Mariners draft left me wanting more. I can’t wait to hear what their scouting director Bob Fontaine has to say about their draft on the pre-game show tonight.

15 Guys The M's Should Be Looking At

The Major League Baseball draft starts tomorrow and the Mariners have the fifth overall selection. Every draft is important because it is where the minor league system is replenished, but drafts take on added importance when a team is picking as high as the Mariners. Seattle has already publicly stated that they are looking to draft a college pitcher with their first pick, but that is hardly giving away a big secret since the top of the draft is considered to be extremely pitcher heavy and the Mariners really need some pitching prospects. Pitching is the glaring hole in this organization right now.

However, there are other holes too that are not quite as obvious. Since prospects usually take three to four years to develop, it is wise to look at potential holes three to four years down the road, and the Mariners will have a huge one at first base when Richie Sexson's contract runs out. Even if Seattle wants to re-sign Sexson in three years he will likely be at the end of his prime and soon will not be a viable option as a starter. As far as current first base prospects go, only Brian LaHair looks very promising. However, he is a relatively older prospect in AA, and it seems that the organization is not overly excited about what he can offer (if I were GM LaHair would be in AAA right now).

With these needs in mind, I set out yesterday to find prospects the Mariners should be looking at. I limited my search to college juniors and seniors, since all college juniors and seniors are automatically eligible for the draft. I would include high-schoolers too, but it is nearly impossible to find statistics for them, plus I prefer college prospects to high school ones. After a fairly intense day of searching I identified about 35 players that intrigued me, and I narrowed that list down to the 15 college prospects that I hope the Mariners are looking at in the 2006 MLB draft (in reverse order):

*All statistics are from the 2006 season, AVG = batting average, OBP = on-base percentage, SLG = slugging percentage, SB = stolen bases/attempts, BAA = batting average against, K/9 IP = strikeouts/9 innings pitched, WHIP = walks + hits/innings pitched

15. Whit Robbins, 1B, Georgia Tech: .358 AVG, .472 OBP, .603 SLG, 40 BB, 36 K - Robbins blossomed this year into a slugger in the ACC, one of the best baseball conferences in the country. His bio page claims that he is also a great defender, though I'm not convinced of that based on his fielding statistics. His strikeout rate is a little higher than I would like to see as well, but his walks prove he has plate discipline and as I mentioned earlier, he did play in what is perennially one of the finest conferences for baseball. Also, he fills a need in the Mariners organization.

14. Evan Longoria, 3B, Long Beach State: .353 AVG, .458 OBP, .602 SLG, 40 BB, 29 K - Like Robbins, Longoria exploded this year and posted tremendous numbers, and people noticed as he is a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is college baseball's equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. Longoria is a lock to go in the first round and he is widely considered the best position prospect by far in the draft. However, I don't agree with that. Longoria only posted prolific numbers this year and his numbers before 2006 were quite pedestrian. It shows how much he has improved, but I prefer guys that have a longer track record of success.

13. Chad Huffman, 1B, TCU: .388 AVG, .498 OBP, .742 SLG, 38 BB, 31 K - Though Huffman comes from a smaller conference, he has produced throughout his college career. Every year he has posted an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of over 1.000, and despite the high standards, he has clearly improved every year. He also plays first base, a need in the Mariner organization.

12. Luke Hopkins, INF, New Mexico State: .403 AVG, .548 OBP, .799 SLG, 53 BB, 27 K - Hopkins's numbers may be boosted by playing in the desert and a weaker conference, but for two straight years he has posted absolutely ridiculous numbers that only one player in the entire conference has approached. That player is the previous prospect, Chad Huffman. Hopkins doesn't seem to have a set position on defense which probably means he is a rather weak defender. However, if he can hit anything like he has in college, I would stick him at first base and deal with any defensive shortcomings in a heartbeat.

11. Ryan Strieby, 1B, Kentucky: .347 AVG, .476 OBP, .720 SLG, 44 BB, 37 K - This was Strieby's first year at the Division I level, but his power numbers in the SEC really grabbed my attention. On top of that, he is from Brier, Washington and attended Edmonds Community College before transfering to Kentucky this year, so he has strong local ties. Fans love it when local kids are picked by the home team, especially when they fill a need like Ryan Strieby does.

10. Brad Lincoln, P, Houston: 1.69 ERA, .198 BAA, 10.7 K/9 IP, 0.96 WHIP: Lincoln is one of two pitchers the Royals are considering taking with the first overall pick, so it is unlikely he will fall to the Mariners at number five. Lincoln has great stuff and he had a dominating year, but he was far from dominating the two previous years thanks to a lack of control. It is reasonable to believe he has developed and improved, but I am not convinced he is as good as most baseball experts believe. Like I said, I prefer guys who have proven themselves for more than one year, especially when they improve dramatically from one year to the next like Brad Lincoln has.

9. Steven Wright, P, Hawaii: 2.30 ERA, .204 BAA, 10.1 K/9 IP, 0.90 WHIP - I don't know if anyone in all of baseball would take Steven Wright over Brad Lincoln, but I probably would. For his college career, Wright clearly has better numbers than Lincoln and he has improved significantly two years in a row. The steadier track record and comparably dominate numbers are what edge Wright just past Lincoln for me.

8. Wade LeBlanc, P, Alabama: 2.72 ERA, .204 BAA, 9.0 K/9 IP, 1.06 WHIP - LeBlanc had a disappointing year in 2005 but came back strong in 2006 and anchored the pitching staff for the team currently ranked ninth in the nation. His subpar junior year concerned me, but last summer he played in the Cape Cod League and did very well and then backed it up with a strong 2006 campaign.

7. Jon Jay, OF, Miami(FL): .355 AVG, .494 OBP, .513 SLG, 38 BB, 24 K, 27/32 SB - I don't understand why baseball experts are not enamored with Jon Jay like I am. This guy can flat out hit and has put up sensational numbers for three straight years. He has not hit many home runs yet but he hits lots of doubles, and doubles tend to turn into home runs as a guy strengthens and matures. However, even if Jay does not develop any more power, he has the speed and plate discipline to be a fantastic leadoff hitter.

6. Cole Gillespie, UT, Oregon State: .378 AVG, .498 OBP, .709 SLG, 40 BB, 27 K, 14/18 SB - Though 2006 was Gillespie's third year of college baseball, it was his first as a starter for the entire year and he posted incredible numbers. There are some injury concerns, but he is so impressive as a hitter and he can play all over the diamond. According to the Oregon State coaches, Gillespie is one of the hardest workers on the team and has a great attitude, which is probably true since he is willing to play anyhwere on the field defensively.

5. Max Scherzer, P, Missouri: 1.95 ERA, .204 BAA, 8.8 K/9 IP, 1.01 WHIP - 2006 was a bit of a "down" year based on Scherzer's past success, but he still had a wonderful season. Scherzer has electric stuff and is a consensus top 10 pick in the draft. He is probably one of the guys the Mariners are seriously considering taking with the fifth overall pick.

4. Eddie Degerman, P, Rice: 1.80 ERA, .170 BAA, 11.7 K/9 IP, 1.01 WHIP - I absolutely love Degerman and I can't figure out why more scouts don't. He has been one of the finest pitchers on the Rice staff for a couple years now, and that is saying something considering all the great pitchers that have come out of Rice recently. My guess is he can't throw as hard as other pitchers in this draft, but his bio says he can throw three pitches for strikes, which most college pitchers can't do. He actually went to class as well and is on track to graduate with a degree in economics. Despite all the focus on pitching in this year's draft, nobody sees Degerman as a top prospect so I'm really hoping the Mariners scoop this guy up in a later round.

3. Craig Cooper, 1B/OF, Notre Dame: .425 AVG, .522 OBP, .654 SLG, 38 BB, 14 K - Now a senior, Cooper has hit very well since his freshman year and started to add power to his game in 2006. He started his career with the Irish as a center fielder but was moved to first base during his junior season and has already established himself as a very good defender. What impressed me most about Cooper this year was his .425 average and a mere 14 strikeouts, pointing out how amazing he is at making contact.

2. Andrew Miller, P, North Carolina: 2.26 ERA, .217 BAA, 9.4 K/9 IP, 1.13 WHIP - Miller, along with Brad Lincoln, are the two pitchers Kansas City is considering taking with the top pick. Miller is the closest thing to the consensus top prospect in this draft so it would be very surprising if the Mariners got a chance to draft him. He is left-handed, 6'7", throws a fastball in the mid-90s, has a wicked slider, and is also a Golden Spikes Award Finalist. In other words, he has everything a scout loves to see.

1. Tim Lincecum, P, Washington: 1.94 ERA, .173 BAA, 14.3 K/9 IP, 1.10 WHIP - A Golden Spikes Award Finalist like Miller, Lincecum has posted dominating numbers for three years at Washington and had better numbers across the board than just about every pitcher in college baseball, highlighted by his ridiculous 14.3 K/9 IP. No one is sure where Lincecum is going to go, but I think the Mariners would have to be complete morons to pass on this hometown hero if he's still available at number five. He is as good as any pitcher in this draft.

Job-Saving Victory?

The Mariners' recently completed road trip was almost a total disaster. On the road trip the Mariners had a triple play turned against them that was really caused by lackadaisical baserunning, an alarming amount of sacrifice bunts and caught stealings, multiple shutouts, a walk-off home run in extra innings, grand slams hit in back-to-back games, and Raul Ibanez was ejected from a game for the first time in his career. Also, the road trip clinched the Mariners fourteenth consecutive losing month, a dubious achievement to say the least. In light of the downward spiral and obvious frustration surrounding the ballclub, I thought that if the Mariners were to lose yesterday Mike Hargrove might be fired. The scenario was too perfect: If the Mariners were to lose, Seattle would have had a winless road trip, giving ample reasoning to fire Hargrove. In addition, the off-day today would allow the team and media to absorb the major news without the pressure of a ballgame to prepare for in the evening. To top things off, the new manager could start off at home against the worst team in baseball.

However, Seattle showed plenty of spark yesterday and finished the dismal road trip on a higher note than even the most optimistic of fans could imagine with a 14-5 rout of the division-leading Rangers. The win must have made the flight back home much more enjoyable for the ballclub, and provides momentum through the off-day and into the weekend series against the hapless Kansas City Royals. The momentum is good for the ballclub, and may have saved Hargrove's job for the time being, but Mike is far from out of the woods yet. In fact, yesterday's win may have just delayed the inevitable another four days.

I think the Mariners absolutely have to win this upcoming series against the Royals for Mike Hargrove to keep his job. As regular readers of this blog know, Kansas City is incredibly bad, probably the only team in the American League right now that is clearly worse than the Mariners. Furthermore, Kansas City is literally as bad of a road team as Major League Baseball has ever seen (their 3-22 start on the road this year tied the worst start in MLB history) but just took two out of three in Oakland, so they come in on a little bit of a hot streak. Still, if the Mariners lose two or three against Kansas City (or what if they get swept?!) on the heels of such a dismal road trip, I do not see how Hargrove can avoid being fired. The pressure is on.