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2009 Draft: Recap of M's picks

Dustin AckleyThis post will be long, but worthwhile. Below is a quick synopsis of each M's pick in the draft with a grade for each pick. Keep in mind that the picks with the highest grades do not necessarily reflect who are the best players. It is a grade of the value of the pick, which reflects the talent of the player picked at that particular point in the draft. Here are the picks:

1. Dustin Ackley, CF, North Carolina: Ackley is the best hitter in this draft, regardless of position, though his value increases because he plays up the middle. Ackley also comes from a winning program, which is always nice, and looks like the type that will be ready for the majors fast. Dustin is the guy I had targeted for the entire year. Grade: A

1. Nick Franklin, SS, Lake Brently HS (FL): I am going off of other scouting reports, since I have not had the chance to see his statistics, or any video. However, everyone agrees that Franklin is not the most impressive athlete in the draft, but his instincts are great. There is no doubt that he is a baseball player. The M's could use a shortstop prospect, but I generally prefer picking prep players that are phenoms. However, I like that Franklin loves the game, and I should give Zduriencik the benefit of the doubt with his track record in Milwaukee. With who was available though, I'm not in love with the pick. Grade: D

1a. Steven Baron, C, Ferguson HS (FL): Reports are that Baron has holes in his swing, but he already calls his own game, an extreme rarity for prep catchers, or even college ones for that matter. That alone makes him a valuable backstop, though how bad his hitting really is (and how much it improves) will determine how good of a prospect Baron is. Grade: D+

2. Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia: Poythress can hit for power. That is about all he brings to the table, but the power is tremendous. Some think the power will not translate as a pro, and as a right-handed batter, he is not ideal for Safeco. Still, I definitely liked him as a prospect, and I am eager to see how he develops. Grade: B

3. Kyle Seager, 2B, North Carolina: There is lots to like about Seager. About the only thing he lacks is power, but it did not stop him from being a very productive offensive player in college. He fits a need in the organization though, both with his patient approach at the plate, and the defense he brings in the infield, especially at third base in addition to second. Grade: B

4. James Jones, OF, Long Island: Jones hit and pitch for Long Island, but is clearly a better hitter. Still, his fastball got into the lower 90s, which gives an idea of the arm strength he brings to the outfield. He played in the Northeastern Conference, which is quite weak, but he did it all at the plate and could develop even more as he focuses solely on hitting. Grade: C-

5. Tyler Blandford, RHP, Oklahoma State: Blandford has pretty good-looking stuff, but his production has been inconsistent. This year he had a 5.31 ERA, but that is deceiving. In 78 innings, he allowed 60 hits and walked 45, but struck out 97. He also allowed eight home runs, which is more than I would like to see, but is not a horrible rate. The stuff is there, and there are also signs he is starting to harness it. Even if Blandford does not work out as a starter, his stuff is good enough to see a good future in the bullpen. Grade: B-

6. Shaver Hansen, 2B, Baylor: Shaver played all over the infield for Baylor, but the M's had him listed as a second baseman. He was a good hitter in his college career, and has more power than similar M's draft pick Kyle Seager. However, compared to Seager, all his other skills are not quite as polished, as would be expected from a later draft pick. Grade: C+

7. Brian Moran, LHP, North Carolina: Moran was fantastically productive in college, thanks to a deceptive delivery and good breaking ball. He has lefty setup guy written all over him, though closing out games should not be eliminated altogether, given his success in college as a part of a very successful program. Grade: A

8. James Gilheeny, LHP, North Carolina State: The only thing exceptional about Gilheeny is a huge, slow curve ball. He was solid in college, and with further refinement he could be solid as a professional. Grade: C

9. Trevor Coleman, C, Missouri: Trevor profiles as a backup catcher at best in my estimation. His college numbers look nice, but in context he is a below-average hitter. He will have to make the majors based on his handling and defensive skills. Grade: D

10. Vinnie Catricala, 3B, Hawai'i: Vinnie flashed some pretty good hitting skills at Hawai'i, but not elite skills. He is similar to many player the Mariners picked in this draft - solid, productive college players. Grade: C

11. Tim Morris, 1B, St. John's: Tim was a heck of a pick at this point in the draft. As a lefty, he projects well in Safeco Field, which is a nice added bonus. He also brings a very advanced approach at the plate and good power to the farm system. Looking at him, he should have gone earlier. Grade: B

12. Andrew Carraway, RHP, Virginia: His stuff is not overwhelming, but it is not too bad, and his production has been real good in a very strong conference. Carraway is the kind of guy easy to overlook, but that has the potential to develop into a solid major league pitcher for several years. Grade: A

13. Matt Cerione, CF, Georgia: Another average college hitter, but he plays up the middle. If a guy is not an exceptional hitter, I want reason to believe he will be a good defender, and those kind of guys play up the middle. Grade: C

14. Adam Nelubowich, 3B, Vauxhall HS (Alberta, Canada): These rounds are a gray area for high-schoolers, because for some the signing bonus is worth giving up college commitments, and others it is not. I do not know what kind of commitments Nelubowich has, and I do not have much of a scouting report on him either. A big part of me wonders how signable he is though. I really do not like picking prep players at this point of the draft. Grade: D

15. Blake Keitzman, LHP, Western Oregon: I like picking local players, even from smaller schools. However, Keitzman started his career at Oregon State, and transferred to Western Oregon this year. In limited time with the Beavers, he posted great strikeout numbers, but also had some control issues. He had no such problems this year, though also went against lesser competition. Still, Keitzman has a promising arm, and is good value at this point in the draft. Grade: C+

16. Tillman Pugh, CF, Gateway CC (CA): Pugh transferred from Arizona State, where he never got much of an opportunity to play (though in his defense he was behind Ike Davis and Jason Kipnis). He was a baseball and football star in high school, so he is certainly a good athlete. Without much to go on statistically, and not much video either, it is hard to grade him. I should give an incomplete grade, but I will trust that the Sun Devils coaches played guys better than him...though at least a few of them were excellent players, so even that does not say much. Grade: C-

17. Joe Terry, 2B, Cerritos JC (CA): At 19 years old, Terry is still young, an advantage of picking junior and community college players. Terry is yet to show much power, and does not profile as a player who will have much. However, he had a huge year at the plate, highlighted by 14 triples. He certainly has speed, and is an intriguing player up the middle at this point in the draft. Grade: C

18. Anthony Vasquez, LHP, USC: Vasquez was both a pitcher and outfielder for the Trojans, and was not particularly good or bad in either role. The Mariners see more potential in him as an arm, and maybe he can progress significantly as a pitcher once he focuses solely on it. Grade: C-

19. Eric Thomas, RHP, Bethune-Cookman: Thomas played some outfield at Bethune-Cookman also, but focused on pitching as a senior. A high strikeout rate and low home run rate indicates a pretty good arm, though the rest of his numbers are average at best. Grade: C-

20. John Hesketh, LHP, New Mexico: Another productive college arm with solid, though not great, production. This is exactly the type of player most selected are at this point. Grade: C

21. Dan Cooper, RHP, USC: Cooper came out of the bullpen for the Trojans this year and posted an impressive 2.08 ERA. However, the rest of his numbers are pedestrian, and I am guessing with more innings that ERA would have risen considerably. Grade: D

22. Drew Hayes, RHP, Vanderbilt: Hayes is just a junior, so he can return to school, and if I were him I would. He has a good arm, but he had a fairly bad season. In particular, Hayes had a pretty high home run rate. An improved senior season with his kind of arm will result in a much higher selection next year. As for the M's, intriguing pick at this point, but I think Hayes is one of the tougher guys to sign out of their draft because of what I just said, and I am not sure he is worth as much effort as might be needed. Grade: D

23. David Rollins, LHP, San Jacinto College (TX): Rollins is quite young, and put up so-so numbers at a low level. His youth is his greatest asset as a prospect, and he seems to be a very likely candidate to stay in school. This is my least favorite pick of the draft so far out of the M's. Grade: D-

24. Carlton Tanabe, C, Pearl City HS (HI): High schoolers rarely sign this late, and I know nothing about Carlton to start with. Grade: Incomplete

25. Brandon Josselyn, RHP, Yale: Although not playing at an athletic powerhouse, Brandon racked up some remarkable honors. He was the Ivy league pitcher of the year, and also lettered in football. He is obviously a fairly smart player as well. Still, the Ivy league is not a strong baseball conference, and Josselyn's numbers are not eye-popping. Grade: C-

26. Chris Sorce, RHP, Troy: The best reliever in the Sun Belt conference, and one of the best relievers in the nation this past year. 53 strikeouts in 38.2 innings is impressive in any league, but all his numbers are real good, considering how offense-friendly the Sun Belt was. Sorce is a steal this late in the draft. Grade: A

27. Austin Hudson, RHP, Central Florida: At 6'4", has great size, but that is about all I can say that I like about him. He got hit very hard this past season, and is a junior to boot. I would return to school if I was him, though I am not convinced he has much pro potential anyway. Grade: F

28. Regan Flaherty, 1B, Deering HS (ME): His older brother is a baseball player, and his dad was as well. The bloodlines are great, but that's about all I know, and I doubt he will sign since he was drafted this late anyway. Grade: Incomplete

29. Brandon Haveman, LF, Purdue: Haveman was a steady performer all four years at Purdue, and ended up with a career batting average at almost .400. However, he did not show much power in college, and at 5'9", is unlikely to develop much as a professional. He profiles as a backup at best, but this late in the draft he is a solid pick. Grade: C

30. Brandon Bantz, C, Dallas Baptist: Bantz looks to me like a career minor-leaguer, unless his receiving skills are out of this world. Grade: D

31. Clinton Dempster, LHP, Mississippi Gulf Coast CC: I can't find much on Dempster, and he is 19 years old getting drafted late anyway. If he is a good talent, he is unlikely to sign. Grade: Incomplete

32. Bennett Whitmore, LHP, Oregon: Did not perform that well this past year, and is a junior anyway. I doubt he will sign, unless he thinks a 6.17 ERA out of the bullpen is as good as he can do. Grade: F

33. Hawkins Gebbers, 2B, Biola: Gebbers is originally from Brewster, Washington, so he is a local kid. He was also by far the best hitter on Biola, but they play at the NAIA level, which is below D-III. I don't mind local picks, or stocking up on middle infielders, or taking chances on low level talents at this point in the draft, though I would like to see someone even more dominant. Grade: C-

34. Scott Griggs, RHP, San Ramon HS (CA): High schoolers picked this late never sign, unless a team goes way above slot (in other words, unless a high draft pick refuses to sign). Don't expect Griggs to sign. Grade: Incomplete

35. Eric Valdez, RHP, Indiana State: Since Valdez is a senior he will sign, but I do not see much in him that excites me. Grade: D

36. John Housey, RHP, Miami (FL): With an ERA that approached 10 in limited opportunities, Housey is a sleeper to say the least. He also is a junior on a traditionally strong baseball program that has some good pitchers leaving. I doubt he will sign. Grade: Incomplete

37. Chris Kessinger, RHP, Nebraska-Omaha: Kessinger put up good numbers this year, albeit at a small school. His home run rate concerns me some, but there are no perfect prospects in the 37th round. Still, especially at a small school, the fewer flaws the better. Grade: C-

38. Matt Nohelty, CF, Minnesota: Nohelty has absolutely no power, and he is already 23 years old. He will have to make it purely on speed and defense. Jason Tyner is the best-case scenario. However, it is late in the draft, and he does have speed, which also means he should have defense. Not a bad pick. Grade: C

39. Greg Waddell, LF, Florida International: Waddell did not receive much playing time, so his limited sampling size makes him hard to evaluate. However, what he showed in limited time is impressive: a .439/.512/.712 line. A rather high strikeout rate indicates he may have been swinging for the seats a little more than he can as a pro, but this is a guy definitely worth taking a chance on this late. Grade: C+

40. Jorden Merry, RHP, Washington: Another local product, and one that was quite good last year. However, he certainly struggled as a senior. I am always a fan of local picks, especially late, and perhaps Merry can regain his junior season form. Grade: C

41. Kyle Witten, RHP, Cal State Fullerton: He pitched mostly in relief this year, and nothing stands out in his numbers. Grade: D

42. Stephen Hagen, 3B, Eastern Oklahoma State: Born in Lakebay, Washington, Hagen is another local product. He belted 29 home runs last year, which is impressive at any level. However, while the rest of his offensive numbers were good, they were not incredible for the level he was playing at, and his strikeout total was high too. He might be a one-trick pony, and that one trick might not make the big jump to the pros. However, Hagen is about as intriguing as a 42nd round pick gets. He is only 20, so he will be draft eligible the next two years, but perhaps he has always dreamed of playing for the home team. Grade: B

43. Cameron Perkins, 3B, Southport HS (IN): He is huge at 6'5", and won't sign this late as a prep star. Grade: Incomplete

44. Mark Angelo, LF, East Stroudsburg University: Angelo was the best hitter on the team, and he certainly dominated at a low level. He is living proof that baseball scouts can find anyone that plays baseball. I certainly do not mind taking chances on players from lower levels that dominated at this point in the draft. Grade: C

45. Kevin Mailloux, 2B, Canisius: Back in the D-I ranks for this pick, Mailloux had a terrific senior season, though in a weak conference. Still, it is a stronger one than many the M's have been picking out of lately, and he also is at a position where it is always hard to find good hitters. Grade: C+

46. Clay Cederquist, 1B, Fowler HS (CA): Another high schooler that in all likelihood will not sign. Grade: Incomplete

47. David Holman, RHP, Hutchinson CC: The son of former M's pitcher Brian Holman, David has good bloodlines, and also great stature at 6'5". He is only 19, so I wonder if he will sign this late, but it is always nice to make a legacy pick, especially at a point where major leaguers are rarely drafted. Grade: C

48. Sean Nolan, LHP, San Jacinto JC: Listed at 6'4" and 250 pounds, Nolan is a beast on the mound. He also racked up the strikeouts, though was a little more wild than desired. I like him almost as much as the M's 23rd round pick, David Rollins, also from San Jacinto. Grade: C

49. Dane Phillips, C, Central Heights HS (TX): Prep players just don't sign this late. Grade: Incomplete

50. Evan Sharpley, 1B, Notre Dame: Sharpley is quite the last pick for Z's first draft with the Mariners. He did not play every day at Notre Dame, thanks in part to striking out in almost half of his at-bats. Not surprisingly, his batting average was quite low. However, he also showed a good eye, so his on-base percentage is surprisingly good. Sharpley also played some outfield, but his defense must not be great since the M's had him announced as a first baseman. Somebody must think there is a fixable flaw in his swing. As of now, he is a bad college version of Jack Cust. Grade: C-

This was an excellent draft for the Mariners. The Bavasi regime loved picking high school talent, which gave the system some higher end talent that it otherwise would not have had, but for every boom were plenty of busts. That left depth lacking, especially since Bavasi traded much of the top end talent away in attempts to fix the major league roster. This draft does not feature the same high ceilings that M's prospects of the past had, but it features a ton of depth. Looking at this bunch, it is not hard to see six or seven guys making the majors, which would be a huge success. Moreover, many guys will likely provide minor league depth for the next two to three years, which the Mariners have had to sign from the outside the past couple years. Even though career minor leaguers are not all that exciting as prospects, they are the ones that keep top talent (particularly top pitching talent) from getting overused. This is not the sexiest draft class the M's have ever had, but it could go down as one of their best.