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2015 Mariners Draft Recap

By now you regular readers of the Musings have probably figured out that I scaled back my draft coverage this year. It's simple an awful time of year with my work to put together something so extensive. The draft started on my first day of summer break - which means the prep would have had to entirely been finalized during my most intense time of the year as a math teacher. So it didn't happen.

Recaps don't hit the same problems though, so here we go! The Mariners draft so far, complete with grades. I will update periodically as picks come in:

2 (60) - Nick Neidert, RHP, Peachtree Ridge HS (GA) - This is a solid pick. Neidert has a good fastball, a surprisingly good change-up, and a clean delivery that bodes as well as anything for future health and command. Neidert likely slid a bit on draft boards because he lacks prototypical size (at "only" 6'1") and some tendonitis near the end of the year sidelined him and hampered his productivity. Neither of these issues are huge concerns over the course of whatever career Neidert will have. Plus the Mariners have a bit of a track record developing prep arms under Zduriencik. Taijuan Walker and Brandon Maurer come to mind. Grade: B

B (72) - Andrew Moore, RHP, Oregon State - Moore is an undersized college righty with fringy stuff. His fastball is MLB average at best. His change-up might be slightly better. His breaking ball is something he can get over for strikes, but that's about it. With that said, Moore was a three-year starter at Oregon State, a perennial powerhouse in college baseball at this point. Moreover, Moore improved significantly each year. His profile reminds me some of Andrew Carraway, a prolifically productive pitcher in the ACC before getting drafted by the Mariners. Carraway topped out in AAA. Obviously the Mariners think Moore is a bit more by drafting him this early. He should progress to the upper levels of the minors rather quickly, and then we will find out just what kind of prospect he is. Grade: C-

3 (94) - Braden Bishop, CF, Washington - Scouts agree that Bishop can defend center field, and defend it very well. That's huge for the Mariners, who have very few prospects in the system that might become viable MLB center fielders. The question is how much Bishop will hit. The most encouraging thing I notice is his walk rate steadily improving, which suggests better and better plate discipline. Bishop's power also spiked this season, but the NCAA changed bat rules this year so power was up across the board. Bishop profiles as a slap hitter with marginal gap power, and since that's what he is he would do well to cut down on his strikeouts. Bishop's skillset is reminiscent of James Jones. Grade: C

4 (125) - Dylan Thompson, RHP, Socastee HS (SC) - Thompson pairs nicely with Neidert as far as this draft class goes. Thompson lacks the pure power of Neidert, but also possesses clean mechanics with a body that promises to fill out and add some velocity in future years. Thompson has an advanced feel for his offspeed pitches, most notably a change-up. It is interesting that the Mariners nabbed two prep arms with advanced change-ups, given that finding one with a change-up is rare enough. I would have liked him at pick 72 (where Moore went), so I love him here. Grade: A

5 (155) - Drew Jackson, SS, Stanford - The Mariners have done well picking college infielders under Jack Zduriencik, especially ones that flew under the radar a bit. Brad Miller, Chris Taylor, and Kyle Seager all fit this mold. Unfortunately, Jackson won't be joining this list. I am highly skeptical of his  hitting. Jackson has no power, and except for this year's Stanford campaign, never hit for average either. Personally I think his hitting was inflated by an unsustainable BABIP rate. Major reach here. Grade: F

6 (185) - Kyle Wilcox, RHP, Bryant - The Mariners are digging pretty deep with this pick. Wilcox had an overall pedestrian career at Bryant, which plays ball in one of the weakest division I conferences in the nation. However, underneath the overall mediocre numbers are a couple interesting trends. Wilcox always had rather high walk rates but balanced that with low hit rates. He seems to be a bit wild, but to also possess some good stuff. This is further reinforced by his Cape Cod league numbers, where both his walks and strikeouts skyrocketed. Wilcox needs to improve his command drastically and perhaps a move to the bullpen would suit him well. Grade: D-

7 (215) - Ryan Uhl, 1B, Indiana (PA) - Uhl is a 6'6", 230 lb hulk of a first baseman that hit very much like a hulk his senior season. He slugged 29 home runs in only 142 at-bats, which is INSANE even at a small college like Indiana University Pennsylvania. Interestingly Uhl had only hit 13 home runs in his previous three seasons combined, so Uhl could be a one-year wonder. This draft did not have much in terms of power prospects, and the Mariners are thin at first base, so Uhl is a guy worth taking a flyer on. Grade: B

8 (245) - Cody Mobley, RHP, Mt. Vernon HS (IN) - I can't find a ton on Mobley yet, but I like what I've found. He is listed at 6'3" and 185 pounds, which suggests some room to grow. He also has played some shortstop in his prep career, which suggests some good athleticism. Scouting reports suggest velocity in the upper 80s and he also combines that with an above average breaking ball. He has a commitment to Evansville which was firm enough that it was assumed he would go to school unless drafted in the first ten rounds. Although the M's have gone college-heavy so far, the three prep arms they've picked so far will define how successful this draft class is. Grade: A

9 (275) - Conner Hale, 3B, LSU - Hale lacks power, but he amassed a track record of hitting, particularly in his junior and senior seasons. Hale hit in the vaunted SEC and also the prestigious Cape Cod League this past summer. Hale strikes out more than would be ideal, particularly with his questionable power, but this is round 9. Overall, there are lots of tools to like at this stage in the draft. His real path to the majors will be adding defensive versatility and learning to pinch hit well. Grade: A

10 (305) - Darin Gillies, RHP, Arizona State - Gillies pitched out of relief for the most part with a few spot starts his senior year. He broke out a bit as a senior as his rate states (Ks, walks, hits) improved quite a bit across the board. Gillies also possesses good size at 6'4". He is probably organizational relief depth, but you never know. Grade: B

11 (335) - Dylan Silva, LHP, Florida State - Silva is a reliever that has always lacked control, but the control has improved. It still needs to improve quite a bit more. However, Silva also strikes out a ton of batters. This is a solid spot in the draft to take a chance on a relief prospect. Grade: B

12 (365) - Logan Taylor, 3B, Texas A&M - Taylor is a solid hitter and has flashed solid hitting across several seasons, including the prestigious Cape Cod League. He doesn't have an obvious strength or weakness. His profile reminds me some of what Stefen Romero looked like coming out of Oregon State. Another solid pick at this stage in the draft. Grade: B

13 (395) - Matt Clancy, LHP, St. John's - Clancy is another southpaw reliever. He has produced in every season (and league) he played in. Interestingly, his strikeout rate spiked in summer league play, which tends to mimic pro ball more than college baseball because of the use of wooden bats. Lefty relievers never make top prospect lists, but they have value. Grade: B

14 (425) - Jio Orozco, RHP, Salpointe Catholic HS (AZ) - The consensus is that Orozco is better than this draft slot suggests, which means he likely slid due to signability issues. The fact that the M's picked him here suggests that they think they have a chance to sign him because this is a little early to take totally long shots to sign. Orozco, like other prep arms the M's drafted this year, has an advanced change-up for his age. It's hard to argue at this point that wasn't a point of emphasis in the organization, which is interesting. Do they think they can coax one of these prep arms to learn Felix's deathly change-up? I like this pick as far as talent goes, but I worry about the odds of Orozco signing unless the Mariners can't get one of their other prep arms signed. Grade: C

15 (455) - Ryne Inman, RHP, Parkersville HS (GA) - Really hard to find stuff on Ryne specifically, though his baseball team is legendary in Georgia. Inman is tall at 6'5" and appears to throw in the mid to upper 80s. The Mariners likely see the potential for more velocity with strength and maybe even some mechanical adjustments. Seems like a bit of a reach, particularly when considering possible signability issues of high-schoolers picked in this range. Grade: C-

16 (485) - Ricky Eusebio, OF, Miami (FL) - Some scout dug real deep for Eusebio. He was a backup his whole career at Miami, which means he got some playing time, but rather little. However, this past season he seemed to take a major step forward that might be legitimate and not just small sample size luck. Eusebio could return to Miami for his senior season and that would seem to be wise if he has a path to a starting job and is a bona fide pro prospect. So, I wonder about Eusebio's signability, but there is little doubt somebody really likes him within the Mariners organization. This was quite a dig. Grade: D

17 (515) - Joe Pistorese, LHP, Washington State - Local picks are always nice, and Pistorese flew a bit under the radar thanks to an injury this season. He's a senior, so he will sign. Pistorese also lacks strikeouts, so he looks like organizational depth. But, at least he is local organizational depth and a lefty. This still seems a bit early to take a player like this. Grade: D

18 (545) - Anthony Misiewicz, LHP, Michigan State - Misiewicz has largely been a good lefty reliever during his time in college. He also can return to Michigan State for his senior year, though I wonder how much that would improve his draft stock. He just might sign, and if he does, this is a nice pick. Grade: C

19 (575) - P.J. Jones, C, Washington State - Another local pick, and a senior to boot! Catching depth is always needed, and Jones provides that. He doesn't hit for much average or power, and his sleight 5'9" frame doesn't promise much future power. However, Jones guns down baserunners at a good rate, so he brings some defensive value. Grade: C+

20 (605) - Parker McFadden, RHP, Yelm HS (WA) - The Mariners are raiding the Cougars! McFadden is a WSU commit. McFadden is short but throws very hard, as high as 97mph according to some readings. He will have an interesting decision to make, especially if he has always dreamed of playing for the Mariners. Is McFadden true to the blue? Grade: B

21 (635) - Rob Fonseca, 1B, Northeastern - Fonseca hit for his entire college career, which included a successful stint in the Cape Cod League this past summer. As a college senior he will sign too. Terrific pick at this point in the draft. Grade: A

22 (665) - Joey Strain, RHP, Winthrop - Strain is a tad short and a tad light to have an ideal pitching body, which probably helps to explain why he has been overlooked. Moreover, he has been hit pretty hard in relief roles, though combines that with high strikeout and low walk rates. Strain might be the rare pitcher who is a little too aggressive in the strike zone. He also had a successful year working out of the bullpen in the Cape Cod League this past summer, which further makes me wonder if he will fare better against the wood bats he'll face in pro ball. Grade: B

23 (695) - Art Warren, RHP, Ashland - Fun fact: Warren is the first player drafted from Ashland (it's in Ohio) since 1989! Ashland is a small school even by small school standards. Warren transferred from Cincinnati though. He was relative effective in Ashland's rotation, though he had a ton of walks. He also walked a bunch of batters at Cincinnati. This looks like a huge reach. Grade: F

24 (725) - Lance Thonvold, RHP, Minnesota - Never broke through with the Golden Gophers thanks to significant control problems. He was wildly effective in the Cape Cod League though, which might be worth a little something. Thonvold is a college senior so he should be an easy player to sign. I suppose he has that going for him too. Grade: C

25 (755) - Joseph Peeler, RHP, East Rowan HS (NC) - Tall, lanky prep arm with ability that goes beyond this pick. He already throws in the low 90s with a feel for some breaking pitches. He has signed with UNC-Wilmington. I would assume he goes to school, but a glance at his Twitter feed does show just how exciting and huge getting drafted is. Grade: C

26 (785) - Ljay Newsome, RHP, Chopticon HS (MD) - Newsome is another prep arm, but at least as of late May had not decided where he was going to college. Perhaps he is not going at all at this point. He also had a performance for the ages in the 3A state championship baseball game, so he's a gamer for whatever that is worth. Newsome just might sign, and he just might be good. Intriguing pick. Grade: A

27 (815) - Michael Rivera, RHP, Colegio Hector Urdaneta (PR) - Rivera's video reminded me some of Erasmo Ramirez. Rivera is similarly stiff and upright in his upper body with a short arm motion, though he is a fair amount taller than Ramirez. Rivera also broke off a couple breaking balls with some depth, suggesting a feel for spinning the baseball. It's hard to imagine his body filling out much more, but he might add some velocity with refined mechanics. Grade: B

28 (845) - Taylor Perez, SS, Saint Leo - Another small school selection, Perez at first glance looks like he can hit a little bit. However, all his hitting stats are below the team cumulative averages, so I doubt he hits much as a professional. Perez is also a junior so he could return to school too. He is probably a great defender to get drafted this early, but all things considered this seems like an unnecessary reach. Grade: F

29 (875) - Jared West, LHP, LSU-Shreveport - While LSU-Shreveport is an NAIA school (even below D-III), West transferred from the University of Houston. He was also a fairly productive starter for Houston, and was just as productive at LSU-Shreveport. You would think a 6'6" lefty able to get outs in D-I would dominate in NAIA, but West did not. Still, a tall lefty with success is worth a flyer at this point in the draft. Grade: C+

30 (905) - Augustus Craig, RF, Columbia - Any Ivy League player named Augustus! How can't you love this pick? He appears to go by Gus, which is still pretty cool. Craig is a senior and has hit well both the last few years. He is also a senior, and even hails from Oregon, so is rather local. Grade: A

31 (935) - Logan James, LHP, Stanford - James is an undersized lefty reliever with bad control that could go back for his senior year at Stanford. Logan, if you are reading this, stay at Stanford. It's an amazing school. That degree is worth waiting a year to start your pro career. James isn't much of a prospect. Grade: F

32 (965) - Colin Tornberg, RHP, UT-Arlington - I have no idea what the M's see in Tornberg, partly because there is little info available on Tornberg. However, what is available on the internet paints a picture of significant room for improvement. He is a senior though so he should sign. Grade: D

33 (995) - Julius Gaines, SS, Florida International - Gaines can't hit, but middle infield depth is necessary in any minor league system. Gaines is a senior so he will sign. Grade: B

34 (1025) - Kyle Ostrowski, LHP, Lincoln Way North HS (IL) - Ostrowski has a letter of intent to go to Purdue, and it is generally a safe bet that prep players picked this late decide to go to college. If Ostrowski signs, he'll bring a nice pitching frame with clean mechanics that promises to gain velocity. He is a nice pick if he signs. Grade: D

35 (1055) - Gianni Zayas, RHP, Florida International - Junior righty with obvious control issues. He might not sign, and doesn't look like much without significant improvement if he does sign. Grade: F

36 (1085) - Matt Walker, RHP, Weatherford College (TX) - Walker is a bit of a project, but worth a chance this late. He stands plenty tall at 6'6", and struck out lots of batters, but also walked more than you would like to see. However, tall limbs are hard to wrangle and use to command a baseball. Perhaps Walker can improve and become a bullpen piece. A longshot for sure, but at least you can imagine a path to the majors with this pick. Grade: B

37 (1115) - Colton Sakamoto, CF, Westview HS (OR) - Sakamoto commited to the University of Oregon before his senior season even started. That, plus this late of a pick, suggests that Sakamoto won't sign. He played football in high school too, so he's a good athlete. The Mariners could use some centerfielders in their system too. Sakamoto probably won't be one of them, but at least the M's tried to address a need here. Grade: C

38 (1145) - Dalton Kelly, 1B, UCSB - Kelly likely got drafted thanks to a very strong showing in a summer league, though he carried his success into the college season too. He broke out to a degree, but is still just a junior and might be wise to stay in school and try to get drafted higher next year. Not the worst pick talent-wise, but I don't see a big reason that he would sign. Grade: D

39 (1175) - Dante Ricciardi, SS, Worcester Academy (MA) - Ricciardi is a rare left-handed hitting shortstop (but throws right, because literally every shortstop throws right-handed). His head moves a bit too much for my taste in the batters box, but his swing is level and stays in the strike zone a long time. He has a commitment to Georgetown, which isn't particularly noted for its baseball program, so perhaps he chooses to sign if he really wants a career in pro ball. Grade: D-

40 (1205) - Mike Rojas Jr., C, Gulf Coast HS (FL) - Rojas comes from a baseball family, as his grandpa is former MLB All-Star Cookie Rojas, and his father (Mike Rojas Sr.) has coached in the majors. Rojas, according to his family, has all the tools to make the majors. However, his .153 average in high school is quite the counterpoint to said confidence. His commitment is to Chipola junior college, a juco baseball powerhouse, because he wants to be a pro. He might jump at this opportunity now, because the advantage of the juco route is that it is not subject to the NCAA agreement where players do not become draft eligible until they are juniors. Grade: D

Weighted* Draft GPA: 2.29 (C+)
*Weighted so that earlier picks are more valuable. This is done by taking the reciprocal of the overall pick and then averaging the sums. So, pick 60 is worth 1/60, while pick 70 is 1/70. So pick 70 is weighted less than pick 60, but differences become smaller and smaller as the draft wears on.

Final Comments: The Mariners just drafted a draft class. It's fairly pedestrian, all things considered. Maybe slightly disappointing in my book, but neither a disaster nor all that great at first glance.

The early prep arms picked - Nick Neidert, Dylan Thompson, and Cody Mobley - will ultimately decide the fate of this class. They have the most upside and will likely eat up most of the bonus money the Mariners have available. This will be a successful draft if one of those three becomes an MLB starter. If two of them become MLB contributors this will be an especially good draft.

It might be fair to criticize the dearth of position players in the M's draft class, especially the lack of power, but power prospects were few and far between in this draft. I would much rather that the Mariners stay true to where they saw talent on the draft board. They dug for a few guys who flashed power in obscure places among the college ranks, and that's satisfying enough for me in this draft class.