Here’s my pick-by-pick analysis of the Seattle Mariners’ 2009 draft, keeping in mind talent, draft value, and signability. The number before each player is the round in which they were picked, and their overall pick number is listed. Here’s the picks:
1. Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina, #2 overall, 6’1’’/190: Ackley was undoubtedly the best college position prospect in the draft and with some late-season time in center field to showcase his ability there, he cemented his status as the second-best talent overall, leading to this selection. Though Scott Boras represents him, he shouldn’t command Pedro Alvarez money, but anything is possible, and he won’t sign until August 17. DOB: 2/26/88.
1. Nick Franklin, SS, Lake Brantley HS (FL), #27 overall, 6’1’’/170: Whereas Ackley was an unquestioned pick, this pick had me scratching my head. Franklin rose up boards late, but he honestly doesn’t have first-round tools, but still comes with most of the prep bat risk. He’s a good defender at short, but I didn’t think any prep shortstop outside of Jiovanni Mier would be in the first. Overall, I thought Franklin was second-round material, and I’m mystified as to why they took him this early and still haven’t signed him. DOB: 3/2/91. Commitment: Auburn.
1s. Steve Baron, C, Ferguson HS (FL), #33 overall, 6’0’’/195: There was news before the draft that the Mariners had agreed with Baron on a pre-draft deal for this slot, and they indeed did take him here. I was still surprised, as Baron wasn’t near the top of my prep catcher list for this class. However, it surprised me more when rumors started leaking of Baron backing out of his pre-draft deal, and he still hasn’t signed. He’s got a strong college commitment, so this could end up being one of the bigger gaffes in this draft, as they get no compensation if he doesn’t sign, since this is a compensation pick by itself. DOB: 12/7/90. Commitment: Duke.
2. Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia, #51 overall, 6’4’’/235: Poythress was a possible first-round option after a strong start to his college season, but he wore down a bit, scaring some teams off, most of which thought his decline in production was due to his holes against better pitching. However, this was a strong pick for draft value and talent, as I didn’t think Poythress would slip out of the supplemental first as a college junior. He still hasn’t signed, but I don’t see him holding out too much longer. DOB: 8/11/87.
3. Kyle Seager, 2B, North Carolina, #82 overall, 5’10’’/194: Seager climbed boards this year with yet another strong college season with the bat and a move to third base for the Tar Heels. He doesn’t have big upside, but as a polished college bat, he could be ready for the big leagues in just a couple of years. I doubt he’ll hit enough for third base, and he was announced as a second baseman, so I see that as his development path. He still hasn’t signed, but he won’t gain much from going back to school. DOB: 11/3/87.
4. James Jones, OF, Long Island, #113 overall, 6’4’’/193: Known more as a pitching prospect, the Mariners bucked the consensus and drafted the athletic Jones as an outfielder, one of the more interesting early second-day picks. He really busted on the mound this Spring, making his strong performance at the plate intriguing, especially considering his strong arm and good outfield defense playing center field. He’s probably a right fielder long-term, but that athleticism is hard to miss, and I like this pick this far back, though he hasn’t signed, and I don’t know how much he wants. DOB: 9/24/88.
5. Tyler Blandford, RHP, Oklahoma State, #143 overall, 6’3’’/220: Drafted out of high school by the Orioles in the 34th round in 2006, Blandford came into the 2009 draft with a similar draft profile: huge arm, no control. I enjoyed watching the rivalry of Oklahoma’s Garrett Richards and Blandford, as both are quite similar, though Blandford’s slider may be better. However, I’m not alone in thinking Blandford is a long-term reliever, as he’s had no success with a changeup, and unless he commands that fastball, his two pitches won’t be able to get him through a lineup multiple times. However, this is a solid pick for talent and draft position, and he should be signable, though he hasn’t been inked yet. DOB: 1/25/88.
6. Shaver Hansen, 3B, Baylor, #173 overall, 6’0’’/190: Hansen was a shortstop this past year for Baylor, though the Mariners drafted him at the position he played during his sophomore year in Waco. Some have thought he’d end up at second base, using his advanced bat to make up for slightly below-average defense, but with Kyle Seager already in the bag, this move makes sense. I like this pick from a draft position perspective, as this was spot on as to where I thought Hansen would go, though I like it a little less from a talent perspective. It’s a safe pick, but with little upside, especially if he can’t make himself into a plus defender at third. He hasn’t signed yet, either. DOB: 12/19/87.
7. Brian Moran, LHP, North Carolina, #203 overall, 6’3’’/190: This pick was surprising to me, as Moran is one of those college relievers that is usually more effective against college hitters. He doesn’t have good offspeed stuff, but his strange delivery and deceptive fastball allow him to get by. I expected Moran to go somewhere in round ten or twelve, so this was a slight overdraft, and the talent isn’t way up there. However, he signed already, but was beaten around badly in his first appearance with Pulaski in the Appy League yesterday. DOB: 9/30/88. Signing bonus: $140,000.
8. Jimmy Gilheeney, LHP, NC State, #233 overall, 6’1’’/200: I expected Gilheeney to possibly go as early as the fifth round to someone who liked his advanced repertoire, and Mariners fans should be happy they got him this far down. He doesn’t have a plus fastball, but there’s plenty to like about his nice changeup/curve combo. He was a starter in college, and I’d expect he stays there, though he could develop into a LOOGY long-term if that’s what they wanted more than a #5 starter. He hasn’t signed yet, a disturbing trend so far in Mariner picks. DOB: 11/8/87.
9. Trevor Coleman, C, Missouri, #263 overall, 6’1’’/211: A 38th round pick of the Reds in 2006 out of high school in Texas, Coleman’s always had a good reputation for his defensive credentials. His bat is another story. He hit only .260 this year with Mizzou, and I’m sorry to say I don’t see him doing much better in the pros. Also of concern is the sore elbow he battled this year, which makes me wonder if he can catch all season. However, this was a good pick for draft position, as the Mariners capitalized on the injury and bat concerns to get a guy that’s more talented than a 9th round draft slot, though he hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 1/19/88.
10. Vinnie Catricala, 3B, Hawaii, #293 overall, 6’2’’/220: Catricala played high school ball in California, and he was a 50th-round pick of the Indians in 2006. While I expected him to go in the 12-15 round range, the Mariners picked him a few rounds earlier, though I don’t fault them for it. Catricala has a nice bat, and the improvements he’s shown year-to-year at Hawaii are greatly encouraging. He has developing power, has a great approach, and doesn’t strike out a lot for his production. However, his fielding still needs work, though I think he’s shown the work ethic to get it to where it needs to be. All in all, I like this pick, even if it was a little higher than most expected Catricala to go. He signed fairly quickly and is hitting .260/.302/.400 in 50 ABs in the Appy League. DOB: 10/31/88. Signing bonus: $90,000.
11. Tim Morris, 1B, St. John’s, #323 overall, 6’3’’/225: The Mariners do like their lefties. Morris had a strong junior season at St. John’s, where he was essentially their entire team in terms of production. This was remarkable, as Morris was simply not good before a breakout summer last year. He was originally at Clemson, but transferred due to lack of playing time, and he develop a nice feel for hitting, and I somewhat buy into his newly developed approach. Skeptics have reason to feel uncomfortable, though. This was a bit higher than I thought he’d go, but he signed quickly and is hitting .297/.409/.432 in 37 ABs with Pulaski. DOB: 12/11/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
12. Andrew Carraway, RHP, Virginia, #353 overall, 6’2’’/200: While power arms and bats are nice and all, finding that quality pitchability guy who makes his teammates around him better is just as important. Carraway is that guy. As a senior, Carraway was the Cavaliers’ Friday starter, and he was only around that long, because he’s incredibly smart and scared every team away from him in the 2008 draft, as he wanted to return to school. He’s got multiple pitches that work for him, and I like his slow curve best of all, as he can command it for strikes. He knows how to pitch, and I like his chances of reaching the big leagues. Great pick, even if the pure talent isn’t that high. He signed quickly, and he’s absolutely dominated competition in the Northwest League with Everett, where he’s thrown 8 shutout innings, allowing only 4 hits and a walk, striking out 12. DOB: 9/4/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
13. Matt Cerione, OF, Georgia, #383 overall, 6’2’’/192: Any time I see a guy benched for showy play, I wonder what’s going on in his head. Is it actually being showy or is it just how the player plays? Anyway, that’s what happened to Cerione, and though he has quality tools, I wonder about his ability to actually play baseball. His bat was horrible in SEC play, and I’ve never liked watching him, as he still looks like a high school player running around the field. Not much polish at all. Just not a smart ballplayer. I expected him to go somewhere after the tenth round, and he fell here. He still hasn’t signed. DOB: 1/4/88.
14. Adam Nelubowich, 3B, Vauxhall Academy (AB), #413 overall, 6’2’’/185: AB stands for Alberta, just in case you’re wondering. This Canadian prep had an impressive run with the Canadian junior team, and I started hearing some little things about him right before the draft. He’s got some power potential, and his showing with the wood bat convinced some detractors. He hasn’t signed, but he only has a JUCO commitment, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign soon. DOB: 4/28/91. Commitment: Midland JC (TX).
15. Blake Keitzman, LHP, Western Oregon, #443 overall, 5’11’’/185: I have to admit I know very little about Keitzman. He was an Oregon State transfer to Western Oregon, and that’s about as far as I got. Here's a video. He worked in the mid-80s in the few fastballs in the video, so I’m guessing this was a potential LOOGY pick, though Keitzman was an effective starter with Western Oregon. He hasn’t signed, and he won’t be signing. He’s already announced he’s heading back to school for his senior year. Oops. To me, this marks the transition to the unsignable and organizational player category of the draft, as few of the following players that have any impact talent are signable. DOB: 1/9/88.
16. Tillman Pugh, OF, Gateway CC (AZ), #473 overall, 5’11’’/185: This was much higher than I thought Pugh would go, as I thought he’d just be a late-round choice. Pugh was an Arizona State transfer, as he got almost no playing time in 2008. If you want to see Pugh make an amazing catch, look here. This article says Pugh wasn’t going to sign before the draft, but when he was picked so high, he was thinking it over again. He hasn’t signed as of yet, but we’ll see what happens. Pugh is currently playing with the Amsterdam Mohawks in the New York Collegiate Baseball League, where he’s hitting .300/.408/.483 in 60 ABs. It’s sounding like a summer follow to me. DOB: 2/19/89. Commitment: None.
17. Joe Terry, 2B, Cerritos CC (CA), #503 overall, 6’0’’/200: Terry was a freshman second baseman with Cerritos, and this is way higher than I ever expected to see him, even with his amazing season. Freshmen don’t generally go very high unless they’re absolutely signable, as they have tons of leverage. He hasn’t signed as of yet, so that’s up in the air. DOB: 12/18/89. Commitment: None.
18. Anthony Vasquez, LHP, USC, #533 overall, 6’0’’/190: Vasquez was last drafted in the 49th round by the Angels in 2005, the year he graduated high school. A solid senior sign, this was about where I expected Vasquez to go. He signed quickly and is off to a solid start in the Appy League. DOB: 9/19/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
19. Eric Thomas, RHP, Bethune-Cookman, #563 overall, 5’11’’/180: Another college senior, Thomas had a mediocre senior year, showing some decent stuff, but little command. He’s a middle reliever at best. He signed quickly, but has been roughed up a little in his Appy League debut. DOB: 10/8/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
20. John Hesketh, LHP, New Mexico, #593 overall, 5’11’’/195: Hesketh is beyond just a senior, he’s a fifth-year senior. He was drafted twice before, in 2004 and 2006, and he just signed with the Mariners, though this is higher than I expected him to go. He’s also a native Canadian for those who like to know. He’s thrown one shutout inning so far in the Arizona Rookie League. DOB: 6/3/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
21. Daniel Cooper, RHP, USC, #623 overall, 6’3’’/205: I thought Cooper would go before Vasquez, as he has more pro size and less wear on his arm, having been a bullpen guy with the Trojans. However, he fell a little bit, and the Mariners got a slight bargain here. He signed quickly and has been great with Everett in the Northwest League. DOB: 11/6/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
22. Drew Hayes, RHP, Vanderbilt, #653 overall, 6’1’’/205: Hayes has a legit fastball, but pretty much nothing else. He should have gone much higher, but it seems that he’ll go back to school for his senior year, and he could go in the first ten rounds if he does so. The Diamondbacks picked him in the 29th round in 2006. Great pick for draft value and talent, but I doubt he signs. He hasn’t as of yet. DOB: 9/13/87.
23. David Rollins, LHP, San Jacinto JC (TX), #683 overall, 6’1’’/185: A 19th-rounder a year ago to the Dodgers, Rollins had a solid freshman year with San Jacinto. I’m guessing he’ll go back to school for his sophomore year to try and improve upon his stock, as this was where most expected him to go. He hasn’t signed as of this posting. DOB: 12/21/89. Commitment: None.
24. Carlton Tanabe, C, Pearl City HS (HI), #713 overall, 6’0’’/190: This was much higher than I expected Tanabe to go, as I thought he’d be picked in the 40s range and would end up at school. However, his weak college commitment (to a JUCO) and decent defensive skills enticed the Mariners to pick him this high. Not my favorite pick. He signed quickly, but is just 2-for-11 with the AZL Mariners. DOB: 10/28/91. Signing bonus: Unknown.
25. Brandon Josselyn, RHP, Yale, #743 overall, 6’3’’/200: Josselyn should have gone much higher, and this is a steal. I expected him to go in the top ten rounds as a senior sign with an average fastball and enough else to possibly make the bigs as a middle reliever. That’s not much, but that’s great value for the 25th round. He’s been fairly good with Pulaski since signing. DOB: 8/22/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
26. Chris Sorce, RHP, Troy, #773 overall, 6’1’’/195: I was surprised to see Sorce this high, as he’s got a merely average fastball and absolutely nothing else. He got some good results, though, at Troy, but he’s also got a year of eligibility left, and I doubt he signs having been picked this far down. DOB: 10/28/87.
27. Austin Hudson, RHP, Central Florida, #803 overall, 6’4’’/185: Hudson was picked by the Nationals in the 37th round in 2006 out of high school, and he’s definitely got a pro body. He had horrible results, though, as he’s extremely hittable. I doubt he signs, even though I’m not sure he can turn it around as a senior next year. DOB: 1/6/88.
28. Regan Flaherty, 1B, Deering HS (ME), #833 overall, 6’2’’/185: I had seen a few mentions of Flaherty as a pitcher, too, but the most notable things I’ve seen about him are his bloodlines (his brother is Ryan Flaherty of the Cubs) and his strong college commitment. He won’t sign. DOB: 10/16/90. Commitment: Vanderbilt.
29. Brandon Haveman, OF, Purdue, #863 overall, 5’9’’/165: Haveman is a little senior outfielder from Purdue that’s already 23 years old. He signed quickly and is off to a .371/.450/.514 start with Pulaski through 35 ABs. DOB: 6/21/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
30. Brandon Bantz, C, Dallas Baptist, #893 overall, 6’1’’/210: Twenty years from now, Bantz’ claim to fame might be that he caught Victor Black in college. He probably should have gone maybe ten rounds earlier as a decent senior catcher, but fell for unknown reasons. He signed quickly and is off to a slow 4-for-21 start with Pulaski. DOB: 1/7/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
31. Clint Dempster, LHP, Mississippi Gulf Coast JC, #923 overall, 6’1’’/185: Dempster should have gone at least ten or so rounds earlier, but fell for unknown reasons. He’s got a decent curveball to pair with a solid fastball for a lefty, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a decent LOOGY one day. However, I doubt he signs, as he hasn’t yet. DOB: 8/29/89. Commitment: Nicholls State.
32. Bennett Whitmore, LHP, Oregon, #953 overall, 6’3’’/230: Whitmore was drafted out of a JUCO last year by the Red Sox in the 44th round, and I thought he might go twenty rounds higher this year. However, he fell, and despite his pro body, I doubt the Mariners offer enough to sign him. He’ll probably end up back at school. DOB: 4/17/88.
33. Hawkins Gebbers, 2B, Biola (CA), #983 overall, 6’2’’/200: Senior pick was expected to go about this late as an organizational infielder. Signed quickly and is hitting .348/.423/.478 in 46 ABs with Everett. Nice surprise. DOB: 7/29/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
34. Scott Griggs, RHP, San Ramon Valley HS (CA), #1013 overall, 6’3’’/185: Griggs entered the year as a possible first-round candidate, but huge mechanical issues led to command problems, which led to a precipitous drop in his draft stock. The Mariners aren’t going to sign him, but he’s an interesting name to watch for the 2012 draft, when he almost certainly will be in the top ten rounds, even if he has problems developing, as his arm holds tons of potential. DOB: 5/13/91. Commitment: UCLA.
35. Eric Valdez, RHP, Indiana State, #1043 overall, 6’1’’/195: Valdez was a 22 year old junior with some decent relief stuff. He signed quickly and has had mixed results with Pulaski. DOB: 5/4/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
36. John Housey, RHP, Miami, #1073 overall, 6’3’’/180: Housey was drafted in the 42nd round by the Reds out of high school in 2006, but hurt his arm, missing part of the season for the Hurricanes. He’s got some good stuff, but just needs to harness it. He signed quickly and has been dominating the AZL. DOB: 6/4/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
37. Chris Kessinger, RHP, Nebraska-Omaha, #1103 overall, 6’0’’/195: Nothing to add here. Signed quickly as a 23 year old senior and has been dominating in the AZL. DOB: 6/5/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
38. Matt Nohelty, OF, Minnesota, #1133 overall, 6’1’’/185: A college senior, Nohelty was drafted by the Twins in 2008 in the 18th round, but opted not to sign. That seems like a bad decision now, as he dropped twenty rounds and still hasn’t signed. I expected him to go ten rounds higher, but he’s still not a prospect either way. He had to DH most of the season due to a bum shoulder, and I’m surprised he hasn’t signed yet. DOB: 5/21/86.
39. Greg Waddell, OF, Florida International, #1163 overall, 6’1’’/210: Another senior. He signed quickly, but is off to a rough 1-for-20 start with Pulaski. He’s in danger of being cut. DOB: 5/5/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
40. Jorden Merry, RHP, Washington, #1193 overall, 6’1’’/190: Merry was a 14th-rounder of the White Sox a year ago, didn’t sign, then followed that up by falling on his face. He lost his rotation spot with the Huskies and had an awful year, resulting in his falling this far, though this is a bit farther than I thought it would be. He’s done well in the Appy League after a brief appearance in the AZL. DOB: 6/30/87. Signing bonus: Unknown.
41. Kyle Witten, RHP, Cal State Fullerton, #1223 overall, 6’4’’/195: Last drafted by the Twins in the 22nd round a year ago, Witten has a pro body and decent arm. He just doesn’t get the results he wants. He shouldn’t have fallen this far, but the Mariners aren’t complaining, as he’s signed but hasn’t appeared in a game yet. DOB: 9/14/88. Signing bonus: Unknown.
42. Steve Hagen, 3B, Eastern Oklahoma State JC (OK), #1253 overall, 6’2’’/225: Drafted two years ago out of high school by the Athletics in the 50th round, Hagen’s got some power, but I highly doubt he signs. Even though he’s originally from the Seattle area, I’m guessing he fulfills his college commitment having gone this low. DOB: 10/26/88. Commitment: Texas Tech.
43. Cameron Perkins, OF, Southport HS (IN), #1283 overall, 6’5’’/195: Perkins played mainly infield in high school, and his body size is definitely of the pro variety. His signability was a big question entering the draft, and that led to his fall. He’ll end up at school, where he probably had the talent to be possible thirty rounds higher. DOB: 9/27/90. Commitment: Purdue.
44. Mark Angelo, OF, East Stroudsburg (PA), #1313 overall, 6’2’’/195: Nothing to add here. Senior sign, signed quickly and is struggling to a 4-for-24 start in the AZL. DOB: 7/15/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
45. Kevin Mailloux, 2B, Canisius, #1343 overall, 5’11’’/195: I thought this native Canadian would go 10-20 rounds higher. However, he fell and ended up being picked as a late-round senior infield sign. He’s off to a nice 8-for-24 start in the AZL, but he’ll always have to battle for a spot. DOB: 3/5/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
46. Clay Cedarquist, 1B, Fowler HS (CA), #1373 overall, 6’2’’/170: Pretty much an unknown, as I don’t even have a college commitment for him. I doubt he signs, though. DOB: 2/4/90. Commitment: Unknown.
47. David Holman, RHP, Hutchinson CC (KS), #1403 overall, 6’4’’/170: Holman’s got a pro body, and he was drafted in the 48th round by the Braves a year ago, but didn’t sign. I don’t expect him to sign again, as he’s just a JUCO freshman. DOB: 5/31/90. Commitment: None.
48. Sean Nolin, LHP, San Jacinto JC (TX), #1433 overall, 6’4’’/240: Another JUCO freshman, Nolin was a 50th rounder of the Brewers a year ago out of high school. Like Holman, I expect Nolin to return to school and improve his draft stock for next year. DOB: 12/26/89. Commitment: None.
49. Dane Phillips, C, Central Heights HS (TX), #1463 overall, 6’1’’/195: Phillips is similar to Scott Griggs in that he fell this far due to some question marks and will end up in college. A questionable catcher, Phillips has a great bat and enough athleticism to possibly move to the outfield, though at least one report I’ve read says he’s improved a lot behind the plate. This is simply a courtesy pick, but remember this name for 2012. DOB: 12/18/90. Commitment: Oklahoma State.
50. Evan Sharpley, 3B, Notre Dame, #1493 overall, 6’2’’/210: You might know this name from Notre Dame football, but Sharpley’s a decent baseball player, too. A college senior, he signed quickly and has put up a nice .311/.380/.578 line in 45 ABs in the AZL. Good end to the Mariners’ draft. DOB: 11/4/86. Signing bonus: Unknown.
The Mariners have done a surprisingly bad job of signing their higher picks so far, and I’m not sure why. Franklin and Baron are two lower-upside prep picks, and they were supposed to be signable for their slots, though Baron’s apparently backed out of his pre-draft deal. I really do like the Poythress and Seager picks for their slots, and James Jones as an outfielder is much more intriguing than James Jones as a pitcher. Blandford’s got nice stuff, and he’s a bit of a contrast from the rest of their draft, which went with lower-ceiling pitchers. Their collection of hitters was quite good, especially with Dustin Ackley headlining the package. They essentially filled an entire infield with legitimate prospects, and might have added an impact outfielder if James Jones pans out. But going around the diamond, I can see a Poythress-Seager-Franklin-Hansen-Baron combo with Ackley in center and Jones in right. They obviously were targeting hitters in a pitching-rich environment with the 2009 draft.
The one big weakness, and I mean big, that I see in this draft is a lack of any sort of starting pitching prospect. Blandford has a big arm, but with the mechanical issues he has, there’s no way he can stick to starting full-time. The rest of their pitchers were low-ceiling middle relief guys, with maybe a pair of #5 starter types in Carraway and Gilheeney, though Gilheeney’s quite questionable. Were they trying to win an award for most LOOGY and ROOGY candidates? I’m all for drafting the best player available, but you have to have some sort of balance in a draft, and there was absolutely none in this draft.
Looking at all of those pieces together, grading this draft was a little difficult, especially considering they haven’t signed any of their top picks. When you’re almost a month out of the draft and still haven’t locked up any of your top six picks, you might want to start sweating. They’ve only signed two of their top ten. I usually don’t pay much attention to who is signed at this point in most drafts, but when so many guys that are considered signable still aren’t inked, I start to wonder if something is up. Seager should be signed already. So should Blandford, Hansen, Gilheeney, and Coleman. I can give some leeway, maybe allowing a pair of those guys to slip away at this point. But all 5? That’s cutting it close, especially if you want at least the hitters to get some pro seasoning before they can’t get more than a few weeks in. Questionable signing problems and a lack of balance make me lean down from where I was with the Nationals’ draft. They might have gotten some nice infield prospects, but a lack of high-ceiling guys is also a bit concerning, so I have to grade this below the Nationals’ draft overall.
FINAL GRADE: B-.
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