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2010 Draft Preview - Seattle Mariners

The twenty-sixth part of my draft preview series is on the Seattle Mariners and their scouting director Tom McNamara.

Owner: Hiroshi Yamauchi, bought club in 1992
General Manager: Jack Zduriencik, first season was 2009
Scouting Director: Tom McNamara, first draft was 2009

Looking Back

2009 Draft: $10.9 Million Budget

1. Dustin Ackley, OF, North Carolina, #2 Overall: Ackley was the no-doubt second-best prospect in the 2010 class behind Stephen Strasburg. He featured a plus-plus hit tool and some hope for power, in addition to plus foot speed. Excellent pick, and Ackley got a Major League contract. Following players selected: Donavan Tate, Tony Sanchez, Matt Hobgood. Signing bonus: $6,000,000*.
2. Nick Franklin, SS, Lake Brantley HS (FL), #27 Overall: Franklin was a solid prospect, but most didn’t consider him a legitimate first round pick due to a lack of elite tools. He was best as a defender, but teams generally want more than that when picking in the first round, especially since Franklin took more than slot to sign. Following players selected: Reymond Fuentes, Slade Heathcott, LeVon Washington. Signing bonus: $1,280,000.
3. Steve Baron, C, Ferguson HS (FL), #33 Overall: Baron’s similar to Franklin in that he wasn’t this high on most boards. He was probably the best defender in the strong 2010 prep catching class, but a weak bat put him more in the second or third round. He also signed for more than slot. Following players selected: Rex Brothers, Matt Davidson, Aaron Miller. Signing bonus: $980,000.
4. Rich Poythress, 1B, Georgia, #51 Overall: Poythress was rising up boards fast in his junior year, then he struggled against more advanced pitching in the SEC schedule. However, he still featured some of the best college bat power in the class, making him an attractive supplemental first round to second round candidate. Following players selected: Everett Williams, Brooks Pounders, Mychal Givens. Signing bonus: $694,800.
5. Kyle Seager, 2B, North Carolina, #82 Overall: Seager played third base in his junior year at North Carolina, and his production and versatility made him a solid third to fifth round prospect. He profiled more as a utility man than true starter, though he may have enough bat to hold down second base as a starter in his prime. Following players selected: Jerry Sullivan, Evan Chambers, Tyler Townsend. Signing bonus: $436,500.
Other Notable Selections: OF James Jones (4th), Long Island, $267,300 bonus.

Tom McNamara’s 2009 was his first as a scouting director, but that doesn’t mean he lacks scouting experience. When Jack Zduriencik became the general manager of the Mariners following the 2008 season, he personally handpicked McNamara to come with him to serve as his scouting director in Seattle. As one of the best scouting directors in baseball while in Milwaukee, I trust Zduriencik’s judgment when it comes to all things amateur scouting. Having been an area scout for nine drafts, as well as the Brewers’ East Coast crosschecker in his last year there, McNamara comes with real amateur scouting experience, too, though it’s not at the top of the run for experience when compared to other scouting directors. He was a pro scout under Kevin Towers in San Diego, as well, but most scouts would tell you that the mode of thinking is different for a pro scout than an amateur scout. Generally, though, McNamara has plenty of experience to step into the scouting director position, especially with a former scouting director as his general manager, which leads to plenty of support from the front office. He’s only been on the job for a single draft, so it’s hard to see any sort of trends, but let’s take a look. The first thing is a genuine lean towards the East Coast, McNamara’s old stomping grounds. Their first six picks in 2010 were all in states that connect to the Atlantic Ocean, and I’m not sure that wasn’t on purpose. That’s where McNamara was most comfortable, having crosschecked that region for the entire draft season the year before. The major trend in terms of talent I see, though, is a genuine dislike for prep pitching. They didn’t draft a high school pitcher until the 34th round (Scott Griggs), and they didn’t sign a single prep arm. That’s interesting to me, as that was much more extreme than most first year scouting directors, but we can only wait and see how it pans out. The hitters were much more mixed around, but more college bats were mixed in after Baron in the supplemental first round. These are just some high-level trends, and when you only have a year to look at, it’s pretty much shooting in the dark.

I don’t think any Mariner fans have anything to complain about when it comes to draft spending in 2009. With plenty of extra picks, the Mariners spent the 2nd-most on bonuses, falling $600,000 behind the Nationals, who had to ink the amazing Stephen Strasburg. Ackley was definitely expensive to sign, but they got the job done, giving him a Major League contract and a $6 million bonus. Franklin and Baron were overslot bonuses, and so was Tyler Blandford in the fifth round. The rest fell in line, though, so the team spent most of its money at the top, which is normal for teams with an extra first round pick and a supplemental first round pick. I don’t expect the Mariners to spend another $10.9 million on bonuses again this year, but it should be a healthy number if all goes right. They own picks 43, 67, 99, 132, and every 30 picks after that. They gave up their first round pick when they signed Chone Figgins, but they gained a supplemental first round pick when the Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre, whom Figgins will replace. Since they pick 41 picks after their slot from last year, expect something more in the $5-6 million range, but not a humongous drop-off, as Zduriencik is likely to budget healthy money towards the draft, the piece of the puzzle that he concentrated on before becoming a general manager.

Connecting the Mariners to a specific player or players is tough, especially because I don’t know how they’ll handle picking so far down. Will they go high upside with their first pick to make up for not having an earlier pick? Will they go safer and fill in with overslot bonuses in later rounds, similar to the Pirates and Orioles of 2009? I simply don’t know. My latest mock draft has them taking Arkansas’ Brett Eibner with their first pick, and he somewhat falls in line with their James Jones pick of 2009. Eibner could go either way, either as a starting pitcher with mid-rotation upside or as a power-hitting athletic outfielder, though one that should have to stick in a corner. His raw is tremendous, though, so there’s appeal for him as a hitter. Other options around there will be Todd Cunningham, Gary Brown, Sam Dyson, Micah Gibbs, and Michael Choice. Later options could include such players as Matt Harvey, Thomas Girdwood, Ty Linton, and John Gast, though these are all speculative East Coast players. Whatever McNamara does, I suspect it will be a solid draft class, as he’s working under one of the best scouting directors in the modern era in Zduriencik. Things should be looking up for the Mariners.

*Bonus information came from BA.

What do you guys think? What will the Mariners do?