We’re now two days away from the MLB amateur draft. This is about the time when teams start getting a pretty good idea of who is going where ahead of them and solidifying the organization’s opinions on who to select. Consequently, this is when better information about who is going where starts to leak out, so even though the Mariners pick 11th, we’re starting to get some reliable rumblings on what they’re expected to do.
Most everyone in baseball believes the Mariners are going to select a pitcher. They’ve followed some hitters, notably Beau Mills of Lewis and Clark State in Idaho, but in the end, they’re almost certainly going to take a pitcher. The pervailing consensus is that the organization is also heavily leaning towards taking a college arm, as they want someone who can get to the majors very quickly. Much like with Brandon Morrow last year, they’re hoping to draft a kid who can spend a few months, at most, in the minor leagues. The team continues to be in win-now mode, and that is going to spill over to the first pick in this year’s draft.
The problem, however, is that this is a pretty lousy draft for college pitching. David Price and Ross Detwiler are the two top arms coming out of NCAA schools, and there’s essentially no chance that either one is there for the M’s at #11. Price is going #1 to Tampa, and Detwiler is expected to go in the 3-8 range, and it’s nearly impossible to see him getting past Arizona at #9.
So, that leaves the Mariners to set their sights on Daniel Moskos, a 6’0 lefty from Clemson who has pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen in his college career. He was a reliever as a freshman, the Tigers closer as a sophomore, and pitched out of the bullpen for Team USA last summer. He made nine starts for Clemson this spring, but also came out of the bullpen in 17 games, and those nine starts represent the entirity of his experience in the rotation since high school.
I saw Moskos pitch for Team USA last summer, and he’s exactly how the scouting report reads – a max effort lefty with 92-96 MPH velocity on a four seam fastball, a nasty slider that makes him death on lefties, a show-me curveball that isn’t much of a pitch, and a change-up that has enough sink to be useful against right-handers. The main knocks scouts have on him is his unathletic body, as there’s no room for him to add any strength on his frame, and his high effort delivery which puts a good amount of strain on his arm.
When pitching in the rotation for Clemson, Moskos’ velocity was down (as it is with any reliever who moves to the rotation, really), and he was sitting at 88-92. As a reliever, he can get the fastball up to 97 and is much more of a strikeout pitcher. The stuff drops off significantly as a starter, and he’d profile as a #4 or #5 starter if stretched out and placed into a major league rotation.
As a reliever, he’s got the potential to be a quality setup man, not all that different from George Sherrill, honestly. If that sounds like the type of guy you want with the 11th pick in the draft, well, Thursday might be your lucky day. Most signs point to the M’s selecting Moskos if he’s available at #11.
If someone pops Moskos in the top ten (and it’s possible, as the Mariners aren’t the only team looking for quick help on Thursday), then things get a little murky. The M’s want to draft a college arm, but after Price/Detwiler, you’re really stretching to find anyone who belongs to be taken before the 20-30 range. Casey Weathers is a reliever out of Vanderbilt who is going to stay in the bullpen and could get to the majors quickly with his 96 MPH fastball and slider combination. But there’s no chance Weathers moves to the rotation. Beyond Weathers, you’re looking at a guy like Nick Schmidt, who has very little upside and no outpitch. Think a left-handed Joe Blanton.
The talents who should be taken in the 11-15 range are mostly high school pitchers, including 6’7 RHP Philippe Aumont. If the M’s get over their desire to have someone get to the majors quickly, there are some high ceiling arms who could be major league ready starters in 3-4 years. However, all signs point to the organization lacking the patience to develop an 18-year-old pitcher, and the odds are on them selecting someone who they can potentially get to the majors in September.
So, my guess is that Moskos is the pick on Thursday, with Weathers and Schmidt as fall back plans, and Aumont as the longshot.
I’ll put something up again tomorrow and Thursday morning with the latest rumblings.