Some Thoughts on Tonight’s Draft

Dave · June 4, 2012 at 6:46 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The first round of the Major League Draft kicks off at 4 pm today, and with the third pick in the draft, the M’s will be selecting probably around 4:15 or so. Marc and Chris Crawford ran through a lot of questions on Friday, but I wanted to weigh in with a couple of thoughts of my own before the first pick is announced tonight.

1. Anything you’ve read about what the M’s are rumored to be doing, forget it.

The Mariners front office doesn’t leak anything to anyone, and the reality is that even the most well connected writers in the industry have no idea what the Mariners plans are. Tom McNamara may have enjoyed the shock on everyone’s face when the team took Danny Hultzen last year as much as he enjoyed anything all year. Other teams may let their intentions be known to outsiders, but the Mariners simply do not, so the reality is that any rumor about what the team may be thinking is based on speculation from someone who isn’t going to be in the draft war room this afternoon. We’ll know what the M’s are doing when they do it and not before.

2. There’s a real chance that the Mariners first round pick tonight could be a pitcher.

The generally accepted top tier of the draft includes a couple of high school hitting prospects (OF Byron Buxton and SS Carlos Correa) who could theoretically both be off the board in the first two selections, and the top college hitting prospect (Mike Zunino) is a catcher who is seen as more of a good bat than a great one. It’s not that hard for me to imagine the Mariners passing on Zunino or Correa in favor of a college arm like Mark Appel, Kevin Gausman, or Kyle Zimmer if they feel that they’re more likely to make an impact in the big leagues. I don’t think they’d pass on Buxton if given the chance, but assuming he does go #1 or #2, I’d say there’s a real chance the M’s take an arm at #3.

If that’s what ends up going down, please don’t freak out. Yes, the Mariners offense is bad, and they have a lot of pitching prospects, but drafting for need is a great way to waste a top draft choice, and the construction of a team’s roster is usually quite different from the time a prospect is drafted to when they actually reach the big leagues. And, you can never have too many pitching prospects – the attrition rate and turnover is so large that every team is always in need of quality arms. Don’t just look at Felix/Hultzen/Walker/Paxton and decide that a pitching prospect would be superfluous. If the team feels that the best prospect on the board is an arm, they should take an arm.

3. Likewise, Jesus Montero’s presence should not stop them from drafting Mike Zunino.

This is the flip side of the “don’t draft based on current talent” philosophy. Yes, the team has Jesus Montero, and while he hasn’t been Disaster Catcher, there’s nothing wrong with taking another catcher and figuring out the best way to utilize your assets in a year or two. The Reds drafted Yasmani Grandal when they already had Devin Mesoraco in the organization, and when both turned into top catching prospects, they simply traded Grandal to get a piece that better fit their needs. No team is ever going to have a quality player waste away because they don’t have an opportunity to use them, either at the big league level or as a valuable trade chip, and it’s not like we know that Montero’s still going to be catching in 18 months. Zunino is probably a bit of a lower upside choice than a guy like Correa, but he’s also a lower risk selection, and it certainly wouldn’t be a waste of a pick to choose a college catcher who has a chance to be a pretty decent big league hitter.

4. If the team makes another shocking pick, that does not mean they went cheap.

One of the new wrinkles in this year’s draft is the existence of a total team spending pool, where organizations are penalized for spending more money than they are allotted based on the selections that they have in the draft. The M’s series of draft picks (11 in the top 10 rounds) have garnered them a total pool of $8.23 million to spend, of which $5.2 million is tied up with the #3 overall pick. Given the perceived similarity in value of many players at the top of the draft, there is some thought that a couple of teams may end up taking a lower value player who will sign for significantly below the recommended price, saving the team enough money to then spend more freely on their later picks. Say, for instance, the Mariners took a guy who would sign for $3 million – that $2.2 million savings could then be used on the #64/98/126 picks if the club wanted to try for a guy who was perceived to be a hard sign at lower price points.

Teams like the Tigers, Yankees, and Red Sox used to scoop up these hard sign types at the end of the first round, but the new allocation limits their ability to pay significant signing bonuses to any one player – the Yankees total pool for their first 10 rounds is just $4.2 million, for instance, so if they tried to give a kid at #30 a $3 million bonus, they’d have just $1.2 million left for their next 10 picks, and would either have to go cheap the rest of the draft or face significant penalties from Major League Baseball for going over the pool allocation.

So, if there’s a guy that the Mariners like in that 20-30 range who might want top 10-15 money, he could very well slide to #64, and if the team had saved enough on the #3 pick, they could get another first round talent with that selection. This isn’t a very likely scenario, but it’s possible that the team decides to try this approach if they don’t have a strong affection for any of the players that are going to be available early. If they do go that route, I guarantee you that there will be people out there using it as evidence that it is part of a vast conspiracy by ownership to reduce costs – don’t listen to those idiots. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

5. Don’t have too strong of an opinion about what the team should do.

I’m not big on appeals to authority, but in this case, the information gap between what the teams know and what the public knows is so vast that having any kind of strong reaction is probably not warranted. You may have a favorite prospect based on what you’ve read or the success of past similar players, but the reality is that none of us really know very much about any of these kids. While Jack Z’s history of Major League acquisitions hasn’t been fantastic, the front office has a very strong track record in the draft, and this is the thing they’re best at. If they’re higher on someone than you are, I’d bet they have a pretty decent reason for why they disagree with you. It doesn’t mean they’re right (Steve Baron, anyone?), but at the very least, we should all acknowledge that we don’t have enough information to make a strong critique one way or another. There are some things about baseball that can easily be seen and evaluated by outsiders – the value of various draft selections is not one of them.


49 Responses to “Some Thoughts on Tonight’s Draft”

  1. robbbbbb on June 4th, 2012 7:24 am

    And even if the M’s faceplanted on a draft selection (like Dave mentions with Steve Baron) it doesn’t mean they’re bad at drafting. Most draft selections never make it to the big leagues. Even first round selections are kind of a crapshoot.

    Being good at drafting doesn’t mean scoring on every draft pick. It means hitting more often than other teams do. That’s a low bar.

  2. Nate on June 4th, 2012 7:32 am

    Anthony Rendon!!
    wait, what??

  3. raul_podzednick on June 4th, 2012 7:45 am

    They missed on Baron but they hit on Kyle Seager later on in that draft so I say they are good at drafting.

  4. lesch2k on June 4th, 2012 7:45 am

    Nate. Randon was injured this year
    wait, what??

  5. eric47d on June 4th, 2012 8:17 am

    Point #5 is spot-on, thank you. Smartest thing I’ve read on the draft in years.

  6. greentunic on June 4th, 2012 8:47 am


    With the point that the Tigers, Yankees, and Red Sox USED to be able to snatch these better players later, you imply that the new rules prevent the big market teams from dominating the draft.

    Has your perspective on the new draft rules changed? If I recall correctly, you were very upset in the beginning, saying that MLB had just given the big market teams more power by evening out the one form of talent aquisition that favors bad (and by extention, often poorer) teams.

    I’d agree that the new rules are difficult to decifer as positive of negative for the M’s. On one hand, the M’s have less power to utilize their great scouting by offering more cash to who they like. On the other, with everyone spending similar amounts in the draft, the M’s knowledge of draft prospects gives them an advantage in a financially level playing field. It becomes more of “Which good players will you choose?” instead of “How many good players will you get?”

  7. MrZDevotee on June 4th, 2012 8:55 am

    Maybe I’m wrong, but wasn’t that anger aimed at the cap for spending on international signings? (Different part of the CBA…) Meaning, you’ll get the same contract no matter who you sign with (basically) so they’ll sign with the top team that offers, making it more difficult for small market teams to compete for them…?

    I thought that was the one we were all a bit miffed about…

    As for today’s draft, I’m kinda leaning towards wanting Zunino… As you say Dave, he’s projected as a good bad, not great… But a good bat at the catcher position, is an “A” level talent most seasons. An Ackley/Seager-type hitting skill at catcher would free up Montero to play a less taxing defensive position down the line.

    Not a sure thing, but certainly not a bad pick if it happens. And if he turns out ‘great’, well, nothing makes a better trade chip than a great catcher, if Montero sticks… Or other way around.

  8. Dave on June 4th, 2012 8:58 am

    The new rules don’t help the small market teams. Notice the caveat required for the M’s to get a tough sign guy later in the draft – they have to take an inferior talent at the top of the draft in order to make the strategy work. It’s not that they now get to benefit from signing all these guys that they couldn’t before, it just creates an option for them to shift money from one round to another. Basically, it’s the equivalent of trading down.

  9. greentunic on June 4th, 2012 10:04 am

    Yes, yes I do remember now. It was international signings. Not the amature draft caps.

    Are there teams that do seem to draft for need? Lots of text on teh internets suggest the Twins are looking to go pitcher. Whether they do or not doesn’t really matter, but that suggests that they do allow need to influence their pics?

    In another note, It appears that the international draft was moved back a year.

  10. thurston24 on June 4th, 2012 10:09 am

    I’m looking forward to the draft. I have no clue on who the M’s will draft and will not have an opinion unless it’s Buxton, which would be awesome. Just because they draft someone unexpected, doesn’t mean it won’t be great. Look at Nick Franklin and Taijuan Walker, who no one knew much about. Two awesome picks that may pay huge dividends. Also, look at Pryor, who Jay Yenich didn’t swoon over who just pitched the last two days. Any time a pick past round two even makes the major leagues, it means the front office did a pretty good job with that pick (unless they stayed in the minors for many years first). This is the time to get really excited.

  11. groundzero55 on June 4th, 2012 10:10 am

    Some of the pitchers impress me more than Zunino. Even though we are loaded with pitching, you never can have too much. Gausman is my favorite at this point…
    I hope the Astros take Appel. If that’s the case, we have a real chance to snag Buxton as I’m hearing a lot of rumbling about the Twins wanting (and desperately needing) pitching.

  12. maqman on June 4th, 2012 10:15 am

    The international draft has never been agreed on yet, it has been decided not to implement one this year. Every team will have the same financial pool amount to sign international players this year. Next year the draft amount available for international signings will depend on revenue and market size, plus I believe on the teams past seasons record, which hopefully will aid the weaker teams to acquire more talent.

  13. Ichirolling51 on June 4th, 2012 10:19 am

    It is one thing to take a pitcher — especially when you are offensively challenged, when there are no quality bats on the board. However, it is a totally different scenario when you ignore your offensive woes and still go with a pitcher when there are quality bats on the board. Nevertheless, one of Buxton, Zunino, and Carrea will be on the board at three, so I will be pretty annoyed if we select a pitcher. There is also no excuse for wasting a top 5 pick on a signability player.

  14. Mike Snow on June 4th, 2012 10:44 am

    With the consistent talk from this front office about looking for guys who “just want to play baseball” or something to that effect, I would be massively shocked if they went after somebody hard to sign later on, particularly if it meant they have to sacrifice on talent with their top pick. Neither piece of that equation seems consistent with their philosophy.

    One, they have no history that I know of for reaching prearranged deals “below slot”. The one time we thought that might be the case, Steve Baron, we were wrong all around.

    Two, while they don’t necessarily shy away from picking players who will command large signing bonuses, they do need to have a sense of whether somebody will ultimately sign for an amount the team feels is an appropriate value. From the way they talk, it seems like they believe it ultimately comes down to the player’s own readiness to start his career as opposed to just working for better leverage. To the extent that “signability” means anything, that seems to be what they focus on.

  15. SonOfZavaras on June 4th, 2012 11:19 am

    Well said, Dave.

    The Mariners as an organization have inoculated me in recent years to any seeming weirdness or weakness in their drafting.

    So I’m not gonna be giving any sturm and drang about who they pick, no matter what. As much as I love to follow this stuff, I know that I can’t possibly know these kids better than McNamara or his people.

    Like just about everyone, Hultzen getting tabbed at #2 last year floored me. We’re swimming in promising arms in the upper minors, sure…but I won’t be surprised if an arm is picked.

    But I still think they don’t pass on Buxton if he’s there at #3.

  16. just a fan on June 4th, 2012 11:33 am

    One of the problems with this stupid draft cap is that players can go through the draft at least 3 times (probably more if they go JC).

    It’s easy to have a hard cap in the NFL or NBA, where a player can only go through the draft once.

    Somebody is going to get screwed. I hope it’s the Angels, and I hope it teaches MLB a lesson and they do away with it.

  17. Liam on June 4th, 2012 11:56 am

    The front office might not leak anything, but their blog might with pictures of their draft board.

  18. Badbadger on June 4th, 2012 12:03 pm

    I hope we take that massive black rectangle on the third column. He looks pretty solid.

  19. justinh on June 4th, 2012 12:25 pm

    Whoever the M’s take in four hours, I will be thrilled with the pick. T-MAC is the Greek God of the Draft.

    I do think there is a chance we make a deal for OSU LHP Andrew Heany for 3-4 million and save some cash for the later rounds. That being said, I think Correa will be the pick.

  20. ManifestDestiny on June 4th, 2012 12:26 pm

    So basically sit back and don’t question the draft, and don’t even think about questioning the All Powerful Zduriencik. Got it. Straight from Pravda to my brain.

  21. PinedaExpress on June 4th, 2012 12:38 pm

    I think its more along the line of question the picks at your own risk, but understand that this front office should have a fairly long rope at this point when it comes to picking the right players. With both the Walker and Hultzen picks they were openly questioned and it both cases it looks that so far they got them right.

  22. MrZDevotee on June 4th, 2012 12:41 pm

    It IS asking a lot of certain people, so if you need to, go ahead and get worked up and complain about something there’s no way you have enough knowledge to get worked up about. I know that I personally was really hoping they’d consult with you before making their pick– since they’ve shown themselves to not be very good at this stuff (y’know, picking the expected guy rather than their bizarre interest in fast tracked unexpected guys like Hultzen, Seager, Pryor, etc.)…

    Heck, it actually makes sense to start complaining NOW even, since it won’t be any different than waiting for the pick to happen first.

    Oh wait, you already did that. Nice work.

    (This was all written in good fun, mind you… Hope it’s taken that way…)

  23. californiamariner on June 4th, 2012 12:46 pm

    For what its worth, Keith Law is acting like the M’s are really on Correa

  24. marcus_andrews on June 4th, 2012 1:10 pm

    Okay so I like to think of myself being a fairly knowledgable Mariners fan. I know a lot of the guys we could take this year and I know a lot of guys in our minor league system. But what exactly is up with Baron? I know little to nothing about him and when he’s discussed on this site it’s always in passing and always ominous.

  25. groundzero55 on June 4th, 2012 1:20 pm

    He is doing ok…in the low minors. It’s not so much that he is a terrible player, but he’s also not rocking anyone’s world relative to how much we paid (or overpaid) to sign him.

  26. Dave on June 4th, 2012 1:23 pm

    No, he’s a terrible player. The M’s drafted a catch-and-throw backstop thinking they could fix his swing, but his swing isn’t fixable. That’s okay in the 3rd-5th round, but given that they spent a first rounder on him, it was a bad pick.

    Also, don’t worry about ManifestDestiny – he’s just a troll.

  27. GLS on June 4th, 2012 1:49 pm

    My gut instinct is that they’ll take Zunino. Zunino is the safe pick. He’s almost certain to become an average or better catcher in the major leagues, and he’s a strong makeup guy. It seems likely to me that he could still be their pick even if Buxton is available.

    Something I’ve come to appreciate when it comes to the draft is the importance of not missing. Yes, it’s great to get a superstar, but when you look at the draft and IFA signings over a period of years, it seems like the most important thing isn’t that one superstar so much as the steady production of major league caliber players. When I look at the Gillick and Bavasi years, it’s the absence of that sort of production that truly stands out.

  28. raul_podzednick on June 4th, 2012 2:08 pm

    can anybody tell me how Carrea compares to Truinfel and Fransisco Martinez?

  29. groundzero55 on June 4th, 2012 2:09 pm

    Let’s hope that next year we get more picks in the first couple rounds. Pretty big gap between 3 and 64.

  30. marcus_andrews on June 4th, 2012 2:14 pm

    Groundzero55, that’s actually just their first and second rounders.. It won’t be such a big gap next year though because there will be fewer comp picks for free agents signed.


    Correa is very different from both of them. Much more power, has a bat to stay at third. Defensively he’s adequate right now, good hands, decent arm but might outgrow the position. Not nearly as much speed as Martinez but close to average (think right about Seager’s speed).

    Correa has much more star potential than either of the two you mentioned, but he doesn’t come without risk (he is 17). Although for what it’s worth, the most recent rumors say we’re off of him completely (and again, rumors about our board are probably worth little to nothing).

  31. MrZDevotee on June 4th, 2012 2:25 pm

    I think that’s a great point, and seems to sum up the current regime’s approach. Pick guys that are most likely to be functional major league players. Take last year, for instance– a LHP who can place the ball where he wants it will ALWAYS be useful in the majors. Dustin Ackley is a guy who has an approach at the plate that will work at any level. (**)

    And the irony is, that once you HAVE that process coming to fruition, THEN you can take a flier on a guy that might be a high ceiling High Schooler with MVP potential, but you need to keep signing the guys that have solid fundamentals and pencil out as big league contributors without too much retooling, either way.

    This staff doesn’t seem to be interested in sexy picks nearly as much as solid picks. I’m okay with that (he said, remembering Ryan Christianson, Phillipe Aumont, Ryan Andersen, Jeff Clement, etc.)

    In fact, if anything that might be why they DON’T pick Zunino… He has excellent overall stats, but if you isolate them against only SEC opponents (the highest quality opponents he faced regularly) he was much more average.

    **I’m ignoring the Baron who shall remain unnamed**

    ***Marcus, “has a bat to stay at third.” Isn’t Correa a SS? Although I suppose he has the size to be moved to 3B eventually?***

  32. groundzero55 on June 4th, 2012 2:32 pm

    Correa is a SS and everything I’ve read says he is solid enough defensively to stick at SS. Also that he doesn’t project to be a power slugger but more of a doubles machine. Sounds like if he would need to move, going to 2B rather than 3B might be better.

  33. FamousMark on June 4th, 2012 2:41 pm

    Tom McNamara had this quote recently in an interview with Larry Stone:

    “The day you draft for need, and you pass on that guy you really think should be the guy you take, it will come back and haunt you. The guy will go out and be a Cy Young winner, and you might have a part-time extra player in the big leagues.”

    I couldn’t help but find a bit of significance in the fact that “Cy Young winner” was the player-superlative he used in his example, not “MVP,” “All-star,” or even, say, “Silver Slugger.” I mean, not to read into that to a point of claiming that’s an unintentional “tell” or anything like that, but I do think that indicates a willingness to consider a pitcher.

  34. GLS on June 4th, 2012 2:43 pm

    On Correa, I was reading on one blog or another that the answer to whether or not he moves off of shortstop has more to with the bias of the scout that is doing the evaluating. Some scouts apparently are simply not going to believe that a 6’4″ guy can play shortstop, even though there are some good precedents in Alex Rodriguez and Cal Ripken.

  35. marcus_andrews on June 4th, 2012 2:44 pm


    Right now yes, but I really don’t think he’ll stay there in the pros. I suppose what I meant is he has a bat that will play at Third if he does get moved there. I think he has 25 HR potential with about a .300 average but needs to work on his patience.

    I highly, highly doubt he moves to second. I think he’ll either be a SS (20% chance), 3B (70% chance) or LF (8% chance) with a very slim chance of anything else happening.

    Also back to Mr. Z, yes he hasn’t done great against the SEC but he has played his best on Friday’s. In other words, he’s hitting the best pitchers on each team the best.

  36. marcus_andrews on June 4th, 2012 2:47 pm


    I find your examples interesting because although those guys stayed there for a while, they did eventually end up at third. I know that you shouldn’t be worried about what happens to a guy when he’s 30 when looking at a 17 year old, but if the very best counterpoints to him moving are two guys that did eventually move, that’s a little concerning in my opinion.


    I think it’s possible he chose that because of last year’s pick of Hultzen. I don’t think it was a tell about this year as much as an explanation of what they have done in the past and their greater strategy. Not saying we won’t take a pitcher, just saying that I don’t think this quote is about that.

  37. groundzero55 on June 4th, 2012 2:49 pm

    Sure wish we’d had McNamara back when we passed on Lincecum to take Morrow. Or when we drafted Jeff Clement (out of NEED) and passed on, oh, a lot of very good players. We wasted our pick in one of the best drafts in the past decade at least. I’m not going to make a list of the first round in 2005 as it will only be depressing.

  38. marcus_andrews on June 4th, 2012 2:53 pm

    I think the Morrow, Lincecum pick very well could have occurred if McNamara was running things. If you need an example look at last year. Bauer has a lot of Lincecum in him (unorthodox in more ways than one, hard thrower, health concerns) and we passed on him for a more safe, more easily projectable pick. Seems entirely believable that Morrow would have been the pick even with the new regime. Clement on the other hand never would have happened. The ’05 draft has to be one of the saddest days in M’s history.

  39. Pete Livengood on June 4th, 2012 2:53 pm

    I’d like to say kudos to Dave for point #4 – I think this is a very real possibility, not necessarily for the M’s, but for *some* team in a draft like this. Nobody knows what the market efficiencies and ineffeciencies will be under the new CBA, and just because the Mariners or some other team may try to find them doesn’t mean that is a bad choice. I kind of like that thinking…depending on how things go, and what their analysis is of the talent then available.

  40. Westside guy on June 4th, 2012 3:00 pm

    Also, with regard to Morrow/Lincecum – we don’t know how Morrow would’ve turned out had he been handled correctly.

  41. groundzero55 on June 4th, 2012 3:12 pm

    Probably how he looks now. I think he is playing to his potential this year and last. Lots of strikeouts, ERA between 3 and 4 but not really Cy quality. Definitely better than flipflopping him between the rotation and the bullpen like we did with him. And not someone we would flip for an unproven closer.

  42. Slats on June 4th, 2012 4:14 pm

    Buxton or Correa.

  43. Slats on June 4th, 2012 4:18 pm

    Houston take Correa!

  44. Slats on June 4th, 2012 4:22 pm

    Twins take Appel.

  45. Pete Livengood on June 4th, 2012 4:27 pm

    Ahh, wishful thinking, Slats….

  46. Slats on June 4th, 2012 4:29 pm

    Sorry Buxton*

  47. Slats on June 4th, 2012 4:32 pm

    Zunino to Seattle.

  48. dantheman on June 4th, 2012 8:05 pm

    “The Mariners front office doesn’t leak anything to anyone, and the reality is that even the most well connected writers in the industry have no idea what the Mariners plans are.”

    Unless you read the local papers who appear to be far more “well connected” than anticipated.

  49. dantheman on June 4th, 2012 8:10 pm

    “the front office has a very strong track record in the draft, and this is the thing they’re best at”

    What????? This is a joke, right?

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