Names for the First-Round, 2013 Edition

Jay Yencich · June 6, 2013 at 6:30 am · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

Since I started blogging about this possibly-not-stupid stuff, I’ve been able to set aside draft day to sit down, analyze, and more often than not wait for a rather long time between picks because the Mariners are disinclined towards acquiring supplemental round selections and the early part of the draft is unbearably long. This year, however, the first day of the draft coincides with my most recent graduation (UW, MFA, poetry), and if the process starts up at 4 pm PDT and the ceremonies start at 5 pm, it’s hard to see me sticking around to cover any of this. [I also might not be at my cognitive best the next morning, when more draft happens.]

What I’ve tried to do here is profile some of the names I see floating around. Picking twelfth is in some respects easier and some respects more taxing: easier because the investment is not quite so large, more taxing in that there are more names that should be known, what with the vagaries of the draft. Something weird could easily happen and one of the two top prep outfielders, Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier, could land in our hands simply because other teams think they need pitching more. Or we could see the Mariners pick someone not on the public radar, as they did when they picked Taijuan Walker [after being rumored to the end to be looking at Marcus Littlewood with the same pick]. A not-infinite number of things could happen and undoubtedly one of them will.

I won’t take it personally if anything I say here does not come to fruition. I’m not really in the business of casting baseballs into the fire and then reading how they pop along their seams. I’m only here to apprise you of certain possibilities and leave the rest the results-based analysis. Certainly, someone will come in posting after me once the pick actually happens. Here are ten names in no particular order, not even the one that they were written in.

RF Hunter Renfroe, R/R, 6’1″, 215 lbs, 1/28/1992

SEC player, power hitter, confident, and playing a position that the system lacks depth at. With a profile like that, there’s a lot to Renfroe that just seems to make sense for us. Of course, the last time we drafted a player who owned one of his state’s prep home run records, it didn’t work out so well (Jeff Clement). Renfroe, formerly a catcher/pitcher, was always known for his home runs and his arm, but it’s only recently that he’s been capable of hitting for average, walking, mashing taters, and all that good stuff at the same time. His sophomore line of .252/.328/.374, for example, isn’t going to impress many outside of Brendan Ryan. The turnaround dates back to his time playing summer ball last year when he broke the Cal Ripken League’s home run record, and since he’s carried into the spring, most people seem sold on his plateau leap being a real thing. He’s still expected to strike out a lot, but then we’ve become inured to that sort of thing, have we not? If he doesn’t go earlier, I could see him being in play for the Mariners at #12. His first name isn’t really Hunter.

1B/3B D.J. Peterson, R/R, 6’1″, 190 lbs, 12/31/1991

Drafting a player once seems like sufficient precedent for having the interest to draft them again. It also seems really, really lazy. So the Mariners picked Peterson before in the 33rd round of 2010, figuring they might have a chance. They didn’t, or if they did, it doesn’t matter. Peterson can swing a bat. It’s most of what he does. He and his brother, they’re two of those kids that used to take batting practice on peas and lima beans. I thought it was silly when I first heard about it with Bryce Harper, but nope, it’s a thing that people do with their baseball-interested children. I wonder what kind of curve one could throw with a lima bean. Anyway, among the questions people have about Peterson, one is that his power numbers might be inflated by his playing in a high-elevation park (New Mexico) and the other is that his lack of athleticism, arm aside, leaves him likely to move to first as a pro. We have signed a few Lobos in the past, so I wouldn’t rule it out even though the premise is slightly silly to me.

RHP Ryne Stanek, 6’4″, 180 lbs, 7/26/1991

HEY YOU GUYS. DID YOU KNOW THAT THE MARINERS DRAFTED STANEK ONCE TOO? Back in 2010, Stanek just seemed to me a little more interesting than Walker in that stuff was comparable but he was further along in polish. His time at Arkansas confirmed some of that, with a strong slider and a heater that tops around 98, but whereas entering the year, he was a candidate to go #1, this season has been a bit of a disappointment. Stanek’s strikeout numbers have never really supported the kind of stuff he has. It’s not necessarily damning, after all I think I remember Mark Appel being in a similar position last year, but it’s enough to cause some people to say “oh, he’s a reliever” or “hitters can read him too easily” or whatever. It can probably be fixed, and then he’s a front-end starter. If it doesn’t get fixed somehow, I guess he’s a reliever, which would suck. We already got Capps because we didn’t sign him the first time. If he is the selection, expect every mock draft for 2014 to set us up with Kevin Cron.

1B Dominic Smith, L/L, 6’0″, 195 lbs, 6/15/1995

Why? The draft heads are the same that targeted Fielder earlier than he was expected to be taken, so there’s no aversion to drafting a first baseman early. The kid is a hard worker and a “ballplayer” I guess, which is something that the team has prioritized in some of their selections. He’s also a polished hitter and people seem to think he’ll develop power later on. The issues? Like Peterson, he’s probably a first baseman down the line, a good one mind you, but he doesn’t have the athleticism to play elsewhere. And that being the case, a lot more seems to fall on his ability to hit for power, which will come later and be dependent on conditioning, plate discipline, and various other factors. If you think Smith is a solution there, you have to believe that you can develop that power and you also have to be willing to wait it out with him, whereas a lot of others on this list might have a quicker return. Drafting him would also probably preclude us from drafting Rowdy Tellez, which I’m opposed to for obvious reasons.

RF Aaron Judge, R/R, 6’7″, 240 lbs, 4/26/1992

Several years ago, I had the unique pleasure of watching an Aquasox outfield that consisted of Joe Dunigan, Greg Halman, and Kalian Sams, three guys built more like football players than baseball players. While none of those players that year turned out to be good except Halman ( :( ), it still sticks out in my mind as a figure of delight. With Aaron Judge, I imagine a more-skilled, right-handed Carlos Peguero with better orthodontia, galloping about in right field, and I smile, because when you can’t have good things you can settle for the novel or the strange. Judge is an enormous man. As such, he has an enormous strike zone, one which he shows little skill in defending as he is more interested in turning baseballs into studies on ballistics. The trouble is that the power has been slower to become usable for him, or else people might be more inclined to put up with a middling average and likely-triple-digit strikeouts if it could mean 30+ home runs. If this all sounds precariously close to a lot of players we’ve had or have been interested in already, don’t worry, Judge at least has the tools to defend well, and probably won’t be running in ampersands in the outfield. Were this a Fontaine draft, he would be the pick because he’s the tallest.

OF Austin Wilson, R/R, 6’5′, 245 lbs, 2/7/1992

I felt the need to get a couple of college OFs in here and I think what with the injury concerns, we might be more likely to draft the guy from Stanford than the guy from Samford (Phillip Ervin), which always seems more like a typo to me. To compare the two, Wilson is the more physical one, a big guy who like Judge has great defensive tools and the potential for more with the bat, were it not for strikeouts and other things. As I understand it, there’s a stigma against Stanford hitters, that they’re taught a swing geared more towards spraying the ball around the field than productively using power. Wilson has that, and it may take some adjustments so that he doesn’t have it. Ervin is the grinder, a smaller guy who has a more productive swing and plays dialed up to eleven. He also has a chance to stick in center, though Ervin has been injured a few times and has that against him. More prototypical athletes like Wilson often get anointed by the scouting community and selected higher, whereas, being that Ervin has fallen apart a few times and is the grinder, there’s a possibility that he could slip to the sandwich round OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE

C Reese McGuire, L/R, 6’1″, 190 lbs, 3/2/1995

This is a name that I keep seeing pop up in amateur mock drafts, and usually provokes an annoyed “whyyyyy?” from me. The exclamation has gotten less loud as it’s become apparent that the organization doesn’t believe in Montero as a catcher. Ed: I also wrote all this before the meniscus tear and before the steroid thing! People are right to point out that catching, in a way , is always a “need,” but unlike, say, shortstop, it’s harder to move former catchers to good defensive positions. For what it’s worth, McGuire seems more the type to make someone move than move himself, as he’s rated well on all fundamental catching things and even manages to call his own games which, if you’ll remember from Zunino, doesn’t happen much even at the college level. He’s also a lefty bat, a rarity among backstops, and is thought of as being capable of hitting for average and some power at the professional level. I don’t know that I’d make the pick because the strengths of the draft work too well with the Mariners existing needs to pick a player who might be redundant. I don’t know that the Mariners would select him because they, despite running a NW/Cal showcase out of Safeco, don’t draft heavily from their own backyard. But, if McGuire was the pick, he wouldn’t be a bad player to have.

SS J.P. Crawford, L/R, 6’2″, 175 lbs, 1/11/1995

Speaking of which… Crawford is also a name that’s been linked with the Mariners in assorted mock drafts, and this one seems more defensible as the Mariners can’t seem to get more than a pick or two into the draft without drafting someone presently playing shortstop for some team. Like McGuire, Crawford is one of those vaunted prep prospects expected to stay at their premium position as a pro. The tools have always been there and the skills have come along as he’s gotten more reps in high school to where now he seems to be thought of as a better-than-average shortstop. This is a good thing because his bat work hasn’t really blown anyone away. Part of that might be the fact that his swing is a little weird (see also: Brad Miller), which hasn’t prevented him from hitting all around the field, but projecting power from him seems to be a little tougher to do. I’d prefer other players. Whatever.

RHP Phil Bickford, 6’4″, 7/10/1995

Or, you know, we like pitchers and… stuff. I’m not sure how it is relative to other organizations, but around the Mariners floats some talk about how we obviously prefer hitters. I think that makes some sense because you need a lot more non-pitching bodies to fill out a lineup, but looking over the four years we’ve had with this group, they’ve drafted 40% pitchers in the first five picks, but just 35% in their top ten overall. I don’t think of this organization as being spooked by taking pitchers early. Bickford might not be the highest-rated arm at twelve, but he’s the one linked most often to the M’s. The reason is that Bickford probably has one of the best heaters in the prep ranks, touching the mid-90s on the gun and spotting it where he pleases. Like a lot of younger players, that one pitch is so good that he hasn’t really needed the others, but that he’s been doing it in California speaks to its virtues. The M’s will have to train him how to use offspeed pitches and what not, but that’s one thing that I feel reasonably comfortable with them doing. The only issues are that pitching isn’t a big need of ours and he’s a longer-term project.

3B Colin Moran, L/R, 6’3″, 210 lbs, 10/1/1992

The Mariners would be interested because they drafted his brother! You’re adorable, mock draft writers. Also probably not realistic, unless Moran is pulling a Dylan Bundy and only wants to be drafted by the organization his brother plays for. Bros before pros. Younger Moran is regarded as probably the second-best college bat in the draft, behind Kris Bryant, who has a lot more power. The Tar Heels’ third baseman hasn’t shown that yet, but he’s been otherwise productive and shown various traits that make people believe that his hitting ability will translate well to the pros. Unlike some of the other guys, he’s also reasonably likely to stay at third base, though he also lacks stellar range and will be compensating with his other defensive strengths.

Comments

34 Responses to “Names for the First-Round, 2013 Edition”

  1. wilchiro on June 6th, 2013 7:06 am

    Kind of rooting for us to go with Austin Wilson here. This organization has very little OF depth.

  2. Mid80sRighty on June 6th, 2013 7:06 am

    “I’m not really in the business of casting baseballs into the fire and then reading how they pop along their seams.”

    Love this line! Seems more appropriate than Dave’s usual “reading the tea leaves” line.

    That said, I’m hoping Renfroe is still around at #12. But, one thing I really trust Z with is the draft. So, I’m sure I’ll be happy with whoever they get.

  3. ChrisFB on June 6th, 2013 7:14 am

    Congrats on your MFA!

  4. DucksonthePond19 on June 6th, 2013 9:01 am

    If Renfroe is still there at 12 …. RH Bat with Plus arm, plus power, average defense, strikes out too much. Sounds like our home grown version of Jay Buhner .. this park was built for this bat!

    This is a must have ..

  5. neo-realist on June 6th, 2013 9:14 am

    I used a plastic bat and a crushed dixie cup for hitting as a kid:) No little league in the neighborhood:(:(

    Even if Dominic Smith doesn’t develop something like 30-40 hr per year power, he has really good strike zone recognition and an ability to hit the ropes all over–.320, .330 BA hitter who drives in runs.

  6. MrZDevotee on June 6th, 2013 9:17 am

    “running in ampersands in the outfield”

    Best description ever of some of our outfielders’ paths to batted balls in the outfield… I could picture the craziness, along with the ridiculous song made famous by the old Benny Hill comedy series.

    There’s a “dartboard approach” side of me that hopes we just draft all position players this draft. We seem to be good at finding pitchers lost in the forest, or with their thumb out on the side of the road… So it would feel satisfying to just stack up on the most “tool-y” outfielders and SS-3B guys.

    The baseball draft is the closest feeling to Christmas Day that comes during Spring/Summer months. Looking forward to reading up on who Summer Santa brings us.

    (Also, Jay- I was studying poetry myself until my mother convinced me what she thinks is a valuable degree is more imporant than what I think… *laugh* Mark Strand, Mark Doty, John Ashbery, Anne Sexton… Some of my favorite reads…)

  7. hasselln on June 6th, 2013 9:23 am

    I already have an emotional investment in Eric “Baby Jags” Jagielo, 3B Notre Dame. Just putting that out there. The consensus on him is somewhere late first round so he might be a ‘reach’ for the Mariners, but he’s a college bat with great OBP and I know his brother so it’d be nice to have him out here visiting more often.

  8. justcruisn on June 6th, 2013 10:06 am

    Would to see a 60 stolen base per year kind of player.

  9. scraps on June 6th, 2013 10:23 am

    Hey, MrZDevotee, I’m a modern poetry fan too (though I didn’t go to college). You don’t see that around baseball much (modern poetry that is, not didn’t go to college).

    James Merrill, Marilyn Hacker, Elizabeth Bishop, John Hollander, Jack Spicer, Anthony Hecht, John Berryman, Hayden Carruth, etc etc.

    I like very much Ashbery’s Darger-inspired Girls on the Run .

  10. JH on June 6th, 2013 10:35 am

    Another vote here for Dominic Smith. There are quite a few scouts who believe he can be at least adequate in a corner OF spot, and he’s got some serious upside with the bat. He’s also the youngest HS guy who projects as a first-rounder, so there’s that.

  11. Jay Yencich on June 6th, 2013 10:44 am

    I workshopped with Mark Doty a bit last summer. Nice fellow, well-read, quite insightful.

    There’s more of a poetry/baseball crossover than you’d think. One of the few times I was recognized for my name and baseball work was when I was shopping at Open Books. Marc is a big Csezlaw Milosz fan. And, off the top of my head, I know Marianne Moore, Robert Frost, Lisa Olstein, and James Richardson to either follow/have followed baseball or write about it.

  12. Jay Yencich on June 6th, 2013 10:47 am

    I was kind of into Jagielo, and for a while I hoped he might slip to us in the second round, but people keep saying that the Yankees are all over him.

    I think my order of preference is pretty close between Smith and Renfroe, then Peterson, then a drop to McGuire, the outfielders, pitching, if only because it’s harder for me to get excited about pitching right now.

  13. murphy_dog on June 6th, 2013 10:54 am

    Living in Elk Grove, CA, I’ve been witness to Rowdy Tellez for the last 4 years, and I’m not sure what reason is behind your comment, “Drafting him would also probably preclude us from drafting Rowdy Tellez, which I’m opposed to for obvious reasons.”

    Can you please clarify?

  14. Jay Yencich on June 6th, 2013 10:59 am

    The reason is I think Rowdy Tellez is awesome and want him in the organization, but fear that if we draft one first baseman in the first round, we may not be overly eager to draft another in the second round.

    There were some reports linking us to Tellez in the first, but I basically don’t trust anything I hear anymore.

  15. GLS on June 6th, 2013 11:01 am

    I’m always a bit skeptical when I read that someone like Dominic Smith lacks athleticism. It just sounds like scouting bias to me. If I recall correctly, that was one of the marks against Mike Trout, that he wasn’t the overall athlete that some of the other elite guys were, or something like that, despite the fact that he was a 3-sport varsity athlete in High School. The problem I think is that scouts are in the business of looking at elite caliber athletes on a daily basis and so it just gets routine.

  16. GLS on June 6th, 2013 11:03 am

    Why is Rowdy Tellez so awesome?

  17. Jay Yencich on June 6th, 2013 11:03 am

    Agreed on those points. But there can also be some variance in scouting reports. All the pre-draft stuff you read on Nick Franklin said he had a good arm and everything since he’s turned pro has talked like it was a slight liability at shortstop.

  18. Jay Yencich on June 6th, 2013 11:05 am

    Because his name is Rowdy Tellez? Also, LHB, patient hitter, lots of power.

  19. MrZDevotee on June 6th, 2013 11:07 am

    Scraps/Jay-
    Donald Hall has a plethora of pretty great baseball poems… Just google his name and baseball and you’ll find some pretty great stuff– “7th Inning” is a particular fave… Where he basically weaves the travails of baseball through the travails of everyday life.

  20. MrZDevotee on June 6th, 2013 11:07 am

    “LHB, patient hitter, lots of power.”

    Blech… Like we need more of THOSE… (wait, wha?)

  21. jordan on June 6th, 2013 11:15 am

    I’m so “meh” on all these guys.

  22. GLS on June 6th, 2013 11:20 am

    Jay, you’re right about the name. Anybody named “Rowdy” should automatically be drafted.

  23. jase411 on June 6th, 2013 11:35 am

    So we should get RowdyRoddy Piper???? Heck YAH! He would probably sign under slot, I can’t imagine he has tremendous earning potential these days…

  24. murphy_dog on June 6th, 2013 1:19 pm

    Rowdy was named the Sacramento Bee’s Player of the Year yesterday. His softball counterpart is Ali Aguilar, who will be the starting SS for the Huskies next year.

    Tellez also hit .500, with 46 RBIs, nine home runs and 16 doubles, and his 176 career RBIs are the most in section history. Tellez had 12 hits and three home runs as the Thundering Herd went 7-0 in the playoffs, one of the top hitting displays in the tournament’s 45-year history. In his final game for Elk Grove, an 11-2 rout of three-time defending section champion St. Mary’s of Stockton in the Division I championship, Tellez had four hits, including a home run and two doubles, and drove in four runs.

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/05/5474712/preps-plus-aguilar-tellez-are.html#storylink=cpy

  25. scraps on June 6th, 2013 1:40 pm

    MrZDevotee/Jay: I kinda knew that I could be called out on my joke about baseball/poetry. Besides Hall (who I almost listed), there’s Tom Clark, Paul Blackburn, Gregory Corso, William Carlos Williams, off the top of my cracked head.

  26. jwmarshall on June 6th, 2013 3:02 pm

    Thanks for mentioning Open Books, Jay. Christine and I are long, long time lurkers on USSM, taking more delight in many of the postings than in several innings of M’s ball we have witnessed down through the ages. Let me recommend a couple more baseball poems to any who might care to find them in a book (best) on the internet (tolerable)–

    Bill Knott’s “Mitts and Gloves” from his fine book, Becos, and William Carlos Williams’s “The Crowd at the Ball Game,” which begins “The crowd at the ball game / is moved uniformly // by a spirit of uselessness / which delights them.” Looks like a beautiful evening to be moved by uselessness at Safeco.

  27. John Morgan on June 6th, 2013 4:20 pm

    Congrats!

    The exclamation point is an attempt to bridge the divide, as I don’t know you, and can’t know if you like these electronic back pats or if, like me, they make you feel a bit queasy.

    Ahem.

    Short and not particularly insightful anecdote that is nevertheless important to framing my question (which I have no reason to assume you have an answer for): Some years back, I worked one in my crowded set of sad, perfunctory customer service jobs. One of my coworkers had been a coach in the Padres minor league system. He took his middle management position because of wife, kids, etc. One day we were talking about the eye test–how a player looks, and I brought up how Ian Kinsler–then just a prospect, most likely to fail as prospects are most likely to fail–seemed larger than one might assume from his listed height/weight. Not that he was heavier, but that he had a broad, square, muscular frame. My coworker then listed a whole handful of other players he saw a similar, eh, athletic? quality to. None of whom I remember being the rampant narcissist I am.

    I have this nutty idea that the velocity of a hit is one of the great unknowns that lurks in the background, influencing park fx and BABIP and UZR and development of power, etc.

    Has there been any attempt to quantify the physical characteristics of successful hitters: shoulder breadth, hand size, arm length, arm to torso ratio, leg to torso ratio, etc. etc. &c.?

    Scanning the names above, I see a list of young men that seem, well, meagre. Am I nuts? Could some of the hard to quantify “talent” still left to scouting be quantified, be worked into a database, or am I venturing in retrograde good-face, inverted-W, bloodlines kind of analysis?

  28. sergey on June 6th, 2013 5:36 pm

    1B/3B Peterson it is! I think it reminds Ms brass of 1B/3B Ott (texas). I agree with Jay, Renfroe would have been better.

  29. Woodcutta on June 6th, 2013 6:37 pm

    According to Harold Reynolds and Peterson, he is going to remain at 3B. If that is the case, why was he drafted? The M’s do have a good 3B in Seager. The organization has a lack of OF depth and they select a 3B who will be blocked. Sounds about right.

  30. sergey on June 6th, 2013 6:43 pm

    Drafting for the highest value at every round is the name of the game.

    Always try highest defensive position first, in this case 3B. Peterson might switch to another position 1B/LF/RF.

  31. MrZDevotee on June 6th, 2013 7:56 pm

    Woodcutta-
    Even if he sticks at 3B, he’s realistically 3 years out from the majors. And if he can handle 1B too, well that makes him a backup infielder type that would actually be nice to have– 3B/1B with some pop, unlike the middle infielder type. If we pencil him into our dreams of having a REAL baseball team by that time, he’d be a valuable part time guy, a’la Carp when he first came up.

    Maybe we’re too used to having top 5 picks and thinking they’re sure things to be in the majors, and contributing, a couple years after the draft?

    Worst scenario, it’s not like it’s hard to find someone interested in a slugging 3B if he excels. His type is one of the most valuable bills to have in a ballclub’s wallet.

  32. scraps on June 6th, 2013 8:05 pm

    And Seager is hardly a immovable all-star, especially in four to five years: who knows?

    It’s not the position that’s worrying me; it’s the lack of athleticism, coupled with the likelihood of his moving to first base, which means he’d had better develop major-league power, or he’ll be a bust.

  33. scraps on June 6th, 2013 8:07 pm

    Reponding to Woocutta.

  34. Aussie Mariner on June 6th, 2013 8:14 pm

    Austin Wilson at 49. Nice work Jay, got both guys on the list! And then DJ Peterson’s brother Dustin goes a pick later to the Pirates.

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