Names for the First-Round, 2013 Edition
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.