The 2017 Draft: A Day One Thread

Jay Yencich · June 12, 2017 at 12:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners, Minor Leagues 

Today, we have divided attentions, bearing down on the prospect of a Mariners game against the Twins simultaneous with the start of the start of the Major League Baseball Draft. It’s peculiar that the only of the three major sports that drafts during its own season would have nine games, eighteen of thirty teams active, for its big debutante ball, but then again, Yovani Gallardo is pitching for the Mariners. Maybe you don’t want to watch a Mariners game. Maybe you want to instead get irrationally invested in the drafting or not drafting of long-term prospects, like falling in love with strangers on the street and momentarily imagining an entire life only to feel the crush of recognition as they meet with their intended rendezvous. Yessir, the draft sure is dumb. But then the lottery can be more about purchasing the respite of a daydream than the expectation of making bank. Unless you’re tasked with developing those players in which case, godspeed.

The draft comes at an opportune time for the organization as they’re presently trying to take inventory of their investments and where they need to be moving forward. If I’m continuing the lotto metaphor for a bit, the early trend of the DiPoto regime has been to trade off numbers for more distant Powerball drawings in exchange for fistfuls of scratch tickets. We’ve exchanged potential, higher long-term value in return for immediate dividends of lesser value. It’s helped the team remain somewhat competitive during an absurd rash of injuries but, to give you a brief peek behind the other side of the keyboard, attempting to write top prospect lists for the system this year was a chore because the system is top-heavy and beyond that are potential fill-ins and little to daydream on. Baseball America, a fairly reliable inventory of prospects, ranked us 23rd in baseball, a step up from the 25th and 28th we were at in previous years, but with many of those prospects burning through prospect eligibility as we speak, the ratings could easily drop heading into next season.

Thus, the team is in an interesting position to be drafting, despite its later position in the first round. How do you feel about the core of the team moving forward, if we’re guessing that some of the O’Neill, Lewis, Vogelbach, Peterson group could be contributing soon, mitigating the fears of an aging roster? Or do you look at the pitching staff with hope for Moore filling in and the solidification of the bullpen ranks, or are you more concerned with our lack of contingency planning? The Mariners have spent a few years now uncomfortably trying to serve the needs of competing masters, those wanting immediate playoff contention and those recognizing that an internal rebuild has been overdue for generations of GMs now.

What we see this afternoon and on through Wednesday will be something of a glimpse into how the organization sees itself, albeit with the variables that accompany other teams deciding on their own needs ahead of us. Pitching or hitting? Do we aim for nearer contributors by taking advantage of the top-heavy nature of the college ranks or do we take advantage of the rather substantial group of live arms and toolsy outfielders in the prep ranks? Whatever options we go with, I’d imagine that our selections in rounds one and two today will find themselves among the system’s top names nearly by default.

Selections begin at 4 pm Pacific and we’ll have picks #17 and #55 to look forward to. Once we hit day two, I’ll open another post and toss some names out there and maybe chime in as day three gets going. I may very well edit in some scalding hot takes on the selections as they come in for us. Do not handle these takes with your bare hands.

Round 1: 1B/OF Evan White, R/L, 6’3”, 180 lbs, 4/26/96
2015: 52 G, 217 AB, 27 R, 69 H, 12 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 3 SB, CS, 33/15 K/BB, .318/.369/.410
2016: 54 G, 226 AB, 44 R, 85 H, 15 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 10 SB, 3 CS, 42/14 K/BB, .376/.419/.535
2017: 53 G, 212 AB, 48 R, 79 H, 24 2B, 3B, 10 HR, 41 RBI, 5 SB, 2 CS, 31/25 K/BB, .373/.453/.637

As we were about five picks in, nearly every mock I was looking at became useless and providing conflicting information. The last-second BA mock gave us Jo Adell, which I would have been satisfied with, as a fan of outfielders with ridiculous tools. Pratto to the Royals threw me a little, as I’d be into any 1B with a Votto comp and liked the idea of positional versatility. I saw that J.B. Bukauskas was on the board and then immediately concluded that the Astros would draft him (I was right). Names came off, I found myself caught up in thinking about whatever best player dropping to us, since it was becoming clear that we’d end up with a quality player regardless due to various slippages.

I hadn’t been giving all that much thought to Evan White specifically. The idea of him crossed my mind a few days ago as this: “What intrigues me about Pratto as an atypical 1B prospect seems like it’s more polished in White, maybe with a different sense of ceiling.” Most of the mocks had him going earlier or not in our immediate neighborhood and there were other players that seemed more like our type, so the idea fleeted onward. Yet, here we are, having selected a first baseman who grew up in Ohio watching Votto above all other players on the Reds and I’m thinking, maybe this is right, even if unexpected.

White doesn’t really have a whole lot of easy comparison points because he’s a five-tool first baseman. He’s a bat-right, throw-left type, like Guillermo Heredia and also myself (Note: I should not be allowed to play first). He’s won a gold glove at Kentucky, can run at an above-average clip, could probably pitch with above-average velocity for a southpaw if it came to it. It’s feasible to imagine him playing an outfield corner, accounting for present speed and body type development. The knock against him right now is that he’s had some time to establish a profile as a good hitter, but power has not been immediate or easy to come by until this past season when he knocked out ten home runs. Game power is generally regarded as his worst tool, anomalous for a first baseman.

On the other hand, is this really something that we have to worry about now? For the years of the Jack Zduriencik administration, we emphasized dominant power, thinking that we could teach hitting later. That didn’t necessarily work out for us. However, we did have a good hitter in Kyle Seager who, upon shifting over to a power position, taught himself how to hit for power. We got some dingers out of Leonys Martin, which wasn’t expected previously. The aforementioned Heredia has hit home runs more frequently than I would have anticipated. I think that the current organization would prefer to start with a solid hitting foundation and see what can come of the power numbers later, a philosophy that would lead them to picks like Joe Rizzo in the second-round last year, and have them steering away from Guillermo Pimentel/Phillips Castillo types on the international market.

The uniqueness of White’s physical profile makes easy comparisons impossible. It’s sort of exciting in that sense, since you’re buying into a combination of foundational skills and physical ability and waiting to see what happens. One name I saw thrown out there was Darin Erstad, and if he plays more like the early career Erstad, who regularly took home positional awards, I think we could live with that. But more than Lewis did, this particular first-round pick provides interesting player development questions, one that I think I have more faith in us solving than in years past. I’d probably slot him as the #2 prospect in the system right now, between Lewis and O’Neill, and I hope to get a better sense of him in Everett later this summer.

Round 2: RHP Sam Carlson, 6’3”, 195 lbs, 12/3/1998
2016: 4-2, 7 G (4 GS), 2 CG, 1.32 ERA in 41.0 IP, 22 H, 12 R (6 ER), 48/17 K/BB
2017: 5-0, 8 G (7 GS), 2 CG (SHO), 0.69 ERA in 39.0 IP, 22 H, 3 R, 51/7 K/BB

Earlier, I made the remark of observing the difficulty in serving two masters, playing both for now and later. To pick both White and Carlson may throw that basic notion out of the window, although we’ll see what comes of day two. Selecting both good preps and good college players would be, satisfactory to my sensibilities.

To throw a statement out there that’s weird mostly for its obscurity, the pick of Carlson, the top prospect out of the Minnesota ranks, reminds me of the days when Ken Madeja was our Midwest crosschecker. Since he’s still within the organization, having survived multiple GM tenures now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of his guys, and it would actually make me feel all right given that the man does have a decent track record.

Carlson was something of a late bloomer, one of many guys who rises in the ranks because he suddenly is throwing a lot harder and with an improved breaking ball. Last summer, he was average fastball velocity, now he’s been clocked 93-97 mph. The breaker looks more like a slider than it used to. He’s always had good command and good pitching acumen, and so you can regard this as playing with the apparent trend that’s developed in the last year or so: You want guys with good foundations and you see where you can move from there.

MLB had him as their #15 prospect, BA as their #21, and Perfect Game had him mocked to go to the Jays in the first round at #28. Hell, the team itself thought he’d be gone by their first selection. On stuff, if it holds up (this is where I disclaim that one of the misses Madeja had that initially looked amazing was southpaw Tony Butler), he could be the best pitcher in system with frontline rotation potential. If anyone ranked him there already, I could defend it, cold weather reputation and all.

I know a lot of luck has played into ending up where we did in this draft, as much luck arguably as landing Kyle Lewis last year, but this is an easy Day One A-grade for any evaluator.


12 Responses to “The 2017 Draft: A Day One Thread”

  1. borris_g on June 12th, 2017 12:55 pm

    Jay, thanks for the post!
    I know this is inexact scince but who would you like the M’s to take?

  2. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 3:56 pm

    Jay, thanks for the post!
    I know this is inexact scince but who would you like the M’s to take?

    I have spent little time studying this draft because picking so deep in the first round seems like a crapshoot. I have latched on to California prep 1B Nick Pratto for no particular reason although I’m sure there are many toolsy HS outfielders I could also like. Most mocks seem to have use with Oregon LHP David Peterson or Missouri 3B Jake Burger. I don’t have a particular preference between the two. Irvine 2B/LF Keston Hiura is another murmured possibility that I seem to be coming around on because the dude can hit.

  3. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 5:11 pm

    This whole draft is going in an unpredictable manner which is entertaining. Jo Adell will be a thorn in our side in the years ahead though.

  4. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 5:19 pm

    I was wondering if I should feel dread that Jake Burger was taken by the White Sox and thus not available to us but then his draft interview came up and he professed to be a fan of Will Ferrell and so I am okay with him never playing for us.

  5. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 5:34 pm

    Aw, Pratto to the Royals, I wanted him bad

  6. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 5:58 pm

    Kentucky 1B Evan White. To work!

  7. bat guano on June 12th, 2017 6:07 pm

    I’d appreciate your thoughts Jay. Is this a good pick here?

  8. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 6:56 pm

    A take is now edited in!

  9. bat guano on June 12th, 2017 7:42 pm

    Excellent. Thank you! I feel better already.

  10. Jay Yencich on June 12th, 2017 8:08 pm

    Sam Carlson is a ballsy pick.

  11. bat guano on June 12th, 2017 8:45 pm

    He sounds like a good prospect, though a long ways off.

  12. borris_g on June 13th, 2017 6:31 am

    Did Carlson fall because of signing issues? I hope we can sign him without having to puny much of the next 8 rounds.

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