The 2018 Draft: A Day One Thread

Jay Yencich · June 4, 2018 at 12:00 pm · Filed Under Minor Leagues 

Well, here we are again, except this year, woooooo we don’t actually have major or minor league baseball to pay attention to simultaneous with the draft! Unless, of course, you want to stare at a DSL box score, which I always encourage people to do. Why, it’s like Major League Baseball wants to make the draft a spectacle or something despite only airing it on the MLB Network and because there’s less immediate impact and despite the fact that the only thing I really remember from the years of streamed-online drafts is Courtney Hawkins doing a backflip. He’s in indy league ball now. These are all old stories though, and we don’t need the distraction as badly as we did last year. We do, however, need the players more than I think we ever have in the perplexingly-long time I’ve been paying attention.

I’m not sure how thrilled I am about the first-round selection other than the most practical aspects of it adding talent. I have read a few dozen mock drafts in various iterations over the last few months and most of them have remained pretty static in their projections, expecting us to at Oregon State outfielder Trevor Larnach, an opinion that only seems to have solidified in recent weeks. It would be a good add to the system insofar as we don’t have a whole lot of projectable left-handed bats and Larnach would easily profile as the best of them. Of course, we could always end up with a pitcher instead hahaha wouldn’t that be wacky?

Where we end up from there is less clear, other than in recent interviews and articles, there’s been a lot of talk from the front office about the talent of the prep class in the outfield and starting pitching areas and how it could be an opportunity to add some athleticism. Drafts frequently go off the rails of even the most vetted of projections, and I’d expect this one to be little different on that front. That being said, there’s no way we could have predicted Sam Carlson being around when we were picking up our second-round pick last year and I’m not even going to try to drop names for this one until it happens.

Everything else, somewhat falls under the same general umbrella of how we’ve talked about the system for a while and the tendency to recruit capable college players for depth over long-term talent that could take more effort to develop. Even when things have broken right for us and we’ve developed a few unexpected performers, we’ve been using them to patch up the major league rosters in trades and the part of me that’s accustomed to bad stuff happening to competitive Mariners teams makes me wonder how far we’re off from needing a backup shortstop that isn’t Andrew Romine. That, of course, is beside the point.

I don’t know how much we can expect to learn about the team from Day One since it’s almost a given that it will be college first and high school second. What I think will be interesting from there, potentially, is how we manage the larger concerns of bonus pools, which have tightened up the operating parameters of a lot of teams in recent years. Given the harder pools, if the second rounder costs us too much, we could end up bouncing back to the college ranks and trying to pick up guys with less bargaining leverage, but that’s not 100% a given. We drafted a couple of interesting, less-experienced left-handers last year in 7th round pick Max Roberts and 9th round pick Jorge Benitez, and even among the “cost-saving” type players, we’ve gotten more out of Gonzaga right-hander Wyatt Mills than I think we initially expected to get. Since the bonuses are somewhat locked, it can turn into a game where you’re trying to out-hustle or out-scout the other organizations and I could see us maybe dipping into the Midwest and Puerto Rican ranks to play around with that, or our beloved D-II and D-III schools. We’ll only probably really start to get a sense of where we’re at in rounds eleven through twenty as we start to spread around the saved money. As the bonus pools beyond the tenth round don’t count anything below $100k, you can see a little bit freer spending there than you do on Day Two.

The preview show gets underway at 3 pm and then picks start happening for realsies at 4 pm, with the absolutely AGONIZING five-minutes between selections, so I’d expect us to pick around 5:30 pm or later, I don’t know? The clocks always seem to run over. I’d encourage baseball teams to do us a solid and stop dicking around as much with the bonus time, but I imagine that it’s an institutional thing where they need to allow a certain window for the talking heads to yell at each other.

Takes of varying levels of hotness to follow. Gosh, I hope I don’t end up having to post anything super spicy.

Round One: RHP Logan Gilbert, 6’6″, 225 lbs, 5/5/1997, Stetson
2016: 2-1, 21 G (5 GS), 2.74 ERA in 49.0 IP, 44 H (3 HR), 19 R (15 ER), 43/27 K/BB
2017: 10-0, 15 G (12 GS), 2 CG, 2.02 ERA in 89.0 IP, 65 H (HR), 23 R (20 ER), 107/26 K/BB
2018: 10-1, 14 G (14 GS), 2.52 ERA in 100.0 IP, 60 H (7 HR), 31 R (28 ER), 143/20 K/BB

This is a paradoxical one, in that on the one hand, it’s a name I’m fairly familiar with, having been mocked to us by most recently and off-and-on by evaluators throughout. On the other, I hadn’t anticipated Liberatore, Gorman, Singer, or various others to be among the available picks at the time, and was starting to think “What about Turang? What about Rocker?” Of course, the scouts themselves have their own preferences, and I had a notion that we might be looking in the direction of the SE, thus lining up with Rocker or Georgia prep Ethan Hankins. I’ll admit, I didn’t bother looking up where Stetson University was, which would have pointed me in the right direction being in central Florida.

Gilbert’s a peculiar one, in that he’s a college arm, but doesn’t fit the more moderate ceiling projections that we often tag on those guys, nor is he someone who had a late growth spurt and gained about a foot sometime after junior high. Instead, he’s a converted infielder who didn’t start pitching regularly until late in high school and on into college. It means less mileage on the arm, which is comforting, but it also means there’s more room for potential development in the offerings beyond the general pitching smarts and change-up that appear to already be there. One knock on Gilbert right now is that he’s yet to commit to one breaking ball or another, throwing both but neither as quite a plus. At the same time, I see it as a good match for us, in that we’ve had some success getting our guys to develop a true breaking ball. For whatever else you can say, you can look at the video overlay .gif and see the same basic slot producing both two distinct pitches. For a guy who hasn’t been pitching forever, you wouldn’t anticipate the mechanics being as good as they are.

You also wouldn’t really anticipate the numbers being where they are either. As you can see from the numbers above, the hits and the walks have steadily gone down (and the WHIP, for whatever use you have for that) and the Ks have kept going up. The only two real blips that you can see on there are that the home runs seemed a bit excessive this season and that the ERA (again, for whatever use you have for that) went up a little his junior year. As the numbers go, one issue mentioned is that he had some trouble getting going this season, and rather than throwing in the mid-90s, he was down to the low-90s earlier on. He still is a long-armed dude who spots the ball down well, so he was able to play just fine without it, but if the velocity comes back to the mid-90s, you can see where it could be a strong arsenal.

So, we didn’t pick one of the consensus top players left available, but Gilbert himself is in a fascinating position being both really good and, developmentally, somewhere between a college arm and a prep arm as far as his general track goes. He’s grown into his body and gone through the awkward phases, but possesses more room to improve on his offerings the likes of which can only come with more repetition and experience. This could end up extending his development time, but we’re getting the best of both worlds if we’re patient with him and confident in how we can get him to where he needs to be.

Round Two: CF Josh Stowers, R/R, 6’0″, 205 lbs, 2/25/1997, Louisville
2016: 20 G, 13 AB, 4 R, 3 H, RBI, 2 SB, 2/2 K/BB, .231/.333/.231
2017: 65 G, 201 AB, 50 R, 63 H, 15 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 34 RBI, 22 SB, 6 CS, 33/31 K/BB, .313/.422/.507
2018: 62 G, 220 AB, 72 R, 74 H, 14 2B, 4 3B, 9 HR, 60 RBI, 36 SB, 7 CS, 37/52 K/BB, .336/.477/.559

Man, I wanted Kumar Rocker, but maybe that college commitment is a little firm.

Stowers was, admittedly, not a name that was much on mine with my rather minimal research done this season. However, on doing a bit of reading on him, you can see him fitting within a certain archetype. The summer before Dipoto joined the organization, we signed Braden Bishop. The following year, we picked up Austin Grebeck and DeAires Moses after we grabbed Kyle Lewis in the first round. Last year, we selected Billy Cooke and Johnny Slater, former track star. What this seems to indicate at large is that the Mariners want their outfielders to be able to play defense, and maybe have enough speed to make a mess of things on the basepaths. Stowers is such a dude.

As far as other affinities go, Stowers was probably a guy who jumped up on the Mariners subjective boards based on his C the Z ability. He’s an on-base machine, with a differential of .141 from his average in 2018 and .109 last year. In case you hadn’t gathered as much, he’s also a guy that gets plunked a fair bit. Once on the bases, he has proven disruptive in a way that makes him fun for your team and annoying for the other team. His speed perhaps isn’t elite, but it’s definitely above-average and combined with the on-base ability, makes him someone you could see at the top or bottom of a batting order, since he’s more at home making contact than slugging out of his shoes.

I’m still getting acquainted with Stowers as a player, but the immediate questions I would have would be how viable he is in center. Both Cooke and Bishop would likely grade out as better gloves, and I don’t hear Stowers as having either speed or an arm on a level that comps to either guy, even if the on-base ability and basepath acumen likely outpaces both (the dividends on Cooke have been lacking so far, highlight plays aside). It’s impossible to project out three, four years down the line, but if the presence of a superior defender– Bishop, Gordon, Heredia, whomever– pushes him to left field instead, what you’d have is someone with a left field profile that’s less traditional by at-large standards, but makes sense in a Gamel or Span or Winn sort of way, which is how the Mariners have preferred to use their left field position in the current stadium.


14 Responses to “The 2018 Draft: A Day One Thread”

  1. HighBrie on June 4th, 2018 1:25 pm

    So, Jay, let’s aay for sake of argument that Swaggerty, Kelenic, Larnach, Gorman, Gilbert, Maclanahan, and Koval were all available. Who would you prefer? Would you want Turang or other young athletic upside shortstop? What’s your best case scenario for rounds 1-2?

  2. Jay Yencich on June 4th, 2018 1:47 pm

    Kowar, you mean? Anyway, I’ve done very very little research into things at this point, but I’ve heard stuff about Swaggerty slipping due to lack of average this year. The rest remain intriguing to me and I think Kelenic could be a potential steal if our MW scouting believes in him. Gilbert seems interesting. McLanahan, I’m less high on since there’s the existing injury history and questions about his durability. Kowar could be a good match for our player development except that while reading a little about him I hit on the phrase “multiple collapsed lungs” which made me wonder, how? I was actually into Kumar Rocker in the offseason, but haven’t followed-up.

    I don’t know how much I should bank on my own “best case” since I don’t put anywhere near the same kind of work in as the pros and my own preferences have never been in sync with any Mariners front office. I would say that I’m looking for the Mariners to split college and prep on day one and hopefully get something that can keep our window open and something that will take a little bit more development time. I would like to see some pitching taken as the depth is maddeningly shallow in our system, but one shouldn’t choose based on that alone.

  3. Jay Yencich on June 4th, 2018 4:28 pm
  4. Jay Yencich on June 4th, 2018 5:27 pm

    Hi, everyone, the draft has gone off the rails.

  5. bookbook on June 4th, 2018 6:49 pm

    Is this the equivalent of a Hultzen pick? Picking #14 is very different, but passing on two higher upside arms for the “safe” pitcher who will move faster? It feels like we’ve seen this film before.

  6. Jay Yencich on June 4th, 2018 7:29 pm

    I don’t think so. He’s not a guy with a low ceiling who’s expected to move fast, which was essentially what Hultzen was.

  7. Stevemotivateir on June 4th, 2018 7:48 pm

    Though I hadn’t heard about Kowar’s issue, Pneumothorax is the likely culprit. It’s common among males in their late teens experiencing significant growth spurts.

  8. bookbook on June 4th, 2018 9:43 pm

    I like these obo speedsters, but given the odds of any one being good enough, it seems like we’ve spent a 2nd round pick on a guy with a 4th outfielder upside.

  9. Sportszilla on June 4th, 2018 10:24 pm

    I dunno bookbook, if we’ve learned anything from guys like Altuve, Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts, and others, it’s that guys with the ability to control the zone and make contact can actually develop into stars if they make modest power gains. No saying that will happen here, but the game is currently rewarding guys who can make good contact even if they don’t have massive raw power.

  10. sliv on June 5th, 2018 12:50 am

    Perfect game has him at 87mph off the mound as a 16 year old and 89 from the outfield as a 17 year old… his 6.64 as a 17 year old is faster than cooke or Bishop at a younger age. Also Scott Hunter hung a 70 speed grade on him but he could be hyping his guy.. He may not have the instincts of those dudes but is most likely on par or faster than both. Also Mlb pipeline is either off again in there grade or the 40 arm grade is because of accuracy …because 89 at 17 is above average ..maybe he lost arm strenghth… who really knows … but it is interesting that he got hot during his teams most important games and hit 6 home runs in about 20 days facing playoff type competition

    At this point there is enough there that you can dream on as far as tools character and work ethic.

  11. bookbook on June 5th, 2018 3:41 am

    Fair point. Any second-rounder is a long shot. I do worry when any administration seems overly enamored of one type of player. Fast c the z types with no power is a better rut than right handed slugger who can’t move, but it’s still a rut.

  12. Sportszilla on June 5th, 2018 6:44 am

    I mean…it’s a “rut” if those players don’t pan out. The point (I’d presume) of taking guys who are fast, good defenders, and have a good sense of the strike zone is that those skills give them a tremendously high floor: if they never develop power, they can still be useful, and if they do, they can be stars. The same can’t be said for guys who might hit for more power now but can’t command the strike zone or field a premium position: if their bat doesn’t develop enough, they’re basically a fringe MLBer at best.

  13. bookbook on June 5th, 2018 11:12 am

    There are only so many 4th outfielder/slaphitting CF types a system needs before one hits diminishing returns. Ian Miller, Braden Bishop, Ben Gamel, Gil Heredia, are all young talented versions of the model. Heredia’s a good starterif he can keep his OBP above .400 and Gamels a starter when his BABIP is .350 or better. I don’t think Stowers was BPA and I think he was an addition to the only overstocked niche in the Ms system, other than 7th inning bullpen arm. So it’s not my favorite pick.

  14. sliv on June 5th, 2018 11:01 pm

    What do I know but with the swing change prior to season and the power tear at the end of the season to go with the power projections as a teen from the showcase circuit… and the video of his pull power to go with the head of our draft calling him a speed/power prospect… I think it is a bit pessimistic to put him in the slap hitter niche already.. the optimistic flip side is a Jean Seagura that walks more than he strikes out in center field…
    … however in reading what Scott Hunter said about the farm being bare and not being able to take risks at this point makes sense.. he said he wants to get the talent level up and then you can take some risks… i.e. high school kids. I feel like we are in good hands with a lot of club control on the big league roster and now lets see what this crew can do restocking the farm.. they need a couple of more drafts.. before we will be able to get a real idea on how.. good they are at this. I am optimistic … cautiously optimistic.

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