2021 Draft Post

marc w · July 12, 2021 at 10:38 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Round 1: Harry Ford, C, North Cobb HS (GA)

The M’s eschewed the expert consensus over who they’d pick (mostly UCLA SS Matt McClain, and, failing that, one of the top college pitchers) as well as their own history, going for HS C Harry Ford of North Cobb HS in Georgia. The freakishly-athletic Ford has a big bat, but also drew raves for his speed, leading some to think he could play in the OF down the road.

The M’s have been very consistent at the top of the draft, especially under Jerry Dipoto. They’ve taken a college player every year, from Kyle Lewis, then Evan White, and then the run of college pitchers with Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, and Emerson Hancock. Picking at #12, they weren’t going to have the ability to grab an absolutely elite, top-of-the-scale, in-the-running-at-1:1 prep product. That’s what makes this pick so interesting; how did they get enough information after two Covid-impacted high school seasons to feel comfortable taking Ford here? As we talked about with Chris Crawford yesterday, I think the scouting combine probably helped a number of teams understand what players did well and what they need to work on.

But Ford didn’t attend MLB’s Draft Combine, so the M’s were evidently convinced by their scouts that they had seen enough to know that Ford was a special athlete, and getting down to the third significant digit in his 40-yard dash time wasn’t going to meaningfully move the needle on him. The draft didn’t quite go according to plan, with Kumar Rocker dropping to 10th, and with teams grabbing players hoping for underslot deals just ahead of where the M’s picked. But this doesn’t feel like an underslot play; Ford’s a huge talent, and the M’s apparently got their man. The slot value of this pick is $4.37 million, for those keeping an eye on the bonus pool total.

Even with the Angels, Dipoto’s focused on College players. I think Dipoto’s Angels didn’t draft a first-round HS player, though, to be fair, they surrendered their first rounder for signing free agents like Albert Pujols, and they were comfortable enough to grab, say, Jahmai Jones, *near* the top of the process. Because of all of this, I’m legitimately surprised the M’s went for Ford, but I’m excited to see them break out of what seemed to be a hardened orthodoxy around College talent. Welcome, Harry Ford!

Round 2: Edwin Arroyo, SS, Arecibo Baseball Academy (PR)

Staying in the prep ranks, the M’s take Puerto Rican shortstop, Edwin Arroyo. The M’s have found talent in PR and in the early rounds before (Edwin Diaz!), so this is less of a departure, but Arroyo – unlike Ford – did attend the MLB Draft Combine in North Carolina, so if M’s scouts had less of an opportunity to scout him due to the pandemic, they probably appreciated the ability to see him play games against high-level competition as well as to get some metrics on arm speed/bat speed, etc.

Arroyo’s a switch-hitter, and currently stands at 6’0″ and 170 lbs. I’ve seen him seen as the top prospect out of Puerto Rico this year, continuing PR’s resurgence as a hotbed of baseball talent after a fallow period that ended when Francisco Lindor went #8 in 2011. He’s committed to Florida State, but his slot value is a bit over $1.5 million, making it pretty likely he’ll sign with Seattle.

A personal fave of mine, SS Edwin Arroyo can pick it, throw it, and swing it from both sides of the plate. A very good pick by the #Mariners

Round 3: Michael Morales, RHP, East Pennsboro HS (PA)

Michael Morales is a righty starter out of a Pennsylvania HS that MLB ranked as the #109 prospect coming into the draft. A Vanderbilt commit, Morales throws a low-90s fastball that can touch the mid-90s, a big curve, and a good change that may one day be his best pitch.

There may be some signability questions, as Morales was seen as a back-of-the-first-round or potential Competitive Balance pick, and slid to the 3rd round. These are the kinds of players that Vanderbilt has been pretty successful at convincing to go to college and improve their stock. The slot value here is $733,000, whereas the 2nd-round pick value is double that. The M’s track record on developing pitching may help Dipoto and Co. convince Morales to sign, and it’s also possible that the M’s could save a bit on their first two (or next) picks and redirect some of that to this pick, similar to the way they saved a bit on Evan White in order to convince Sam Carlson to sign back in 2017.

Round 4: Bryce Miller, SP, Texas A&M

Ladies and Gentlemen, a College pitcher! Bryce Miller was a top-100 draft prospect per MLB, Miller’s a senior who’d been a reliever for two years after transferring in from a Texas JC. This year, he made 10 starts, and struck out 70 in 56 2/3 IP. The righty has good stuff, but has struggled with control, and that problem didn’t resolve when he stretched out as a starter. He walked over 5 per 9 this season for the Aggies, and also plunked 13 batters.

Like many players, his season was impacted by the pandemic, as contact tracing forced him to miss a couple of key SEC series. He played in the Cape Cod league in 2019, albeit for less than 10 IP, but between the Cape and A&M (where the M’s were scouting Zach DeLoach last year), the M’s have obviously seen him a fair amount. And more than most players, I imagine he’s a guy with really polarizing reports. He’s got mid-90s velocity, and a curve and slider that can both look intriguing. He tossed 7 scoreless in a non-league game, striking out 15 with no walks this year, and then a game against Alabama in which he went only 2 1/3, striking out 2, walking 2, and plunking *4*, leading to 4 runs allowed. This is a scouting call, and again, it might help that the M’s have done well with pitchers somewhat similar to Miller, including Brandon Williamson.

Round 5: Andy Thomas, C, Baylor University

Andy Thomas is a 5th-year senior at Baylor, a kid who took advantage of the NCAA offering players an extra year of eligibility after last year’s season was mostly wiped out by the pandemic. The California native had a great freshman season back in 2017, and was a finalist for the Buster Posey award for the top collegiate catcher this year. He started 2020 in a slump, so his numbers looked off that year, and seems to have made a great decision to take advantage of that fifth year of eligibility.

He hit .337/.411/.575, and more than doubled his career high in HRs with 11. His BB% was around 11% with a K% of around 13%; over his college career, he walked more than he struck out. I’d imagine that the M’s are looking to save a bit of money with this pick; the slot value is $379,000. More importantly, with Cal Raleigh now in Seattle, and with Harry Ford a long ways off, this team really needs depth at C in the minors. They’ve been filling it through minor league free agents and minor league Rule 5 picks, so this selection helps them re-stock their affiliates with a player with high-level collegiate experience.

More as the draft rolls on, but taking a break for the afternoon.


6 Responses to “2021 Draft Post”

  1. Paul B on July 12th, 2021 11:29 am

    First 3 Mariner picks all HS.

    Very strange.

  2. Stevemotivateir on July 12th, 2021 7:56 pm

    ^This was the year to do it. Most of the top talent is in the upper-minors and poised for their debuts in the near future. Any remaining holes are likely going to be filled with free agents and trade acquisitions, so why not go after players with higher ceilings and give them all the time they need to develop?

  3. Sowulo on July 12th, 2021 10:35 pm


    That’s what I was thinking. They have a bumper crop of talent becoming MLB ready now and next year. So there is no urgency to get a lot of new talent available quickly. It seems smart to start building the next generation of M’s as the current crop won’t be reaching their primes for a few years yet. There is plenty of time to develop today’s draftees so why not start younger with players who might have higher ceilings….

  4. Stevemotivateir on July 13th, 2021 3:19 pm

    I was still surprised they went after so many prep players in the upper rounds, but that’s fine by me.

  5. Thoan on July 15th, 2021 3:09 pm

    If any of these picks are signed quickly, can they appear in the minors this year? I’ve lost track of how these things work since MLB tossed decades of practice overboard.

  6. Goob on July 20th, 2021 12:03 pm

    Thanks for these recaps, mate!

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