As most - or at least some - of you know, the Mariners possess the 12th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. After picking in the top three for three of the past four years, this is a pretty substantial drop from where we've generally seen Seattle pick.
If one were to grade the 2013 draft class on the "rate our service" cards that a waitress hands you after a meal, it'd probably be be given a below-average grade. There's some good college pitching near the top, and the high-school bats are arguably better than the year before, but there's no semblance of depth in the college ranks in terms of bats and the same goes for the prep pitching. Some say that there's no such thing as a weak draft class, just a less obvious one. I personally say that's a fallacy. Yes, there are always guys that pop up from the middle rounds that make a contribution, but a good draft class has those and quality at the top of the class. This draft does not.
Over the next couple of months, I'll be giving you guys an idea of some players that the Mariners could target with that 12th pick. Keep in mind that outside of Mike Zunino - which was the most obvious pick in the history of obvious picks - that the Mariners are one of the toughest organizations to read, and while I have talked to many scouts, this is really all based on hypothesis, at best.
Potential target: Austin Wilson
2013 in review: Wilson has had a bit of a lost season so far, picking up a stress reaction in his elbow in game one and just returning this weekend. He's put up a .250/.333/.375 line over his three games with a double, a walk, and three strikeouts.
Contact/Approach - Wilson has shown a willingness to take pitches - and step into them as evidenced by his 15 hit by pitches last year - and he's got a good head on his shoulders. The swing needs work - thanks Stanford coaches - and he'll strike out quite a bit, but the overall approach is sound.
Power - To put it in a phrase, Wilson is "strong like bull." Unfortunately, you don't get to see that strength at times because of the way Stanford teaches their hitters to pretty much never pull anything ever (hyperbole, but not as hyperbolic as you'd think). Still, he's got power to all fields, and plenty of batspeed that should lead to plus power at the next level.
Glove - He may look like a first-baseman, but he doesn't move like one. Wilson is a solid right-fielder who gets good jumps on the ball and has more than enough arm strength to play in the corner for several years. Long term he may have to move to first, but he's a solid outfielder for the next half decade-plus.
Speed - Wilson is a terrific athlete who could steal 15-20 bases per year.
Analysis: Right or wrong, Stanford hitters will always have a stigma towards them, but with Wilson's talent and athleticism, it'd be very surprising if he wasn't an everyday right-fielder for a decade for some lucky team. I think he'll compete with Kris Bryant to be the first college bat taken off the board, and if everything went right, maybe he's a candidate for Houston with pick number one.
Why would the Mariners: He'd immediately become the Mariners best outfielder prospect, and his combination of speed, power and arm would be a welcome addition to the Seattle outfield.
Why wouldn't they: He may not be there, and there are concerns about the in-game results and now the stress reaction to the elbow.
Chris Crawford is the founder and executive editor of MLB Draft Insider. He frequently contributes to the ESPN MLB Draft Blog and is also the sports editor of the Daily Record in Ellensburg. Follow him on Twitter @crawfordchrisv.