It's draft week, which means it's time to preview another name that's been connected to the Mariners. There will be an open thread for the MLB Network televised portion of the draft on Thursday, and then open threads on Friday and Saturday. We'll also be writing up everyone the Mariners draft in the early rounds, and maybe we can even force Kyle out of retirement for another Blogger's Scouting Report.
Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
Keith Law mocked Conforto to the Mariners a few weeks ago, but even he conceded that it was a tough call, given how secretive the Mariners are in regards to their draft process and everything else. Nobody seems to know where the Mariners sit at #6, other than a slight feeling that they might pull the trigger on Alex Jackson if he falls to them at #6, which most think he won't.
Conforto, a local product from Redmond High School, would join fellow Oregon State Beavers Cole Gillespie and Stefen Romero in the Mariners organization. Conforto, left-handed, stands 6'1'' and 211 lbs. He's carrying a massive .351/.506/.557 line this year, drawing an impressive 51 walks compared to just 34 strikeouts.
There's no doubting Conforto's offensive ability, with above-average power from the left side and a solid approach at the plate, but a severe lack of defensive value hurts his value considerably.
At the plate, Conforto has average bat speed but rotates his hips well and gets his hands moving quickly, and has plus power to the pull side. He works counts well and is willing to go the other way when necessary, and patience shouldn't be an issue at the plate. He's a well below-average runner, however, and adds little value on the bases.
Defensively, however, Conforto is a bit of a mess. He doesn't get good jumps on the ball in the outfield, and when he does get to the ball he has a poor throwing arm that runners can take extra bases on. He more than likely is going to end up at first base, though it's unlikely he'll be anything more than average there, and the bat doesn't play as well.
Here's some video from MLB.com on Conforto's future MLB prospects, as well as a look at his swing.
Reading scouting reports on Conforto results in a lot of negative commentary, as many spend more time poking at his defensive ability and murky future position than praising his offensive upside, which is still quite good. Reports on him vary from solid starter to potential platoon bat, the latter of which seems fairly ridiculous for a player considered by many to be the best college bat available. Conforto is hardly five-tool, but his power/patience combo is highly intriguing, and he'd certainly fit within a Mariners organization that's largely devoid of quality outfield prospects. Conforto looks like he has the possible makings of a .280/.380/.450 hitter, legit enough to merit an early first-round pick, but at #6? He's probably a lot safer than somebody like Alex Jackson, but the upside isn't there.
It's the constant battle between something known and lesser versus something lesser but possibly greater. Jack Zduriencik might not have a ton of rope at this point, and there's been a reasonable amount of skepticism from myself and others that he may choose a fast-tracked player with the #6 pick than dive into the high school pool. He'll have his choice of college arms, but if he wants a college bat, Conforto would make a lot of sense.