Day two of the draft is completed, and the Mariners have nabbed eight more guys to add to their organization -- notably, for not a lot of money. Yesterday's eight picks included six pitchers and five college seniors, as the Mariners went well under slot multiple times. College seniors generally don't get much money at all, given that they don't have any leverage to return to school. Last year, seniors signed for an average of 20% of their recommended slot bonus. For example, the Mariners held a pick value of over $471,000 for their 4th round selection, yet opted to select Ryan Yarbrough, a senior finesse lefty pitcher from Old Dominion. He'll see just a fraction of that money.
So why did the Mariners go so cheap yesterday? There's a pretty good chance that the Mariners are going to have to break the bank for Alex Jackson, though the degree of which is uncertain. Nick J. Faleris from Baseball Prospectus (subscription needed) suspects the Mariners are going to have to go above slot to veer Jackson away from his commitment to Oregon, and perhaps early indications are that his agent Scott Boras is demanding a lot more than whatever was initially suspected.
By choosing five seniors, the Mariners have likely saved over a million dollars with their picks in the second round, presumably to sign Jackson and perhaps Gareth Morgan, who has a college commitment of his own to NC State. It's unclear exactly how much money these guys will get, but it does seem clear that the Mariners are either angling to spend a little more money today or are saving up to lock down the best talent they took on Thursday.
That being said, let's examine the picks they made on Friday.
Austin Cousino, LH CF, Kentucky (Jr.)
Cousino has pre-2014 Juan Lagares written all over him in terms of skillset, an elite defender with a questionable bat. Cousino played with #42 overall selection slugger A.J. Reed at Kentucky, where he hit .308/.365/.441. He doesn't have much power and there were some concerns this year about his plate patience, as his walks were cut in half from the year before. Cousino's best year at the plate came his freshman year, but it's most been downhill from there. The Mariners press release about Cousino has some hollow words from Tom McNamara about his offensive ability - "He's a real good defensive player that can swing the bat. We were happy to get him." Good news -- the Mariners think their third pick has basic motor skills.
Either way, Cousino is a pure center fielder and may find a role at the big league level on his defense alone. If he can recapture some of the plate patience and pop he displayed early in his college career, the M's might have tapped into something.
Ryan Yarbrough, LHP, Old Dominion (Sr.)
This was the first real question mark of the draft, and there's still a little confusion as to what year Yarbrough actually is. An MLB.com article called him a junior with the chance to return for another year, but he's referred to as a senior on the Old Dominion website. It's probably safe to trust the school (and the draft tracker) on this one, and assuming that's the case, he represents the first major under slot signing.
Yarbrough is a finesse lefty, standing 6'6''. He doesn't throw very hard, and he didn't have a particularly great year at ODU either, carrying a 4.52 ERA with just 61 strikeouts in 83.2 innings. But his walk rate was excellent at 1.61/9, and Yarbrough has already been discussed as a possible reliever option down the line by Tom McNamara. A LOOGY with a 4th round selection? Maybe so.
Dan Altavilla, RHP, Mercyhurst College (Jr.)
Altavilla looks like another reliever, though one with some heat. Altavilla only stands 5'11'', but he throws in the low to mid 90s. The MLB.com scouting report on him points out a suspect delivery and a lack of deception on his changeup, and estimates he has a future as a reliever. He's already drawing some comparisons to Dominic Leone, but the Mariners aren't sure whether or not they want to develop him as a reliever or a starter.
Lane Ratliff, LHP, Jones County JC
Three pitchers in a row for the Mariners, going back with a lefty here. Because Ratliff is from such a small school, there isn't much information available on him, and his stats (89 K in 64.1 innings) don't carry much weight. He's 6'3'', 185, and already wearing a Mariners hat in his Twitter avatar.
Taylor Byrd, LHP, Nicholls State (Sr.)
The first of a run of four straight college seniors, Byrd won the Southland Pitcher of the year award in 2014. Byrd, 6'2'', carried a 1.92 ERA with 8.09 K/9 while pitching for Nicholls State, only allowing one home run.
Kodi Kerski, RHP, Sacred Heart (Sr.)
The Mariners' first alliterative pick is a diminutive righty at 5'10'', but one who cruised to a 2.42 ERA his senior year, though the competition level was weak. He's a control artist who had a 0.98 WHIP this year.
Peter Miller, RHP, Florida State (Sr.)
Miller had a rough year at FSU pitching with Heisman winner Jameis Winston and his Publix crab legs. Miller worked with Winston out of the bullpen, but also bounced into the starting rotation from time to time. Though the ERA was inflated in 2014 (5.14), he showed a major leap in ability to sit hitters down, raising his K/9 from 7.25 his junior year to 11.36 as a senior swingman. On the other hand Miller has major control issues, walking a whopping 6.64 BB/9 his senior year. Miller looks like a work in progress, but did face stiff competition in the ACC.
Adam Martin, RH C, Western Carolina (Sr.)
The Mariners ended their pitcher run with Martin, who had a monster senior season at Western Carolina, hitting 14 homers in 54 games. Martin also has good patience to go along with his power, combining 29 walks with 11 HBP to reach base 40 extra times in just 54 games for a .411 OBP.