This is one of those introductory paragraphs that doesn't add a whole lot to the title. Due to signing Nelson Cruz, the Mariners didn't have a first round pick this year. The club had to wait all the way until pick No. 60 to draft their first player, and they tabbed Nick Neidert, a promising right-hander out of Peachtree High School in Georgia who fell due to elbow tendinitis concerns. Twelve picks later, the Mariners selected Oregon State's ace, righty Andrew Moore.
In Neidert (pronounced NYE-dirt), the Mariners might have wound up with a bargain. Elbow problems scared a few clubs away, but before the injury arose, Neidert was seen as a potential supplemental round pick. At six-foot-one and 185 pounds, Neidert is small for a pitcher, but he's hit 96 on the gun and has flashed a good changeup, rare for a high schooler. He also throws a slider, though that pitch is apparently a work in progress.
Some fans and analysts will be concerned about Neidert's size. Don't be one of them. There's precious little to the conventional "wisdom" that pitchers need to be tall to succeed, and over at Fangraphs, Kiley McDaniel highlighted a few reasons why these guys are often overlooked. Neidert's athletic and has great arm speed, traits that give him as good of a chance as any to stay healthy and to learn how to throw a breaking ball.
Reportedly, there are no signability concerns and the Mariners are saying that everything is good to go on the medical front. If both prove true, this is about as well as the M's could have expected to do given their circumstances.
Playing his part, scouting director Tom McNamara sounds excited: "He was the guy we wanted... He's mostly 93-94, good command, slider has a lot of potential... At 60, we were happily surprised he was there."
Finally, if you'd like to see video of a guy you can't believe is old enough to be a professional baseball player, MLB.com's draft report has you covered.
If Neidert fell, than Moore was a reach. Baseball Prospectus's Chris Crawford isn't a fan:
The Mariners like to go the local route, but in doing so, they've made a pretty substantial reach. Moore has no plus pitches, and while he has above-average command of all four, asking him to be more than a fifth starter is asking too much for me. I'm not taking a potential five starter with the 72nd pick.
All of the draft outlets had Moore going a few rounds later, so the Mariners must have seen more in his right arm than most evaluators. He did increase his velocity over the course of the spring, topping out at 95, which would be plus velocity if he could maintain it. He'll sit lower than that pitching every five days in pro ball, but he gets points for good command, and he reportedly can cut and sink his fastball, which should help mitigate platoon problems. He's also a workout warrior, and it's always nice to add someone who really wants it to the system.
As always, it's important not to overreact to pre-draft rankings. The Mariners have dedicated more time to these two players than any of the public evaluators -- hardworking and talented as they are -- and I'll always advocate deferring to the expertise of the scouting department over the Internet's consensus prospect rankings. Moreover, the rankings are just a snapshot in time, and the baseball prospect landscape changes quickly. It's fair to say the 2014 draft would play out very differently if there was a re-draft tomorrow, and the same will undoubtedly hold true for this class in a year's time. Even the Mariners won't have a great feel for what these two can do until they're contributing regularly in the organization.
With all that in mind, welcome to the Mariners, Nick and Andrew!