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2017 MLB Draft: Reviewing the Mariners’ Past Drafts—2012

In the year of Whitney Houston and Mike Zunino

Miami Marlins v Seattle Mariners
Z is for Zefense
Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

As we continue to ramp up for the MLB draft in June, we here at LL are endeavoring to bring you a greater understanding of the deep underpinnings of the draft. Last week, we did a full positional overview to look at what’s currently in the system. This week, we look at how we got here, with a review of past drafts 2012 - 2016.

A lot has happened since 2012. 2012! Putin had just been elected president in Russia, that cruise ship ran aground in Italy, Whitney Houston died. Jack Zduriencik, whose name I still copy-paste to this day, was four years into his tenure as the GM of the Seattle Mariners, with three years remaining before he would find himself unceremoniously deposited at the corner of Edgar and Dave. 2012 was well into what Jack Z called his “rebuilding plan”; after garnering some attention in the 2009 draft with Dustin Ackley, Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin and...Steve Baron, Jack Z came back in 2010 with the draft of Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and...Marcus Littlewood. 0/2 on the catchers there, Z. In fact, Seattle took a catcher with one of its top three picks in 2009, 2011, and 2012 (in 2011, 3 of their top 6 picks were catchers). [“I have no idea what I’m doing” dog dot jpeg].

In 2012, the Mariners were coming off a season where they went 67-95 for a fourth-place finish in the AL West (back when there were just four teams in the AL West). That granted them the third pick overall in the MLB draft that year, plus some others who are still with the organization. Who did they pick and where are they now? Let’s take a look.

First round, third overall pick: Mike Zunino, C

Oh, Michael Accursed Accorsi Zunino. What more is there to say of Mike Zunino, who has been agonized over here on these very virtual pages? Owner of a career .193/.262/.362 slash line and 32% K rate. Worth 18.2 career dWAR against -40.6 career offense, with half of that coming in 2015, when he was worth -24. Oh, Mike. It’s not your fault, probably. But oh. Mike.

Second round, 64th overall: Joe DeCarlo, 3B Catcher

Guess what? Joe DeCarlo is also a catcher now! That’s how bad the catching position is in the organization. After six years of putting up okay numbers from rookie ball on up, DeCarlo’s bat came alive in the hitter-friendly Cal League in 2016. He’s repeating the level this year, but at an entirely different position. DeCarlo has the athleticism to be a decent defensive catcher, and at 23 he’s still got time to work his way into the role, but catcher is really freaking hard, which has caused his offensive numbers to fall way off this year. That’s fine, but boy, it sure would have been nice to start this transition, say, three years ago, at which point DeCarlo is probably in AA at this point.

Third round, 98th overall: Edwin Diaz, RHP

Taken at the position that matches his fastball velocity, Díaz is probably still toiling in the minors as an okay starter with a 3-something FIP at this point had Dipoto not pulled the trigger on converting him to a reliever. Of all the Dipoto moves, this one has to count as a win; Díaz at 98 is a fine draft choice, but it’s Dipoto who saw the potential for a top-shelf closer there.


The next highest picks are all no longer Mariners. They held on for a while, but were all victims of the Dipoto Churn.

Competitive balance pick, 126th overall: Tyler Pike, RHP

Tyler Pike went over as a PTBNL in the Alex Jackson trade for Max Povse and Rob Whalen. Atlanta fans really, really enjoy rubbing this trade in our face, mostly because of Jackson, who’s been electric since joining the Braves’ system (very exciting: his 10 HR in just 169 PA! Less exciting: a 5% BB rate against a 27% K rate and a .364 BABIP). But were I a Braves fan, I might be more cackling over the throw-in of Tyler Pike, who’s running a career-low 2.37 FIP over 45 IP in A+ ball with Atlanta, while boosting his K/9 slightly and lowering his walk rate to a slightly-less-abysmal 3.5/9. But honestly, I’m okay with thinking about Rob Whalen being drafted in this spot instead.

4th round, 131st overall: Patrick Kivlehan, OF

I loved Patrick Kivlehan, football player at Rutgers who suddenly blossomed into a baseball star. I loved Patrick Kivlehan and Ketel Marte’s surprising but meaningful friendship. That being said, Patrick Kivlehan is the sort of power-righty-bat/fringy/lightly defensively skilled player that Jack Z so loved but who doesn’t fit so well into Jerry’s lean mean no-balls-may-fall outfield machine. After being traded away in the Leonys Martin deal and then touring a few other ballparks, Patrick Kivlehan is a Cincinnati Red, and currently playing for the MLB team. Good for you, Kivy.

5th round, 161st overall: Chris Taylor, SS

The Chris Taylor trade is the latest in people yelping over Dipoto making bad deals (he was traded for Zach Lee, who’s no longer with the organization). So the thing is, Chris Taylor has a new swing and it’s doing some damage so far. In 100 PAs this year he’s slashing .333/.446/.583, while not striking out much and walking almost 17% of the time. In comparison, in 100 PAs with the Mariners in 2015, he slashed .170/.220/.223, struck out 30% of the time and walked 6% of the time. A fun fact about Chris Taylor is he’s almost never had a normal BABIP; it’s always absurdly low or absurdly high.

6th round, 191st overall: Tim Lopes, 2B

Dammit, Timmy Lopes. He never cleared AA in our system but was one of the most reliable pieces in the championship Jackson Generals team last year, and Jerry gave him away to the Blue Jays for Pat Venditte. Dammit, Jerry.


Also drafted this year, still in the system:

11th round, pick 341: Kristian Brito, 1B

An 11th-round pick out of Puerto Rico, the 6’5” Brito is just 22 but has been in the Mariners’ system since time immemorial, I watched Brito play in an Aquasox playoff game at Safeco last year. He looked like everyone else’s dad. He’s not made it past low-A ball.

15th round, pick 461: Dario Pizzano, OF

The Pizzaman is still in the system and in Tacoma this year. After scaling the lower minors pretty steadily, Pizzano ran into a bit of a buzzsaw at AA and had to do two years there. In 2016 he still couldn’t quite get out of Double-A, splitting time between Jackson and Tacoma. This is his first full year in Triple-A, and despite an average that’s being suppressed by some pretty brutal BABIP luck, he’s showing some pop in the bat. You can certainly do a lot worse with a fifteenth-round pick.

Also drafted by the Mariners this year, still active in MLB: Dominic Leone

Number of picks who went unsigned: 9

Overall draft impressions: This wasn’t the worst Mariners draft, but a grade on it rests on if Zunino can ever get it together enough to be a passable everyday catcher. The DeCarlo pick looks like a reach in hindsight, although Diaz looks like a steal, so call that a wash. Pizzano as a fifteenth-rounder still hanging in there looks more amazing the more I think about it. Other than that, there aren’t very many usable pieces still left out of this draft, and even the players who were traded away didn’t bring much in return, unless you count Leone, who was part of the Trumbo trade. Nick Halamandaris, the 8th-round pick from this year, never made it past rookie ball, and Grady Wood, the third-highest pitcher picked by the Mariners in this draft in the 10th round, was released in 2015.

Draft grade (assuming Zunino neutrality): the dentist telling you that because you’ve been good you can choose any toy out of the toy drawer but then opening it and finding only headless dolls and those fingertraps that dye your fingers purple.