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2017 MLB Draft: Reviewing the Mariners’ Past Drafts - 2015

Jack Z’s last hurrah

MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Chicago White Sox
Andrew Moore pitching in Spring Training last February. It’s only weird if it doesn’t work.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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 fullpositional 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, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Ah, 2015. It was only two years ago, and yet in so many ways it feels so far away. Jack Zduriencik was still at the helm for his final draft. In 2014 the Mariners went 87-75 during Lloyd McClendon’s penultimate season as manager. They finished third in the American League West, but weren’t eliminated from the playoffs until the final game of the season.

The Mariners did not have a first round pick in 2015 due to the Nelson Cruz signing. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing? Considering Jack Z’s record, it give us no opportunity to bemoan who Jack could have selected instead.

No players from this draft have made the Major Leagues yet. Andrew Moore is the second player to reach AAA so far (the first, PJ Jones had one at bat for Tacoma and became a free agent, see below for a heartwarming story on him). Incidentally, Moore is starting for the Rainiers tonight. If you’re able, get down to the Tacoma and watch him before he hits the big time. Then, you can forever annoy your friends by telling them you knew him when.

2nd Round, 60th Overall Pick: Nick Neidert, RHP

The 3rd ranked prospect in the Mariner’s system is currently starting in high-A for the Modesto Nuts. Initially projected to be a first round pick, tendonitis in his elbow pushed him down into the second round allowing the Mariners to grab him. His fastball is generally in the low to mid-90s with good sinking action. His changeup is great. The curve and slider need a little work and those could be the key to his success.

Taking a pitcher out of high school can be tricky, especially with the specter of an elbow injury, but Neidert has had no hint of injury problems. So far this season he has pitched 50.2 innings, striking out 56 and walking only 9 with a WHIP of 1.07. He is currently projected to top out as a third starter.

Competitive Balance Round B, 72nd Overall Pick: Andrew Moore, RHP

The first of the draft picks to reach AAA, Andrew Moore is ranked 5th in the Mariners system. He began the season in AA, but was called up to AAA on May 8th because Seattle has been poaching Tacoma’s pitchers. In the three starts with Tacoma he’s given up some runs as he adjusts to the new level.

Drafted out of Oregon State University and projected to go later in the draft, he has been called a right-handed Jamie Moyer. He has great command and works quickly on the mound. His fastball hangs out in the 89-92 range. It is complemented by a great changeup that is considered to be his best pitch. He is seen as a back end starter.

In 2016 he won the Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year award in 2016. Like Moyer, he takes detailed notes after each start and has sought out Moyer for advice. Smart pitchers are fun pitchers to watch, and he certainly has many fans around Lookout Landing.

3rd Round, 94th Overall Pick: Braden Bishop, OF

Another local kid, Braden Bishop was drafted out of the University of Washington. If you didn’t know otherwise, you’d assume he was a Jerry Dipoto pick: a speedy centerfielder who plays spectacular defense.

He’s a bit rough on the offensive end. Given the backlog of outfielders in the Mariner’s system he has time to develop that part of his game. He does put the ball in play frequently. In 41 games and 166 at bats this season, he has 25 walks, 28 strikeouts, 9 stolen bases, and 1 home run. Last season, in 104 games and 414 at bats, he had 36 walks, 87 strikeouts, 8 stolen bases, and 3 home runs. He is ranked 20th in the Mariner’s system and seems to making improvements.

4th Round, 125th Pick Overall: Dylan Thompson, RHP

Dylan Thompson pitched in Rookie League for two seasons before Dipoto sent him to Tampa Bay in the Taylor Motter trade. He has played in only 12 games in his professional career because he has frequently gone home to be with his father, who is battling cancer. He has shown promise and the Mariners had believed he would evolve into a back of the rotation starter.

5th Round, 155th Pick Overall: Drew Jackson, SS

Drew Jackson had a rough 2016 season and an even rougher stint in the Arizona Fall League. An excellent defensive shortstop, his bat is his Achilles heel. Ranked the Mariners 8th best prospect in the preseason, he was sent to the LA Dodgers in the Chase De Jong trade.

Also Drafted, Still In System

There’s quite a few players still in the system from this draft at the lower levels. Here are a few of interest:

6th Round, Kyle Wilcox, RHP – Currently with the Class A Clinton LumberKings. He has been used primarly as a relief pitcher.

10th Round, Darin Gillies, RHP – The only player in this batch to reach AA so far. He started games in Everett in 2015, but has been used solely in relief since then.

12th Round, Logan Taylor, 3B – Drafted out of Texas A&M, he had a WRC+ of 131 last season. This year, he is sitting at 103.

13th Round, Matt Clancy, LHP – Off to a rough start this season in terms of runs allowed, but his K/9 is 12.34.

23rd Round, Art Warren, RHP – He has an old fashioned sounding name and was born in Defiance, OH, which is fun if you’re a Scandal fan. I love the stories of late round draft picks making it big in the Majors. This 2016 mid-season All-Star is my pick to do just that.

No Longer in the System, But a Fun Story

PJ Jones was drafted in the 19th round out of Washington State University. He was one of only two catchers drafted this year (the other, Mike Rojas, did not sign). After playing a season in Everett, he was released during spring training the following year. He had endeared himself to the organization and following his release he was given the bullpen catcher job with the Tacoma Rainiers.

The Rainiers were down a catcher for a game in Fresno last season and activated Jones just in case. Manager Pat Listach got permission from the Mariners front office to give Jones an at bat. He pinch hit for Stefen Romero and saw two pitches before grounding out. He is a free agent now, but he’ll always be the first player from the 2015 draft to reach AAA.

Number of Unsigned Picks: 7

Overall Draft Impressions: It’s hard to say for sure, given that it’s only been two years. The top 5 picks were all at some point ranked in the top-25 of the Mariner’s system so that’s a big improvement over the 2014 draft. Drafting only two catchers, and having neither of them still playing seems like a big mistake in hindsight. 20 out of the 40 draftees are either no longer in the system, or were not signed. The players who were traded did result in usable pieces for the Mariners this season. Whether or not they turn out to be good long-term moves will be determined in the future.

Draft Grade: There aren’t any superstars in this draft, but there appear to be several solid players. I give it a C overall. Although, the bar is pretty low in the Jack Z Era, so that may be an optimistic grade.