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MLB Draft 2017: Pitching Prospects the Mariners Might Like, Part I

In which I talk myself into the Mariners drafting David Peterson or Griffin Canning and NO ONE ELSE

The Daily Emerald

The MLB draft starts next Monday at 4 PM PST. In this final week, we’re going to throw some names out who might be available when the Mariners pick with numbers 17, 55, 93, and 123. (NB: there are big gaps between their first and second choices and second and third choices because that’s when the competitive balance picks are. The Mariners don’t have any picks in those rounds, but the good news is the Astros get one because the stupid Cardinals hacked their database. Stupid Cardinals.) We’ve sorted players into two tiers—projected first/second rounders and projected third/fourth rounders. Because the pitching class is so big, we’re going to cover them in a couple different installments, starting with the top tier, first or second-rounder types. Also, you might be interested in revisiting the series Kate did on Division II pitchers, who will probably start popping up in the later rounds of the draft, but some (like Garretts King and Cave) might go much earlier.

Gone by the time the Mariners pick: RHP Hunter Greene, LHP Brendan McKay, RHP Kyle Wright, LHP Mackenzie Gore, RHP J.B. Bukauskas (glad I don’t have to learn how to spell that)

These guys are all slated to go in the top ten by MLB’s rankings, and Greene and McKay are the probable top two picks overall. The most interesting question there is who will go first—Greene is a true two-way player who would be the first HS pitcher ever picked first overall if he goes there, but Minnesota might prefer the polished college arm of Brendan McKay, who is also a two-way player.

Likely gone by the time the Mariners pick: RHP Alex Faedo, LHP D.L. Hall, RHP Sam Carlson

Hall is a high schooler with an advanced pitching style, featuring one of the best curveballs in the draft, and seems to prefer being drafted over going to college. Faedo is a polished college pitcher out of the sudden-pitcher-factory at Florida who might have slipped a little after having arthroscopic surgery on both his knees last year, causing him to have a slow start back this year, but the stuff is still very much alive and he’s had great success. There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect but Faedo feels like a solid choice that a team hungry for pitching will probably scoop up before he gets to us at 19. Carlson is the most likely out of the bunch to fall some, as he’s a high school pitcher from a cold-weather state (Minnesota), meaning scouts haven’t had as many chances to see him and just last year he was slated to go to Florida and develop into an ace there. Improvements have pushed his timetable up, however, and he may well sneak somewhere into the top 10-15.

???: RHP Shane Baz - Baz has a power fastball but a strong commitment to TCU and isn’t even a guarantee to sign if taken in the middle of the first round. He’s an intriguing talent but would likely cost a boatload, if he even deigns to come to Seattle. Hard pass. Also, LHP Seth Romero - Romero has a live arm but there are questions about his character after he was suspended from his team in 2016 and again this year before finally being kicked off his team permanently. Romero has stated a preference to stay at home and the Astros have expressed interest in him and are desperate enough for pitching that they might look past his character issues. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take him with their competitive balance pick (har har), but I doubt any team wastes a first-round choice on him.

Should be there right around where the Mariners pick: RHP Griffin Canning, LHP David Peterson, RHP Alex Lange

It’s tempting to compare Canning to Andrew Moore, as both are described as “not an imposing physical presence,” standing around six feet and slender, yet someone who “really knows how to pitch.” They also both draw praise for their simple, repeatable deliveries. Canning, however, can crank his fastball as high as 95, but does so without Moore’s pinpoint command of the strike zone. Scouts see a mid-rotation pitcher in Canning, but we know that Jerry values things a little differently. If he’s available at 19, he seems like an excellent fit for Seattle’s system.

David Peterson is the name that’s been most frequently connected to the Mariners in mock drafts, although I don’t know if that’s from actual insider information or just looking at a map. It’s undeniable, though, that Peterson seems like a Dipoto guy—he strikes out everyone and walks no one, thanks to Oregon’s pitching coach Jason Dietrich, as detailed in this excellent write-up of him at Minor League Ball. His strikeout-to-walk ratio at one point was a DI-best 17.83. At 6’6” and left-handed, he can really fool batters with his low-90s fastball and excellent slider, and he recorded 20 strikeouts in one game this year. If he can refine his changeup and curve, he’s got ace potential in the bigs.

Alex Lange is a name I’ve seen some of you dreaming on for the Mariners. He went undrafted in 2014 because of a strong commitment to LSU. For the Tigers, Lange was dominant as a freshman but suffered a bit of a sophomore slump; scouts wonder if this is because of a loss of control thanks to a tendency to overthrow. He bounced back in 2017, however, and won a list of accolades as long as my arm. There are questions about his durability and some wonder if he might not profile better as a power reliever in the Andrew Miller model, as his fastball has been clocked at 98 and his curveball is a putaway weapon, but he seems to struggle when seeing batters multiple times through an order.

Probably will go in the first or second round, would be available, would prefer the Mariners not use a first-round pick on: RHP Tanner Houck, LHP Trevor Rogers, RHP Matt Sauer, RHP Blane Enlow

Tanner Houck has a good fastball that sits mid-90s but scouts aren’t impressed with his secondary offerings. He probably profiles best as a power reliever.

Trevor Rogers is still in high school but he’s 6’6” and you don’t have to give height back. His fastball is an easy 95 but he doesn’t possess any compelling secondary offerings. The ceiling here is high, but he’s a gamble and could be a huge steal for a club that is able to develop him properly. I’m not sure yet that that’s the Mariners, so would prefer to see them pass here.

Matt Sauer is an example of how quickly a kid can go from “raw high school prospect” to “polished collegiate.” He’s still just a HS senior but has made tremendous strides forward this year, adding four ticks to his fastball, cleaning up his mechanics, and developing a viable secondary pitch in a slider. The question of whether or not he can develop his changeup or curve, both still in the embryonic stages, will be the deciding factor as to if he can stick in a major league rotation, but he’s clearly very coachable and is reported to have a great work ethic. Sauer is less of a gamble than the typical high school pitcher, but will need to be drafted highly enough to break his commitment to Arizona.

Blane Enlow is strongly committed to LSU, as Alex Lange before him, and would need to be drafted highly in order to break that commitment. Enlow has clean, repeatable mechanics and can touch mid-90s on his fastball, but scouts see a middle-of-the-rotation starter and clubs might not be willing to take a gamble on him early in the first round. Signability issues may cause clubs to pass over him.

Good gravy you guys, there are so many pitchers. That’s only the first 30 on MLB’s Prospect Pipeline, and this is already 1200 words long. We will continue this march through the 2017 class later.