Oh man, that 2015 draft. The Mariners sure did draft some players in 2015, huh? Some young guys, some less-young guys (no one born past 1992 though); some who made it to the bigs, some who are grinding it out in the minors, some who disappeared from professional baseball altogether.
The NFL is by and large a garbage organization, but the one thing I wish baseball could replicate from football is the instant gratification that the NFL draft provides. Forget all the absurdist pageantry and Goodell’s pontifications of “The Draft” - football fans get to see those drafted players on the field in some capacity come the start of the season. Meanwhile in MLB we wait two and a half years, and get 87 MPH fastballs from Andrew Moore (sorry Andrew, you’re wonderful but also the only one out of this batch to make the majors - hooray for you, but therefore you are left to be the de facto butt of my joke).
Of course there are a number of players drafted by other teams in 2015 who are now contributing consistently at the major league level; your Dansby Swansons, your Alex Bregmans, your Andrew Benintendis. But as of this writing, no 2015 Mariners draft pick (still within the organization) is currently on a major league roster. In baseball years, three years isn’t a long time to wait, I suppose. That doesn’t make it any easier.
Once upon a time an evil warlock cast a spell upon Jack Zdurencik, that made him incapable of focusing on anything other than the acquisition of power righties. One fateful June day the warlock tripped on his cloak and fell over, knocking himself unconscious and thus voiding all of his curses. In that moment Jack Z took a huge, gasping breathe and suddenly it felt as though he’d finally found the correct prescription for his glasses. Overcome with a theretofore sense of mental and physical clarity he turned to those gathered in the war room with him and declared, “By George, we need pitching!” and somewhere, in the back of the room, an intern shed tears of joy and relief.
The Mariners forfeited their first round pick due to the Nelson Cruz signing this year, which was supposed to be a punishment but in truth was likely a win-win scenario. The first player they selected, in the second round, was Nick Neidert, a RHP out of Mayberry-adjacent Peachtree Ridge High School, who would rise underwhelmingly through system ranks to become the #2-ranked M’s prospect, before being sent to the Marlins in the Dee Gordon trade. Good PNW boys RHP Andrew Moore and centerfielder Braden Bishop came next, followed by RHP Dylan Thompson, shortstop Drew Jackson, RHP Kyle Wilcox, first baseman Ryan Uhl, RHP Cody Mobley, third baseman Connor Hale, and RHP Darrin Gillies. Notice a pattern here? Perhaps some part of the warlock’s curse - the proclivity towards righties - still lingered in Zduriencik’s noggin.
Other names you may recognize, from later in the draft: Art Warren - on the Edwin Díaz, Dan Altavilla starter-to-fire-emoji-reliever train, Logan Taylor - doing his darnedest to bash his way out of Arkansas, and Ljay Newsome - inexplicable favorite of writer Tim, winner of the 2017 C the Z Award, which earned him a ticket to big-league Spring Training, and recent Cal League Pitcher of the Week.
Additional Notes and ~ Fun ~ Facts:
- 19 of the 34 players (55%!) signed by Seattle in 2015 are no longer with the organization, either through trade, retirement, or release.
- It would have been 20 except that Anthony Misiewicz was sent to the Rays for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton, and then, inexplicably, was traded back to the Mariners four months and a week later for “future considerations.”
- The Mariners drafted two catchers in 2015 - PJ Jones in the 19th round, and Mike Rojas in the 40th. Rojas didn’t sign with the team, and Jones played one year in Everett before they released him in Spring Training the following year (though they did offer him the bullpen catcher job in Tacoma). It’s so weird that this team lacks catching depth in the minors.
The 2015 Mariners draft earns a “Z” from me, because a) it was Jack Z’s final draft, and b) because the MLB draft is an enormous snooze.
*Non-snarky note: Kate, Ben, John, and Ethan are deserving of an unending amount of kudos for the way that they’ve covered the minor leagues and the MLB draft. It was amazing how often I’d go to search the name of a late-round pick, only to find their MiLB page, B-Ref page, and, lo and behold, a link to an LL article discussing them in some capacity. The degree to which they have added to the Mariners’ minor league body of work is staggering and, though I still find the minors beatifically uninteresting, I’m immensely grateful for the time and effort they’ve put into covering random teens and 20-somethings playing baseball in the middle of nowhere.