The MLB Draft will begin NEXT WEEK, from June 3rd-5th. We’ve got oodles of coverage for you, which you can find in our MLB Draft 2019 section! To get us prepared, as we have in years past we’ll take a look back at the drafts of the past five years, giving ourselves a sense of how these things can go. Sometimes drafts that look great at the time pan out as expected. Sometimes... they do not.
The 2018 draft brought us our current number 6 prospect, a surprising early pick and a whole bunch of talented players, most still playing in the system, who we can laugh with, cry with and root for as we watch them grow into ballplayers, or engineers*, or whatever they decide to be, but hopefully mostly ballplayers.
First Round (14th overall): Logan Gilbert, RHP
Gilbert was selected by the Mariners as the 14th overall pick in last year’s draft. Gilbert played college baseball at Stetson, where he spent his freshman year in the bullpen but broke out his sophomore year as a starter, winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Pitcher of the Year award. Mariners Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Hunter described Gilbert as a “polished, accomplished college pitcher” and a “strikeout pitcher who controls the zone and wins,” and we’ve seen just that this year - Gilbert began the year in West Virginia but quickly moved to Modesto, and between the two has notched 64 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 45.2 innings, with a very impressing WHIP of .898. We’ve only seen a couple months of work from Logan at the minor league level, but everything we’ve seen so far indicates he lives up to the first-round price tag. We recently went in-depth on Gilbert’s progress here.
Second Round (54th overall): Josh Stowers, CF
Josh Stowers, CF, was traded to the Yankees for Shed Long, who had just landed in New York in a trade with Cincinnati, and while we’re happy to have Shed, I’m pretty bummed to see Stowers on another team. Stowers was a surprise 54th-overall pick last year, as Baseball America didn’t include him in their top 200 draft prospects, but the Mariners wanted his combination of speed and power. In 40 games this year for New York’s single-A team he’s hitting an impressive .287/.376/.434 and has lived up to his reputation as an elite base stealer with 13 stolen bases. After hitting four home runs in a four game series last week he was named the South Atlantic League’s Player of the Week. The Mariners were so interested in Stowers they took him over many players ranked much higher, and it’s looking like they were onto something.
Third Round (90th overall): Cal Raleigh, C
The first of three college catchers drafted by the Mariners in 2018, Cal Raleigh - listed as the 13th prospect in the organization - is batting .227/.299/.426 in his first 45 games with Modesto this year. Raleigh has thrown out 17 of 45 would-be base stealers, and has demonstrated significant athleticism behind the plate.
Fourth Round (118th overall): Michael Plassmeyer, LHP
Plassmeyer joined Mike Zunino and Guillermo Heredia in the trade with Tampa Bay that brought us Mallex Smith and Jake Fraley. In 9 starts so far between Tampa’s A and high-A teams he owns a 1.83 ERA over 49 innings with 42 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Fifth Round (148th overall): Nolan Hoffman, RHP
Hoffman is on the IL with the West Virginia Power, but this groundball-inducing arm has impressed in his first 9 games, posting a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings, striking out 7, walking 1 and giving up 2 runs on 4 hits. Hoffman is listed as the system’s #27 prospect.
Also drafted this year, still in the system: 21
Those players are:
Joey O’Brien, RHP, 6th round: on the IL with West Virginia.
Jake Anchia, C, 7th round: batting .225/.295/.425 in West Virginia with 7 home runs on the season, has displayed good defensive skills to go along with the power and has thrown out 16 of 49 would-be base stealers.
Joey Gerber, RHP, 8th round: has a mid-90s fastball and impressive secondary stuff and has logged 18 innings over 17 games this year in Modesto with a slightly-elevated ERA of 4.0, 29 strikeouts and 8 walks. He’s ranked as the organization’s #19 prospect.
Keegan McGovern, LF, 9th round: has been out since spring training with an injury, but displayed some power last year going .271/.351/.518 with 15 home runs between Everett and Clinton. McGovern is currently ranked as the organization’s #28 prospect.
Matt Sanders, 2B, 10th round: hasn’t impressed with the bat yet in Modesto, going .233/.273/.287, but he has yet to commit an error in his 34 games between 2B and 3B.
Damon Casetta-Stubbs, RHP, 11th round: has started 7 games this year in West Virginia after beginning the year with 2.1 bad innings of relief in Modesto. His starts in West Virginia haven’t been much better - after giving up no runs in his first 10 innings of work for the Power he’s given up 27 runs in the 20.1 innings since.
Charlie McConnell, RF, 13th round: hitting .188/.268/.312 this year in West Virginia in 37 games.
Tyler Suellentrop, RHP, 14th round: on the AZL Mariners roster
Matthew Willrodt, RHP, 15th round: has given up 12 runs on 18 hits in 18 innings so far between Arkansas and West Virginia, for an ERA of 4.85 in 9 total games, with 21 strikeouts and 11 walks.
Holden Laws, LHP, 16th round: on the AZL Mariners roster
Cesar Trejo, RF, 17th round: after spending much of last season on the 60-day IL, he’s not hitting well in West Virginia, with a line of .184/.284/.355 in 23 games
Dean Nevarez, C, 19th round: His caught-stealing percentage is the lowest of the three at just 16% and he isn’t hitting for average in West Virginia, batting just .221, but he’s slugging .515 and has five home runs in 19 games.
J.T. Salter, RHP, 20th round: it is important to note that Salter plays for the Nuts. He has only thrown 8.2 innings this year, which have not gone well at all, so there isn’t much else to say at this point about Mr. Salter of the Nuts outside of his reputation for having good command.
Nick Rodriguez, infield, 22nd round: slashing all of .152/.244/.253 and striking out in nearly one in three plate appearance in West Virginia.
Ryan Ramiz, LF, 23rd round: has also been struggling hard in West Virginia, posting a .204/.331/.303 line with 48 strikeouts in 181 plate appearances, and his defense looks a bit shaky with 5 errors in 62 chances.
Benjamin Onyshko, LHP, 24th round: posting a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 5.33 in West Virginia in 27.2 innings of relief with an ERA of 2.93.
Connor Kopach, infield, 25th round: doing well in Modesto with a .274/.348/.407 line on the season, and recently put in 5 games in Tacoma, going 8 for 22 with a walk. May 29th he was sent back to the Rainiers. Kopach has also displayed some defensive versatility - all of his games in Tacoma have been at 2B, but he’s also played a decent amount of SS and OF this year.
Cash Gladfelter, 3B, 27th round: on the AZL Mariners roster
Bobby Honeyman, 3B, 29th round: performed extremely well in Everett last year, but no such luck yet this year in West Virginia with a .217/.280/.307 line.
Penn Murfee, RHP, 33rd round: began the year in Tacoma, where he pitched 8.2 unfortunate innings over 5 games before settling in quite nicely in Modesto, giving up just 3 runs in 19.1 innings over 8 games with 25 strikeouts and 2 walks.
Nick Wegmann, LHP, 34th round: on the AZL Mariners roster.
Hero of the draft: Logan Gilbert. The number 6 prospect in the organization has given us everything we could hope to have seen from him at this point in his career, has adjusted well to moving quickly between levels, and despite missing some time last year to mono, has remained injury-free, which is always a relief with a first-round selection.
Also drafted by the Mariners this year, still active in affiliated ball: 4
12th-round pick Ryne Ogren, 2B, started the year hitting .159/.229/.318 in 12 games, which for some reason prompted the Orioles to want to trade for him, which landed us Mike Wright, who we for some reason wanted to receive in a trade. Wright has always been bad in his five years in the majors, with his lowest ERA being 2018’s 5.55 in 48 games, but for Ogren, only time will tell.
18th-round pick Noah Zavolas, RHP, accompanied Ben Gamel to the Brewers for Domingo Santana, where he has thrown 61 innings over 10 starts with a 3.25 ERA, striking out 44 and walking 7.
21st-round pick Grand Anderson, RHP, was traded to Rangers for Connor Sadzeck. This season he’s pitched 26.1 innings of Single A ball with an ERA of 4.10, striking out 22 batters and walking 11.
32nd-rounder Zach Scott, 2B, was released and is currently playing in Miami’s system.
*Not currently playing, but seems important: Beau Branton, drafted by the Mariners in the 28th round, posted an impressive .321/.421/.399 line last year before leaving baseball to be an engineer at Disneyland.
Number of picks who went unsigned: 6
Biggest ‘What If?’: This is looking into the future quite a bit, but what if the Mariners had hung onto Stowers? He’s a capable defensive outfielder with the speed to be a highlight reel regular, he’s displaying some pretty good plate discipline with 20 walks already on the year, he’ll be near the top of any league in stolen bases and with the power he’s displaying, he has all the tools to be a much higher-caliber player than advertised. I’m happy to have Shed, but Stowers may be a ‘what if’ for years to come.
Overall draft impression: We’ve seen great production so far from all our early picks, although two of those players have been doing that producing for other teams. We’re also seeing plenty of promise from the later picks - in particular, I’ll be keeping an eye on Connor Kopach, Penn Murfee, Keegan McGovern and how things shake out with all these catching prospects. This early in these guys’ careers, the good performances seem much more significant than the bad. There’s plenty of time for these youngsters to figure things out. There’s been some bad, but there’s been plenty of good.
Draft grade: In my contemplation of the 2018 draft’s grade I have been forced to reconsider the B I gave 2016’s draft. However, it’s too late to change that. The school year is over and that draft, having received a grade perhaps higher than was deserved, believes itself to be better and smarter than it is and is now out in the world confidently asserting its belief that the Mariners will loose tonight instead of lose. That said, it’s also very difficult to judge a draft after only one year. But none of our top five drafted players have been busts, and on the contrary, they’ve all impressed. It was pretty ballsy of the Mariners to draft Stowers in the second round, and we were able to leverage his early success to get Long, the number 7 prospect from the Reds’ organization (with the briefest of layovers in New York on the way here), which is a great early-draft-pick outcome. There’s a lot to be excited about with our later choices, too. I’m giving this draft a B+, with the caveat that I think it’s more than half a grade above the 2016 draft I already gave a B to. Shrug.