Through a series of articles over the past month we’ve familiarized you with a variety of guys who the Mariners may select with the 20th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft today. The route the club opts to take with the first selection will in all likelihood have a significant impact on the following two Day 1 picks the Mariners possess at 59th and 76th overall.
The M’s picked up an extra pick—76 overall—in the trade that sent Carlos Santana to Cleveland following an illustrious Seattle Mariners career that can only be rivaled by Mallex Smith Pt. I. With a trio of picks today, here are a smattering of players who would make sense for Seattle that should be available in the 2nd and supplemental rounds.
The College LHP Pile
Since being burned badly in using the second overall pick of the 2011 draft on Danny Hultzen, the Mariners have been gun-shy regarding the selection of left-handed pitching. There’s a group of tantalizing southpaws that are projected to go off the board around of between the Mariners’ second and third of three Day 1 picks. The selection of any of the following guys would make them the highest-drafted LHP by the organization since Hultzen, which is in order considering the dearth of high-upside lefty pitching; particularly when you consider the highest-drafted lefty from last year’s draft class--LHP Michael Plassmeyer in the fourth round last June--was traded away over the offseason.
LHP John Doxakis, Texas A&M (MLB.com #44, FanGraphs #88, Baseball America #53)
While MLB.com doesn’t expect Doxakis to be available to the M’s at 56, FanGraphs thinks they should have the choice to grab him with their next pick at 76.The 6’4” 20-year-old has advanced feel of his secondary offerings, and while he sits in the high-80’s and low-90’s with his velocity, he’s used elite command to produce results this season, posting a 2.06 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 through 104.2 IP this season. He looked strong on the big stage on Friday, striking out nine while allowing four earned runs and walking nobody through 7.0 innings against Duke.
LHP Ethan Small, Mississippi State University (MLB.com #56, FanGraphs #62, Baseball America #45)
Small fills a dire organizational need for an advanced left-handed starting pitcher, and also fits Jerry’s type as a late-career breakout. He’s excelled since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, seeing his strikeout rate jump north of 15.0 K/9 despite losing a couple of ticks on his fastball, which now sits in the low-90’s. Baseball America threw out a Yusei Kikuchi for Small, who Fangraphs lists at 6’3” 214lb. He won the SEC Pitcher of the Year Award for his impressive junior campaign this year after posting a line of 96.0 IP, 1.88 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 160 SO, 27 BB. A selection of Small at pick 59 or 76 would be the highest the Mariners have drafted a LHP since Danny Hultzen was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft.
LHP T.J. Sikkema, Missouri (MLB.com #57, FanGraphs #72, Baseball America #80)
Like the two guys mentioned before him, Sikkema is a left-hander who sits in the low-90’s but is coming off a breakthrough season. His 1.32 ERA through 88.2 innings ranked him fourth among NCAA qualifiers in ERA, and while his strikeout rate rose to 10.3 K/9, his walk rate climbed slightly to 3.2 BB/9 on the year. He profiles as a high floor prospect, but lack the projectability of some of these options based on his stout 6’0” frame and may land in the bullpen at some point.
LHP Erik Miller, Stanford (MLB.com #61, FanGraphs #62, Baseball America #105)
Another southpaw who typically sits in the low-90’s (although he’s reached 97 at times), many scouts think his shaky control will land him in the bullpen down the road. His arsenal consists of a heater and an average to above-average slider and change-up. At 6’5” 240, MLB.com mentions the potential of a Josh Hader career path for one of the more interesting arms in the PAC-12. He posted 10.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 through 80.0 innings this year and struck out 12 through 5.2 innings on Sunday for Stanford. A win for the Cardinal on Monday night vs. Fresno State could lead to a Small-Miller pitchers duel in the Super Regionals this weekend.
LHP Graeme Stinson, Duke (MLB.com #70, FanGraphs #68, Baseball America #84)
The 6’5” 260lb Stinson was ranked higher than all the guys on this list, in fact, he was the top ranked pitcher in the entire draft by many outlets coming into the 2019 college season. Armed with mid-to-upper-90’s heat and a plus-plus wipe-out slider, he was set to work exclusively as a starter this season and did just that four five starts before being shut down with what was called a “hamstring injury” in mid-March. He hasn’t thrown since and was far less effective when he did pitch, seeing his velocity dip into the mid-80’s after posting a career strikeout rate north of 14.0 K/9 through 90.0 career innings entering 2019. There’s plenty of red flags surrounding him, but he seems like a worthy candidate for a club with an extra pick, like the M’s have at 76. Fangraphs linked the Mariners to him in their final mock draft just this morning.
LHP Ben Brecht, UCSB (MLB.com #126, FanGraphs n/a, Baseball America #87)
Brecht would be a bit of a stretch at 76 but he’s a 6’7” lefty strike thrower whose velo currently sits in the low 90s but might be a candidate for the Mariners’ gas camp due to his excellent command. He’s struck out 101 batters in 90 innings while walking just 18 thanks to a three-pitch mix consisting of a fastball that plays up in the zone, a promising changeup, and a sweeping slider. Brecht has a collegiate polish with some big potential upside if he’s developed well.
The Mariners have long been devoid of left-side infield depth, consistently swinging and missing or dealing away guys that have showed any hope on that side. While somehow still-just-recently-turned-21-year-old 3B Joe Rizzo is apparently breaking out offensively this season, reports regarding his defense at the hot corner are skeptical at best. Newly acquired Jake Scheiner could also add depth, but he’s 23 and will be splitting time with Rizzo in High-A. The organization could stand to use an early pick on Kyle Seager’s heir apparent, with some thinking that will be the purpose of the club’s top pick at 20. If they don’t invest early on the likes of Josh Jung, Kody Hoese, or Keoni Cavaco, here’s a few guys that could likely be had at 59 or 76.
SS Josh Smith, LSU (MLB.com #76, FanGraphs #53, Baseball America #68)
The left-handed hitting Smith led the Tigers in hitting in his first season back after missing essentially all of his sophomore season with a back injury, slashing .346/.436/.533 and stealing 20 bags in 24 tries. He’s regarded as a high-floor prospect who may develop into a second base or even utility role should his bat fail to improve in pro ball, but his success with a wood bat during 2017 Cape Cod League ball would seem to indicate there’s untapped potential for him. His plate discipline has waned since he walked more than striking out as a freshman, but he still doesn’t strike out all that much, doing so just 42 times in 64 games this season.
3B Nick Quintana, Arizona (MLB.com #77, FanGraphs #43, Baseball America #81)
The Pac-12’s leader in RBI with 77, Quintana was originally selected in the 11th round by the Red Sox when he was coming out of his school in 2016 but elected to join the Wildcats. After getting his OPS up over 1.000 as a sophomore last year, he’s flirted with a mark of 1.100 this season, slashing .342/.462/.626 and swatting 15 home runs in 56 games. He rivaled his 20.1% strikeout rate with a 17.0% walk rate in 2019, however it’s his 38.1% strikeout rate through two summers-worth of Cape Cod League action that have some scouts worry. He’s switched from shortstop to third base since arriving on the U of A campus, and there’s few who doubt his ability to stick at the position.
2B/3B Cameron Cannon, Arizona (MLB.com #79, FanGraphs #48, Baseball America #94)
A slightly down year with some errors might push Cannon to the back end of his projected draft position, but he’s hit for average every year as a Sun Devil, although the power is more gap-to-gap than over the fence, even in Arizona’s offense-happy environment. He’s a high floor guy more than anything who would be a steadying presence at an area of weakness in Seattle’s system.
SS Kyren Paris, Freedom HS, Oakley, California (MLB.com #50, FanGraphs #39, Baseball America #70)
Joe wrote up Paris a bit last week so I’ll give you the skinny (like Paris himself!). At 6’0, 170, he’s a line-drive hitting 17-year-old with plus speed, smooth defense, and has the frame to add more power. I like his bat speed and easy athleticism from the right side, but as Joe noted his swing is currently too flat to produce power at the pro level. That should be an easy enough transition as he grows in strength, and the rest of the tools can help him stay at short or handle any infield spot long-term.
These guys don’t fit a super-specific and glaring team need other than that they project to be useful pieces that can help fuel a championship run in the future. There’s a few question marks here, but those can sometimes prove to be some of the draft’s greatest gems.
1B/OF Michael Toglia, UCLA (MLB.com #40, FanGraphs #38, Baseball America #63)
College bats archetypally offer refinement at the expense of projection, but Toglia is as intriguing as they come for a junior at a Pac-12 stalwart. The switch-hitting, lefty throwing 6’5, 200 lbs local product (shoutout Gig Harbor) is just 20 years old on draft day and, like many switch-hitters, has some trouble with consistency mechanically and production-wise. Still, a .316/.390/.617 line and .417 wOBA in 53 games this year matched his strong sophomore year almost perfectly. His swing-and-miss issues could help him fall on some boards, but he’s regarded as a plus defender at first and a capable corner OF. Most enticingly, his raw power is immense, and a pedigree of handling three years of major conference pitching is more than most players of his projection can boast.
C Ethan Hearn, Mobile (Ala.) Christian HS (MLB.com #67, FanGraphs #72, Baseball America #66)
Regarded as the best prep backstop in the class, Hearn profiles as more of a power bat than anything else at the moment; however scouts believe the ceiling on his defense is high and that the 6’0” lefty-swinging ‘Bama boy is a can’t-miss catching prospect. With the organization picking up a few interesting catchers in last year’s draft, they could possibly afford to use their second selection on Hearn and attempt to lure him away from him Mississippi State commitment but it would likely cost them. This would seem far more likely if they take a college player in the first round.
RHP Noah Song, Navy (MLB.com #68, FanGraphs #49, Baseball America #65)
The Mariners are position nicely to potentially benefit from question marks surrounding standout ace Noah Song. He’s got a combination of the skills, projectability, and track record that would make him a surefire top-10 selection were in not for complications regarding his ability to immediately start his career due to an obligation to serve two years active-duty in the military upon graduation. Unless he’s able to somehow get that waived, he won’t be eligible to start his professional career until age 24. He led the nation in strikeouts with 161 in 94.0 innings, and ranked sixth in ERA at 1.44. The M’s, armed with their extra pick from the Carlos Santana trade, could stand to potentially burn a selection on a guy that could possibly return first-round value.
OF Jordan Brewer, Michigan (MLB.com #108, FanGraphs #68, Baseball America #158)
Obviously the Mariners system is rich in outfield talent but that doesn’t mean they can stop drafting OFers entirely. Michigan’s Jordan Brewer is a potential five-tool player who would be a great organizational fit and might be the sleeper of the draft. Kate has strong feelings regarding Brewer and made an excellent case to reach for him earlier this week.