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LL’s Day One Mariners Draft Reactions

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Welcome our new inflatable pitching overlord.

Kirby: Planet Robobot Celebration Event At Smashbox Studios with Peyton and Spencer List Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Nintendo of America

Day one of the draft is in the books! Those of us most focused on the draft who were available got together for a quick chat about the first day, any surprises/excitements/disappointments, and what we anticipate today and tomorrow.

We’ll have a new thread up this morning right before things get underway, as well as a writeup of our favorite remaining prep targets who could be savvy targets if yesterday’s trio of college arms opened things up for the Mariners to be aggressive late.

How did this shape up to expectations?

John: Three college pitchers. Three! In a draft commonly viewed as thin on college pitching. It was… well, it wasn’t what I anticipated.

Kate: Same here. I’ve had a gut feeling Kirby would be the pick for a while, just because of the philosophical match and the fact that the Mariners have no qualms about drafting out of Elon. I think the only one that really threw me for a loop was Williamson. I almost wonder if Campbell was an audible, because I wasn’t expecting him to be available where they took him. But boy, all that smoke about the Mariners taking a prep infielder was some real smoke, huh?

Grant: I’m a fierce advocate of “best player available” drafting, so if the draft board had these three guys at/near the top, then I’m not going to complain. And I love how easy it is to dream on these pitchers: Kirby racked up an absurd 107:6 K:BB ratio this year, Campbell is at 108:19 even while playing in the SEC, and Williamson is a 6’6” lefty who throws in the low-to-mid 90s. That’s some tantalizing stuff.

J: I’m torn. On the one hand this is viewed as a weak, top-heavy draft, so expectations shouldn’t be sky-high. On the other hand, seeing that, and focusing on players day one viewed as high-floor style players is tougher to get excited about, as always. Perhaps the stars of this draft are to be had in the good players becoming great, but we’ve seen this org swing big so rarely it’s frustrating to see it play out once again.

Kate: With the weakness of this draft and the Mariners picking in the back third of it, I’m fine with going high-floor and filling up the system with guys who aren’t castoffs from another organization, and then hopefully swinging big next year, which projects to be a little to a lot richer in talent.

J: That’s fair, it’s just been a consistent line with previous drafts of taking theoretically under-slot picks in the early going and then seemingly not sprinkling those savings through the back end. That could easily change tomorrow though, with a fair amount of raw high school talent still around.

Grant: I’ll feel very different about this draft if the Mariners aren’t able to use some slot-money savings from these picks on a high-upside prepster in the next two days.

Favorite Player of Day One?

Kate: Campbell, easily. He’s someone I had an eye on ever since I read an article about how much of a data nerd he is, and listening to this interview with him only deepened my appreciation for him as a player and a person. I actually think all three of these players might have more upside than people think: Kirby I think has the possibility to build his fastball velo with a strength and conditioning program, and Campbell and Williamson both had injuries cloud their performances. Campbell especially seems like he’ll take to the data-driven approach the Mariners favor.

Grant: Well, Campbell was described by Zach as a mix of me (thanks to his nerdy love of data) and John (the guy “loved to play games like ‘name the mascot,’ and his friends really didn’t want to play with him” which sounds like every single time I talk with John). So that’s the easy pick. But I’m quickly coming around on George Kirby, especially if he ends up signing below the slot value of the #20 selection. The guy dominated in high school with a 0.32 ERA, but wasn’t selected until the 32nd round and went to a small university not known for a powerhouse baseball program. He flashed some stuff his freshman year before making massive strides in each of the last two years (sub-3 ERA and more than a strikeout an inning in each campaign). I love every bit of that.

John: I see Grant is ignoring Campbell’s affinity for geography trivia as well, hmph.

Grant: I didn’t want to capitalize on that! (Get it?)

John: I am filled with disdain for you, and do think Kirby is getting some short shrift, but thankfully I have enthusiasm in spades for Campbell as well. With respect to Brandon Williamson, who I saw pitch just once this year and was nonplussed, the complete profile Campbell brings is one that excites. Mid-90s velocity, the frame to back it up, a data-friendly personality and a great attitude? Sign me up, and also count me as a Arkansas Razorbacks fan when they take on Ole Miss (with Campbell almost assuredly on the hill) this Friday.

Expectations for Day Two?

Grant: I can’t claim to be a prospect expert (though I’ve certainly been helped immensely by all of the work on this here site). But when I see the Mariners take three straight players out of college, including a guy who’s a redshirt junior (Campbell) and another who some see as a bit of an overdraft (Williamson), I assume at least two of them will likely come in under slot value. I hope — and, really, expect — the M’s will find at least one high schooler and offer him above slot on Day Two, ideally somewhere in the $1 million bonus range.

Kate: Agreed. I’m happy to have shored up the disastrous organizational pitching with some relatively safe options, but I’d like to see a high-ceiling pick, and a few position players, specifically middle infielders or third basemen.

Grant: That said, it’d be great if the M’s kept their toes dipped in the college ranks and went for another of Kate’s favorites, Jordan Brewer. Only a year ago, the Mariners opted for a late-blooming outfielder with high character in Josh Stowers; even though they dealt him last offseason in a swap that produced Shed Long, I would love to see Brewer join the org as a prospect in that mold, albeit much more raw.

Kate: I’m afraid Isaiah Campbell might have stolen Jordan Brewer’s spot, which crushes me, but if he can somehow make it through the next 18 picks, I absolutely want them to pull the trigger on him, then buy some prepsters out of their college commits with the savings from taking four straight college players.

John: There are a few guys I really like still out there. 3B Drew Mendoza from Florida State fits the college bat mold but still brings size and projectability. SS Brennan Milone (not RHP Brennan Malone) and SS Michael Curialle are also out there if Seattle is still interested in a prep infielder as they were frequently rumored to be this year. There’s also a sea of prep arms who would certainly make sense, though with three arms day one my perpetual stress about the future of the pitching staff has been slightly appeased.