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Day Two MLB Draft targets for the Mariners

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Lining up some names to consider for late on Day Two or in free agency

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 15 Rice at Houston
Trei Cruz, pictured here getting someone yelled at later
Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After taking Emerson Hancock with the sixth overall pick yesterday, the Mariners will do the bulk of their drafting today, when they have four picks. We’ve run over some potential names they might look at in the second round or with their compensation pick in various episodes of the podcast, including our full mock draft of all Mariners picks which is also available to read here, so this article is meant to look into the watery depths of the draft, all the way into rounds...four and five. (Good gravy, that is anticlimactic. I am really going to miss digging for info on an 18th-rounder who played at a small school I’ve never heard of and imagining what it might be like to be a baseball player at Calabuttery Basin East Millner’s College.) Even if none of these names are called later today, the moment the draft ends clubs will be working the phones to offer deals to undrafted free agents. For players with the leverage of being high schoolers or draft-eligible sophomores, they’ll have the option to go (back) to school rather than accept a pittance, so we’ve focused this list mostly on players we consider likely signs, although we can’t promise the occasional prep won’t sneak their way through.

Pitchers:

LHP Levi Prater - Oklahoma

A lawnmower accident when he was just two years old took three fingers from Prater’s right hand, but you wouldn’t know it to look at Prater on the mound, where he led Oklahoma’s pitching staff last year with a 3.26 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 80 innings. At just six feet, Prater’s stuff isn’t overwhelming—his fastball sits in the low 90s, and he also has an average slider and a changeup—but he’s able to mix his pitches and hit his spots to keep batters wrongfooted, and with some refinement to his secondary pitches, could be a backend starter.

LHP Adam Seminaris - Long Beach State

Seminaris isn’t physically imposing with a big fastball—it barely scrapes 90—but he has a rich pitch arsenal including a plus changeup, and an average to above-average pair of pitches in his curve and slider, all of which work together to be more than the sum of their parts as he expertly mixes pitches and keeps hitters off-balance. In that way, he’s reminiscent of another Dirtbag the Mariners selected in 2017 with Darren McCaughan, who was able to add a couple ticks to his fastball thanks to a trip through Gas Camp, although Seminaris is even more intriguing as a lefty.

RHP Storm Hierholzer - Lake Travis HS (TX)

While it’s very unlikely any prep prospects with strong college commitments go late in the draft, I feel it’s important we all take a moment to honor the name STORM HIERHOLZER. Storm has been steadily increasing velocity, pushing up to 94-95 pre-draft with above-average spin on his running fastball. He pairs that with a changeup and a sharp slider that’s a swing-and-miss pitch. There are some mechanical issues here like a pronounced head whack that might come from pushing hard for the extra velocity, but at 6’2” with a durable frame, good development can probably correct those issues in addition to adding muscle with a pro training regimen. The question is whether that development will happen with an MLB team or on campus at TCU.

RHP Nick Chittum - Grosse Ile HS (MI)

A bit like Blade Tidwell, who John profiled recently, Chittum is a prep pitcher whose stuff seems to have ticked up since he last played in games extensively. He’s been 92-94 in showcases and bullpens this spring after working more 88-92 in games the past year. He’s got a decent frame, and while his motion is not without violence, he gets excellent backspin on his fastball that cultivates a modern profile. His secondaries are more raw, but he’s flashed some interesting changeups and curveballs in bullpens, and could be lured in a late round or as a UDFA if he so chose.

RHP Dominic Hamel - Dallas Baptist

Hamel is a JC transfer who didn’t get to show much at DBU—although one of his starts this season was a 10-K no-hitter he carried into the 8th inning against North Carolina—but he’s got a good fastball that sits 91-94 with above-average spin, and a curveball and slider that are more works in progress but show promise. DBU is really good at developing pitchers and the Mariners have drafted arms from there in both 2018 and 2019, so Hamel should definitely be on their radar.

LHP Shane Drohan - FSU

The 6’3” Drohan has a very Mariners-y skillset: his fastball isn’t overwhelming but is effective thanks to a high spin rate; and he has a hard, biting curveball, although with a slender frame Drohan is more lefty Logan Gilbert than James Paxton. Drohan also complements those two pitches with a changeup that tunnels well off his fastball. What is not Mariners-y about Drohan is his walk rate, but if the team feels they could iron out his command issues with a mechanical change he’d be a Very Mariners Pitcher.

Infielders:

SS Hayden Cantrelle - Louisiana-Lafayette

Cantrelle is a big personality—he has an active YouTube channel under the name “5Guy” where he hands out advice to aspiring players and vlogs his days in baseball (and, during the pandemic, what he’s been doing to keep in baseball shape). As far as his tools, Cantrelle’s aren’t the loudest in this draft class, but they’re all there: he’s a plus runner, aggressive but smart on the bases, and a solid defender at short who can occasionally make a splashy play. He’s also a switch-hitter with some pop from both sides and good plate coverage, although he can strike out a little too often, and he’s on the smaller side, so his power will likely be limited. Cantrelle exudes passion for the game and isn’t afraid of learning, and fits the Mariners’ player development mold well.

SS Shay Whitcomb - San Diego State

The 2019 CCAA Player of the Year, Whitcomb is a bit of an anomaly in Division II baseball—he’s big and physical, standing 6’3” with broad shoulders and a strong lower half. With below-average arm strength, Whitcomb will likely move to 2B in pro ball, but that shouldn’t be a problem as his hit and power tools are his carrying tools; he slugged .576 his sophomore year and was off to a hot start in 2020 and looking to put up similar numbers this season before things shut down.

3B/C Zavier Warren - Central Michigan

Warren is a switch-hitter with a pretty lefty swing and an average to above-average hit tool grounded by solid plate discipline. His power is more to the gaps than over the fence presently, which is less than ideal for a third baseman, although Warren makes up for it with solid tools across the board. He’s also a plus athlete and versatile on the diamond, and has even spent some time behind the dish.

3B Jamal O’Guinn - USC

6’4” and physical, O’Guinn has plus raw power but some trouble accessing it with a hit tool that’s currently below average. Mechanically there are some things that could be worked out in his swing, which features a pretty significant arm bar, but with plus defensive ability, there’s a nice collection of tools here for an enterprising club to develop.

SS Trei Cruz - Rice

MLB bloodlines aren’t everything, but if the third Jose Cruz is anything like Sr. or Jr., Seattle will be quite happy with this pick. Cruz has the instincts and tools to handle the infield, though he may need to add a bit of strength to lock in the left side. Still, his swing is advanced and his approach has helped him be a balanced, above-average switch-hitter. If Seattle hasn’t picked up a middle infielder by the 4th round, Cruz would be a great fit.

3B/1B Tyler Keenan - Ole Miss

May I interest you in another Beef Boy? When Keenan steps into the box, it looks like if Shed Long woke up one day in a 6’4, 250 lbs body and decided to take it for a test drive. His hands are quick and explosive, which translates to the field as well. His glovework is uncanny for a guy of his size, but his foot speed and range may push him to the cold corner. Keenan is one of the better college hitters in the draft, and could carve himself a Hunter Dozier-like profile of hitting enough to assuage the defensive limitations (particularly if he’s paired with a rangy defender at short).

Catchers:

C Michael Rothenberg - Duke

It’s hard to say if Rothenberg fits the bill of a guy who might sign after round five, but Seattle could get another pop-packed switch-hitting catcher. Rothenberg has a bit of strength-over-power in his lengthened swing, and struggled on the Cape last summer, but he’s showed plenty of oomph in his bat. There are questions on his receiving, but he’s got plenty of arm strength, and framing may cease to hold its power if the automated zone is implemented soon.

C Kale Emshoff - U Arkansas - Little Rock

Poor Kale (short for Kaleb) has had a rough road on his baseball career. After being lightly recruited out of high school he wound up at Little Rock, where he struggled mightily through his freshman campaign. He played summer ball and returned to post much better numbers before being sidelined with TJ 56 games into his sophomore season. After another year of rehabbing and working to adjust his swing, Emshoff was off to a dynamite start to his 2020 campaign, slugging .800 with 7 homers in just 17 games and being named to the Buster Posey watch list before the virus shut down college baseball. Still, the improvement is notable, and Emshoff gets high marks for his makeup and leadership ability while garnering praise for his power-packed swing. He’s an intriguing flier at the back of the draft.

Outfielders:

OF Joey Wiemer - Cincinnati

You name an extremity, it’s going a different direction in Wiemer’s swing. The gangly outfielder has the size (6’5, 215 lbs) and tools (above-average raw power, speed, and arm strength) to be a much earlier pick. But one look at Wiemer’s Dontrelle Willis-esque leg kick and windup swing shows why his numbers haven’t been dominant. He’s gone 35/41 stealing bases in college, and can easily play any outfield position, so if Seattle thinks they can dial down the noise on his swing to perfect pitch, he’s a worthwhile option who might also come cheaper than some of the prep alternatives.

OF Hudson Haskin - Tulane

Did you read the previous description and think “I like that, but he sounds too tall. Do you have a smaller guy with better numbers but an even weirder stance?” Great news, Hudson Haskin is here for you. Haskin floats on his back leg like a darts player lining up their shot before leaning over the plate to deliver a swing that has yet to let him down, in spite of it all. His numbers in the AAC as a freshman were eye-popping, and he was off to another red-hot start as a draft-eligible sophomore. That added leverage may make him a tougher sign, but he’s drawn Hunter Pence comps with how well his excellent hands make it work, and his plus defense, speed, and arm make him a likely center fielder so long as the bat keeps delivering pop.

OF Hylan Hall - Wabash Valley JC (IL)

It never hurts to have Ken Griffey Jr. in your corner. Hall was a top prospect early in the 2019 draft cycle, but a brief suspension from his high school program, followed by a transfer, and an ultimate shift from his commitment to Miami to beginning the 2020 season with Wabash Valley means he’s draft eligible once again as a JC kid barely older (19.4 y/o on draft day) than many of the high schoolers who will be taken this year. It’s unclear what set Hall on this more winding path, but he’s delivered well at the plate on various stages, from the U-18 National Team over a year ago to a rip-roaring start at Wabash Valley this year. He also had some direct advice from The Kid, who was friends with his neighbor. He’s got the tools to stick in center field, with plus speed and an arm that works into the 90s off the mound, and raw power that has been held back by a lack of game displays before scouts more than pure nonexistence. Whether Hall would go along with a late pick or even a signing, or seek to boost his stock once more is uncertain, but by potential he far outpaces most of the players likely to go unselected this year.

OF Baron Radcliff - Georgia Tech

A former HS quarterback and an enormous human with enormous power to match, when the 6’4”/225 Radcliff makes contact, the ball flies. The issue is when he doesn’t make contact, which is, unfortunately, why he’s being written up with this group of players. As a two-sport athlete Radcliff’s plate discipline is still somewhat raw for a college prospect and while he has made significant gains at the plate, he needed this year to cement his status as a draft prospect. Instead teams will need to squint some or B-Rad will have to have an ardent defender in the draft room, which is a strong possibility as it’s easy to fall in love with that power and believe in the overall athleticism enough to see gains made with consistent professional instruction. [For fans of this profile, there is also Elijah Cabell at FSU. Cabell, like Radcliff, is a toolsy, power-hitting monster with 70 raw; unfortunately, he also shares Radcliff’s tendency for strikeouts. The difference is Cabell is a draft-eligible sophomore who might head back to campus, so focus your attention on this BARON MISSILE instead.]

One more because your life will be better for having seen it:

OF Mike Peabody, UC Irvine

Sweet-swinging lefty with good swing mechanics and an athletic 6’4” frame but is currently more hit over power, although he can get into one at times; is a good runner when underway but doesn’t steal many bases; average in center field. There are plenty of tools here and the hit plus plate discipline make for a solid floor.