It’s wild to think about in the midst of all this All-Star excitement and winning streaks and whatnot, but the MLB Draft starts tonight! I know! It snuck up on us, too. Here’s what you need to know to follow along and find out who the newest members of the Mariners family are:
When is the Draft?
The draft begins tonight, July 17, at 7 PM ET/4 PM for those of us in the Pacific time zone. Today is the only day of the draft that’s televised, and will consist of Round One (thirty picks plus two compensation picks), Competitive Balance Round A (seven picks), Round Two, and Competitive Balance Round B (eight picks), followed by six more second-round compensation picks. Fun fact: the Mariners will be represented by Ryan Rowland-Smith at the Draft, who will be announcing the club’s selections. We’re excited to see Hyphen on a big stage and wish him luck.
There are twenty rounds in the Draft in total, plus the comp rounds; rounds three through ten will take place on Monday, and rounds eleven through twenty on Tuesday, beginning at 11 AM PT on each day.
Where/how can I watch the Draft?
We’ll have writeups of every pick here on the site for you.
When do the Mariners pick?
The Mariners have the 21st overall pick in the Draft this year. They don’t have any of the first round bonus picks, so their next pick will be #58, in the second round. They do have a competitive balance pick in Round B, so they’ll get another pick soon after that, at #74, which makes up for the pick they’ll lose in Round 3 for signing Robbie Ray. They’ll pick again after that at 126 in the fourth round on Day Two, then every twenty picks after that.
This year the Mariners have a bonus pool of $7,254,400 to use on their picks, which ranks 21st among clubs. The Orioles not only have the first pick in the Draft but the largest bonus pool overall, at a whopping $16,924,000.
Who might the Mariners take?
In previous years, we’ve spent a lot of time analyzing potential fits and doing draft previews, but as we’ve sadly had to say goodbye to staff writer and prospect expert Joe Doyle, on to bigger and better things, and have been pretty consumed with the big-league club lately (a fun development!), we’ve definitely dropped the ball on the preview side. Here’s a quick and dirty rundown on the Draft:
- As a reminder, if this is your first time with the MLB Draft, it works a little differently than the NFL Draft. Because the road to the Show is much longer, teams generally operate under the “best player available” strategy more than looking to fill positional needs. However, because of the limited bonus pool, they also have to balance what they spend in each round and how far overslot they can go to entice high school players away from college commitments.
- One major theme of this year’s draft is “MLB bloodlines.” You’ll recognize a lot of the surnames of the players who will get called in this year’s Draft. Prepare a handy broom and dustpan nearby for when you crumble into dust at being reminded that your favorite player from your youth is now old enough to have a draft-eligible scion.
- Another theme of this year’s draft: strong college hitting class, decidedly weaker pitching class. That could signal the Mariners, who traditionally love a college player, might go hitter over pitcher; however, the Mariners spent 2021’s Draft pouring capital into their next wave of prospects, selecting three high school players in the first three rounds for the first time ever under Jerry Dipoto. Expect the Mariners to zag where others may zig.
Okay but really, who are the Mariners going to pick?
It comforts me to know that even when I’ve spent hours and hours pouring time into predictions, it’s never gone the way I’ve thought it would, so this year I’m literally picking a name at random.
Here’s who the experts pick for Seattle:
- Cooper Hjerpe, LHP, Oregon State (Jim Callis/Jonathan Mayo, MLB Pipeline; Carlos Collazo, Baseball America; Mike Axisa, CBS Sports)
Weak college pitching class be darned, MLB’s experts see Seattle staying in their own backyard and taking the funky lefty from OSU. Hjerpe is known for having a unique release point but doesn’t have much in the way of stuff. My take is why would the Mariners use their first-round draft choice on a Paul Sewald when they’re so good at picking them up from other team’s castoff piles?
- Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama (Kiley McDaniel, ESPN)
Another college lefty named Connor? In this economy? Most other outlets have Prielipp, who struck out 35 batters in a pandemic-shortened 21 innings in 2020, going way earlier, and McDaniel admits this is probably the floor for Prielipp, whose draft stock was dinged some by TJ surgery that caused him to miss all of this year. The Mariners aren’t scared of injury rehabbers, so if he’s available here, expect them to grab him.
- Drew Gilbert, OF, Tennessee (Keith Law, The Athletic)
Finally, a college hitter! Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s one they’d pick. You might remember Drew Gilbert from being a major contributor to Tennessee’s world-beating team early in the season, but you might also remember Drew Gilbert from being suspended for unsportsmanlike conduct towards an umpire during the CWS and missing a key game as Tennessee was shockingly eliminated by Notre Dame in the super-regionals. None of us are our worst day, but that just doesn’t jive with what the Mariners pride in their prospects, and I personally would be surprised if they selected him.
Also, come on, Keith. We’ve been at this a while now.
- Drew Thorpe, SP, Cal Poly (Eric Longenhagen, FanGraphs)
Remember that thing about zigging where others zag? In a weak college pitching class, the Mariners might benefit from teams not picking from the college pitching ranks, setting them up to snag Thorpe, a finalist for NCAA Pitcher of the Year. Thorpe, the ace of Cal Poly’s rotation, fits the Mariners’ mold as a command-oriented pitcher who can rack up the strikeouts, and we know they like Cal Poly’s pitching corps—current standout Taylor Dollard is also a former Mustang.
- Jett Williams, SS, Rockwell-Heath HS (Joe Doyle, Prospects Live)
Unsurprisingly (hi Joe!), this is the pick I like the best out of all of them, as it seems to actually fit the Mariners’ recent shift in draft strategy. Williams is undersized at 5’8” but has elite contact skills and a mature plate approach, two things the Mariners value. An equally good defender in the field, Williams represents a potential five-tool player and the kind of big swing that would maybe bring an impact player to the organization.
- Cole Young, SS, North Allegheny HS (Joel Reuter, Bleacher Report)
I like this pick too! Young is a lefty who also brings a strong hit tool and advanced sense of the strike zone, although he potentially has less power projection than Williams.
Kate’s pick: Maybe he’s off the board, but I am crossing my fingers Chase DeLauter makes it to the Mariners, after staffer Kyle wrote him up here.
If no DeLauter, bring me Vanderbilt outfielder Spencer Jones, a 6-foot-7 physical specimen who is probably a first baseman but who cares; he’s got massive power and blew people away in the Cape Cod League, which we know the Mariners value highly. Jones is a polarizing prospect with some scouts seeing too much swing-and-miss for him to be effective at the next level, but at pick 21 in this particular draft the Mariners will likely have to settle for a low-ceiling college player or a higher-ceiling player with some warts. Bring me the boom-or-bust unicorn.