For the first time in history, the MLB draft will be taking place in the Seattle Mariners’ own stomping grounds, T-Mobile Park. Adding to the excitement: the 2023 amateur draft could be the most pivotal draft in Mariner team history. So we here at LL decided to get the draft festivities going early this year to help you be prepared when July 9th rolls around.
Despite being a successful, 90-win team each of the last two years, the Mariners find themselves with a whopping THREE first-round picks. In a sport like baseball where picks are not allowed to be traded, this is almost unheard-of territory. Hit on all three and your farm system is transformed overnight, setting the Mariners up for another decade of contention. Whiff, and you end up squandering your best chance to replenish a depleted farm system that was ravished by major trades and prospect graduations over the last two years.
All that being said, the aim of this ongoing series will be to break down the 2023 MLB draft in chunks, ideally clustering players by the general archetype they would fit into. Whether that be prep infielders, lefty arms, or college outfielders, the aim is to clump similar position groups together to make things nice and easy for the casual fan.
While I myself am not a professional scout, I do adore the process of evaluating prospects and have personally evaluated numerous players in the upcoming draft. I don’t claim to know anything the layman couldn’t find if they wanted to, but what I can do is provide everything I have gathered on every prospect I’ve evaluated and give it to you in one convenient location.
Finally, just to clarify, this series is strictly a Mariner-based perspective on the draft process. Guys like Dylan Crews and Wyatt Langford, college outfielders who are consensus top five picks, are clearly going to be off the board by the time the Mariners select at 22 and will not be covered. Only players with at least an outside chance of falling to Seattle will be covered.
Without further ado, let’s kick off the series with a quick rundown of how the 2023 MLB draft will look for your very own Seattle Mariners. Check back for future stories in this stream that will cover players by position/draft group (i.e. college outfielders, prep pitchers, etc.)
The When and the Where
- Draft Day: July 9th - July 11th
- Location: T-Mobile Park, Seattle, WA
- Viewing: MLB Network or live in person with a 2023 All-Star weekend pass
What to Watch For
As mentioned prior, the Mariners are uniquely positioned in this upcoming draft. With three draft picks in the top 30 picks and 5 in the top 100, Seattle has the luxury of an exorbitant amount of capital in their draft pool. For those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the MLB draft, it operates a bit differently than other major sports. Teams are given a bonus pool, an allotted amount of money they are allowed to spend on all of their draft picks in a given year. This quantity is designated based on the slot value of a pick, a somewhat arbitrary but steadily descending dollar amount based on how high the selection is. For example, in this year’s draft, the first overall pick has a slot value of approximately 9.7 million dollars. After that, the following picks will decrease in slot value, with late first round picks being about a third of the value of the first overall pick.
Generally, the teams with the highest picks in the draft have the largest pools. However, because they pick so many times in the first 100 picks, the M’s find themselves with the 7th largest bonus pool despite making their first selection at 22. That’s a big deal! Teams with large bonus pools have been known to “float” a player down a draft board they are enamored with, essentially promising a hefty wad of cash to an elite prep player so other teams can’t meet their demands. Other teams do the opposite, taking a college player they can sign for slightly under slot value and using the savings to take a wide range of intriguing players they otherwise would not have been able to afford.
Ultimately, there isn’t a “right way” when it comes to draft day. It boils down to scouting, negotiation, and smart decisions. That said, with the size of their bonus pool being so large and being awarded three premium picks, the Mariners have an unbelievable opportunity to transform a farm system that currently could use some heft at the top and greater depth. If I were to guess right now, I would expect them to save a bit of money with some advanced college players with their first selection or two, then take high upside prepsters in the next few rounds. Obviously this is just speculation, but based on how creatively Dipoto runs the show at the big league level, I would expect Andy McKay, the Director of Player Development and Assistant GM, to follow suit.
On an unrelated note, this will officially be my first solo project with LL. I’m thrilled to be a part of this team and hope to provide the best coverage of both the minor leagues and the MLB draft as I can. I have been a diehard Mariner fan my entire life and took a heavy interest in prospect evaluation from a young age, firmly putting me at the center of the cool kids table all throughout middle school. All jokes aside, I am excited to continue this process throughout the coming months and hope to provide some insight into all things Mariner prospects. Go M’s!!