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2023 MLB Draft Preview: Five Round Mock Draft

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAY 27 Pac-12 Baseball Tournament Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As your Seattle Mariners draw ever closer to the MLB Draft this July, we’ve covered plenty of potential draftees in our draft previews. Whether it’s premium college pitching or prep shortstops with sky high ceilings, there’s plenty to get excited about with each of the Mariners’ THREE top 30 picks. That said, due to the nature of the MLB draft, teams don’t always end up taking the “best” player available as they have to consider the price of the player they will be drafting. To truly maximize a draft to it’s greatest potential, team’s may consider “creative” routes through the first round, something Jerry Dipoto has suggested the M’s may do. To provide a window into what that could look like, I tried to mock players to the Mariners under three general criteria: They realistically could be there at the pick they are selected, they realistically could accept the slot value they are assigned, and most importantly, they are good. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it gets the job done.

With all this said, the Mariners almost certainly won’t end up with any of these players just based on odds alone. I did try to make the players fit general prototypes the Mariners have taken in the past, but it’s not always a perfect fit. The goal was to get as much talent packed into one draft as possible and I feel as though this does a good job of accomplishing that. Full disclosure: estimated pick values are mere speculation. They could be completely wrong in reality. Nobody really knows until draft day.

Round 1 Pick 22: Chase Davis, OF, Arizona

This is a really fun pick for the M’s. Davis has made a meteoric rise this season and played himself into legitimate top-20 pick potential after starting the year firmly outside of the top 50 picks or so. You can’t watch his swing and not see the uncanny resemblance of one Carlos Gonzalez, the former Colorado Rockies outfielder.

A college corner outfielder isn’t typically the type of player that gets people fired up, but getting Davis at 22 would be a boon for Seattle. He hits the ball unbelievably hard, rarely strikes out or chases pitches out of the zone, and consistently makes contact. Additionally, he should be a quality defensive outfielder where he has a solid arm and decent speed. There’s a real possibility Davis gets selected well before Seattle has a shot at him, perhaps as high as the top-10, however mocking him here at 22 is far from unreasonable. He’s got as much upside as anyone in the entire draft and provides that immaculate upside as a college player that won’t break the bank. I’ve got him at just barely over slot value at an even $3.5 million.

Compensation: $3,500,000 (Slot: $3,496,000)

Round 1 Pick 29: George Lombard Jr, SS, Gulliver Prep

Lombard, previously covered in our series of draft previews, has continued to rise up draft boards this spring and is exactly the type of player the Mariners should be looking to target in the first round: A big, physical shortstop prospect that has all the tools in the world. He’s got a really smooth stroke from the right side and an incredibly high ceiling.

There’s a reasonable chance he outgrows shortstop and moves to either second or third, however in his current frame he looks great at short and has a solid throwing arm. He’s got good speed, good defensive actions, and legit upside with both the hit and power tools. He is committed to Vanderbilt, historically a school that’s tough to get players to forego, but first round money is tough to pass on.

Compensation: $2,800,700 (Slot: $2,800,700)

Comp Round A Pick 30: Brice Matthews, SS, Nebraska

Brice Matthews is the perfect player at this spot. There are a handful of players in the college ranks that have some true star potential, and Brice Matthews is one of them. An explosive athlete that has some of the quickest hands in the class, he consistently impacts the baseball with authority. It’s easy power from the right side that’s performed well in a wood bat league, something the Mariners have seemed to value in the past.

Defensively, Matthews has played shortstop for Nebraska and has an average arm. I think he should be given a shot to stick at short, but he may switch off the position to second due to the fringy arm for shortstop. He’s a plus runner, has plus power or better, and should be able to play quality defense up the middle. If he hits enough, he’s a starting caliber player that’s got tremendous upside. They might save a couple bucks with Matthews, but it wouldn’t shock me if he got slot value at this pick. For the purposes of our exercise, it doesn’t matter all that much.

Compensation: $2,500,000 (Slot: $2,732,500)

Round 2 Pick 57: Mac Horvath, 3B, North Carolina

Horvath is another player that has risen up draft boards this season, albeit to a lesser degree than the aforementioned Davis. Horvath is a good athlete that has lined up at shortstop during the MLB draft combine, however he may be best playing a premium third base. The swing is fluid and athletic that’s built to launch balls out of the ballpark.

I think there’s some serious upside with Horvath and even think there’s a shot he could play shortstop. Like Matthews, he performed well in wood bat leagues and I have confidence he could immediately play in Modesto and start next year in Everett. He’s a stud.

Compensation: $1,300,000 (Slot: $1,436,500)

Round 3 Pick 92: Will Gasparino, OF, Harvard-Westlake

This is where this draft really goes all in. For my money, Gasparino is probably the highest variance prospect in the entire draft. Very few players can match his upside. He’s a 6’6 giant that’s wiry and athletic. He’s got a cannon of an arm. He hits the ball exceptionally hard for his age. Surprisingly, he’s a plus runner at his height and should be able to play centerfield in the pros. He’s pretty similar to James Wood as a prospect a few years ago. Loud tools across the board with some legitimate concern if the hit tool will ever be good enough for it to matter.

For a third round pick, you don’t get better potential than this. I’m not even sure he’ll make it this far, but it’s not out of the question. He would be a long term play that is at least 4+ years from being in the majors, but if you can get everything clicking consistently, you have a premiere player on your hands.

I truly have no idea what it would take to get Gasparino to sign and forego his commitment to Texas. If it’s first round money, he’s probably too rich for Seattle to reasonably afford. That said, there are several other prep players who’ve got a real shot to be here that have tremendous upside as well. Whether it’s Gasparino or not, the play here is to shoot for the moon and land a premiere prepster that slips down the board on draft day.

Compensation: $1,500,000 (Slot: $736,400)

Round 4 Pick 124: Andrew Lindsey, RHP, Tennessee

Lindsey should be a money saver in the fourth round, but he’s a really fun arm and the only pitcher selected in this mock. Coming to Tennessee as a reliever, Lindsey was given the opportunity to start this season and thrived. He’s got some electric stuff, sitting firmly in the mid-90’s with a wicked sinker and firm slider that’s in the upper 80’s. He also throws a curveball and changeup but doesn’t use them nearly as much as the primary fastball-slider combo.

For a fourth round arm, a guy with two legitimate pitches that has a chance to start is a worthwhile investment. Lindsey is quite old for the draft and subsequently should go for under slot value, something that helps out the Mariners pay a guy like Gasparino in the earlier rounds.

Compensation: $150,000 (Slot: $531,300)

Round 5 Pick 160: Zach Levenson, OF, Miami

Levenson is one of my favorite later round guys that I’d like the Mariners to target. Somewhat of a change of pace from the rest of the guys mocked so far, Levenson won’t blow you away with his athleticism, but he’s a really solid all-around player. He hits the ball hard and can elevate it over the fence, something that a corner outfielder needs to be able to do consistently.

I think Levenson is much better than a fifth round talent, however evaluators seem to be fairly low on him. I’m not sure why. He performed well in a wood bat league (hopefully you’re sensing a trend) and backed it up with consistent performance in the ACC. For the fifth round, it’s a steal.

Compensation: $350,000 (Slot: $374,400)

Total Spending: $12,100,000 (Slot: $12,107,800)

That’ll do it for the mock draft! My general strategy involved delving into the pool of high upside college players early, then using any savings you find to pay for a premium prep player in round two or three. When the Mariners select their prep players in the top-100 picks is mostly irrelevant to me due to the depth of the class, so why not try and get some of the best college players while they’re still there? Nobody knows just how things will shake out on draft day, but hopefully this acts as an example of how the M’s could move some money around to land as much upside as possible. Thanks for reading and GOMS!