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LL’s Last-Minute Draft Wishlist

Writing our letters to Santa Scott Hunter on Draft Eve

Tampa Bay Rays v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

With all the excitement over All-Star Week, it’s easy to miss the fact that Sunday begins the MLB Draft, which, in addition to taking place in the Mariners’ own backyard, is also probably the most important draft of Jerry Dipoto’s tenure. Having graduated a wave of prospects that includes Julio Rodríguez, Jarred Kelenic, Cal Raleigh, Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Bryce Miller, and other young players impacting the club at the big-league level, the Mariners also have a new wave rising headlined by Harry Ford, with Felnin Celesten heading up the wave behind him.

In this draft, the Mariners can accent any phase of these waves they wish, as this draft is deep with both polished college performers who can impact the team in the short-term and prep talent that could accent those upcoming waves. The Mariners have the most first-round picks they’ve had under the Dipoto regime, allowing them a ton of creativity in how they choose to attack this draft. It’s a wide-open canvas, and we at the site are excited to see what route the Mariners choose to go. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t have our own preferences in what path they might take, so here is a last-minute wishlist from the draft experts at the site about what the Mariners will do with their three (!) top-30 picks.


One high-floor “safe” pick, one high school hitter, one certified FreakBoi

With their bonanza of picks at the top of the draft, I’d like to see the Mariners get even weirder with their draft strategy than they have recently and take a big swing with one of their top-30 picks. While it’s probably time to restock some pitching into the system, the Mariners have shown they’re adept at getting big value out of later round picks (Bryce Miller was a 4th rounder, Bryan Woo a sixth rounder). So this year I’d like to see the Mariners focus on offense and also swing for a high-risk, high-reward type player who has the possibility of injecting some dynamic talent into the system—something the Mariners have been willing to risk in the international market, but less so in the Draft. This year I’m getting greedy and hoping not just for a prep athlete but also for a FreakBoi—an elite athlete with crazy levers, someone with the kind of light tower power that goes viral on BaseballTok, or some raw stuff that can make Pitching Ninja sweat, even if it means they carry some significant risk.

High school hitter: I like Sam/Sammy/Samuel Stafura out of NY and I think the Mariners have the opportunity to do something very funny and snatch him away from Yankees fans, who have already anointed Stafura as their own personal second coming of Anthony Volpe. This would require taking him with their first pick, probably, which somewhat limits the pool going forward, but the Mariners have lots of cash to splash, and I love Stafura as both an athlete and a personality.

High-floor selection: I don’t know if Brayden Taylor from Texas Christian makes it out of the first 20 picks, but if he does, I hope the Mariners pounce on him, because I will always love a hit tool with great plate discipline, and I think he could blossom with a trip to the Mariners’ strength camp.

Freakbois: The Mariners won’t have access to the freakish talents at the top of this draft, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Brock Wilken, aka the “Brocket,” would be in the category of “safe” plays as a polished college bat, but he earns Freakboi status because he’s a high-risk/high-reward type player: he has true 70-grade power but he may strike out too much and is probably defensively limited to first base. But the power is truly breathtaking, and he has the makeup and polish the Mariners love. I’m also very mad at Max for making me fall in love with 6’6” Will Gasparino, a wildly toolsy player from Harvard-Westlake who grew up around the game and is my favorite prospect in this draft, but the Mariners would have to reach for him in the first round, as he’s generally projected to be a second-rounder. But the James Woodsiness of it all! Look at this big beautiful Freakboi:


At this point, the Mariners have earned my trust that they know how to identify and develop quality amateur prospects, so I’ll probably be happy with most players they could pick in their range.

However, I’m with Kate in wanting the team to be a little more adventurous this time around than they were last year with Cole Young, who was really more of a “high floor” pick for a high schooler.

I am very curious what kind of route they take – they could do a number of things, such as:

  • Just taking three players at value and signing them to ~slot deals
  • Use one pick on a money saver and the other two on above-slot guys
  • “Float” down a big name projected in the top ~15 and make up for it later

I imagine they will go for option #2. If so, my ideal money saver would be Nolan Schanuel, who Ben wrote about at length earlier. I highly recommend reading that breakdown to learn about why he’s so special. If he were available at #22, he would represent a real middle-of-the-order prospect while also saving the team money to splash on exciting high school picks later. That said, plenty of teams are thinking that way with regards to Schanuel and there’s a real chance he gets swiped early, like #10-15 early, for a team hoping to employ that very strategy. For that reason, I wouldn’t hate Brayden Taylor, who Ben also wrote up in that article and who is suspiciously going to be one of a half dozen guys present at the MLB Draft in Seattle this weekend.

For the later picks, I’m enamored with Virginia high schooler Bryce Eldridge, a two-way prospect with huge power at the plate and a mid-90s fastball on the mound. I like him not just because he goes to high school 20 minutes from where I live, but because he is a massive-ceiling type of player that I’m hoping the team targets in the early rounds. The issue with him is that, again, he is often being mocked higher than the Mariners can select him and might be off the board by the time the M’s pick. But if they can out-bid other suitors by saving money elsewhere, maybe he “floats” down to the Mariners.


I too am a fan of Eldridge’s stout frame and potent left-handed bat, but for the sake of variety, I’ll remind fans of Oregon commit Eric Bitonti. Already 6’4” at just 17 years old, the California native is seemingly destined for a future at third base rather than shortstop, where he’s mostly made his home throughout his prep career. Apparently he had some dips in production at times on the showcase circuit, but he also hit some absolute nukes last month at the MLB Draft Combine:

High school bats always carry a bit more risk than their college counterparts, but with money to blow, the Mariners could afford to gamble on Bitonti in hopes of finding their first true homegrown slugging infielder in quite some time.

I continue to think (or at least hope) Seattle pairs a high school bat with an upperclassman from the college ranks that they could possibly sign under slot. Davidson’s Michael Carico has tumbled down draft boards largely due to a broken wrist last seaso, but as a lefty-hitting catcher with pop, he profiles as a guy I could see being a great value. Carico supported a .354/.514/.694 slash line with 77 walks to just 66 strikeouts over 104 college games, while also swatting 29 homers. His bat could likely be his carrying tool if it had to—as demonstrated by his Sophomore 2021 campaign when he led the nation in OBP and OPS—but for good measure, he followed that up by winning the Division 1 Rawlings Gold Glove Award for the catcher position in 2022. Prospect Pipeline praised his ability to drive the ball the other way combined with legit pop and plate discipline, but questioned if he’s going to hit much for average going forward. Particularly, on a discount, the slugging backstop could be a fast-rising bat to inject into a farm system devoid of many prospects with middle-of-the-order upside.


Offense. Offense. Offense. That’s the strength of this draft at the top and that’s absolutely the route they should go early. I recently did a five mock draft for the M’s and had two college players accompany one highschool shortstop; however, this draft is going to be incredibly unpredictable and no one really knows how it’s going to play out past the top five picks, so why not cover some fresh faces. Should one of a handful of college bats fall out of the top 10-15 picks to 22, I feel like one of them would likely be the pick. Names of this nature that I’m quite high on are the aforementioned Brayden Taylor as well as Maryland shortstop Matt Shaw. Obviously I also love Chase Davis, who I mocked to the Mariners, as well as Tommy Troy, but my gut says they’re going to be gone by Seattle’s first selection. If one of the premiere college bats doesn’t slip, my guess would be they’d triple up on highschool bats. There’s a ton to choose from, but I’ll pick three of my favorites.

At 22, I’ll guess they nab George Lombard Jr., a player I’ve covered fairly extensively throughout the predraft process. He’s got a ton of upside, big league pedigree, and a physical frame that allows his tools to play up. There’s been quite a bit of chatter that the M’s have scouted him heavily and seem to like him. My gut says he wouldn’t fall down to 29 if they passed on him, so we’ll take him here.

For the 29th pick, I’ll say Walker Martin is still here and they snag him. Walker is one of, if not my favorite prospects in the entire draft. He hits the ball incredibly hard and has a premium frame. He’s dominated this spring, albeit against somewhat lesser competition. He’s another big body that might outgrow the position, but even still he’s such a good athlete he might be able to stick at short. The power is real, I think he’ll hit enough, and he’s an excellent athlete. Super high ceiling.

The 30th pick could go a couple different ways. I don’t think they’d triple up on the shortstops all around the same age. Of the outfielders in the prep ranks, Dillon Head is typically the one that gets the highest praise, but I’ll say they go with outfielder Jonny Farmelo. He’s a physical centerfielder that stands at 6’3, but he’s got exceptional speed and has a real shot to stick there and play it at a high level. There’s a lot of projection left in the frame and should hit for plus power or better. The swing is smooth and simple from the left side with some loft. I really like the profile, albeit he may cost a pretty penny.

Outside of the first round, there’s a lot they can do. They’d likely be a little bit pressed for cash in this scenario, but there’s plenty of players they could take and not break the bank. Some names for fun: Cam Fisher, Mike Boeve, Spencer Nivens, Sean Sullivan, Jace Bohrofen, Max Anderson, Ryan Lasko. If they did go with a college player or two early, the prep pitching is also quite strong in round two. More names for more fun: Blake Wolters, Cole Schoenwetter, Josh Knoth, Landon Maroudis, Cole Miller, Steven Echavarria.