By Jared Stanger
Last week I didn’t think I’d be doing another one of these, but fuck it…let’s do all 20 rounds.
Actually, we have gotten some new intel to warrant some adjustments in the early rounds. Mariners’ draft showrunner Scott Hunter went in front of the press corps earlier this week for a bit of a pre-draft press conference on the field at TMobile, and he doubled-down on Jerry Dipoto’s previous comments about the M’s going more openly, if not straight up aggressively, after the high school players in this draft.
So, while the NCAA’s recent decision to allow athletes to be compensated for their name/image/likeness has already sent at least a handful of known prep players to formally withdraw their names from the draft (Josh Hartle and Nick Mclain amongst them), and more names may come to be known in the next 24-72 hours, for now we may have a little more comfort and freedom mocking a true best player available draft.
With the floodgates open to drafting prep players in the 1st; my thoughts immediately go to the bat side. With the farm system chock full of the recently drafted college pitchers; there’s a degree of simply going with the odds in thinking it will be a hitter. But there’s also a multiple factor greater number of high school position players to the number of high school pitchers.
I’m still bullish on middle infielder Peyton Stovall. I think he’s got a super high floor, and with his quickly emerging power, I like the upside even more. I’ve read reports connecting Seattle to prep catcher Harry Ford, but I tend to prefer Joe Mack. I feel like catcher is a dangerous spot to draft from before they’ve played in college due to the slow-developing nature of the position in general, so I won’t go with catcher here, but I’m just putting it out there I prefer Mack to Ford.
#1.12 – 2B Peyton Stovall, Haughton HS
A prep shortstop that just looks like a future all star second baseman, to me, with one of the best hit tools in the total class. A recent weight-gain and added muscle turned him into a 15 homerun hitter over the 2021 high school season. Defense looks unspectacular but very reliable. Keep him at short for as long as you can (a la Donnie Walton), but feel no shame when he ends up at 2nd.
My intel has shown me that the 2nd to 3rd round might be the time the M’s are looking hardest at drafting a true shortstop. Certainly, they have done a deep-dive at the position to know the options that could be available if they choose to wait.
If you end up on the clock with some mix of Alex Mooney, Carson Williams, Max Muncy, Edwin Arroyo, Noah Miller; they may pull the trigger on the highest-ranked of those names on their board. Both Jerry and Scott have alluded to the athleticism of this high school class, and the previously mentioned group includes switch-hitters, two-way players, and multi-sport athletes.
So it’s tough to walk away from that group. Especially Carson Williams. But I just have other plans.
#2.48 – RHP Jackson Baumeister, Bolles HS
Again, if we’re talking athleticism…Baumeister is a pretty recently converted catching prospect of some regard, that is now focusing more and more on the mound. He’s 6’3″/215lbs with insanely clean mechanics for a guy still relatively new to pitching. His stuff is presently fastball up to 96mph, but sitting more 94, solid curve and quickly evolving change. Pitchability-wise, he’s super efficient, throws a ton of strikes. And there’s still more growth to come with a fulltime pitching commitment.
The other guy in this slot that I recently came to consciously recognize checks a lot of boxes for the M’s last three years worth of draft profiles is Florida righty Tommy Mace. He’s 6’6″/215 with elite extension and strike-throwing. I basically just stopped tracking him because he had a bad ERA (4.38). But the rest of the peripherals are there: 1.24 WHIP, 11.26 SO/9, 2.09 BB/9. I liken him to a righthanded version of 2019 2nd rounder Brandon Williamson, who is already in AA after 15 pro starts.
This is also a great spot to draft from a handful of college lefties. Actually, this is a hard spot to mock draft because of the depth available. But simultaneously that means it will be a great spot to draft in reality. Gonna be plenty to choose from.
#3.83 – OF Malakhi Knight, Marysville-Getchell HS
Knight is a new consideration to my mock drafts. Again, we’re going back to some of the things Jerry Dipoto said recently about athleticism, but also about this draft’s depth. The exact quote, “we approach it as ‘take the best available player with the athletic upside, the potential in the top 100 picks'”. So not only is there a ‘what’ to that quote, there’s a ‘when’. Now, the quote requires some interpretation as what is the definition of ‘top 100 picks’ when your team drafts at #83 and then again at #113, and undoubtedly some from your team’s top 100 board will still be there when you’re back on the clock at #113. But I digress…
Malakhi seems easily the smoothest outfield athlete I’ve seen from this class. He’s 6’3″/195lbs, with a powerful righthanded swing. Look at him switch gears to stretch this hit from Friday night into a triple:
#4.113 – LHP Ryan Webb, Georgia
This is a very strong class of LHP, especially the college group, but this is probably the latest you want to wait to get one that has around 3rd starter potential. Webb is, to me, very Marco Gonzales-esque. Similar build, similar stuff (Webb maybe a bit more velo), and similar leadership qualities.
#5.144 – SS Gavin Conticello, Stoneman Douglas HS
There’s plenty of question of where Conticello’s glove will end up, but I liked what I saw from him at the MLB Combine when he was playing shortstop. I’d leave him there for now. But he’s a 6’4″/195lb kid, so it is possible he ends up at either a corner infield, or maybe even outfield in time. Certainly the hard-swinging, rotational swing is reminiscent of LHH outfielders like Cody Bellinger and Bryce Harper. That’s what you hope for here.
#6.174 – 3B Riley Tirotta, Dayton
After going hard on prep players through five rounds, we’ve now reached the college portion of the draft where we have to include considerations of budgeting to be able to sign the HS group. Tirotta is a 6’3″/195lb, senior out of Dayton that hit 16 homers and stole 14 bases over 51 games this year. 31 of his 61 hits went for extra bases.
#7.204 – RHP Gordon Graceffo, Villanova
Graceffo is a 6’4″/210lb righty that has posted sub-1.60 ERA across the last two college seasons, and who ticked his strikeout numbers up to 9.44 per nine this year while maintaining very low walk rate. The fastball is up to 95mph, with a promising changeup.
#8.234 – 2B Jackson Glenn, Dallas Baptist
Glenn is a very well-tooled player that put together an exceptional 2021 with 21 HR, 19 2B, 2 3B, 13 SB, 32 BB to 33 SO, but is dropping in this draft because he’s 23 years old. I really dig this crop of college 2B, and getting Glenn in the 8th is tremendous value.
#9.264 – C Andy Thomas, Baylor
A consistent name amongst my mock drafts, Thomas is a sound catch/throw receiver with enough bat upside to be a sneaky value late in the end of day 2 of the draft. Very solidly built at 6’2″/210lbs, he hit .337/.411/.986 in 2021 while catching 46% of would-be basestealers. He was also one of three finalists for the Buster Posey Award for college catchers.
#10.294 – RHP Taylor Broadway, Ole Miss
The 10th round has frequently been a senior-signing, college relief pitcher for Hunter/Dipoto drafts. Kind of an easy way to save money towards the bonus pool while getting a useful roster piece. Broadway was one of college baseball’s best closers in 2021, and as a 24 year old he shouldn’t cost much, but bring 7.33 SO/BB out of the ‘pen.
#11.324 – LHP Caden Vire, Skyview HS
The early picks of day three of most Hunter drafts have often been overslot players that you’re taking a bit of a risk on signability, while not risking losing funds from your overall bonus pool. Vire is an interesting, local prep pitcher from near Vancouver, WA that stands 6’6″ but skinny, who is only presently topping out around 91mph, but with tons of projection still remaining. If you can sign him away from his ASU commitment, he could be a very fun project to track over the next 3-4 years.
#12.354 – RHP Aaron Brown, MTSU
Brown is a 6’4″/220lb former Vanderbilt recruit that posted a 0.96 WHIP and 11.87 SO/9 this year. Just need to cut down his homeruns allowed.
#13.384 – 1B Griffin Doersching, Northern Kentucky
Doersching is a massive human of a first baseman. 6’4″/250lbs and I think that might be AFTER he cut weight. Power is his carrying tool, though I also note how improved his plate discipline was in 2021, walking 50 times to 34 strikeouts.
#14.414 – OF Jonny Butler, NC State
Butler was the best scoring player in my analysis of the college class of bats. Just a very well-rounded player that goes B- to B+ across all categories.
#15.444 – LHP Rob Hensey, Monmouth
Hensey is a 6’4″/210lb southpaw that posted a 1.54 ERA, 0.878 WHIP over 41.0 innings this year. He starts with a great frame, clean mechanics, and then you try to develop him a little bit.
#16.474 – RHP Elliott Carney, Wofford
Carney is another local product, but he also worked to a 2021 season line of 3.07 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 10.94 SO/9, 2.25 BB/9, and a no-hitter.
#17.504 – C Wyatt Hendrie, San Diego State
Most drafts you’ll try to come away with a couple catchers. Hendrie posts a nice mix of bat and athleticism. He hit .379/.464/1.097 with a very low strikeout rate. He was the third Buster Posey Award finalist behind Mat Nelson, and the aforementioned Andy Thomas.
#18.534 – RHP Luke Boyd, Baylor
Boyd is a fifth-year senior who posted 14 saves and an ERA of 1.18 and 13.97 SO/9 combined over the last two years. With his nasty slider, could be very quick to the show.
#19.564 – LHP Parker Harm, North Dakota State
Similar profile to Boyd, but from the lefthand side. Harm is a fifth-year guy that had 12 saves, 1.70 ERA, and 15.08 SO/9 this year.
#20.594 – 2B Jace Mercer, Cincinnati
Mercer is sort of the back end of this 2B class that I really like. He was a finalist for the college 2B Gold Glove award and he stole 22 bases over 53 games this year. Also a switch hitter.
Full recap of the full 20 rounds:
1- IF Peyton Stovall
2- RHP Jackson Baumeister
3- OF Malaki Knight
4- LHP Ryan Webb
5- IF Gavin Conticello
6- IF Riley Tirotta
7- RHP Gordon Graceffo
8- IF Jackson Glenn
9- C Andy Thomas
10- RHP Taylor Broadway
11- LHP Caden Vire
12- RHP Aaron Brown
13- IF Griffin Doersching
14- OF Jonny Butler
15- LHP Rob Hensy
16- RHP Elliot Carney
17- C Wyatt Hendrie
18- RHP Luke Boyd
19- LHP Parker Harm
20- IF Jace Mercer