By Jared Stanger
As we’ve gotten closer to Monday night’s 1st round of the 2019 MLB Draft; I’ve gotten a bit better idea of how I could see the Mariners’ draft shaping up. It really feels like we’re going to see the team draft from the high school ranks, and that pick is going to be an infielder, and that infielder is most likely a shortstop.
The names most-connected to Seattle are SS Anthony Volpe and SS Nasim Nunez. I’ve seen a bit of buzz around 3B Keoni Cavaco. From those three, I’d prefer Cavaco…especially if the team thinks he can switch from 3B to SS. But I’m going a slightly different direction.
#20 – SS Matthew Lugo, Beltran Academy
(Slot bonus: $3,242,900)
Lugo not only attends the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico; he’s actually Beltran’s nephew. So there is some good bloodlines. In the various HS all-star events; Lugo has tested to have 90mph infield velocity, a 6.46s sixty yard dash, and a 95mph exit velocity off his bat. All of these are above-average for his age (which is also one of the younger marks for his position).
Off tape; Lugo is one of the smoother defenders at short and looks like he will be able to stick at the spot. He also barrels the ball more consistently than most, and features one of the best launch angles. Feels like a very high floor player, with high ceiling if he continues to add strength/power.
With my previous mock putting a pitcher in the 1st, I followed with a bat. I still really like Cameron Cannon if he’s available here, but I like the balance of going pitcher-batter or batter-pitcher 1st-2nd more than going batter-batter or pitcher-pitcher.
(Other options: 3B Keoni Cavaco, RHP Jack Leiter, RHP JJ Goss)
#59 – LHP Ethan Small, Mississippi State
(Slot bonus: $1,185,500)
I’ve recently seen Small climbing above this draft spot, so this may not be possible, but I’m hoping he’s there. 8-2 this year with a 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 15.0 SO/9, 6.25 SO/BB from the lefthand side. The Mariner farm system doesn’t have much in the way of lefthanded starters that I really believe in. I think they need to take a few stabs at that this year.
Small doesn’t throw as hard as he did in 2016 before an injury had him miss all of 2017, but he has good control, a plus curveball, and does a lot to mess with batters’ timing with variations of his delivery.
The other thing to consider about Small: he’s a redshirt junior and 22 years old. You may be able to go underslot with him due to the unlikelihood that he would return to college next year.
If Small has already been drafted before the M’s pick; I’d consider Missouri LHP TJ Sikkema here. Seattle had a brief, but successful, pick in Missouri LHP Michael Plassmeyer last year, and Sikkema is similar but with a bit more velocity.
(Other options: 2B Cameron Cannon, LHP TJ Sikkema)
#76 – OF Chris Newell, Malvern Prep
(Slot bonus: $818,200)
One of the rare, tradeable draftpicks; this spot was acquired from Cleveland as part of the Carlos Santana trade. I look for the M’s to take a stab at another prep player here and try to use underslot savings from other picks to get this pick bonus up to over $1 million.
I’ve seen 3B/RF Rece Hinds falling to around this range in some mocks recently. I would jump all over that if it really came to pass.
But the more plausible name seems to be Chris Newell. A lefty hitting OF with quickly arriving power, good athleticism, and a plus outfield arm seems like the best value on the board here. Mariners don’t NEED outfield prospects as much as they need pitching and infield, but…best player available.
(Other options: 3B Nick Quintana, OF Will Robertson)
#98 – RHP Riley Cornelio, Pine Creek HS
(Slot bonus: $599,100)
I’ve got a quartet of players that I’m interested here, at the middle of the 3rd round. All happen to be high school players. A SS that could wind up in CF, a couple RHP, and a prep catcher. Because the M’s have already drafted a prep SS and prep OF in this mock; I will pass on that guy. I think there are college catchers coming up later that are safer than a prep catcher. So I isolate down to the two prep RHP: Riley Cornelio and Joe Charles.
Cornelio is 6’3″/193lbs out of Colorado with a commitment to TCU. Fastball is up to 95mph with good spin-rate curve.
Joe Charles is 6’3″/190lbs from Florida with a commitment to North Carolina. Fastball is up to 96mph and throws both curve and slider.
Honestly, these are very similar pitchers, but I’m giving the nod to Cornelio because I’m a little spooked of Charles’ signability away from UNC.
#126 – 1B/OF Jake Sanford, WKU
(Slot bonus: $451,800)
In my previous mock, I had Sanford in the 9th round. Since then I’ve seen nothing but reports about him going much, much earlier. So I’m moving him all the way up to the 4th round. One of the best power bats in the country this year; I’m putting Sanford at 1B and hoping the bat holds value there. Plus, there’s something about him that reminds me of John Olerud.
(other option: C Korey Lee)
#156 – C Nick Kahle, Washington
(Slot bonus: #336,600)
I think I had Kahle a round later in my previous mock, but he’s raised his stock a bit since then. I’m hoping he’s still available in the 5th.
(Other option: LHP Avery Short)
#186 – RHP Griffin McLarty, College of Charleston
(Slot Bonus: $259,400)
McLarty is a guy that I found in studying this class that I just sort of adopted as a personal favorite. He’s one of the few guys I’m keeping from my first mock, and at the same spot. Good size, good build, good mechanics, good production.
#216 – IF Patrick Causa, Mount Saint Mary
(Slot bonus: $203,400)
Part of me wants to draft local prep infielder Carter Young here, in the 7th. But I’d need to know his signability. Realistically, I think these next four picks in the top 10 rounds need to be college seniors. We’re looking for pretty significantly discounted signings to be able to afford some of the high schoolers picked in the first few rounds. Also, I think we need to focus on the infield.
I think the picks round 7-10 in this mock are more or less interchangeable. The bonuses for all four picks are within about $60k, so even if you went on-slot the money doesn’t change significantly.
Causa showed solid overall game with 12 HR, 9 SB, and a slash of .402/.521/1.231, with ability to play primarily left side of the infield.
#246 – UT Scott Ota, Illinois-Chicago
(Slot bonus: $167,000)
With really nice power (20 Homers) and the ability to play both corner infield and both corner outfield spots; Ota would be an ideal Senior Signee around this range.
#276 – 3B Daniel Lingua, Prairie View
(Slot bonus: $151,000)
Not much pop here, but a slash of .411/.513/1.046, 37 stolen bases, 5 triples, and 39 BB to 25 SO. Senior signing.
#306 – 2B Dupree Hart, College of Charleston
(Slot bonus: $143,500)
Hart is your sparkplug, leadoff guy. Only 5’7″/170lbs, but he plays a hell of a 2nd base, and is one of the top basestealing threats in college baseball (40 steals in 47 attempts). Plus, he’s a Senior and can hit a little bit (.305/.386/.775), with only an 8.18% strikeout rate.
#336 – LHP Nick Snyder, West Virginia
In order to compensate for a lack of relievers; I will look to add a few in rapid succession after the top 10 rounds.
I had Snyder in my previous mock, but a few rounds higher. I don’t have a good feel for where his value is, really. But I project him to move to the bullpen fulltime as a pro, which would make this value make more sense.
#366 – RHP Zach Greene, South Alabama
The closer for USA; Greene pitched to a 1.45 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.68 SO/9, 8.75 SO/BB, and 13 saves in 27 appearances. He also didn’t give up a single homerun in 50 innings pitched.
#396 – RHP Evan Brabrand, Liberty
Liberty’s closer, Brabrand’s 2019 season went: 1.56 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 9.68 SO/9, 5.17 SO/BB, and 13 saves in 24 appearances. You’d probably like to see a higher K-rate to keep him as a closer, but the rest looks like a fine setup man.
#426 – OF Will Johnson, EKU
Another holdover from my first mock. I’m keeping Johnson for his blend of power (14 HR), speed (27 SB), and defense in a Senior signing.
#456 – RHP Connor Lehmann, Saint Louis
A senior starter; Lehmann posted 11.61 SO/9 with his quality curveball, but his laser-straight fastball got hit around to the tune of 10.22 H/9, ERA of 4.16, and a WHIP of 1.57. But maybe you convert him to a reliever and his stuff will tick up a notch a la Reggie McClain.