Mariners draft: college bats

By Jared Stanger

Last week I wrote about the college pitchers with some, what I think is, good feel for the type of analysis that leads to the kinds of arms that Jerry Dipoto and Scott Hunter look for in the MLB Draft. This week I’m writing on the college position players with far less of a connection to how Seattle drafts them. I’ve had some success predicting eventual M’s picks, but it has never been a singular formula. I didn’t look for the same traits in Cal Raleigh that I looked for in Braden Bishop in their respective years when Seattle drafted them.

This year I’m trying something new, and trying to create a more consistent design of how I’m looking for draft talent across the whole diamond. Primarily to see how well it may recognize eventual MLB talent, but hopefully also to see if it works to isolate how the M’s look for talent that hits. These are my inaugural finds:

C – Andy Thomas, Baylor

Thomas is a 6’2″/210lb backstop that hit .337/.411/.986 with 11 HR, 60 RBI, and a very solid 45.9% caught stealing rate. He hits lefty and throws righty. He’s a 5th year senior that should be available in later rounds at very affordable signing bonus figure.

1B – Griffin Doersching, Northern Kentucky

Doersching is a mountain of a man at 6’4″/250lbs. He may best be remembered as the winner of the 2019 college homerun derby. Power is clearly his carrying tool after hitting .316/.488/1.260 with 20 HR and 48 RBI this year. As I looked over his multi-year progression in college, I found myself impressed with a couple things: 1) the way he’s transformed his body from kind of a chubby, baby-fat looking kid, to a really built grown-ass man, and 2) the way he’s improved his plate discipline. Griffin’s 2021 walk rate of 23.7% was almost double that of his previous career high.

The swing reminds me a bit of Mark McGwire. The drip reminds me of Brian Bosworth. Have fun, folks.

2B – Jackson Glenn, Dallas Baptist

Second Base is lowkey very strong this year. In fact this was the hardest position to choose a single winner for this story. I had Cincinnati 2B Jace Mercer in a virtual tie for the win here with higher marks for his defense, but eventually chose Glenn for his better power. But it’s worth noting Mercer, nonetheless, as Glenn may be too pricey to secure.

Glenn is a thickly built 5’11″/225lb purveyor of the keystone position. He hit .366/.438/1.169 with 21 HR, 55 RBI and a very stout 42 extra base hits for the year.

3B – Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Oklahoma State

Third base might be polar opposite from second across this draft class. There really wasn’t anyone that scored well across all tools. Each seemed to have a glaring flaw of one kind or another. CES is the pick from the objectivity of this analysis, but I would probably still prefer to draft Riley Tirotta over him in reality.

Encarnacion is listed at 6’1″/215lbs, but honestly looks a bit bigger to the eye. He hit .361/.442/1.103 with 15 HR and 66 RBI for the year. It’s also worth noting that Seattle drafted him out of high school in 2019.

SS – Trey Sweeney, Eastern Illinois

Shortstop was another disappointing position for the college ranks. Sweeney scored very high himself, but there really wasn’t anyone close behind him. But in terms of big picture, this is a pretty special class of prep SS, so there could be that with proper planning.

Sweeney is a 6’4″/185lb college SS, that hit .382/.522/1.234 with 14 HR, 58 RBI, and a breathtaking 46 walks to 24 strikeouts. Most draft media believe the league will move him off of short, but for the record, Sweeney’s fielding percentage of .975 was higher than, for example, top 15 projected SS Matt McLain.

RF – Kyle Battle, Old Dominion

Battle is a 6’1″/190lb outfielder that exploded onto the draft scene in 2021 by hitting 18 HR, with 61 RBI, .322/.461/1.149 after hitting only 9 homeruns in his first four years COMBINED. He also posted 54 walks this year. His swing lowkey reminds me of Kyle Lewis.

CF – John Thrasher, Hartford

Thrasher is a very athletic 6’2″/190lbs CF who hit .369/.470/1.150 with 7 HR, 23 RBI, but an elite 37 stolen bases in 36 games. And from what I’ve seen; he plays a quality defensive center. Very good combination of traits and at redshirt junior prices.

LF – Jonny Butler, NC State

Butler was, perhaps, the biggest surprise on this list. Not only for appearing on it, but actually coming in 1st overall for all positions. The charmingly nicknamed Jonny Barrels is a 6’1″/205lb OF who hit .377/.451/1.116 with 13 HR and 48 RBI with quite a few clutch moments for the still-playing College World Series semifinalist Wolfpack.

But the biggest surprise was that Butler hasn’t committed a single error in the field in all of 2021. This guy’s a gamer.

And because sometimes a draft class will double or triple dip at any given position…some of the honorable mentions:

C- Michael Trautwein, Northwestern
SS- Shawn Goosenberg, Northwestern
3B- Riley Tirotta, Dayton
2B- Connor Norby, Eastern Carolina
1B- JT Schwartz, UCLA
OF- Jared Dupere, Northeastern
OF- Mason Mcwhorter, Georgia Southern

MLB Draft: college pitching

By Jared Stanger

The Mariners have used their first round draft pick on a college pitcher in each of their three most-recent drafts. More specifically, they have each been a righthanded college pitcher. The standard talking point for baseball drafts is that you should never draft for need due to the time and uncertainty it takes to develop baseball draftpicks. But you have to suspect there will still, inevitably, be some filtering away from things a team does NOT need.

With that said, a college pitcher may not be their first choice for their first choice, but if they play the strict BPA game; a college pitcher may end up where they end up. Regardless, they will pick college pitchers at some point, and it will probably be two to three times in their first 7-8 picks.

Over the last few years of studying how Jerry Dipoto and his staff draft pitching; I’ve discovered I can isolate a few traits that I suspect they tend to prefer including stats, stuff, and tape study, and I can put together a list of around 12 players I think they’ll like, and I’ll hit between 2-4 names from that list. In 2020 I pulled two, but considering the draft was shrunk to 5 rounds, I still think that was pretty solid.

This story is sort of an expansion on the methodology that went into that tweet last year. But we’ll get into some finer points of when each pitcher could be found.

The prevailing rumor in this year’s draft media is that Seattle prefers a bat in the 1st round. Is that based on actual intel, or is it just the logic of what one does after going pitching for three consecutive years?? I don’t know. When Seattle has been linked to a first round pitcher; I’ve generally seen only two names: Sam Bachman and Michael McGreevy. Bachman just seems to be the pitcher ranked highest on most draftboards at or after where Seattle drafts at #12 ( has him ranked at #14). McGreevy feels a little more scientific, as he is one of the biggest strike throwers in the country this year, with a profile that reminds me a lot of George Kirby two years ago.

I don’t really like either of these guys due to their mechanics and somewhat limited starting potential. Bachman just looks like a bullpen guy to me (kind of like this year’s Garrett Crochet), and McGreevy looks like a third starter at best if everything goes perfect. I think you need to hunt aces at #12. So the first name on my list goes to ECU righty Gavin Williams.

Williams stands at a very well-built 6’6″/232lbs with strong lower half. His stuff already has him reaching 100mph with his rising fourseam that shows nice armside run, and a full four-pitch mix where all four pitches look at least average. While Gavin isn’t as much of a strike-thrower as McGreevy; he’s been no slouch (Williams 2.32 BB/9 to McGreevy’s 0.97). But Gavin was the harder to hit at 6.31 H/9 to 9.65 H/9 for Michael.

To put a finer point on it: Gavin Williams is the best mix of Bachman’s velo with McGreevy’s strike throwing. Williams was 5th in the country in strikeouts per nine to Bachman’s 7th, and he was 32nd in the country in SO/BB to McGreevy’s 2nd.

MLB lists Williams as their 31st overall player, so Seattle would need to draft him at #12. (This is not a mock draft. This is a projection of the best-fit pitchers at each Mariner draft pick.)

#1.12 – RHP Gavin Williams, ECU

Here’s a really nice video showing Williams repertoire. He’s getting swings and misses on fastball, but also I think on the change and curve:

To my eye, this is an unusually strong class of college lefthanders. Jordan Wicks is the consensus top projected LHP, but he didn’t score high marks on my Mariner metrics. The highest-scoring LHP on my Mariner board is the former Coug, who I’ve had Seattle drafting in each of my mock drafts: Ky Bush.

Bush is a 6’4″/200lb’er with a fastball touching 96mph and already improved control. In 2021 his strikeouts improved to a new best of 12.87 per nine, and he cut his walks by more than half from 5.13 to 2.18 BB/9.

In previous mocks I had him coming to Seattle in a later round, but in their most recent draft board update; MLB has moved Bush all the way up to #66 overall. So M’s would need to snag him at #48.

#2.48 – LHP Ky Bush, St Mary’s

The other high-scoring, highly projected LHP on my list is Matt Mikulski and with good reason. Mikulski led the country in SO/9 with 16.33 per, and hits allowed per nine with 3.82 (just nosing out Jack Leiter at 3.84). The only negative on Mikulski’s profile is his lack of prototypical size. Personally, I think Matt makes up for some of that with very strong down-mound extension. The strength and flexibility in his lower half (seen below) have already helped him to see his fastball tick up to 98mph this year. Mikulski was recently dropped from #43 to #48 on MLB’s board, so a little uncertainty how early you need to draft him.

#2.48 – LHP Matt Mikulski, Fordham

After the 2nd round, there’s a pretty big gap between high-scorer’s on my college pitching ranks. There’s a good solid two rounds where they may be best-served drafting bats before coming back to pitching in the 5th.

In the 5th round; the highest scorer is Stanford RHP Brendan Beck. Beck is a quality, athletic, high-pitchability righty with present velo only touching 93mph, but enough stuff to carry him to a 0.95 WHIP and 11.48 SO/9. His tape reminds me of Mariner 2019 draftpick Isaiah Campbell, with the way he works well down in the zone. He’s not as big or as hard a thrower as Campbell was coming out, but that could combine to allow him to be available later.

You draft him in the 5th and hope you can perk up his fastball with a pro training regimen. MLB has him at #164 overall, and Seattle picks at #144.

#5.144 – RHP Brendan Beck, Stanford

Another pitcher that ranked well in the 5th round range was Georgia lefty Ryan Webb. Sort of like Mikulski, I’d rank Webb higher for Seattle’s potential interest in him if he were bigger. Listed at only 6’1″/196lbs, Webb holds a present fastball that touches 95mph, with very solid H/9 of 6.49 and a quality 12.37 SO/9 even as he got stretched out into a starter from his previous role in the Bulldog ‘pen. Seattle has drafted a Georgia starting pitcher in each of the last two drafts.

MLB has Webb, I think, underrated as their #152 overall player. An SEC lefty that touches 95mph is probably more 3rd round-ish, so this would be great value for a guy reminiscent of a different kind of Bulldog: Marco Gonzales.

#5.144 – LHP Ryan Webb, Georgia

Sitting somewhere later in the 5th, maybe a 6th if it falls as rankings have him, is LHP Dylan Dodd. Listed at 6’3″/210lbs, Dodd is a good combo of stuff and pitchability. Fastball touches 95mph and his SO/BB number this year was over 7.00. In his outing early this year versus the #1 ranked Arkansas Razorbacks; Dodd pitched 6 innings of 2-run ball, allowing only 3 hits (2 HR), 2 BB, while striking out 10. A college Senior, this could also be the range you start looking for bonus pool saving signings, and Dodd coming out of SE Missouri State could fit the bill.

#6.174 – LHP Dylan Dodd, SEMST

A lot of times doing studies like this, you already have some ideas of players that will end up on the final list because you know the inputs and you naturally look for them on a more superficial basis throughout the year. But sometimes the data reveals something entirely new. That was the case for RHP Gordon Graceffo.

Graceffo is a 6’4″/210lb righty out of Villanova with a bit of a hitchy delivery and not a ton of strikeouts. But there’s enough in his stuff (fastball up to 95mph) and makeup that he held opponents to a 1.54 ERA, and 0.96 WHIP over 82 innings this year. MLB has him on their board at #205, so my data is potentially pointing towards something.

As he currently looks on tape, I think he might be destined for a bullpen move, but if these mechanics can be tweaked…I wonder if there isn’t something more here that can be unlocked. Either way, at 7th round value, he looks like he could be a useful piece in some capacity.

#7.204 – RHP Gordon Graceffo, Villanova

I have a few more names that showed through the study, but none of the remaining are also on MLB’s most recent list of the top #250 prospects. So placing them in a round is less obvious. Instead, I will list them in order of how strong they performed in the study.

Tier 1 – RHP Aaron Brown, Middle Tennessee

Brown was actually one of the top scorers overall alongside Gavin Williams. He’s a 6’4″/220lb former Vanderbilt recruit that moved down to Middle Tennessee undoubtedly for a better shot at starting on the mound, and proceeded to strikeout 113 to only 15 walks in 85 innings this year. Strangely, he gave up almost as many homeruns as he allowed walks (13 to 15). I don’t know if that is ballpark related, but it is something to monitor, and perhaps why he doesn’t get drafted before the 8th round as a senior sign.

Tier 2 – RHP Elliott Carney, Wofford

Carney holds a couple of interesting distinctions on this list…neither of which are that he smells like cabbage: 1) he threw the first no-hitter in Wofford school history in April, 2) he’s originally from Eastlake HS in Sammamish, and then Edmonds Community College.

At 6’3″/205, Carney has decent size, but it’s unclear where his present stuff sits. However he’s doing it; Elliott held opponents to a very good 6.34 H/9 while striking out 10.94 per. Plenty to hope on here from a guy you can get rounds 9-12ish on a hometown discount/senior signing.

Tier 3 – RHP Kevin Kopps, Arkansas

Easily the best-known of the “unranked” names; Kopps has had an incredible season in 2021. Pitching primarily out of the Razorbacks’ bullpen; Kopps still acquired enough innings to qualify for season-ending efficiency stats. Of those, he won the national title in WHIP with his 0.76 mark. He also finished top 10 in total strikeouts, even though the scouting platitudes suggest his stuff won’t play at the major league level. The two other down marks on Kopps’ report: he is undersized and overaged. Only 6’0″ and already 24 years old…it will be seen how much of a discount teams will want before drafting him.

On the upside…and I hate to put this comp on him, but oh well…he kind of reminds me of Mariano Rivera. Rivera made the HOF with a single pitch: his 89 to 93 mph cutter that he simply just moved around the zone. Just a thought.

Tier 3 – RHP Pierson Ohl, Grand Canyon

Another guy that kind of came out of nowhere…Ohl presents a high-strike thrower with ultra-clean mechanics that scored well across the board. Statistically, he led the country in complete games…which suggests either a high efficiency worker that lets his defense work behind him, or a coach that just let him throw forever.

Tier 3 – LHP Russell Smith, TCU

The final name culled from this study was super tall TCU lefty Russell Smith. With a fastball topping at 93 mph presently, but a 6’9″/235lb frame that could add some velo in time; Smith has a ton to work from. And he wouldn’t be the first LHP from TCU drafted by the Mariners as that was the same bio for Brandon Williamson when he came to us in 2019..

12 Pitchers up, 12 pitchers down. 2021 MLB Draft begins three weeks from today.

Mariners Mock Draft #2

By Jared Stanger

The 2021 MLB Draft begins Day 1 exactly four weeks from Sunday. I’ve already had some change(s) of heart on some of my previous picks, so I needed to get another one up.

The biggest change is going to be right at the top. I think one of the strengths of this draft class is the prep shortstop class. The top four names from that group will still probably be gone by the time Seattle drafts at #12. But the next best way to mine talent from the class is to choose from the high school shortstops that potentially project to play at another position. This could be 3B, 2B, maybe an OF. As long as the bat plays, I don’t necessarily care if the player ends up moving off SS.

I mentioned a couple names that fit this description in my previous mock…Gavin Conticello and Peyton Stovall. Conticello is still quiet enough to be potentially found at a later round, but it feels like Stovall is still climbing. And I’m fully on-board for that.

#1.12- 2B Peyton Stovall, Haughton HS

Stovall has been a special talent for putting barrel to the ball for a couple years now, but it was the fact that he decided in the summer of 2020 to add some weight, and with it strength, that has really elevated his game. After adding about 15 lbs last year, Peyton went on to hit 14 homeruns in his 38 game high school season. While adding that kind of power; Stovall maintained a 6 to 1 walk to strikeout rate, for a .664 OBP and a 1.695 OPS.

In the field, Stovall is a bit mechanical, but part of what mechanical means (to me) is that it is a repeatable movement. He kind of reminds me of the baseball equivalent of Larry Bird. It’s not a pretty athleticism, but that doesn’t mean it’s not athletic. You don’t know how it works, but it does. And I think it will work consistently.

In my previous mock, I went prep righty Jackson Baumeister here. I still really like Baumeister, but after going HS with the first pick (which is already going against Jerry Dipoto’s staff’s history); I kinda feel like I need to come back to college with the next pick.

There’s a slight chance my first pick from my first mock, LHP Matt Mikulski, is still on the board here…in which case you draft him. But the more likely scenario is you’ll have to go with another college arm. Personally, I think there is a strong crop of college lefties all projected around the late-1st to mid-3rd round range: Mikulski, Andrew Abbott, Doug Nikhazy, Christian Macleod, Joe Rock, Steve Hajjar. But something caught my eye when studying the probable first college LHP that will be drafted: Jordan Wicks.

Wicks: 6’1″/215lbs, fastball 90-93mph, touches 95mph, 3.70 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 11.50 SO/9, 4.21 SO/BB
LHP X: 6’1″/196lbs, fastball 90-93mph, touches 95mph, 3.32 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 12.37 SO/9, 4.82 SO/BB

Almost identical profiles with X actually performing better statistically across the board. The only differences I can find? The former is a year younger, and the latter was a reliever until 2021. I mean…I guess you could argue Wicks has the better single pitch between the two with his changeup, but that runs the risk of being too insular of a thought process. What you’re trying to do is to find the best person at fulfilling the future job of MLB left-handed starting pitcher.

LHP X is Georgia starter Ryan Webb.

#2.48- LHP Ryan Webb, Georgia

So Webb’s numbers were better and they were compiled against elite SEC competition. The context of him being in the bullpen until this year is pretty easily explained: Emerson Hancock, Cole Wilcox, Jonathan Cannon. The other starters for KState while Wicks has been there: Griffin Hassall, Will Brennan, Caleb Littlejim. Who?

I like Wicks, but I’d like him a whole lot better in the 2nd round. Webb might give you a chance at that.

#3.83- IF Gavin Conticello, Stoneman Douglas HS

Conticello is a prep shortstop that probably ends up moving to a different position as a pro, I’m just not sure which position that will be. His hard-swinging lefty stroke gets some comps to Cody Bellinger who presently splits his time between 1B and OF. If you get that with an MVP bat…you won’t mind moving him off of SS. But start him off at 3B, probably.

#4.113- LHP Ky Bush, St. Mary’s

The picks from the 4th and 5th rounds remain from previous mock. Another upside college lefty here in the former Coug, Ky Bush. He’s got great pitcher’s frame, big velo, and already improved control. This is the most prototypical “Jerry” pick so far.

#5.144- 1B JT Schwartz, UCLA

Again, still keeping him from the first mock. Big-framed first baseman with elite eye at the plate. Mostly doubles power at this point, but hope for pro strength program to get him stronger.

#6.174- RHP Rawley Hector, Anna HS

An extreme pitchability prep arm, Hector is 6’2″/190-ish and has terrific feel for the strikezone with very clean mechanics. Present velo is only low 90’s, but there’s time to increase it. Rawley tore his ACL in 2020, so his work in 2021 HS season may not even show him at his best. You may be getting him at a discount here even if you go overslot money to pull him away from his college commitment to Texas A&M.

It’s not unheard of for Seattle to go prep arm around this range. They drafted RHP Mikey Limoncelli and LHP Adam Macko in the 6th and 7th rounds respectively in 2019. In 2018, they got a couple HS pitchers in the 11th and 16th rounds (Damon Casetta-Stubbs and Holden Laws). In 2017, Sam Carlson was this regime’s earliest drafted prep thrower in the 2nd round. They also drafted Jorge Benitez that year out of a Puerto Rico HS in the 9th round. Maybe it’s coincidence, but I do note that each year featured one righthanded and one lefthanded prep pitcher. In the 2020 abbreviated draft class there were not any prep arms, but there were only 5 rounds (Seattle has only once gone prep arm before the 6th), and they did draft a 19-year-old Connor Phillips out of JUCO in the 2nd. All of those picks, and their signings, were based on pre-draft agreed-upon signing figures.

#7.204- Taylor Broadway, Ole Miss

I’m curious if Kevin Kopps’ age will be enough to drop him down this far. If it does, I’d make him this pick in a heartbeat.

Broadway has been one of the best closers in the country this year with 16 saves in 29 appearances. He’s a bit undersized at 5’11″/205lbs, but that hasn’t stopped Seattle on relief arms before. They drafted Ty Adcock at 6’0″ in the 8th round in 2019 class. That same year they took 5’11” Kyle Hill in the 11th round. In 2017 they took Randy Bell in the 10th round and JP Sears in the 11th, and they’re both 5’11”.

Broadway is 24 years old and should allow you to save a bit in signing bonus to use towards other players. But he’s also a legit arm that could be very fast to the show.

#8.234- 3B Riley Tirotta, Dayton

Tirotta is another carryover from my previous mock. This is probably too late to actually acquire him, but it’s generally more aggressive than he’s seen in most national projections.

#9.264- C Andy Thomas, Baylor

After mocking FSU catcher Matheu Nelson in the 3rd round in my previous piece; I passed on him in this one. But I still wanted to get a catcher at some point in the first two days of the draft. Thomas has much less raw power than Nelson (22 HR to 11 HR), but he also strikes out about half as much (24.47% to 12.78%). Andy is a decently sized backstop at 6’2″/210lbs with one of the best caught-stealing rates I could find. Henry Davis was the best I found at 46.4% CS, but Thomas was right behind him at 45.9%. In fact, Thomas is the third national finalist for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year award along with Davis and Nelson.

I don’t have all of the defensive catching metrics on any of these catchers, but I’m taking their inclusion in that specific award as de facto compliment of their receiving skills. If Thomas can hit a floor of Dan Wilson as a backstop; I think that’s a worthy draftpick. Plus, he’s a fifth-year senior that could save you some money.

#10.294- OF John Thrasher, Hartford

I’m keeping Thrasher from the previous mock, but targeting him in a later round. He’s a senior with very nice contact skills, a good eye, and elite base running. And the defense should allow him to stay in center. Could be a Braden Bishop type player with a future as a 4th outfielder with pinch-running specialization.

#11.324- LHP Devin Futrell, American Heritage HS

After the initial 10 rounds, teams leave the bonus-pool theatrics. Seattle, specifically, will use the first few rounds after #10 to draft some harder-to-sign players, then try to save some bonus pool from some point(s) round 1-10 to throw at them. Sometimes it’s an underclass college player like Carter Bins…sometimes a prep player that fell past their expected draft projection like Casetta-Stubbs.

Futrell would be the latter. He’s committed to Vanderbilt, and this is probably implausible, but I just really like his mechanics and polish, and he’d be worth the attempt.

#12.354- SS Carson Crawford, Rohnert Park HS

Even after drafting two prep shortstops in the earlier rounds; I didn’t really take any that actually project to play SS. So Crawford is my attempt to remedy that. Plus, I need some more righthanded bats. He’s got a smooth swing with nice barrel control, and some natural loft. Just needs to get stronger.

1st- 2B Peyton Stovall
2nd- LHP Ryan Webb
3rd- 3B/OF Gavin Conticello
4th- LHP Ky Bush
5th- 1B JT Schwartz
6th- RHP Rawley Hector
7th- RHP Taylor Broadway
8th- 3B Riley Tirotta
9th- C Andy Thomas
10th- OF John Thrasher
11th- LHP Devin Futrell
12th- SS Carson Crawford

If I had one self-critique of this grouping; it’s probably short by one college righthanded starting pitcher. It needs someone from the midst of names like Dom Hamel, Aaron Brown, Conor Grady, Alek Jacob, Elliott Carney plucked in there somewhere. Maybe you give up the closer in the 7th and go starter there instead. Or maybe you give up a second upside prep bat in the first three picks, and instead go high floor college arm in the 3rd. Or maybe most of those names could still be had in round 13. Yeah, maybe that.