Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Grading the Seattle Mariners Recent Draft Picks

So the Mariners suck... but at least there's hope for the future. Here's a look at how high draft picks under the new front office regime have fared:

Josh Fields, RHP, First Round
This was a Bill Bavasi pick back in 2008 but newly-minted GM Jack Zduriencik decided to sign the hard-throwing junior from Georgia. Fields has flashed good stuff when he's been healthy, striking out a batter per inning but also walks a batter more than once every other frame. He's been unable to pitch beyond AA and is 25 but should advance quickly to the M's bullpen. Whether he'll close or pitch the 7th or 8th innings... who knows? B-

Dustin Ackley, 2B, First Round
The consolation prize in the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes was a no-brainer. Ackley came out of UNC in 2009 as one of the purest hitters in recent memory and after a rough start in AA he's done nothing to discredit that title. A promotion to Triple-A has ignited Dustin; he's hitting around .300/.360/.450 in Tacoma. For the year he sports an excellent 68/61 walk-to-strikeout ratio though the lack of power (5 total home runs) and sub-.700 OPS against lefties leave room for improvement. Ackley switched to second base after playing the outfield and a little first base in college. He has limited oomph on his throwing arm thanks to an injury but it shouldn't affect him too much at second. Dustin heading down to Arizona Fall League to continue learning the intricacies of the infield. And A- isn't out of the question but lingering questions remain. B+

Nick Franklin, SS, First Round
There was considerable debate whether the M's should have taken a Florida prep player with no standout tools. Well Nick's shut everyone the hell up. 20 home runs, 20+ stolen bases and a glove that looks like it'll stick long-term at SS will do that. He's certainly a Top 100 prospect and probably even cracks the 50s. I'm being cautious with the grade because he's so young and the power is probably a little fluky but M's fans have to be ecstatic with their first-round pick from last year. B

Steven Baron, C, First Round (supplemental)
Welcome to Disasterville. In 450 career at bats he has .200 batting and .300 slugging averages. But hey he's a good defender behind the dish. D-

Rich Poythress, 1B, Second Round
After a dreadful stint in AA the former Georgia Bulldog has (surprise) thrived in High Desert. The slugger is among the league leaders in homers and RBI. Rich's power projects to play in the majors, though Safeco Field will certainly sap some of it. B-

Kyle Seager, 3B, Third Round
Ackley's former Tar Heel teammate has had a breakout year in High Desert to the tune of .342/.414/.477. Then again, what hitter doesn't thrive in the Cal League? Kyle's shown good gap power and a decent glove at the Hot Corner. He wasn't thought of much following the draft but now he's a viable bench guy in the big leagues. C+

James Jones, RF, Fourth Round
Interesting toolsy outfielder has a long way to go. Good build, great athlete, still raw at the plate after pitching in college. With a promotion to High Desert on the way don't be surprised when James puts up some huge numbers in 2011. C+

I wasn't thrilled with signing Fields. Instead I think the compensation pick could have netted a player with more upside. That being said Josh is on the fast track to the majors and should shore up an iffy bullpen (so long, Sean White!). Ackley is who we thought he was while Poythress and Seager appear to be on their way to the big leagues. Whether they'll pan out as regulars though remains to be seen. James Jones still has a long way to go and the Baron has been a complete disaster. Franklin has been the huge surprise and it'll be great to see him continue to develop. Overall it was a good draft. I'm not as confident about the 2010 selections but it's way too early to put a stamp on anything.

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