Mariners 2020 MLB Draft Preview: Seattle Aims To Bolster Rising System
Unlike the NBA or NFL drafts, MLB teams do not draft for immediate need. There’s good reason for that, as even the most MLB-ready draft prospects usually take two seasons to get fully established in the majors. But as we ready for the 2020 MLB draft, it is useful to look at where teams are deep and where they are thin at the MLB and minor league level.
Also of note:
2019 MLB RECORD: 68-94
STATE OF THE SYSTEM: As strong as it’s been in years. Thanks to a blockbuster deal with the Mets that landed them sweet swinging outfielder Jarred Kelenic and righthander Justin Dunn and the rapid development of teenaged prodigy Julio Rodriguez, Seattle’s farm has vaulted from dead last in 2018 all the way to fifth entering this year. The group has five Top 100 prospects (Kelenic, Rodriguez, Logan Gilbert, Evan White, Noelvi Marte) and a chance to form an enviable core in Seattle in short order.
BEST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: RHP Edwin Diaz (third round, 2012). Though he didn’t blossom into a starter, Diaz spent three seasons as the Mariners’ closer, including a tremendous 2018 season that saw him lead the majors with 57 saves. That season boosted his value high enough that he was packaged with second baseman Robinson Cano in the deal with New York that brought Kelenic and Dunn back to Seattle. In doing so, he provided value for the club on the field and possibly for years to come via trade.
WORST DRAFT PICK OF THE DECADE: OF Gareth Morgan (second round, 2014). There are quite a few contenders here, but Morgan narrowly takes it. One of the toolsiest players in the 2014 draft, he never developed enough plate discipline to tap into his power. Over six seasons in the minors, Morgan has struck out in 44.8 percent of his plate appearances. The Mariners released Morgan in early 2019 and he spent the rest of the season in the Angels’ system.
DEEPEST POSITION: Outfield. Beyond Kelenic and Rodriguez at the top, the system also has Kyle Lewis, who battled back from a grisly knee injury and several setbacks to make his big league debut and swat six home runs in 2019. They also scored Jake Fraley from the Rays in trade and got Dom Thompson-Williams from the Yankees in the James Paxton deal. Fraley also got to the big leagues in 2019. Further down the system, Jonatan Clase showed exciting tools in his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League.
WEAKEST POSITION: Catcher. The Mariners have Cal Raleigh at No. 12 in their system, but there isn’t a whole lot behind him. While Tom Murphy and Austin Nola had successful 2019 seasons, there is a lot riding on Raleigh’s success due to the lack of options behind him.
DRAFT TRENDS: The Mariners have selected a collegian with their top pick in each of the last four drafts. The last time they went with a high schooler with their first selection was righthander Nick Neidert in 2015. Seattle also loaded up on pitching in 2019, when they took arms with nine of their first 11 selections.