First, long draft look for 2014
Starting with the hitters
After all the talk about Jack as GM in the shouts, and since it's May Eve, I figured it's about time to start some draft conversations, even though the Ms are still clinging to some sort of respectability after a month of baseball.  They're throwing off my timing with their performances this last week.
Back to the Draft.  First off, there's no slam-dunk #1 guy.  If I was drafting #1, that might annoy me.  Since we're drafting 6th the good news is that there is really good talent scattered throughout the top-10, but most of it is pitching talent.
This draft looks a bit like 2006.  All of the bats were viewed as weaker than the arms at the top, and there were so MANY great arms to choose from. Hochevar, Lincoln, Morrow, Miller, Kershaw, Lincecum, Scherzer... who takes a bat? Since Hochevar, Reynolds, Lincoln and Miller all bombed out, and Morrow never turned into what he could have been, you had to hope you grabbed Kershaw, The Freak, or Scherzer with those top-11 picks.  Or that you did what the Rays did and took Longoria, the only position prospect worth a top-20 selection. If you prefer an even more recent draft comparison, though, think 2011.  Gerrit Cole, Hultzen, Bauer, Bundy and Bradley dominated the top of the board.  There's no Rendon this year, but several kids who might qualify for the talent of Bubba Starling, which thus far hasn't gotten him anywhere.
Is there a Longoria in this draft, to help us avoid the risk of those pitcher flameouts or injuries (*cough* Hultzen)?
Maybe... but probably not in the college ranks. 
Michael Gettys, RH HS OF - he can play center, run like the wind, throw a baseball through a brick wall from 50 feet away... what can't he do?  Earlier in the year he wasn't squaring up too many pitches, but it looked to me like timing and not a swing problem - and he's been crushing bombs the last couple weeks so he may have even straightened that out.  He has quick wrists, a good short path to the ball, and PLENTY of batspeed. All the clay seems there to mold a special hitter out of. Get him in an org that can fix his double-hammer timing issues and he should be good to go. Is that us? I dunno - we did fix Brad Miller's swing, and Nick Franklin's done all right.  But I do know I don't want to see him fall to another org in the division... He's the 5-tool wunderkind if you can polish him up right. More Grady Sizemore than Mike Trout as far as potential impact, but in no universe is that a slight.
Feeling: Hot
Alex Jackson, RH HS C / OF - He also played some 3B.  It's a crooked path through positions reminiscent of our own Tank O'Neill (SS/C/OF) and Jackson is a similarly yoked dude with a strong frame and short arms that help him get the bat to the ball with a simple, powerful swing. I like him quite a bit. He has some extra nonsense to clean up as all high-school hitters do, but he's probably the cleanest of the teen bats at the plate at this point even with the added degree of difficulty of the higher leg kick. Not unhappy at all to draft him, but with Gettys we would get a guy who can play CF, and Jackson is a corner player entirely if he doesn't stick behind the plate. That said, I’m not against making sure we have corner players locked down; it’s been a deficiency in the system for a while, and I do think Jackson is gonna hit. I don't think he's gonna catch, and I would expect whoever takes him to pull him outta that role. As an OF he's not as WAR-valuable - though of course Carlos Delgado and Paul Konerko (who both started as a C) would disagree about the worth of a thumper on a corner, and I would take RBIs over WAR any day at this point. IMO Jackson is one of the safer bets for a future hitting star from this draft.  And if he CAN catch? Hello, Brian McCann.
Feeling: Very Warm
Braxton Davidson, LH HS OF - Braxton could likely wind up at 1st base, but he's got a really nice swing for a high schooler.  When you first load up his videos he looks like a college hitter.  Full frame, great easy swing, ball jumps off his bat with nice contact.  He's got a little bit of Smoak in him, actually - hopefully he can attain his LH power with more contact than Justin's been able to find, and without the long delays. Looks like a first-rounder to me, and IMO would be a solid pick and probably safer than some others. I guess I'm not feeling in the mood to be toooo safe this year, and I doubt anybody takes him top-10.  Somebody in the 15-20 range will probably be pretty happy he's there.
Feeling: Warm
Nick Gordon, LH HS SS - Nope, but I'm probably alone in this too.  Decent defender, okay power, good arm, rangy swing... I'm just not feeling his huge upside the way others are. People are starting to scream about him like he's the next coming of A-Rod it feels like (they're not, just feels that way) and I dunno that he's the next Machado. Reminds me of some bits of Jiovanni Mier.  Maybe that's not fair - let's say BJ Upton then, where performance never quite catches the hype.  He's got a lot of JP Crawford in him too though, is VERY patient, has some ridiculous 18 BB / 3 K thing going on... but I'm always wary of guys who have a huge early advantage over their peers. Gordon has the benefit of bloodlines and the best prep available from his dad and older brother. I don't think that gives him as much upside and growth as others seem to.  His swing is decent, wristy, lots of motion before the swing with a pretty high leg kick to boot but he really strokes the ball with authority and the ease of a guy who believes in his own future greatness. He might stay at short, but I don't want to invest the 5 years to find out. If we were drafting 15th, I'd be interested.  But he's not my favorite hitter in this draft, right or wrong. 
Feeling: lukewarm
Jacob Gatewood, RH HS SS / 3B - Has incredible power potential, but doesn't square up enough balls to make me entirely happy. His swing is longer and slower than either Jackson or Gettys, and he might wind up on the same corner OF spot as Jackson. I like some of his tools, but he feels further away than the other two and has some leaps to make. Maybe watching too many of our Latin free agents and guys like Halman with incredible physical gifts but the inability to make enough game-contact with the ball to excel has jaded me.
Feeling: lukewarm
Michael Conforto, LH college OF - Not a defender, just a decent hitter on a corner position with few special tools. Lots of bat movement before the pitcher gets there but his motion through the zone is short and pretty clean with an uppercut that’s hunting for power all the time. I would have taken Peterson or Renfroe over him last year at #12, so I’m definitely not gearing up for him at #6. Not my kind of player for the slot. Let somebody else draft the lefty version of Romero in the top of the first.
Feeling: Cool
Trea Turner, RH college SS - he's very fast.  He has very little power, and putting the ball weakly in play is only so useful.  I'm also not one of the people who thinks he's a plus defender at SS, so you're talking about a guy who is now competing with the Chris Taylors of the farm system, except Chris is a better defender IMO and also a plus baserunner to match up with Turner.  I wouldn't draft Chris Taylor with the #6 pick in the draft.  Not gonna take Turner there either, no way; I dislike him the way I disliked Grant Green in his draft (not that Grant had his speed). Someone will fall in love with his speed, especially after watching some Billy Hamilton highlight tapes, but I am not that someone.
Feeling: Cold
Bradley Zimmer: I hate him with the apathy of a thousand emo kids.  No. Just... No.
Feeling: Ugh



The C/1B/OF who bats lefty from U of Indiana is rumored to have the best mix of power and contact skills of the college boys... what do you think???

Kyle's picture

Can you elaborate on Zimmer? Only red flag I see is he Ks more than he walks which if you're doing that in college can get ugly in the pros. Is there anything else bugging you on him. Seems to be a premium athlete with speed enough to stay in center from what I've read. I think #6 is rich but he'll look nice for someone in the 12-15 range


I don't think he's a catcher, and he might be in between Smoak and Montero as far as speed chugging around the bases (aka faster than molasses rolling uphill, but not as when it's rolling downhill), so I'm not thrilled about him in the OF.  I think he's a 1B. Watching him sink his weight into the ground and crouch reminds me of Bagwell, who he obviously wants to be.  He's not.  I've seen more than one person compare parts of his swing to V-Mart, but I don't think he has that kind of batting average in him. And Victor Roache could hit a baseball a long way too.
Still, he's got a good eye and stroke, and can tattoo em when he gets em.  *shrugs* I'm waiting to see more of him. At first blush I wasn't terribly impressed, though when he connects he can drive a baseball. Having the most upside of the college hitters in the first round of this draft is sorta like being the first pick from all the fat kids in kickball. I think there will absolutely be some good college bats that come out of this draft, but I'm leery of the more-hyped ones.
I like him more than Conforto or Zimmer, if it helps - I just didn't wanna clutter up the board with even more hitters we probably won't take.  I'll do more on Schwarber in a post closer to the draft if it looks like we might go crazy and take a college bat there.  Fingers crossed against that.


I have heard this draft is very deep - especially for HS'ers. Since we currently have a second round sandwich pick, and early third round pick... I wonder how much money Mac and his team think they will need to get whomever they want for the rest of the top 10 picks... and thus will that effect who we draft in the first round... like in 2006 when the Mariners did not want to draft Miller based somewhat on his contract demands.
I also wonder how much the agent / anti Boras contingent will play a part of this draft in general... especially after the Morales hold out. Any comments???


In the 2nd round of the 2007 draft there was a strong, impact kid who was tall and raw and had all kinds of tools.
We did not draft him.  Instead we drafted the OTHER raw kid who "could play CF" and "had amazing upside." We passed on Mike Stanton (who I was slobbering over at the time) for Denny Almonte.  I saw footage of Almonte and flipped my computer off the desk, basically. For years afterward, all people had to do was mention Almonte's name and watch my eyes glaze over in a fit of irrational anger. ;-)
Zimmer reminds me of a college Almonte, or if you prefer a 1st rounder, Bubba Starling. He's got LOTS of tools.  Except I dislike his swing and his clumsiness, and the fact that he doesn't actually LOOK like my kind of baseball player.  Most tremendous athletes struggle to play actual baseball. I think Zimmer looks good with a college bat against college pitching, but I expect him to be exposed on a harder stage.
He looks good hitting em off a tee, or in a cage.  Or against non-Friday starters. All the pros have are Friday starters. I just have concerns. We've gone for 5-tool raw guys before.  If we're gonna take one in this draft, then I definitely have my heart set on the high-schooler Gettys instead of the college Zimmer. Being that raw still in your 20s makes me wonder whether he can learn fast enough to become useful. And yes, that's the same concern about guys like Kivlehan - but we didn't draft Kivlehan with the #6 pick either. Zimmer is basically the least-safe hitting choice we could make.
I've spent a lot of time trying to get away from our million-dollar foreign investments in kids who run fast, throw hard, and swing like they can knock down the Berlin Wall but don't make an impact on the field. Zimmer's just touching a button with me, I think. ;-)

GLS's picture

Barring something crazy happening and Aiken falling to #6, it seems like Gettys is the obvious pick. For the most part, I really, really don't want to take a pitcher with this pick. There's a good chance Gettys will be available and if he's there, that's the guy. Draft him, sign him, send him to the minors, and then see where he is in a couple of years.
But, that said I do wonder if they would consider "trading down" and signing a slightly lesser player to save some money. It seems like this would be a good year for that sort of thing.


GLS... reports on high schoolers can be un-reliable at this time of the year because of old information lingering, and many other reasons....
BUT, as Gordon wrote in the article, Getty's rumored draft position has been sliding down into the mid teens... so if MAC and others believe like you and Gordon do, then there is a good chance that the Mariners would try to sign Gettys for a couple million, if they could save a couple million for the other draft choices.


It's a pretty steep curve. Pick #1 this year is slotted a 7.9 mil, then it goes 6.8, 5.7, 4.6, 3.8, and us at 3.575 million.  The difference between the #6 pick and #15 is 1.1 million.  So you CAN save money if you can sign a dude for #15 money at the slot, and I'd love to have an extra million to play with in the draft AND get the guy I want anyway.
Depends how we feel about him.  Gettys is an amazing talent. If he had swing problems I'd be more concerned, but he has timing problems.  Timing problems on a guy with that kind of batspeed shouldn't be that hard to break. "Listen kid, you put your foot down AS you start to swing, not like a second before you begin.  I know you have the fastest wrists in 2 time zones, but it's hard to crush baseballs when your lower body is doing on thing and your upper body is doing something else."
Gettys is a legit 5-tooler IMO. People throw that word around til I wanna scream, "you keep using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means." But in this case, he's got the speed, the power, the glove and the 100 MPH outfield arm. And IMO he'll have the contact.
Projecting high-school hitters is risky.  So's drafting any kind of arm.  We're a little thin on top arms in the low minors at the moment.  We have a couple of potentials but there are arms we could add in this draft at the top that could be very good, both HS and pro.  Like I said, I didn't even list all the interesting arms.
But when an arm pulls a Hultzen you're left with nothing.  Even "injury prone" hitters, if they're great, can get it together.  Rendon is mocking me over in Washington right now.
We'll see what we do soon, but rumor is we settled for Zunino after our man Buxton went one pick ahead of us, and we were on Correa to boot.  It's not that we don't like prep hitters, it's that the graet ones have just missed getting to us. Zunino is turning out to be a great consolation prize, but it looks like we could have our pick of the hitters in this draft. 
Half the pitchers will fail. They always do. If we need to grab ONE hitter from the bunch that will succeed, can we?  It's a skill Zduriencik has demonstrated before.  In the 2002 draft, 5 of the first 6 picks were pitchers. The only hitter drafted there was BJ Upton, and Grienke went #6 to the Royals (good choice).  With the 7th pick, Jack picked a fat first baseman named Prince.  The next 7 picks all busted (unless you count Jeff Francis or Joe Saunders a success, which I don't).
The downside outcome for Gettys is that he's a rocket-armed sprinter out in CF who's only worth 2 WAR most years because he can't make enough contact to truly display that power. His downside is healthy Guti with a better cannon, IMO.
What's the upside?  For me, it's worth a #6 pick to find out. If we could get an extra $750k or whatever to add another great HS prospect in the process, even better.


It's hard to say how deep it is, because nobody knows how many of the teenagers will sign given the new 10 round cash cap that won't let teams pay out very much past their limits without losing draftpicks next year.  It's not a deep draft in college hitters, as I stated earlier, so in that sense it's not stocked with ALL kinds of talents, but there could be 20+ pitchers that go in the first round, depending on how people are feeling. That would push both prep AND college bats into the supplemental and second rounds, and there are interesting prep hitters for sure.  And while I don't like a lot of college hitters with OUR pick, they're not abominable.  We could very well get legit prospects with our 2nd supplemental and 3rd rounders (there are pitchers being overlooked because they aren't as sexy as the top arms too). 
It's a very interesting draft. I'd consider it deep in interesting top-line prospects, which makes it interesting in .  Those aren't throwaway slots that we have.  I wish we had the comp pick for Morales, I'll say that. More picks in the first part of this draft would be better. That said, more money to work with gives us the chance to throw it at more than one top-flight guy.  We'll see.
Because of that, if Rodon falls for some reason we may actually pass.  He's a Boras client and we can't burn up our whole draft fund on one dude. Or at least, I wouldn't. Rodon for 4 mil or Gettys / Touissant / whoever for 2 isn't even a question for me.

GLS's picture

That's a really good point you make about the steep decline in the bonus slot values. I wonder how teams feel about that and if those values will be tweaked in the next CBA. On the one hand, I'm sure scouting directors would love to have more money to spend. On the other hand, if more money is made available to everyone, that's just more money going to amateur players, which MLB would clearly like to avoid.
Personally, I'm in favor of abolishing the draft altogether, but keeping some sort of system that mimics the current bonus slot allocations. So, the worst team from the previous year would still have the most money to spend and the world series champion would have the most. Basically, doing the same thing domestically that we do for amateur IFA's.

OBF's picture

One thing I don't understand... Why is it always claimed that Conforto is a bad defender...? Have you ever actually watched him play defense or is just rhetoric passed along from all the other baseball writers who think a corner OF with power must not be able to play good defense?
From his own coach, Pat Casey, “I was talking to a Major League scout today and said the thing that’s so missed on Michael Conforto is how well he defends and how well he throws the ball,”
Conforto is plenty fast with a very nice arm. Pat Casey is very conservative defensively and so he goes with uber defender Max Gordon in CF last year and another uber CF Jeff Hendrix this year... From actually watching Conforto at Goss Stadium I think Conforto would do just fine in CF, and he actually came to OSU as a 3b IIRC so he may even be able to go back there... In RF Pat Casey has Dylan Davis (who should also be in the first few rounds this year) and his 100 mph arm... Funny thing is it is Conforto with all the outfield throwing outs :) Seriously, I am not sure were to look up the number, but Conforto has to have thrown out at LEAST 10-15 runners at home plate...
Some examples of Confortos D:
Catch and throw out at home to win the Civil War
Sliding Catch
Leaping catch at the wall Also showes his great CWS catch from last year
Another AMAZING diving catch
And lets not dismiss his bat too quickly, you said there isn't a Rendon in this draft...  I woudl say that Conforto is pretty darn close!  He is hiotting .400 and OPSing 1140 in the pitching rich Pac-12!  Yeah the homers haven't been as plentiful as the last couple years, but the power is still there...
If the M's draft Conforto at #6 I would smile very wide indeed :)


Since you asked ;-) here's a quick rundown of my feeling on Conforto:
1) batspeed and aggressive approach.  Dude goes up there wanting to hack.  He likes to hurt people with the bat.  Nothing wrong with that, especially since he inflicts that pain often.  His bat is fast and swung viciously. I like his bad intentions.
2) Outfield accuracy.  You aren't wrong about him throwing out a bunch of guys at home plate. If he can play RF instead of LF in the bigs it helps.  The comment about "not a defender" is just that there's not a lot you can do from LF to be a plus defender. Except throw guys out at the plate, which is harder since you can't block the plate now in the bigs.
3) Improved batting eye.  I have trouble calling it patience because he really does go up there wanting to hack.  He'll take the walks you give him, though, and this year the walks are through the roof. So maybe it is improved patience after all (I haven't seen every game, just a couple on TV).
1) He's been lucky.  Dude has a .450+ BABIP this year.  Even against bad defense that's basically impossible to sustain.  Conforto's stats drop significantly if you give him even a .350 BABIP.
2) He forgot his power in his other pants.  Zunino averaged 25 doubles and 19 HRs his last two years in college.  Conforto is looking to be about 10 off on both those numbers.
3) Dunno if he meets the positional requirements for greatness, just goodness.  He'll be a decent defender at a non-premium position, but can he hit enough to be great there?  He already expands the zone in college, but gets away with it. He does remind me a bit of Romero. Big-league tools, but can they be more than average at their position? Conforto walks more, but both guys rely on HBP to increase their OBP, and you don't get as many of those in the pros. 
None of that should be taken as a slam on Conforto.  If I was drafting 15th I'd be hoping for him to fall to me, and I probably like him best of the first-round college bats. But I'm leery of taking more polished players who may not have a ton of upside to get but are still only average contributors.
I still think he has a lot of Nick Swisher potential.  If you didn't get Prince Fielder in the 1st round of the 2002 draft, then the hitter you wish you'd drafted was Swish. He's the 5th most valuable player from that first round (by WAR).
If we took Conforto I certainly wouldn't hate it.  I would find it weird that we picked THIS year to play it safe... 2009 is the only other year we've BEEN safe, with Ackley (and it's not working out for us so far).  Otherwise it's been high school basketball star turned raw pitcher (Walker), Lefty crossfire pitcher over the best college bat (Hultzen instead of Rendon, also not working out), College catcher at #3 and an altitude-influenced, bat-first college hitter. But safe is not bad, and I prefer top hitters to pitchers in most circumstances. I'm lazy that way.
We need an outfielder, and since he IS one of the best if not THE best - or at least most reliable - college bat, we could certainly grab him. I'm just not sold on Conforto's greatness. I think there are impact players in this draft and for me Conforto's the next tier below that - which is why I'm not looking at him in a serious way at #6.  If we draft him, I'll definitely make you write it up, though.  You've seen him way more than any of the rest of us. :-)

OBF's picture

Pat Casey is the opposite of Zurencik... He believes is putting his players that he counts on for offense in the EASIEST defensive position he can, not the hardest... he would much rather let the thumper concentrate on thumping and let the walk on speedster worry about catching everything in CF and not about RBI... so he makes a habit of putting his best offensive outfielder in LF. Cole Gillespie was our LFer his entire time here, even though he easily could have played CF.
Plus during his whole college career here there has always been an uber defensive CF on the team anyways, Max Gordon his first couple years and Jeff Hendrix this year. And in RF the beavs hide the range limited Dylan Davis, who also just so happens to throw the baseball 100mph, so Davis has the more limited range, but a bigger arm. I think Conforto would do just fine in RF and would most likely man CF just as well any of our current tweener CFs (are ANY of the CFs on the 25 man, true CFs? maybe Jones? Gillespie, Saunders, Almonte, Ackley, I wouldn't call any of them true CFs either...)
I admit I am completely biased :) All conforto has done is come in as a freshman, immediately get installed as the #3 hitter on a top 10 college baseball team and produce, produce, produce... :) His power is down this year, and in the majors he is probably more 40/20 (dbl/hr) material instead of 20/40, but he will hit .300 and get you plenty of walks...
You are probably right, #6 is probably a little too high, but of course he won't last until #28 (which we would have had if someone signed Morales but would have had to give up for Cano anyways) let alone #80 (since now we are giving up our 2nd rounder for Cano)... I will still be rooting for us to take Conforto since I am a Beaver Believer till I die ;)
Thanks again for the reply!

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