Mariners ‘trying to prepare ourselves for anything’ with Monday’s MLB Draft
For the past week there has been a flurry of activity behind the scenes at Safeco Field as preparations have been ongoing in advance of the MLB draft, which will take place Monday through Wednesday.
Amateur scouts have come in from the road, reports have be compiled and shared, players have been discussed, the war room set up and – of course – the draft board assembled. There are ideas of who the Mariners could take with their No. 1 pick, but in a year where there is not much surefire, can’t-miss talent at the top, director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter knows he and his group will need to be on their toes.
“We are trying to prepare ourselves for anything,” Hunter said. “The depth of this draft is probably going to come in day two. We will look to go best player available with the backup strategy of maybe we spread our bonus pool out. After the first few picks it will be about balance – balancing your portfolio, so to speak. Kind of like last year, we had Evan White, we had Sam Carlson, we went quite heavy with college pitching after that.”
While the day 1 picks will get the most notice, with 40 rounds to gather talent there will be impact players selected on each day. Under general manager Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners farm system has been ranked to be the worst in baseball. Yet Dipoto has still managed to turn products from recent drafts into big league players in a number of trades, including the most recent for Denard Span and Alex Colomé.
“I think from last year’s draft we’ve traded our fifth, 11th and now 15th round picks,” said Hunter. “You get a little sad because you have personal bias and you get attached to the kids, and when I talked to Tommy Romero on the phone when he got traded I kind of blamed him because I said, ‘You are pitching so good, as a 15th round pick you really got off to a good start.’ Then you see Denard Span and Colomé helping out our big league team get a win, that’s rewarding.”
The Mariners’ fifth, 11th and 15th round picks may not have drawn the notice of the ranking publications, but their actual worth was better illustrated in their proven trade value. While the drafts will be graded in the days following completion, for Hunter, it will take more time to determine the success of his draft.
“To get the depth we did last year,” he answered when asked how he would define a successful draft. “It’s fun to look at our system and see Kyle Lewis (Seattle’s No. 1 pick in 2016) get going. Seeing Evan White, Wyatt Mills, Seth Elledge having really good years, making some headway in the industry creating value for our organization. We talk about it a lot because our big league team is having such a successful year. As amateur scouts you get tied to the kid you signed and send out. When you see trades it’s a little saddening, but our job as amateur scouts is to really create value not only for our organization top to bottom, but also for our GM to make decisions to help our big league team get better, which we have been able to.”
Hunter estimates he has seen over 100 players in person, 15 to 20 of which he’s seen multiple times, in preparation for the draft. His scouts have fanned out across the country, traveling countless miles spending the majority of their year on the road. While everyone would like to sign that top prospect, the diamonds in the rough and contributors can be just as important when it comes to organization building.
“It’s one thing we have discussed as a scouting group,” Hunter said. “Everybody sees the papers, we’re 30 for 30 in minor league baseball in prospects. I don’t necessarily agree with all of those things, but it is something we are aware of and it is a challenge to build our organization up and that is something I put on our scouts.”