BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Mariners Draft Preview: High school players in play for 1st round

Jul 15, 2022, 1:31 PM | Updated: Jul 16, 2022, 11:08 am

Mariners draft preview Jackson Ferris...

Jackson Ferris during the MLB USA Baseball All-American Game on July 9, 2021 in Denver. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

(Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Who will the Mariners draft this year to add to one of the game’s best farm systems? That question will be answered beginning this weekend with the 2022 MLB Draft.

More Mariners First-Round Draft Previews: College hitters | College pitchers

Before this year’s draft starts Sunday, we’re diving into players at both the college and high school levels that could potentially be in play for Seattle when it makes its first-round selection at No. 21 overall. This is the final part of our three-part draft preview, this time looking at high school players who could be in play when the Mariners are on the clock.

High school players

The Mariners for five drafts generally avoided high school players. That changed last year in a big way with each of the team’s first three selections being prep players, but they’ve still drafted just two high school pitchers in the first three rounds since 2017. The Mariners haven’t taken a high school pitcher in the first round under general manager Jerry Dipoto, or at all since Taijuan Walker way back in 2010.

Pitchers

Ian “J.R.” Ritchie, Bainbridge Island, Wash.Let’s start local, shall we? Ritchie, MLB Pipeline’s No. 47 prospect, is committed to UCLA. The 6-2 right hander sits in the mid-90s with his fastball, per Pipeline, while mixing in a curve, slider and changeup, with the slider grading out the best. He’s a good athlete who should be able to repeat his delivery and fill up the strike zone.

It’s unclear if Ritchie will be a first-round pick, but he’s in good position to be one of the higher-drafted Washington prep players over the last few years.

Dylan Lesko, Ga.: Former Vanderbilt star pitcher Kumar Rocker is one of the biggest wild cards in this year’s draft. That’s also the case with Lesko, MLB Pipeline’s No. 14 prospect. Lesko has been on teams’ radars for years as the 6-2, 195-pound Vanderbilt commit has been a top high school arm for a while now, armed with a mid-90s heater, high-spin curve and what many think is the best pitch in this year’s draft with his changeup.

While Lesko had been penciled in as a top 10 pick for a while, he underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year and may have fallen down some draft boards as a result. Should Lesko fall too much, he could go to Vanderbilt before re-entering the draft in a few years, or he could potentially be a steal and/or command an above-slot bonus to sign. The Mariners have traditionally gone at-slot with their first pick for a few years, so this would buck another trend. But as noted in the college pitchers draft preview, the team hasn’t been scared off by pitchers recovering from the surgery in the past.

Jackson Ferris, Fla.The Mariners don’t have a ton of lefty pitching prospects in the farm, and they could nab a high-upside one in Ferris, a Mississippi State commit who is Pipeline’s No. 19 commit. The 6-4 southpaw is a three-pitch hurler with a mid-90s fastball, 12-6 curveball and good changeup who is plenty projectible given his height and weight (195 pounds).

Pipeline notes that Ferris’ motion is a little funky, which can get him off track at times.

Infielders

Cole Young, Penn.: One of the prep players most commonly tied to the Mariners, Young is a leftty-hitting shortstop from the Pittsburgh area who checks in as MLB Pipeline’s No. 20 prospect. Young swings it from the left side, and while this sentence from MLB Pipeline may make some Mariners fans wince at first, the site says Young “has received comps to left-handed hitting infielders like Adam Frazier, with more extra-base impact and a better chance to stick at short, and former first-rounder Stephen Drew.”

Young is far more hit than power and he doesn’t have a ton of swing and miss to his game.

Jett Williams, TexasWilliams, who checks in at No. 21 on MLB Pipeline, is one of the smaller prospects in this draft at just 5 foot 8. The Mississippi State commit is described by Pipeline as “a favorite gut-feel guy for a lot of scouts.”

Williams is reported as being a faster player with little swing-and-miss to his game who has “feel for the barrel” and 15-homer potential, though it’s unclear if he’ll stick at shortstop or move to second base or even the outfield as he works his way through the minor leagues. How early he goes could depend on whether a team thinks he can stick at short.

Mariners OF Check-In: Winker’s new stance, Lewis, Kelenic

Mariners Roof Report

Brought to you by
Slight Chance Rain Showers
High 62° | Low 53°
No game today.

Brandon Gustafson

Seattle Mariners Jorge Polanco...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners are on pace to make MLB history — and not in a good way

After aiming to cut down on strikeouts, the Seattle Mariners are on a historically bad pace in that department this season.

2 months ago

Seattle Mariners...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners struggle with new and similar problems in opening homestand

After a rocky 3-4 homestand to open the season, Brandon Gustafson dives into what's stood out for the Seattle Mariners to begin 2024.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners George Kirby...

Brandon Gustafson

What’s the next step for Seattle Mariners’ George Kirby in 2024?

Scott Servais dove into what he's looking for from George Kirby in 2024 ahead of Kirby's first start of the year for the Seattle Mariners.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger Dylan Moore...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Highs and Lows: What stands out from opening day loss

The Seattle Mariners fell to the Red Sox on opening day, and there were some takeaways – good and bad – to be had from the loss.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Julio Rodriguez...

Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Notebook: ‘Consistent pressure’ theme for lineup in 2024

Scott Servais expects big things from the Seattle Mariners' lineup in 2024, as he shared ahead of their opener against the Boston Red Sox.

3 months ago

Seattle Mariners Luke Raley...

Brandon Gustafson

Who 5 of Mariners’ biggest X-factors in 2024 are

The Seattle Mariners have starpower, but five other players can play key roles in the team's success in 2024, writes Brandon Gustafson.

4 months ago

Mariners Draft Preview: High school players in play for 1st round