Mariners take college corner IF, HS pitcher with pair of 2nd-round picks
The Mariners rounded out the first day of the 2022 MLB Draft with two very different second-round selections, first taking slugging corner infielder Tyler Locklear before using their final pick on Sunday on right-handed pitcher Walter Ford, one of the youngest prospects in this draft cycle.
Mariners draft HS SS Cole Young and his ‘beautiful swing’ 21st overall
Here’s a look at those two selections along with thoughts from Mariners director of amateur scouting Scott Hunter.
58th pick: Corner IF Tyler Locklear, VCU
Locklear, a big corner infielder who hits right-handed, slashed .361/.513/.704 in three seasons at VCU, compiling 37 home runs, 152 RBIs and 101 walks to just 78 strikeouts in 132 career games. He was also the Atlantic 10 conference’s Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in 2021, his redshirt-freshman season.
Our second pick is in…
We’re excited to select third baseman, @tylock13, out of @VCUBaseball in the 2022 #MLBDraft. pic.twitter.com/4OXz0riDTD
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) July 18, 2022
Standing 6 foot 3 and weighing 230 pounds, Locklear pretty evenly split his time between first and third base in 2022, and his calling card is his power.
MLB Pipeline, which had Locklear rated as this draft’s 98th-best prospect, gave him a 55 grade (above average) for his power. He also received an average (50) grade for his arm and below-average grades for his speed, hit tool (45) and glove (40).
From MLB Pipeline’s breakdown of Locklear: “Locklear’s carrying tool, obviously, is his raw power from the right side of the plate, which is better than plus. He’s shown he can use it in his mid-Major conference, and he’s strong enough to hit the ball out with wood in his hands as well. He makes a lot of contact at this level and has walked more than he’s struck out in his college career, though his strikeout rate did climb a little on the Cape (Cod League). He’s much more strength over bat speed, though, and scouts are worried that his stiff swing will keep him from barreling up the baseball consistently against better pitching.”
Pipeline also said that Locklear’s bat will need to carry him to a big league debut.
Baseball America gave Locklear a 60 grade for his power and wrote that he will likely be a first baseman going forward as a professional and that he’s done “nothing but mash” between 2021 and 2022.
Hunter said that Locklear comes with a “physical background” and draws similar comparisons to one MLB star slugger.
“It’s top-of-the scale power. A lot of body comps and game comps as maybe we got a Pete Alonso type,” Hunter said, referencing the New York Mets first baseman. “So (we) take a chance on right-handed power, and this one definitely has special power.”
Hunter said that while the initial thought would be that Locklear winds up at first, he thinks there’s some numbers to show he could play third base going forward.
“After the athletic testing – and actually there’s some video online of him playing football – I mean, this kid is a special athlete,” Hunter said. “He’s gonna have every chance to stay at third base. And if it doesn’t work out, he’s plenty athletic enough to go to first base.”
74th pick: Walter Ford, RHP, Florida HS
The Mariners went back to the high school ranks with their third and final pick of Sunday evening, selecting the right-handed Ford out of Pace High School in Pace, Fla.
Ford, who stands 6 foot 3 and weighs 185 pounds, is an Alabama commit who went 10-2 with a 1.00 ERA in 70 1/3 innings in 2022, picking up 126 strikeouts to 30 walks.
MLB Pipeline rated Ford as this draft’s 53rd-best prospect while Baseball America tabbed him at No. 57. He was originally slated to be a 2023 draft pick but reclassified to the 2022 draft. That makes Ford one of the younger prospects in this class as he doesn’t turn 18 until the end of December.
Drum roll please… 🥁
With the 74th pick in the 2022 #MLBDraft, we have selected Walter Ford (RHP) out of Pace HS (FL). #SeaUsRise pic.twitter.com/VIfoEIMaq1
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) July 18, 2022
“He should be a high school junior right now and he’s topping 96 mph,” Hunter said. “He’s really an electric-wired body.”
Ford utilizes a three-pitch mix, per Pipeline, led by a low- to mid-90s fastball with some life as well as a low-80s slider and a changeup.
Pipeline said Ford has had issues repeating his mechanics in the past, but being a good athlete – a two-position player in high school – should help get that under control going forward.
“We’re really banking on the athlete and then just the pure arm talent for our pitching guys to really take under their wing and develop, but the ingredients are all there,” Hunter said.
With Ford as well as Locklear and first-round pick Cole Young, Hunter doesn’t see any issues with getting the players signed. That’s especially pertinent with Ford given he’s so young and has a commitment to Alabama.
“He was quite excited when I got on the phone and called him, so I don’t think it’s going to take too long to get him out to Arizona after the conversation I had,” Hunter said.
The 2022 MLB Draft continues Monday morning with rounds three through 10. Keep up with every pick on SeattleSports.com’s Mariners Draft Tracker.
Mariners Draft Tracker: Follow every M’s 2022 MLB Draft pick