MLB Pipeline’s Callis on MLB Draft: What Mariners could do in 1st round

Jun 6, 2023, 2:18 PM | Updated: 2:35 pm

Mariners dugout general...

A general view of the Seattle Mariners dugout before an April 23, 2022 game. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The MLB Draft should garner a little more attention than normal for Seattle Mariners fans. The reason: with the draft now a regular part of the MLB All-Star festivities, it’s going to take place with the baseball world all focused on Seattle.

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The first round of the draft, in fact, will take place on Sunday, July 9 at Lumen Field, just across the street from the Mariners’ home, T-Mobile Park.

Seattle’s front office will be busy that day, too, owning three of the first 30 picks in the draft. The M’s have the No. 22 overall selection, plus the No. 29 pick that they received as an incentive for Julio RodrĂ­guez winning the 2022 American League Rookie of the Year Award, as well as the No. 30 selection that leads off Competitive Balance Round A.

With the draft just over a month away, MLB Pipeline senior writer Jim Callis joined host Curtis Rogers during Monday’s edition of Seattle Sports’ Extra Innings for a discussion about all things draft, with a focus on the Mariners. Callis has done a few mock drafts already for and shared his thoughts on who he’s linked to the Mariners.

“In my last mock draft, I had them taking a kid named Brayden Taylor out of TCU,” Callis said. “He’s had a very good (NCAA) regional, he was Big 12 Conference Tournament MVP, hits for power, hits for average, chance to be a pretty good third baseman. So that’s why I projected him to go at 22.”

Taylor, who is 6 foot 1, 180 pounds and hails from Utah, has a .321/.440/.671 slash line with 23 home runs, 14 doubles and 14 stolen bases in 61 games as a junior for TCU this year.

The Mariners have gone to the well of hitters out of high school with their top pick in each of the past two drafts, taking catcher Harry Ford in 2021 and shortstop Cole Young in 2022. So who’s in the mix if Seattle chooses to go that route again?

“There’s Bryce Eldridge, who’s a two-way player from Virginia who (scouts) like more as a hitter,” Callis said. “There are high school shortstops like Colt Emerson from Ohio, (Kevin) McGonigle from Pennsylvania, Walker Martin from Colorado that are all interesting. There’s a high school catcher who is more of a hitter than a catcher, he might not stay a catcher, kid named Ralphy Velazquez from California who’s pretty interesting. I can kind of see all those guys being in their mix.”

There may be smoke there, too.

“I think they’re in an area of the draft where there’s going to be a lot of high school hitters kind of going,” Callis said of the M’s.

Before Seattle’s run of high schoolers in the first round, it relied heavily on college pitchers at the top of the draft. Callis doesn’t expect that in 2023, however.

“I know they had a lot of success with college pitchers. I don’t think it’s gonna be a college pitcher,” he said. “I think there’s only four college pitchers who are gonna go in the first round, and I think three of them might go in the top 10 and the fourth one’s gonna go before it gets to the Mariners.”

The MLB Draft is a different animal than the NFL, NBA or even NHL drafts, so Callis stressed caution about predictions, particularly when it comes to the spot where the Mariners will draft first.

“The caveat is when you pick 22, like, the teams’ draft boards all look different. This year there’s kind of the top five, and then there’s six or seven guys I think most teams would agree on, and then it’s all over the place,” he said. “So with the Mariners picking 22, they might have a guy who’s 13th on their board who they like more than other teams who could get there. … When you’re doing mock drafts this early, I mean, I try to source stuff but nobody really knows who’s going 22. So at this point with the draft this far in advance, we’re more speculating than anybody has inside information.”

Listen to the full Extra Innings conversation with Callis in the podcast below.

More on the Seattle Mariners

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• MLB Network’s Morosi: Mariners trade fits for the bat they need
• Jerry Dipoto previews the Mariners’ 2023 trade deadline path
• ESPN’s Kurkjian expects Seattle Mariners “aggressive” in trades

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MLB Pipeline’s Callis on MLB Draft: What Mariners could do in 1st round