Mariners go for arms with their first two picks in the draft

Jun 8, 2015, 10:46 PM | Updated: Jun 9, 2015, 8:46 am
The M's drafted Oregon State's Andrew Miller 72nd overall after using the 60th pick on another right-hander, 18-year-old Nick Neidert from Georgia. (AP)

The Mariners elected to go with pitching with their first two picks in the 2015 draft, selecting Nick Neidert out of Peachtree Ridge High School in Lawrenceville, Ga. at No. 60 and Oregon State University junior Andrew Moore at No. 72.

Neidert, at 6 foot 1 and 185 pounds, was ranked 55th in Baseball America’s Top 200 prospects list. According to Mariners director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara, he is a player that the Mariners had their eyes on for some time.

“He is the guy we wanted,” McNamara said Monday at the end of the draft’s first day. “It was a long wait and we were very happy he fell to 60. We’ve been watching him for three years.”

Neidert may have fallen a bit in the draft due to elbow tendinitis he developed during his senior season.

“Last year we looked at him as this guy who could be a consideration if we are picking 18, 19, 20,” McNamara said. “After we lost our first-round pick (for signing Nelson Cruz), we went in there cautiously optimistic.”

The tendinitis, according to Neidert, is no longer an issue.

“It’s good, it’s 100 percent healthy,” he said on a conference call with the media. “It tightened up on me in one game. It wasn’t that bad, but for precautions so it wouldn’t get worse I took some time off, got some physical therapy. I came back, everything was fine. It didn’t affect me at all.”

While some published scouting reports had Neidert sitting in the low 90s with his fastball and topping out at 95, McNamara saw something different.

“Comfort zone is 93 to 95,” he said, noting that he had seen 97 from Neidert. “The biggest thing is his command of the fastball. We think his slider has a lot of potential. He also features a changeup he’s got a feel for. Good arm, can paint the corners. Probably the thing that jumped out the most, he trusts his fastball command and that’s huge.”

Neidert has committed to play at the University of South Carolina but signability does not appear to be a problem.

“I’m still debating a little bit,” Neidert said, unsuccessfully trying to hold back a laugh, “but I know my clear choice most likely will be to go play in Seattle.”

Also coming to Seattle will be Moore, a Eugene, Ore. native who said he grew up a Giants fan but still was thrilled to hear his name called for the Mariners.

“To see Ken Griffey, Jr. say my name? It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.

“To get a local guy was special to us,” McNamara said. “I saw him against the University of Washington this year and what I saw was another guy that could really command the fastball. He was 92 to 94 for eight innings. I think the thing that really impressed all of us was his body language and fastball command.”

Moore was an All-Pac-12 selection this year, and with the college experience he would seem to be a good candidate to move quickly through the organization. McNamara would not state that he could be on a fast track but agreed he had the tools that could put him there.

“He has tilt and downhill plane,” McNamara said. “He’s put together. He can sink it, cut it. He’s got a good slider, feel for a change. He can command his fastball and he has three Major League pitches. We’ll see where it goes.”

Picking at 60 and 72 made for a long day for McNamara and his staff. They will be busy as well the next two days as the draft continues, but the two big picks have been made.

“We were keeping our fingers crossed,” McNamara said. “You pick out a certain guy and you got to wait. This year we had to wait. I’m glad we got the first two guys done.”

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