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Mariners draft preview: College arms who could be Seattle’s 1st-round pick

The Mariners have picked a college pitcher in the first round of each of the last two drafts. (AP)

In the first installment of my four-part Mariners draft preview, we took a look at what Seattle has done in the first round in the four drafts run by general manager Jerry Dipoto.

High 1st-round pick gives Mariners an edge in adjusted format

The trend is easy to see: Dipoto and his staff have selected a college player in the first round all four years.

Will that trend continue next week, when the Mariners pick sixth overall, the highest pick in the Dipoto era? If that’s the case, there’s obviously a chance that the team selects a pitcher, which they’ve done the last two drafts.

If Seattle opts once again for a pitcher from the college ranks, who are some names to keep an eye on?

College arms

(Note: MLB Pipeline’s top 200 draft prospects list can be found here)

Based on the last four drafts, it wouldn’t be a bad bet to expect the Mariners to go the college route once again. If they decide to do that and draft a pitcher, there are four names to keep an eye on to join prospects Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield as potential pieces of Seattle’s starting rotation of the future.

The first is definitely the most unlikely, and that’s big (6-foot-4) Texas A&M lefty Asa Lacy, MLB Pipeline’s third overall draft prospect and the site’s top pitching prospect. Before the brief NCAA season began, he was typically seen as the second- or third-best pitcher in the draft and usually ranked between fourth and sixth in terms of overall draft prospects. Most mock drafts I saw have him go anywhere from fourth to seventh in the draft.

After a great sophomore year in 2019, Lacy dominated as a junior in four starts, going 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA and striking out 46 while walking eight in 24 innings. He has a fastball that ranges from 92 to 97 MPH, a plus slider, really good changeup and good curveball as well. Most mock drafts have him going No. 3 overall to the Miami Marlins, with the Detroit Tigers taking first baseman Spencer Torkelson at No. 1 overall and the Baltimore Orioles drafting Vanderbilt third baseman/outfielder Austin Martin at No. 2.

After Lacy in MLB Pipeline’s rankings, both in terms of pitchers and overall prospects, is Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock. Hancock is another tall pitcher, standing 6-4 and weighing around 210 pounds. His fastball sits at 94-97 and can touch 99, per MLB Pipeline, and he pairs that with a hard slider while also mixing in the occasional curveball and a solid changeup.

Hancock was in consideration for the No. 1 pick before the season began, but the play of other top prospects pushed him down a bit. He posted a 3.75 ERA and struck out 34 while walking just three in 24 innings. Most mock drafts have the Royals at No. 4 taking a hitter, so whether the Mariners have a chance to take Hancock may depend on what the Toronto Blue Jays do at No. 5. Many mock drafts have Hancock going to Toronto, however.

If the Mariners miss out on Lacy or Hancock but still want a college arm, two more are in MLB Pipeline’s top 10: Louisville lefty Reid Detmers and Minnesota righty Max Meyer. They are the eighth and ninth prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline, and will likely be there when Seattle is picking at No. 6.

Detmers is 6-2 and 210 pounds and throws a lot of strikes. His fastball sits in the low 90s, which he pairs with a sinking changeup and a curveball that’s in the low to mid 70s. Detmers went 3-0 in four starts for the Cardinals in 2020, striking out 48 and walking six in 22 innings. He gave up just three runs for a 1.23 ERA.

Detmers has been a common pick for the Mariners in some mock drafts, such as this most recent one from CBS Sports. The Mariners have a history with “crafty” lefties, such as Marco Gonzales now and Jamie Moyer in the 1990s and early 2000s. Perhaps Detmers could be the next man up in that sense.

While Detmers is a command lefty, Meyer is more of a power righty. Though he’s smaller at 6 feet and 185 pounds, he has a 70 grade (20-80 scale) fastball that sits between 93 and 97 MPH and touches the high 90s. He also has what MLB Pipeline says is the best slider in the draft, which registers in the high 80s to low 90s. He also has a changeup that the site said showed “flashes” his junior year with the Golden Gophers. In four games, Meyer threw 27.2 innings with a 1.95 ERA, 46 strikeouts and eight walks.

MLB Pipeline says there are some concerns if Meyer can physically handle being an MLB starter due to his shorter frame, but they describe him as a good athlete who fills up the zone, so he could be OK in that role going forward. He has a bit of a tie to the Mariners, as well. At Minnesota he threw to catcher Eli Wilson, a 2019 Pirates draft pick and the son of Mariners Hall of Fame catcher Dan Wilson, who also played in college for the Golden Gophers.

The MLB Draft starts next Wednesday, June 10, at 4 p.m. on MLB Network with the first round and continues on Thursday at 2 p.m. with the rest of the draft. Full details about the draft can be found at this link.

Follow 710Sports.com’s Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

More from our Mariners draft preview series

Who should the M’s take with No. 6 overall pick? (June 9)
High school players Seattle could take at No. 6 (June 6)
College bats Seattle could take with No. 6 pick (June 5)
Setting the stage for Dipoto’s highest pick as M’s GM (June 3)

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