SHANNON DRAYER

Dipoto: In Mariners’ eyes, they got the draft’s top pitcher in Emerson Hancock

Jun 11, 2020, 11:40 AM
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto...
Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto joins 710 ESPN Seattle's Danny and Gallant every Thursday. (AP)
(AP)

On Wednesday, the Mariners continued their recent trend of taking a top college arm with their first pick in the MLB Draft. But it wasn’t just any arm, according to general manager Jerry Dipoto. In their eyes, Emerson Hancock was the top pitcher in the 2020 draft.

Drayer: M’s receive a nice surprise with Hancock | Day 1 draft takeaways

“We just feel like all of the traits we look for in a starting pitcher – size, physicality of the stuff, the ability to generate ground balls, suppress hard contact and miss bats, command to all locations in the strike zone – Emerson checked every box,” Dipoto said Thursday morning on his weekly visit with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant. “We couldn’t be more excited.”

The Mariners have had consistent eyes on Hancock since his freshman year at Georgia. The boxes he has checked are the same boxes checked by previous high-round draftees Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Brandon Williamson and Isaiah Campbell, a group that inspired Dipoto earlier this week to joke with his team that the Mariners were starting to become “the Wells Fargo of young pitching.” While still unproven at the Major League level, they certainly look the part.

“Our pitching depth has been really enhanced,” Dipoto told Danny and Gallant. “It’s fun to think they are so advanced the day they walk through the door, you can bring them out on big league fields and they look like they belong because they have that much polish, that much command and in many cases their physical stuff is better than anybody you see on any night in the big leagues.”

And how does Hancock fit in?

“Emerson is 6-4, 200 pounds, as a prototype, top-of-the-rotation pitcher package, really,” said Dipoto. “He is a smart kid who is driven. He is very focused on what his doing, really fits culturally with what we have been trying to do over these last five years.”

The big question now is, in light of the pandemic shutting down baseball, when will the Mariners be able to get these pitchers some work? And for Hancock, that means when they can begin his development process. For weeks, Dipoto has maintained his optimism that there could be an opportunity later in the year to get some of the top prospects out on the field in some sort of fall or instructional league. Dipoto also pointed to other potential options the Mariners were exploring.

“We also have the combination of our taxi squad whenever we do reconvene and come back to play and/or plans we can put together for our players perhaps in regional pockets if it is safer for them where we work in small groups,” he said. “And while we can’t replicate the real game action, we can recreate game simulations if we can get a group of five or six together.”

The Mariners will make five more selections on the final day of the MLB Draft on Thursday, with rounds 2-5 taking place beginning at 2 p.m.

You can listen to Dipoto’s full segment with Danny and Gallant beginning at the 25:30 mark in this podcast.

Hancock was also a guest on Danny and Gallant on Thursday. You can listen to that interview here.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

Mariners draft tracker: Full list of every M’s pick plus details

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Dipoto: In Mariners’ eyes, they got the draft’s top pitcher in Emerson Hancock