Mariners put emphasis on pitching, versatility in Draft
Organization thrilled with athleticism, talent level, character of players selected
The Mariners cast a wide net to find the 40 players they selected in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. They drafted players who hail from 15 different states, as well as a pair of Canadians.
Seattle also put a notable emphasis on pitching, selecting 13 hurlers between the fourth and 27th rounds, as well as focusing on versatile players who could grow into multiple different positions.
"Overall, we're very pleased with the athleticism, talent level and character of the players we drafted," director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara said. "Our scouts did an excellent job traveling all over the country finding the top talent at both the high school and college levels. We look forward to getting many of these young men signed and in uniform."
There will certainly be a sense of fraternity in the farm system. The team selected brothers Taylor and Justin Snyder in the 34th and 36th rounds, respectively. Their father is the hitting coach at Double-A Jackson, a Seattle farm team. The Mariners also drafted third baseman Kyle Seager's younger brother, Justin, in the 12th round.
"That will be pretty cool," Kyle Seager said. "He'll be playing in some of the places that I've played in, so that's exciting. And I know he's been drafted into a great organization, so I couldn't be happier for him that way. He'll get to work. If we're wearing the same uniform some day, that will be pretty special."
Five players were selected who have ties to Washington State. Left-handed pitcher Tyler Olson out of Gonzaga University was Seattle's seventh-round selection on Friday, while Jordan Cowan (Kentlake), Michael Sexton (Rogers), Sam Hellinger (West Seattle), and Mike McCann (Columbia River) all graduated from local high schools. Hellinger has a special connection to the Mariners, as his father, Bob Hellinger, is the team's director of ticket sales.
While the Mariners loaded up on pitching in the early rounds, they made sure to add some pop to their lineup with their first two picks. With the 12th overall pick, the Mariners selected DJ Peterson out of New Mexico, who many regarded as the best pure hitter in the Draft.
"We were happy that DJ got to us, we were prepared for anything to happen. So it wasn't like we were shocked," McNamara said. "The pick before DJ went off, and we were pretty happy."
In the second round, the Mariners took Stanford's Austin Wilson, who packs 245 pounds on his 6-foot-5 frame, but has the athleticism to play right field.
"He's a guy we've been scouting since high school," said McNamara. "He's a big guy. We talk about tools -- he's a five-tool guy, and we think his better days are ahead of him. He's got power. He came here to our pre-Draft camp, and it was pretty exciting, the show he put on."
In the pipeline
While any prospect who can prove that he is capable of hitting at the Major League level will be given every opportunity to fast-track his way to The Show, it's tough to see any of the pitchers drafted making an impact in the near future. According to MLB.com, three of the Mariners' top five prospects are pitchers, including left-handers Danny Hultzen and James Paxton, and right-handed top prospect Taijuan Walker.
That being said, the Mariners are in constant need of more bats, particularly in the outfield. While young players like Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin, and 2012 first-rounder Mike Zunino will likely command the organization's focus at catcher and in the infield, Seattle's outfield is wide open for a precocious prospect.
With Seager firmly entrenched as Seattle's third baseman, Peterson will likely have to make the move to first base, despite his protestations. With former top prospect Justin Smoak battling injuries and struggles, and with Kendrys Morales' future in Seattle uncertain, first base will almost certainly be Peterson's quickest path to the big leagues.
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.