After spending one day and only one pick in baseball’s amateur free-agent draft, the Seattle Mariners got down to the business of stocking up on prospective talent Tuesday.
The Mariners selected 15 players on the second day of the draft to go with first-round pick Mike Zunino, a catcher from the University of Florida, who was taken with the third-overall pick Monday.
There was no definable trend or philosophy to Seattle’s selections. It was a little bit of everything – college players from major universities, Division II players, a 17-year-old out of Puerto Rico and a former college football player who was playing organized baseball for the first time in four years.
Including Zunino, the Mariners have taken 10 players from college and six from high school. They have picked 12 position players and four pitchers.
“There’s certain players you see right in front of your face that you’re not sure whether or not they will get to you in a certain round, so you have to jump up and take them,” Mariners director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara said. “You don’t want to be sitting there after the draft or three or four years later, saying, ‘We really liked those guys.’ Well, no, you didn’t. You have to step up and take the players you like.”
McNamara liked slugging high school shortstop Joseph DeCarlo enough to take him with the second-round pick. Baseball America rated DeCarlo as the 57th-best high school prospect.
“He’s a good-looking hitter, a very physical kid,” McNamara said. “We were very happy to get him to get where we got him.”
The Mariners then went with lanky right-handed starting pitcher Edwin Diaz out of Caguas Military Academy in Caguas, Puerto Rico, with their third-round pick. At 18, Diaz is rail-thin at 6-2 and 160 pounds, but the Mariners saw him throw a fastball 95-97 mph.
“He’s a projectable, very athletic kid,” McNamara said.
The Mariners took 17-year-old Kristian Brito out of Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, in the 11th round. Brito, 6-5 and 230 pounds, is massive and raw.
“It’s been one of the best years they’ve had,” McNamara said of talent in Puerto Rico. “We’ve got to know (Brito), and he’s a good kid that comes from a good family. He’s got power. But he’s a guy that’s going to go out to Peoria and get used to playing professional baseball. He does have some thunder in his bat.”
One thing that McNamara found pleasing was selecting a group of six players he thought were “physical hitters” who could drive the baseball and have success immediately.
Besides DeCarlo and Brito, fourth-round pick Patrick Kivlehan (third base), sixth-round pick Timmy Lopes (shortstop), seventh-round pick Taylor Ard (first base) and eighth-round pick Nick Halamanderis were all guys that McNamara says wear that label.
“I think all of them are going to hit,” McNamara said.
Ard was a two-time first-team all-conference selection for Washington State. The Prairie High grad hit .332 with 41 runs scored, 16 doubles, 12 home runs and 50 RBI in his junior season for the Cougars.
“We’ve obviously seen him the last couple of years,” McNamara said. “The last time I saw Taylor was at Stanford when he hit a home run off of (Cardinal ace Mark) Appel a couple weeks ago. It’s always a nice lasting impression to hit a ball out against one of the best pitchers in the country. He’s a physical kid, he’s confident, he knows the strike zone and he can drive the baseball.”
Kivlehan is one of the more interesting stories in the draft. After playing for four years on the Rutgers University football team as a strong safety, he decided to play baseball in his final year of college eligibility. Despite being away from the game, Kivlehan won the Big East’s triple crown – leading the league with a .392 batting average, 14 homers and 50 RBI, while being named player of the year.
“He’s just a physical, athletic kid,” McNamara said. “We were really surprised how the guy just picked up and led the Big East in every offensive category you can think of. He got better and better as the season went on. He likes to play, and he has character.”
Another intriguing pick was right-handed pitcher Grady Wood out of Western Oregon University in the 10th round. The senior went 12-0 with a 1.69 ERA for the Wolves while earning NCAA Division II All-America honors. He won 20 consecutive games over two seasons, one short of the Division II national record.
“He’s a sinker-slider-cutter guy that throws from an effective arm angle,” McNamara said. “He’s a local guy. He’s a senior. And he gets people out, plain and simple.”
The draft continues today with rounds 16-40.
MARINERS’ SECOND-DAY DRAFT PICKS
2Joe DeCarloSSR-R5-1020518Garnet Valley H.S./Glen Mills, Pa. Big and strong, likely projects to playing third base in the future. Has signed with U of Georgia.
3Edwin DiazPR-R6-216018Caguas Military Academy/Naguabo, P.R. Has hit 95-97 mph with his fastball and has yet to fill out physically. Nothing but raw potential.
3ATyler PikePL-L6-018018Winter Haven H.S./Winter Haven, Fa. Smooth lefty with “good feel and touch” with pitches. Went 8-2 with 0.66 ERA. Also a capable hitter.
4Patrick Kivlehan3BR-R6-221122Rutgers Univ./West Nyack, N.Y. Four-year letterman in football. Was Big East baseball player of the year, winning its triple crown
5Chris TaylorSSR-R6-017022Univ. of Virginia/Virginia Beach, Va. “Pure shortstop” with good defensive skills. Mariners saw him plenty the past two seasons.
6Timmy LopesSSR-R5-1118017Edison H.S./Huntington Beach, Calif. Projects as second baseman. His brother, Christian, was Toronto’s seventh-round pick last season.
7Taylor Ard1BR-R6-123522Washington State Univ./Vancouver, Wash. Homered off Stanford ace Mark Appel, eighth overall pick, with Mariners scouts in the stands.
8Nick Halamandaris1BL-L6-222018Stevenson H.S./Monterey, Calif. Committed to California. Physical hitter with some power potential.
9Jamodrick McGruder2BL-R5-817520Texas Tech Univ./Mesquite, Texas Led Big 12 in runs (54), triples (8), stolen bases (39), walks (45) and on-base percentage (.500)
10Grady WoodPR-R6-119522Western Oregon Univ./Junction City, Ore. Went 12-0 this season with 1.69 ERA. Has won 20 straight games over past two seasons.
11Kristian Brito1BR-R6-524017Ramon Quinones Medina/Yabucoa, P.R. Massive young man with raw power potential. Mariners will break him in slowly.
12Michael FaulknerCFL-L5-916520Arkansas State Univ./Memphis, Tenn. True center fielder with blazing speed. Stole 41 bases in 42 attempts this season.
13Jonathan HauserPR-R6-218021Virginia Commonwealth Univ./Moseley, Va. Hard-throwing reliever went 5-2 with 10 saves. Struck out 65 batters in 352/3 innings pitched
14Brock Hebert2BR-R5-917021Southeastern Louisiana Univ./Bourg, La. Hit .374 (88-for-225) with .474 on-base percentage, 21 doubles and 38 stolen bases.
15Dario PizzanoOFL-R5-920021Columbia Univ./Saugus, Mass. Ivy League player of year. Career .364 average. Near top of every offensive list in school firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners/ @RyanDivish email@example.com