Projections and mock drafts are fine, but amateur scouting director Scott Hunter is like everyone else: He can only guess which players will be available Monday when the Mariners make the 17th overall pick in the MLB Draft.
"We’re trying to put together our big board at 100 players," said Hunter, who is overseeing his first draft. "Then we’ll probably get down to 15 to 25 names that we hope will be there for our first and second picks.
"At this point, everything is in play, depending on how the first five to 10 picks go in the draft."
The draft is 40 rounds and runs Monday through Wednesday. The first two rounds and the two competitive-balance rounds take place on Monday; rounds three through 10 are Tuesday; and rounds 11 through 40 are Wednesday.
Clubs make their selections in reverse order of their 2016 records.
"Without going into specifics," Hunter said, "in the top portion of the draft, there’s probably five to 10 players that we feel confident were the guys that separated themselves from the pack.
"After that, there’s a wide variety of players and strategies that we can take. I’m sure everyone in baseball is trying to do (the same thing) to manage or balance your bonus pool."
All picks through the 10th round have an assigned slot value. The total of those picks comprise a club’s bonus pool. Any bonus above $100,000 after the 10th round also counts against the pool.
Clubs don’t have to spend the assigned slot value on a specific player but face penalties for exceeding their overall pool.
Hunter spent the three previous seasons as an international cross-checker before replacing Tom McNamara on Sept. 26, 2016 as the club’s amateur scouting director. McNamara now serves as a special assistant to the general manager.
"What I’ve tried to stress," Hunter said, "is we want athletes, we want tools, but we want baseball players.
"I want to make sure the guys we are selecting not only have the upside to make an impact in the big leagues, but that they also want to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves."
The Mariners have been linked to several players by outlets, such as Baseball America, that closely track the draft. (Top 500 prospects.)
Baseball America, in its latest mock draft, projects the Mariners will select Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger but also cites Virginia first baseman Pavin Smith as a strong possibility.
"The Mariners have preferred right-handed bats in recent drafts," the magazine observed, "but also have hit up Virginia heavily, so both Jake Burger and Pavin Smith are good fits."
MLB.com believes the Mariners are more likely to take a college pitcher and lists three possibilities: UCLA right-hander Griffin Canning, Oregon lefty David Peterson and Missouri right-hander Tanner Houck.
If the Mariners instead opt for a position player, MLB.com points to Burger, North Carolina shortstop Logan Warmoth and California-Irvine outfielder/second baseman Keston Hiura as being in the mix.
The answer should come around 5:30 p.m. Monday.
"The anticipation of waiting to see who might actually fall into our lap," Hunter said, "is probably the one thing that’s keeping me up and getting me up early in the morning."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners