Seattle Mariners

Mariners choose two right-handed pitchers on first day of draft

After a long night of waiting, the Seattle Mariners selected high school senior Nick Neidert, a right-handed pitcher, with the 60th overall pick Monday in baseball’s annual amateur draft.

A few minutes later, they chose Oregon State right-hander Andrew Moore with the 72nd overall pick just moments before baseball ended the first day of a 40-round draft that runs through Wednesday.

“(Neidert) was the guy we wanted,” scouting director Tom McNamara said, “and it was a long wait. We were very happy that Nick fell to 60. We’ve been watching him for the last two-to-three years.

“We had our fingers crossed. You pick out certain guys, and you have to wait. This year, we had to wait. “

Neidert, 18, battled elbow tendinitis earlier this spring as a senior at Peachtree Ridge High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia. That likely caused his stock to drop, but it doesn’t appear to be a major concern.

“It’s 100 percent healthy,” Neidert said. “It was about midway through my high school season. It tightened up on me a little bit one game. It wasn’t too bad. But just as a precaution, I took some time off.

“Did some physical therapy. Came back and pitched and everything was fine from then on out.”

McNamara said the doctors thoroughly examined Neidert and provided a clean bill of health.

“We spent a lot of time the last two weeks," McNamara said. “He also had mono earlier in the year. We went in and saw him at the end when he came back, and everything was coming out real good.”

Because of his size, Neidert, at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, is often likened to veteran right-hander Tim Hudson.

Scouts say Neidert’s fastball hits the mid-90 mph range but generally sits in the low-90s with movement, but that his other pitches need work.

Baseball America ranked Neidert (pronounced NYE-dert) as the No. 55 prospect in the draft. He previously signed a letter of intent to play at South Carolina.

“I’m still debating a little bit,” he said, “but I know my clear choice is most likely to go play in Seattle.”

Moore, 21, is also a smaller-stature righty at 5-11 and 185 pounds. Scouts say he relies on pitchability with a four-pitch arsenal but that his fastball tops out in the low 90s.

“When I’m good,” he agreed, “I have a four-pitch mix going. I’m able to locate the fastball to both sides of the plate and work it up and down. My changeup, I just started throwing it this year, but that’s probably been my best pitch.

McNamara said: “What I saw was another guy who can really command his fastball. It was 92-94 for eight innings. The thing about him that really impressed all of us is his body language and his fastball command.”

The slotted value for Neidert as the No. 60 pick is $1,025,910. The slot for Moore is $852,800 as the 72nd overall pick.

Major League Baseball assigns slotted dollar values to all players selected through the first 10 rounds. A club’s bonus pool is the sum of those values.

Clubs are not bound to the slotted amount on any specific player, but there are fines and penalties if a club exceeds its total bonus pool. Players selected after the 10th round don’t count against the pool for bonuses up to $100,000.

The Mariners’ total draft pool for the first 10 rounds (plus any subsequent bonuses beyond $100,000) is $4,186,900, which ranks 27th among the 30 clubs.

Why so low?

The Mariners forfeited their first-round pick when they signed free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz in early December after he received a qualifying offer from his former club, the Baltimore Orioles.

Clubs often overpay for high picks and compensate by selecting college seniors, who have little negotiating leverage, and signing them for under-slot bonuses.

A year ago, the Mariners overpaid the slot value for their top two picks, outfielders Alex Jackson and Gareth Morgan, but still remained within their bonus pool.

The annual draft, officially known as the Rule 4 Draft, covers residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and any other U.S. territories who have not previously signed minor- or major-league contracts.

Non-residents who are attending high school or college in the U.S. are also eligible.

Monday’s portion covered the first two rounds, the compensation round for clubs who lost free agents after making a qualifying offer and two six-pick competitive-balance rounds.

The compensation round and the first competitive-balance round took place after the first round. The second competitive-balance round followed the regular second round.

Competitive-balance picks are determined through a lottery among the 10 smallest-market clubs, and the 10 clubs with the smallest revenue pools.

Additionally, any club that receives revenue sharing is eligible for the second competitive-balance round. The Mariners selected Moore with a competitive-balance pick.

The draft resumes Tuesday with rounds three through 10 before concluding Wednesday with rounds 11 through 40. The Mariners will have the 19th pick in each round.

CRUZ SLIPS

Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz got caught in the undertow of a Royal blue tsunami in the latest All-Star balloting update to determine the American League’s starters.

Cruz slipped to second place in the DH balloting — 141,513 votes behind Kansas City’s Kendrys Morales, the two-time former Mariner. A week ago, Cruz held a lead of 280,854 votes over Morales.

The Royals lead the AL balloting in seven of the nine positions. The only exceptions are Houston’s Jose Altuve, who leads at second base, and Los Angeles’ Mike Trout, who ranks second among outfielders.

Even there, the Royals have the runner-up at second base and the No. 4 outfielder.

All balloting this season is online at www.MLB.com and the 30 clubs sites, including www.mariners.com. Balloting continues through 8:59 p.m. PDT on July 2.

Cruz remains the only Mariners’ player listed among the voting leaders at his position. Major League Baseball releases votes totals for the top 15 outfielders and the top five at all other positions.

LOOKING BACK

It was 16 years ago Tuesday — June 9, 1999 — that Ken Griffey Jr. hit a homer off the facade of the third deck at Coors Field in Colorado.

The blast, estimated at 478 feet, came when Griffey led off the fourth inning against Rockies left-hander Brian Bohanon. Griffey also had a two-run triple in the seventh against reliever Curtis Leskanic.

And it wasn’t enough. The Mariners lost, 16-11.

SHORT HOPS

Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer, one day after limiting the Mariners to one unearned run in seven innings, was picked as the American League player of the week. Archer pitched eight shutout innings against in the Mariners in getting a no-decision on May 27 at Tampa Bay. ... Veteran right-hander Kevin Correia, who spent time with the Mariners in spring training, signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia for $650,000.

ON TAP

The Mariners and Indians open a three-game series at 4:10 p.m. PDT on Tuesday at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

An open date Monday allowed the Mariners to shift their rotation. They will now start lefty Roenis Elias (2-3, 2.94 ERA) against the reigning Cy Young winner, Indians right-hander Corey Kluber (3-6, 3.61).

Right-hander Taijuan Walker will drop back a day and start Wednesday’s game.

Tuesday’s game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.

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