Mariners Insider Blog

Will the Mariners go with a catcher at No. 3?

Greetings from the interview room at Safeco Field. I've been nominated by our editor to cover the MLB draft for the next few days. So I figured I'd better post something on the blog.

Here's the story I wrote in today's paper about the Mariners possibly selecting Florida catcher Mike Zunino with the third overall pick. But the Mariners haven't exactly had great success is picking catchers with high draft picks.

From my story ...

After all, it’s tough to forget the 2005 draft. The Mariners had the third overall pick and decided to take the hard-hitting Clement out of USC instead of a hard-hitting shortstop out of Long Beach State named Troy Tulowitzki, whom they had been planning on selecting.

While he would never officially say it, the thinking was that then-general manager Bill Bavasi decided to take Clement instead of Tulowitzki because of the dearth of catching prospects in the Mariners’ organization.

Seattle had a need for catching help and drafted for it.

It makes this year’s draft that much more interesting. The Mariners do need catching help. Clement never panned out as a catcher or a hitter. A brief sojourn with the Mariners in September 2007 yielded a .375 batting average (6-for-16) with two homers and a double, but Clement never could match that type of production at the plate the next season while defensively he regressed from less than average to worse as knee injuries took their toll. 

Notable catchers drafted by Seattle

Year    Name  Round            Pick     #

2011    Kevin Cron    3          92

  • One of the most prodigious power hitters in Arizona high school history, he chose a scholarship at TCU over the Mariners.
2011    John Hicks     4          123
  • Danny Hultzen’s catcher at Virginia, Hicks is hitting .295 with nine homers, 44 RBI and an .827 OPS at Single-A High Desert.
2009    Steven Baron 1          33
  • A great athlete who hasn’t quite been able to put it together at the plate; he’s still stuck in Single-A after three seasons.
2006    Adam Moore 6          171
  • Showed promise in the minors, but persistent injuries, including two knee surgeries, have hindered his growth.
2005    Jeff Clement  1          3
  • A power-hitting left-handed catcher was supposed to be a sure thing. But Clement struggled to catch and hit.
2004    Rob Johnson  4          123
  • Drafted out of the University of Houston, he was supposed to be a defensive stalwart, but wasn’t. His bat also was non-existent.
2001    Rene Rivera   2          49
  • Showed promise in 2005, but his offense never developed.
1999    Ryan Christianson    1          11
  • Never played a big-league game in his nine-year career.
1994    Jason Varitek            1          14
  • Traded to Boston with Derek Lowe as part of the awful Heathcliff Slocumb trade.
Here's a look a the top 5 prospects ...

Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford

Could the Cardinal have the first pick of the NFL and MLB drafts this season? It’s possible. Appel has been rated as a top-three pick all season. The hard-throwing right-hander has a mid-90s fastball that has reached 98 mph. He has a good slider and an improving change-up. He’s a former basketball player and a solid athlete at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. His mechanics are clean and low maintenance.

Projected big league comparison: Matt Cain, Josh Beckett

Byron Buxton OF, Appling County HS (Georgia)

Rated as the best position player in this year draft, the 18-year-old center fielder has reached legendary status with his athletic exploits – such as throwing a football 82 yards. At 6-2, 180 pounds, he’s a bundle of speed, athleticism and raw talent. While he hasn’t hit for a ton of power, scouts think he will hit for some as he matures.

Projected big league comparison: Matt Kemp, Justin Upton

Mike Zunino C, Florida

Rated as the best catcher in this year’s draft, Zunino won’t wow you with his bat or his skills behind the plate. The best word to describe him is solid. As a hitter, he has power and projects to be a well above-average hitter for a big-league catcher. Defensively, he is better than average in blocking pitches and throwing. Scouts love his presence behind the plate and his ability to handle pitchers.

Projected big league comparison: Jason Varitek, J.P Arencibia

Carlos Correa SS, Gurabo, Puerto Rico

He will become the highest drafted player taken out of Puerto Rico, eclipsing the previous high of No. 17 (Ramon Castro, 1994). He looks like a big-league player at 6-3, 185 pounds and oozes power potential. Defensively, there is some question if he will remain at shortstop. Correa, 17, has a strong arm and could move to third base.

Projected big league comparison: Ryan Zimmerman, Evan Longoria

Kevin Gausman RHP, LSU

One of the more complete pitchers in the draft, Gausman has a mid-90s four-seam fastball that can hit 98 mph, but he also throws a two-seam fastball in the low 90s. Gausman, whose father, Clair, is a college football referee, has a good change-up that has tailing action, but he needs to find consistency with his slider and curveball.

Projected big league comparison: Jake Peavy, James Shields Local prospects State athletes likely to be drafted today.