SEATTLE — Even as the Mariners closed in Friday on a deal with first-round pick Kyle Lewis, they simultaneously opted for a fast-track approach by choosing college players with all eight of their picks on the second day of the MLB Draft.
An official announcement regarding Lewis, an outfielder from Mercer University, is likely to occur Saturday once the Mariners get the results of his physical examination.
Amateur scouting director Tom McNamara admitted: "We feel good about it."
The Mariners selected Lewis on Thursday with the 11th overall pick in the 40-round draft, which concludes Saturday. He agreed to a deal for the assigned bonus slot of $3,286,700.
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Major League Baseball assigns a slot value to every pick through the 10th round, and a club’s bonus pool is the sum of those totals. The Mariners have $7,136,000 in their allotment.
While clubs are permitted to exceed the slot value on any individual pick, there are penalties, including the loss of future draft picks, for exceeding their overall bonus pool.
It is now common procedure for clubs to have loose agreements in place with high picks before selecting them in the draft. Tentative plans are already in place for Lewis, 20, to take part Saturday in batting practice.
The Mariners likely face tougher negotiations with their next two picks: prep third baseman Joe Rizzo, taken Thursday in the second round, and San Diego shortstop Bryson Brigman, whose selection kicked off Friday’s college rush.
Rizzo and Brigman each have negotiating leverage. Rizzo has a college commitment in place to South Carolina, while Brigman is a draft-eligible college sophomore who can simply choose to remain another year with the Toreros.
"It’s going to be a hard decision whether I want to go," he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "because I’ve had a great experience here. If the opportunity presents itself, then I feel I’m definitely ready to start my pro career.
"It’s not a matter of `I need to get out of here as soon as possible.’ It’s nothing like that. But because I do have the opportunity and that extra leverage, why not take advantage of it if things go well?"
The Mariners sought to create some negotiating flexibility Friday by choosing three college seniors in their first nine picks. College seniors have diminished leverage and often sign at below-slot prices.
"We knew we were getting close to that (bonus-pool) area," McNamara admitted, "and we had to balance it out. But we spend a lot of time in here ranking college seniors.
"We took a left-handed pitcher a couple of years ago, Ryan Yarbrough, as our fourth-round pick. He was a senior. He’s (now) a Double-A starter. You want to take a college senior who you think can get to the big leagues."
All drafted players except college seniors must sign by July 15 or are ineligible to do so until after next year’s draft. College seniors have until one week before next year’s draft to reach an agreement.
Brigman was eligible for the draft as a college sophomore because his 21st birthday falls within 45 days of the draft. He batted .372 this season and was picked for the second straight season to the All-West Coast Conference team.
The Mariners chose Alabama left-handed reliever Thomas Burrows and Oklahoma State shortstop Donnie Walton in the fourth and fifth rounds.
Burrows, 21, was 2-1 with 12 saves and an 0.95 ERA for the Crimson Tide in 21 appearances. He struck out 41 and walked nine in 28 1/3 innings. Walton, 22, is a switch-hitter and who batted .350 this year as a senior in 59 games.
The Mariners then chose Millersville right-hander Brandon Miller, East Stroudsburg right-hander Matt Festa, Elon third baseman Nick Zammarelli, Illinois catcher Jason Goldstein and Arizona State infielder David Greer.
Walton, Festa and Goldstein are seniors.
"We took the players we wanted," McNamara said. "We’ve done a lot of research. If you told me before the draft that we’d take nine out of 10 college guys, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.
"The night before the draft, I wouldn’t have been surprised if our first two picks were high school guys."
MARINERS ASSIGNED SLOT BONUSES
The Mariners have $7,136,000 is their bonus-pool allotment from Major League Baseball, which assigns a slot value to every pick through the 10th round.
Clubs can exceed the slot value for any individual pick, but there are penalties for exceeding their overall assigned allotment. Any bonuses in excess of $100,000 for picks after the 10th round also count against the allotment.
Here are the slot values for the Mariners’ picks.
First round (No. 11 overall): $3,286,700 (Mercer OF Kyle Lewis).
Second round (50): $1,252,100 (Oak Hill, Va., HS 3B Joe Rizzo).
Third round (87): $708,200 (San Diego SS Bryson Brigman).
Fourth round (117): $506,400 (Alabama LHP Thomas Burrows).
Fifth round (147): $379,000 (Oklahoma State SS Donnie Walton).
Sixth round (177): $283,800 (Millersville RHP Brandon Miller).
Seventh round (207): $212,700 (East Stroudsburg RHP Matt Festa).
Eighth round (237): $180,600 (Elon 3B Nick Zammarelli).
Ninth round (267): $168,900 (Illinois C Jason Goldstein).
10th round (297): $157,600 (Arizona State INF David Greer).