Mariners focus on position players in draft
Twelve of the 16 players selected by the Mariners in the first 15 rounds of the MLB draft have been position players.
Seattle Times staff reporter
On the second day of the Major League Baseball draft, the Mariners honed in on position players, taking a varied group of hitters they hope will emerge as bright lights from a generally low-rated field of prospects.
Having already taken a catcher, Mike Zunino from Florida, a day earlier with the third overall pick, the Mariners on Tuesday took 11 position players of the 15 they selected, through the 15th round.
That included shortstop Joe DeCarlo from Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, Pa., with their second-round pick (No. 64 overall). The 6-foot-1, 205-pound DeCarlo is the 287th-ranked prospect by Baseball America — No. 57 among high school players.
"He's a good-looking hitter, a physical kid," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "We're very happy he was there."
DeCarlo is committed to the University of Georgia. He told philly.com, "It's always been a dream of mine to play professional baseball. But if the deal is not right, financially, then I have a great fallback option."
Players have until July 13 to sign, the deadline having been moved up a month from last year.
McNamara is high on Washington State junior Taylor Ard, taken in the seventh round. Ard had been drafted by the Marlins (out of Mount Hood Community College in 2010) and Red Sox (out of WSU last year). He didn't sign either time, but scouts believe he is ready to turn pro.
The native of Vancouver, Wash., who attended the same high school as Richie Sexson — Prairie — was an all-Pac-12 player after hitting .332 with 12 home runs (third in the conference). The 6-1, 235-pound first baseman caught McNamara's eye when he hit a home run recently off Stanford ace Mark Appel.
"It's always a nice, lasting impression to hit a ball out against one of the best pitchers in the country," McNamara said. "He knows the strike zone and can drive a baseball."
Other hitters touted by McNamara include Patrick Kivlehan, a third baseman from Rutgers (fourth round), Timmy Lopes, a shortstop from Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif. (sixth round), and Nick Halamandaris, a left-handed first baseman from Stevenson HS in Monterey, Calif. (eighth round).
They also selected Virginia shortstop Chris Taylor, whom they first saw last year while scouting No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen. McNamara called him "a pure shortstop," highly touted for his defense. The Mariners drafted Taylor in the fifth round.
The 6-2, 211-pound Kivlehan has a particularly interesting background, having played football for four years as a safety at Rutgers before returning to baseball this season. He was named Big East player of the year after winning the triple crown with a .399 average, 14 homers and 50 runs batted in. Baseball America speculated he'll move to the outfield as a pro.
"The first thing I saw is he's just a physical, athletic kid," McNamara said. "We were really surprised how this guy picked up and basically led the Big East in every offensive category you could think of. He got better and better as the season went on."
The Mariners also selected two speedy players with leadoff potential — second baseman Jamodrick McGruder from Texas Tech (ninth round), and center fielder Michael Faulkner from Arkansas State (12th). McGruder had eight triples, an on-base percentage of .500 and 39 steals in 44 attempts. Faulkner stole 41 bases in 42 attempts.
Pitching-wise, the Mariners dipped into one of the strongest crop of Puerto Rican players in years to take right-handed pitcher Edwin Diaz, out of Caguas Military Academy, in the third round. He's lanky — 6-2, 160 pounds — with a fastball that hits 97 mph.
They also selected 6-5, 240-pound high school first baseman Kristian Brito, from Puerto Rico, in the 11th round. According to Baseball America, Brito has 70 power on the 20-to-80 scouting scale.
"He has some thunder in his bat, and we're excited to have him," McNamara said.
With a compensatory pick after the third round for not signing last year's third-round pick, Kevin Cron, the Mariners took a high school left-hander from Winter Haven, Fla., Tyler Pike. The Florida State commit is "a guy with feel, touch and a real good upside," McNamara said.
Grady Wood of Western Oregon, a right-handed pitcher taken in the 10th round, was 12-0 with a 1.69 earned-run average. He won 20 consecutive games over two seasons, one shy of the NCAA Div. II record.
Another pitcher with great stats is Jonathan Hauser, right-handed reliever from Virginia Commonwealth. He struck out 66 in 35 2/3 innings this season and limited opponents to a .136 average. McNamara said he has "an above-average major-league slider."
The Mariners went to an unlikely location for their final pick of the day, taking left-handed hitting first baseman Dario Pizzano from Columbia University.
"He broke some of Lou Gehrig's records, I believe," McNamara said.
The draft concludes Wednesday with rounds 16 through 40.