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Originally published Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 5:21 PM

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Mariners focus on pitching in final day of draft

The Mariners loaded up on pitching, drafted a few players with local connections and selected the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski on the final day of the Major League Baseball draft Wednesday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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On the final day of the Major League Baseball draft, the Mariners loaded up on pitchers, grabbed a few players with local ties and selected an outfielder with a royal baseball name.

Next on the agenda: Trying to sign the players under an accelerated timetable instituted this year. Players have until July 13 to sign, about a month sooner than last year. Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said he believes the change is particularly meaningful for college juniors.

"You can't sit out all summer," he said. "It forces the college junior to decide whether he wants to play quicker than ever before. You either want to play, or you go back to school. It's good for everybody."

One of those college juniors is outfielder Mike Yastrzemski of Vanderbilt, selected in the 30th round Wednesday. The left-hander is the grandson of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, the last player to win a Triple Crown, but McNamara said he's a standout in his own right. Yastrzemski was taken in the 36th round in 2009 by the Red Sox, his grandfather's team.

"He's not Carl Yastrzemski's grandson; he's Mike Yastrzemski," McNamara said. "He's carved out his own niche. Obviously, he has good bloodlines. We thought with the ability he showed this year, he deserved to be drafted."

The 6-foot, 180-pound Yastrzemski hit .286 for Vanderbilt — one of the top collegiate programs in the country — with six homers and 41 runs batted in.

Among the players with local ties taken on the final day were right-handed pitcher Levi Dean of Tennessee Wesleyan, who graduated from W.F. West High School in Chehalis, in the 23rd round; right-handed pitcher Aaron Brooks from Edmonds Community College and Mountlake Terrace High School, who played the 2011 season at Gonzaga, in the 26th round; left-handed pitcher Rusty Shellhorn from Texas Tech, who graduated from Central Valley High School in Spokane and pitched two seasons for Washington State before transferring, in the 31st round; and catcher Alex Ross from Bellevue College, via Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, in the 34th round. Ross' dad, Joe, is a Northwest area scout for the Mariners.

Brooks, who attended a predraft workout at Safeco Field, is being looked at as a reliever by the Mariners. Shellhorn is the second Texas Tech player drafted by the Mariners, joining outfielder Jamodrick McGruder, taken in the ninth round Tuesday.

The Mariners reached into Canada to take Logan Seifrit, a right-handed pitcher from Vauxhall High School in Alberta, in the 33rd round.

One intriguing player is UC Santa Barbara right-hander Matthew Vedo, taken in the 24th round. The 6-2, 205-pound Vedo struck out 112 in 82 innings, but walked 57, hit 16 batters and threw 20 wild pitches. According to his profile on the school's website, he roots for all Seattle teams and lists Ken Griffey Jr. and Gary Payton among his favorite athletes.

In all, the Mariners selected 41 players, starting with Florida catcher Mike Zunino with the No. 3 overall pick on Monday. That included 20 pitchers (six left-handers), three catchers, 13 infielders (three first basemen, three second basemen, six shortstops and one third baseman) and five outfielders. They took 26 college and 15 high-school players.

On the final day, 15 of their final 22 picks were pitchers.

"What I try to tell our guys every year is, there are big-league players in rounds 16 through 40," McNamara said. "We have to keep grinding."

Most analysts believe this is a down year for prospects, but McNamara has been a dissenting voice.

"We saw a lot of players with ability this year," he said. "We'll find out. I don't remember going to too many games this year and saying, 'This is a wasted day.' That's usually a good sign. It's a credit to our area scouts and cross-checkers working 24/7 to find the players."

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com

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