Updated Jun 4, 2012 - 2:51 pm
Will the Mariners surprise again with their top pick?
The draft gets underway today at 4 p.m. and the Mariners no doubt are well prepared. The draft is now a three-day affair with round one and the compensation round taking place on Monday. The Mariners do not have a compensation pick this year so they will be making just one selection on the first day.
That pick, of course, will come at No. 3, and as in past years there is a good idea who they will take, but it is far from a sure thing. Under Jack Zduriencik, the Mariners -- like most teams -- have been very protective of their draft board and surprised just about everyone with their pick of Danny Hultzen last year.
Scouting director Tom McNamara is in charge of making the pick and while the team has been going through spring training and the regular season he and his scouts have been on the road for all but a few days, attending high school and college games and tournaments looking for talent. Zduriencik has made a number of trips as well and has players that he favors.
Although the Mariners have gone with pitching in the last few drafts and appear to have a surplus of it in the minor leagues, this will not preclude them from taking a pitcher with their first pick if they believe that player is the best player available. This is a long-held draft philosophy by both McNamara and Zduriencik, that they draft for talent -- particularly with their top picks -- rather than need. The simplest explanation for this is that they believe you are left with the potential for less regret if you go for the best player.
Last year the team was catcher-heavy in its draft. This year the general consensus is they will select Mike Zunino, a catcher out of the University of Florida, with their first pick despite the surplus of young catching they have in the lower minors. I know they like Zunino but I do not know if he is their guy or if this is a smoke screen. We shall see.
Mark Appel and Byron Buxton are expected to go first and second, respectively. I would suspect Buxton in particular would be very tempting if he fell to No. 3. One thing that will most likely play into the draft more than it ever has is signability. This year, under the new collective bargaining agreement, teams will be assigned signing pools which they must not go over or they will be heavily penalized. It will take some time to see how this ultimately plays into the draft but it is something teams are very aware of.
Again, the draft starts at 4 p.m. today and the Mariners' pick will come shortly after.
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