By Jared Stanger
The 2017 MLB Draft starts at 4pm on Monday, June 12th with the Mariners drafting at #17 overall. Here is my second attempt at projecting a look at their top few rounds.
Since my last mock, a few things have changed across the draft landscape. Oregon LHP David Peterson is now frequently seen more in the #13-15 range, as opposed to the 16-18 range we were seeing. Oregon State LHP Luke Heimlich had the bombshell dropped of his teenage conviction for sexual assault of a minor; completely laying waste to his draft potential. And there’s now rumor that UCLA RHP Griffin Canning may have something structurally wrong with his arm.
The Peterson news is most disappointing because I think his mix of control, stuff, size and being left-handed would make him really appealing to Jerry Dipoto for Safeco Field. In the event he drops for some reason (like Kyle Lewis did last year), he might still be the pick.
I had been thinking the pitching options at #17 were generally better than the bats, but there are potentially three fewer arm options there now. The bats are still kinda “meh” for me. The one connected to Seattle the most is Missouri State 3B Jake Burger, who I just flat don’t like. Monster stats, but not a great athlete and his future position might be DH. Other potential bats with projection near #17: Vandy OF Jeren Kendall, UNC SS Logan Warmoth, Kentucky 1B Evan White (I’d vote the latter).
Not only is the draft at #17 not great for me; the story kinda goes that this isn’t a great draft in general. So, the thought occurs to me…get creative. Also…take risks.
Maybe you don’t sweat one of your first two picks as much as you would normally, and instead settle into being okay taking a risk on a tough-sign high school talent. If you get him signed…awesome. If you don’t; either your #17 this year becomes #18 next year, or #55 this year becomes #56 next year in a better class.
At first I was thinking, “go ahead and take the HS player at #17”, but if you don’t sign him there; not only do you lose him this year, but you also lose his signing bonus allotment for the entire 2017 draft class. Whereas, if you draft, say, an underslot college player at #17, then shoot for an overslot HS player at 55…you will have the bigger, 1st round chunk of bonus pool active. Essentially, you want to make sure you have the biggest check available first, before determining how to spend it. So that first round pick needs to be signed.
With all this in mind, and looking at where players are projecting, I think it would be really interesting to go underslot at #17 with a college bat (the rumored preference for Jerry), and take former Seattle Prep player and current Wake Forest CF: Stuart Fairchild.
#17- OF, Wake Forest, Stuart Fairchild
Fairchild is hitting .364 this year with a .441 OBP, roughly a .286 ISO and .464 secA, 17 HR, 67 RBI, 18 2B, 21 SB in 26 attempts, and he plays a really solid CF. As I’m writing this, Stuart is 2×2 off probable 1st-rounder Alex Faedo in the CWS super regional (before the rain delay hit). He’s also a semi-finalist (top 25) for the 2017 Golden Spikes Award.
Baseball America currently has Fairchild as their #43 overall player. So drafting him at #17 in his hometown, you might get a decent discount on signing (Seattle has a bonus pool of $6,737,300 to work with, and #17 is worth $3,333,200 of that). If you sign Fairchild for what slot #40 is worth, you would gain $1,618,700 of space to go after a hard-sign at #55.
Draft slot #55 is valued at $1,206,900. Plus the surplus just from going under slot at 17; you’re potentially looking at having $2,825,600 to work with at 55. That dollar amount is somewhere between the allotment for pick #21-22 overall. In theory, if a player is more concerned with the signing bonus than the label of being a “1st round pick”, you should be able to get a tough-sign for 1st round money at #55.
And I would target high school RHP Alex Scherff.
#55- RHP, Colleyville Heritage HS, Alex Scherff
BA has Scherff ranked at #60 overall. With his max of high-90’s fastball, and potentially the best change-up in the entire draft; I have no clue why he is ranked that low. Maybe it’s his signability (committed to Texas A&M). But that’s why I’m targeting this strategy. It may not be all that different from how they got 2016 second-pick, HS 3B Joe Rizzo to sign.
If Jerry and Tom McNamara have info that leads them away from Scherff for signability; I think there are great options at 1B from the college ranks here. Take your pick of LSU’s Gregg Deichmann, Wake Forest’s Gavin Sheets, Oregon State’s KJ Harrison, Arizona’s JJ Matijevic. I’m currently very high on Matijevic. His lefty swing is so clean, and he’s hit .383/.436/1.069 this year with 10 HR, 65 RBI, 30 doubles (*1st in the country), and 9 SB in 10 attempts. His strikeout to walk (38-23) isn’t as good as some others at 1B, but I think there is still more upside to him coming.
Moving into the 3rd round, I think the best options for Seattle at #93 are between a LHP, a C, and a SS. Baseball America has Wisconsin-Milwaukee C Daulton Varsho at #100, St. John’s SS Jesse Berardi at #105, and Xavier LHP Zac Lowther at #112.
Varsho is a lefty-swinging catcher that has easily the best offensive season of all college catchers this year: .362/.490/1.133 slash, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 11 doubles, 6 triples, 10 SB in 10 attempts, and 46-39 BB-SO. Gets on-base a ton, and he’s really athletic for a catcher (6 triples and 10 steals?!).
Berardi is one of the few college shortstops I like in a bad year for SS. His hands are great, and offensively he went: .356/.456/.918 with 4 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB, 38 BB, 35 SO.
Lowther posted a 2.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 13.28 SO/9 (*4th in the country), and 3.73 SO/BB this year. He was also very effective in the 2016 Cape Cod League. As far as I can tell he’s working only 90-91mph with his fastball, but he’s getting a ton of swing-and-miss with a pretty nasty curve.
#93- LHP, Xavier, Zac Lowther
In the 4th round, having passed on Berardi, there are even fewer SS available. NC State’s Joe Dunand played SS this year, but probably projects more as a 3B. He’s lacking a bit in plate discipline (19 BB, 45 SO), but probably the best power tool from all SS this year (18 HR, 51 RBI, 12 double, 3 triple, 2 SB, .287/.368/1.000 slash. If he can refine his pitch selection, his .344 ISO is pretty attractive. He does have a great arm, as well. Oh, and he’s Alex Rodriguez’ nephew.
One of the only other options I like at #123 would be Auburn RHP Keegan Thompson. 7-4, 2.41 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 7.23 SO/9, 4.41 SO/BB.
#123- SS, NC State, Joe Dunand
The 5th round has a pretty nice collection of players: Louisville closer Lincoln Henzman, Vandy 3B Will Toffey, Arkansas C/1B Chad Spanberger, LSU 2B Cole Freeman, Arkansas RHP Trevor Stephan, etc. I’m going with Florida State LHP Tyler Holton.
6’2″/200lbs, Holton doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but gets great results from his pitchability. 10-2, 2.22 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 11.28 SO/9, 5.28 SO/BB.
#153- LHP, Florida State, Tyler Holton
Part of the reason I decided to pass on Daulton Varsho earlier is because I’ve actually found a few lefty-hitting catchers this year that I really like. There’s also St. John’s Troy Dixon and Hartford’s Erik Ostberg.
I’m leaning toward Ostberg and his .500/.596/1.456 slash, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 11 doubles, 1 triple, 22 BB, 10 SO in only 24 games. Really good bat-speed.
At this point in the mock we take a turn. At this point we look specifically for college seniors that will sign well under slot. I’m not sure how much the order matters as none are sort of the “ranked” prospects.
#213- UT, Dallas Baptist, Austin Listi
I’m not sure where he ends up position-wise, but with a slash of .336/.454/1.189, 24 HR, 55 RBI, 23 doubles, .399 ISO, .588 secA I think he’s an interesting righthanded power bat.
#243- 1B, Southern Missouri, Dylan Burdeaux
Looking for some athleticism to add to a MILB lineup at first base, I found Burdeaux with 21 SB on 23 attempts this year. Then I looked at the rest of his line: .337/.409/.944, 12 HR, 69 RBI, 24 doubles.
#273- RHP, Minnesota, Brian Glowicki
The closer for the Gophers, Glowicki is tied for 1st in the country in saves with 16. He also sports a 2.20 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.74 SO/9, and 5.57 SO/BB.
#303- LHP, Norfolk State, Devin Hemmerich
10-2, 1.97 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 10.08 SO/9, 7.38 SO/BB.
1- OF Stuart Fairchild
2- RHP Alex Scherff
3- LHP Zac Lowther
4- SS Joe Dunand
5- LHP Tyler Holton
6- C Erik Ostberg
7- UT Austin Listi
8-1B Dylan Burdeaux
9- RHP Brian Glowicki
10- LHP Devin Hemmerich