== A Trea for Six? ==
I had been working on a No. 6 draft pick update, when the Minor League Ball blog came out with its first mock draft of the year. So good timing.
Not surprisingly to those who read our February 6 post, they project North Carolina State shortstop Trea Turner to be headed to Seattle.
The math is fairly simple.
There are three college pitchers who have excellent stuff and should be ready to go quickly.
- LHP Carlos Rodon, also of N.C. State, has been the consensus No. 1 for quite some time.
- RHP Jeff Hoffman of East Carolina has been gaining ground and is emerging as a consensus No. 2
- And RHP Tyler Beede of Vanderbilt has been making his case to join them. Beede is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA and 11.9 K/9 in the first month of the college season.
It looks like it would be quite an upset if all three didn’t go in the top five.
But if a couple of those teams have other ideas, one of them could fall to Seattle — most likely Beede.
Then there are the high school arms. This year’s crop is drawing comparisons to the 2011 draft, in which Jose Fernandez was picked out of high school and was already a Cy Young contender; Archie Bradley is the No. 5 overall prospect per MLB.com; and Dylan Bundy is not far back at No. 20.
This year the trio with the most buzz is:
- RHP Tyler Kolek, the proverbial “Texas fireballer,” who is, well, a fireballer from Texas
- California LHP Brady Aiken, who won the championship game of last fall’s 18-and-Under World Cup with 10 strikeouts in 7.0 IP vs. Team Japan
- And RHP Touki Toussaint, a Haitian-born Floridian who only took up baseball four years ago, and throws mid-90s with an excellent curve — yes, sounds like a Taijuan Walker clone
Mathematically, one of the above six will be available to the Mariners. But if all the college arms are taken, keep in mind that the M’s have no history of drafting high school pitchers that high, and No. 6 might be a “reach” for any of the prep arms anyway.
But chances are good, at this point, that one of the five teams ahead of Seattle will snag Kolek.
All of which means the M’s might have their pick of position players, or close to it.
Turner is considered easily the best college position player. He’s a shortstop, which is hardly a position of need (and none of the current crop is moving to second base for a decade or so), but he brings “game-changing” speed, which is not the case with Brad Miller, Nick Franklin or Chris Taylor (though none of those three is a “basepath-clogger” either).
In his first 15 games, Turner has struck out just twice, though he also has only one extra-base hit. His line is .357/.433/.375.
Maybe the only other college hitter who could make it all the way up to Seattle’s spot is Virginia OF Derek Fisher, a talented “toolsy” guy whose performance hasn’t lived up to potential in his first two college seasons. If he gets hot (he’s .333/.393/.451 in his first 14 games), he could rise very quickly.
That leaves high school position players, and the two considered most likely to go as high as No. 6 are a pair of Californians:
- power hitter Alex Jackson is a catcher now but uncertain to remain there as a pro, but many have him projected in the top five; and
- 6-foot-5 shortstop Jacob Gatewood, who seems likely to end up at third base, but has a lot of power
One other name to throw out is Nick Gordon, son of Tom “Flash” Gordon, the former MLB closer, and younger brother of Dodgers infielder Dee Gordon. He’s a speedy LH-hitting shortstop from the same high school that Brad Miller attended. He could rise up the board as the season progresses.