Expect M’s to look for bats
Even with the old adage “you don’t draft what you need, you draft the best possible player,” it’s hard to see the Mariners not taking an impact bat with their third pick overall.
Here’s a look into the top five players Seattle can take in the first round of the 2012 MLB draft.
5. Kevin Gausman, SP, Louisiana State University
Never rule out anything, even the Mariners taking a pitcher in the first round. If Seattle passes on an impact bat, Gausman is the next logical step. Despite Stanford pitcher Mark Appel seen as the consensus No. 1 or 2 pick, Gausman is considered by many as having the highest ceiling amongst college arms in the draft.
Gausman is a big righty from LSU. He went 10-1 this season, with a 2.84 ERA and a K/9 pushing above 10. He features a mid-to-high 90′s fastball, an MLB caliber changeup and the occasional two-seamer.
Profiles like Cole Hamels or Clay Buchholz.
4. Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy
Though he’s expected to go a few picks later in the draft, Albert Almora is certainly an option for Seattle.
Almora is a toolsy high school bat with a high ceiling. Though he’s not incredibly fast, he’s been praised for his pure athleticism and instincts. He could probably play any outfield position, though he looks best fitted for left or center. His quick hands and balanced swing generate a lot of power to all fields.
3. Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico
There’s a lot of dispute as to how far Carlos Correa will fall. The 17-year old from Puerto Rico has raw tools, but has also drawn comparisons to Alex Rodriguez.
No matter how unrefined he may be, there’s a lot of potential. Correa’s an incredibly able defender, throwing across the infield in the high 90′s. He’s also got great instincts and range.
Despite his size (6’4″, 190 pounds) he profiles long term at short.
Offensively, Correa has a quick powerful swing, that’s slightly off balanced. Can hit to all fields with power, but needs to work on transferring his weight evenly through his swing. With a little big league tuning, his swing could become one of the best at the shortstop position.
With a system lacking in shortstops (depending on how you view Nick Franklin) Correa could be a great pick for Seattle.
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County High School
Byron Buxton is considered by many to be the top position player in the draft. Usually, that means he would be Seattle’s best bet. Only reason I have him at No. 2 is because the chance he falls to the Mariners is slim at best.
But, if he does fall this far, Buxton would certainly be the No. 1 option for Seattle.
Buxton is a 5-tool stud in the making, who’s been compared to the likes of Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen. His speed is the definition of “game changing,” and it makes him elite on the base paths and in the outfield.
Makes great contact on his swing, and will add power as he fills out.
If Houston and Minnesota go with pitchers, no doubt the best all around athlete in the draft will end up in Seattle’s arms.
1. Mike Zunino, C, Florida
The consensus first round pick for the Mariners, Mike Zunino is considered the best college bat of the draft. Standing at 6’2″ and 185 pounds out of the University of Florida, Zunino has able bodied catcher written all over him.
A plus defender, Zunino shows great instincts behind the dish. He already shows maturity in framing pitches and calling games. Could stand to improve his blocking skills.
Definitely a great arm, with a quick transfer and release that will catch a lot of runners.
Defense aside, Zunino has the potential to become a middle of the order bat. He takes a patient approach at the plate which pairs nicely with his balanced and simple swing.
Could hit .280-.310 consistently with a high OBP. Explosive bat speed and strength generates plenty of power. Probably won’t exceed the 20 home run mark of most catchers, but could hit 30-40 doubles a year.
Zunino is a franchise catcher, which the Mariners could use.
In Zunino, Seattle’s getting a polished bat with plenty of potential and a gold glover behind the dish.