SEATTLE -- After a 4 1/2-hour wait and some nervous moments, the Mariners landed Nick Neidert, a high school pitcher from Georgia, with their top pick on Day 1 of the 2015 Draft on Monday. Seattle tabbed the young right-hander in the second round with the 60th overall selection.
The Mariners gave up their first-round pick by signing free agent Nelson Cruz, who currently is leading the American League in home runs, slugging percentage and OPS. This is just the third time in franchise history the club didn't have a first-round selection.
Neidert is a 6-foot-1, 185-pounder from Peachtree Ridge High School, where he impressed scouts with a 93-94 mph fastball that occasionally hit as high as 96 mph. Neidert's stock dropped a bit when he developed elbow tendinitis toward the end of his senior year, but he's regarded as a player with high upside and he said the elbow had cleared up before the end of the season.
Neidert is a University of South Carolina commit, but said he's eager to get a chance to play pro ball.
"I'm still debating a little bit, but I know my clear choice is most likely to go play in Seattle," Neidert said. "This is a huge day for me. Since I was a kid, I always dreamed of the opportunity to play pro baseball."
McNamara said the youngster is very polished for a high school pitcher and maintained his poise at the Perfect Game Showcase in Jupiter, Fla., in front of a large group of fans and scouts.
"He has good command and a 93-94 mph fastball," McNamara said. "We think his slider has a lot of potential and he also features a changeup. He's pitched in big spots in Georgia and knows what it takes. He's very battled tested for a high school kid."
The Mariners had Neidert fly to Seattle as one of about 40 players for a pre-Draft workout, and McNamara said he threw extremely well and impressed again with his command and "businesslike" approach.
After adding Moore with their next selection, the Mariners came away pleased with their Day 1 haul despite not having a first-rounder.
"I'm going to have to throw out my shirt," McNamara said of sweating out the two choices. "It was a long wait. We'd highlighted Nick and Andrew as two guys we really wanted. We're excited about landing both of those guys with our first two picks."
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10, with the Mariners having picks in each round, starting with the 19th pick in the third round (94th overall). The MLB.com preview show begins at 9:30 a.m. PT, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 10 a.m.