"Up to about 3 o'clock today we've been working out guys," said Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara. "We're just trying to get as much information as humanly possible on every player that we're considering at 12 in the country. We feel good about where we're picking. The unsung guys that work with me, they've gotten after it this year big time. We've seen a lot more players this year, because that's what happens when you're picking 12 instead of two or three."
McNamara said again the Mariners will take the best player available, regardless of position or age. But he did indicate there's an interesting group of high-school athletes this year.
McNamara isn't about to name names, but the top group of prep athletes being mentioned in the mid-first round area on most Draft sites include outfielder Austin Meadows from Loganville, Ga., left-handed pitchers Trey Ball from New Castle, Ind., and Ian Clarkin from San Diego, right-hander Phil Bickford from Westlake Village, Calif., catcher Reese McGuire from Covington, Wash., first baseman Dominic Smith of Gardena, Calif., and shortstop J.P. Crawford of Lakewood, Calif.
"If you didn't do your homework in the summer and watch these guys against competitive teams and players, you might be in trouble this year," McNamara said. "We keep saying in that room on the high-school guys, 'Hey, let's not forget we spent all that time on the road in the summer and fall watching these guys play.' They were playing against the best players with wood bats, so that's where you learn a lot.
"We call these guys advanced high-school players. From their sophomore to senior years, they're on travel teams and in showcases, on Team USA, they're all over the country. They know the lifestyle a little before they even sign a pro contract. They go to the Minor Leagues and it's not like a big adjustment for them.
"That's the biggest change in the industry for me," McNamara said. "Ten years ago, you go see a guy in the middle of nowhere and he's got the best tools, you take him and don't look back. Now you get to see them in so many different situations, real competitive in the summer.
"There's a downside to that, too, because I've flown across the country at times this season to see one player get intentionally walked four times. You just stand there thinking, 'This is what I do for a living?' But you try to remember those situations in the summer when the guy is facing the best high-school left-hander in the country."