Draft paying early dividends for Mariners

Draft paying early dividends

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

With a deep, young system already on the way up, the Mariners added to that wealth of riches big-time with their 2009 Draft, the first run by new general manager Jack Zduriencik and scouting director Tom McNamara.


NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CWS | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

Signing 35 of their 52 picks, including their first 15 selections, the Mariners added to an already balanced system an equal array of hitters and pitchers, though for the most part they focused on more advanced college players. Of their top 12 picks, 10 were from the college ranks.

The Mariners' scouting department didn't just sit back on their laurels in the late rounds and let it ride, as they added some late-round sleepers who had 2009 debut seasons as impressive as any first-rounders.

The club added early and often to their cache of premium position players, so that right behind the up-and-coming prospects already in place they now have several likely future stars from the Class of 2009. Many of these young players helped contribute to the rookie-level Arizona League title won by the Mariners.

2009 DRAFT RECAP

Top five picks

1. Dustin Ackley, IF/OF: In most years, the North Carolina first baseman/outfielder would have been a slam-dunk first-overall pick. But this year, due to the presence of pitcher Stephen Strasburg, he was a consensus second overall pick. The Mariners are not complaining. Moved to first this season as he recovered from right elbow surgery, but back in the outfield in his unofficial professional debut in the Arizona Fall League, Ackley will also see some time at second base this spring. This is not such a big stretch, as he was a shortstop in high school. A career .412 hitter in three seasons with the Tar Heels, he batted .417 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs this season and batted .315 in his AFL stint. He has speed to go with the best bat in the Draft and should be a true fast-tracker.

1. Nick Franklin, SS: Taken with the 27th overall pick out of high school in Lake Brantley, Fla., Franklin has all the tools you look for in an up-and-coming shortstop, including the bat. In a brief pro debut after signing late, the combined to hit .333 in 16 games between the Arizona League and short-season Everett.

1S. Steve Baron, C: Considered one of the best defensive catchers in the Draft, the high school pick from Miami turned down a scholarship to Duke to sign with the Mariners, who took him with the first pick in the supplemental first round and sent him to short-season Pulaski. He hit .179 there as he made the adjustment to pro pitching, but his defense continued to shine. He can shut down the running game, has the arm you want (he threw out 54 percent of opposing base runners) and was calling his own game before he turned pro. His offensive upside is more of a question, but his defense at such a premium position is not.

2. Rich Poythress, 1B: One of the premier power hitters out of college this year, the Georgia product spent a week getting his feet wet in the Arizona League before going straight to Double-A West Tenn. He hit just a pair of homers in his month-long pro debut, but the long ball potential is there.

3. Kyle Seager, 2B: Ackley's teammate at North Carolina has a live bat and is also going to be fast-tracked, as he combined to hit .261 with one homer and 22 RBIs at three levels on the move up through the Minors.

Best of the Rest

OFJames Jones (4), a left-handed hitter from Brooklyn, N.Y., who played his college ball at Long Island University, could be one of the stars of the Draft. A great athlete, he added 50 pounds to his skinny frame while in college, so now he's lanky at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds and still very projectable. Drawing comparisons to a young Fred McGriff, the power should come with his bat speed and quick hands, and the ease with which he plays. Many teams liked him as a pitcher -- no surprise with a fastball that touched 95 mph from the left side -- but the Mariners opted to go with his considerable offensive upside. He hit .311 with three homers, 24 RBIs and 12 doubles in his debut in 45 games at Everett, with a .463 slugging percentage. RHP Tyler Blandford (5) out of Oklahoma State signed at the deadline and brings his power stuff to a starting pitching role for now. He served as both starter and reliever in college and has stated a preference for the former. The latter is not out of the question down the road. 3B Vinnie Catricala (10), out of University of Hawaii, was an Appalachian League All-Star, as he hit .301 with eight homers, 40 RBIs and a .493 slugging percentage at Pulaski. RHP Andrew Carraway (12) combined between Everett and Class A Clinton to go 8-0 with a 2.09 ERA, walking nine in 64 2/3 innings while striking out 70. The Mariners may have nabbed a pair of late-round gems if early showings are indicative. Arizona League All-Star 2B Kevin Mailloux (45) out of Canisius in upstate New York combined between that league and a handful of games at Everett to hit .309 with five home runs, 39 RBIs and nine steals along with 16 doubles and a .558 slugging percentage. And 1B Evan Sharpley (50) certainly had the best showing for a 50th-rounder this year, hitting .333 with seven homers, 29 RBIs and 12 doubles in 37 games in the Arizona League, with a .614 slugging percentage and a .429 on-base average. Drafted out of Notre Dame, he returned to South Bend this fall as a fifth-year senior, where he was backup quarterback for the football team.

Fast Risers

There are several to choose from but obviously, wherever he lands defensively, Ackley's bat is expected to help him zoom through the system. Seager could also move quickly, as could Blandford, especially depending on what role he fills on a pitching staff.

Unsigned

After signing their first 13 picks, a string of four picks went unsigned, notable among them 3B Adam Nelubowich (14), a Canadian product who headed to Washington State, and OF Tillman Pugh (16) who hit .333 with 21 steals for an Arizona junior college and will now play for Sonoma State. In addition, the Mariners would have liked to have inked 1B/OF Regan Flaherty (28), the younger brother of Cubs prospect Ryan Flaherty and the son of longtime University of Southern Maine coach Ed Flaherty. Instead, Flaherty will follow in his brother's footsteps to play ball at Vanderbilt.

Lisa Winston is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.