Mariners get potential reliever in fifth round

The Mariners selected right-handed pitcher Dan Altavilla (Mercyhurst College), the 2014 Division II pitcher of the year, in the fifth round (141st overall) of the MLB First-Year Player Draft on Friday.

Most scouting services project Altavilla as a reliever at the next level because of his size (5-11, 200 pounds), but he was a force as a starter for his small liberal arts school in Erie, Pa., during his junior season.

Seattle's director of amateur scouting, Tom McNamara, said the Mariners haven't decided if they want him in the rotation or the bullpen.

"That's yet to be determined. Personally, I think he should be developed as a starter, and then we'll see what happens after a few years down on the farm," McNamara said. "He's a guy with a real good arm. His velocity's been up to 97 [mph]. A hard breaking ball. We saw a lot of him in Cape Cod. … We saw him throughout the spring. We were really happy to draft him. The kid's got a heck of an arm."

A Greenock, Pa., native, Altavilla went 9-1 with a 1.23 ERA last season, including a game where he struck out 19 batters over 7 2/3 innings. He throws a two-seam fastball that averages in the low 90s but can touch 95 mph, a slider and a changeup. In 2014, he was a Division II All-America selection after leading the country with five shutouts in 12 starts, while holding opponents to a .167 batting average in 80 1/3 innings.

"He's a power fastball guy, [he has] a power slider," McNamara said.

His physical makeup and pitching rapport draws comparisons to current Mariners long-man Dominic Leone, who has posted a 2-0 record and 1.40 ERA for Seattle during his rookie campaign.

"I've actually heard that before," McNamara said. "I don't like to throw out comparisons, because then they have the added pressure of living up to someone else. But I can see that.

"Altavilla, he's got a good arm. He is a strong guy -- like a bull. He's put together."

The Draft concludes Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on at 10 a.m. PT.

Adam Lewis is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.