I’ve assumed all along that the Mariners, with their precious No. 2 overall pick, would go with a college player, on the theory that they would want to pick someone who could get to the majors and help them the quickest. That would describe North Carolina first baseman/outfielder Dustin Ackley, or pitcher Aaron Crow, not technically a college pitcher, but far removed from high school. He was drafted No. 9 overall last year out of the University of Missouri by the Nationals, didn’t sign, and went back into the draft. He’s been playing for the Independent Fort Worth Cats.
But in his media session yesterday, scouting director Tom McNamara made several references to the strength of high-school pitching this year. And Baseball America, the bible of the draft, had a blog item yesterday that linked the Mariners to Tyler Matzek, a hard-throwing left-handed pitcher out of Mission Viejo’s Capistrano High School who has been rated as one of the top five talents in the draft in virtually everyone’s assessment. Baseball America ranks him the No. 1 high school player in the nation, and the No. 2 prospect, college or high school, from talent-rich California, behind Stephen Strasburg. The author, Dave Perkin, wrote this: “Matzek’s late-season brilliance virtually assures that he will be one of the top 10 picks in next Tuesday’s draft. Seattle with the second pick is a distinct possibility; if not, Matzek almost certainly will be selected anywhere from third to seventh overall.”
My money is still on Ackley, but tuck away the name Tyler Matzek.