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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

May 4, 2010 at 9:22 AM

The MLB draft is barely a month away; M’s don’t have a first-rounder

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Jack Zduriencik has said repeatedly that one of his top priorities since taking over as Mariners’ GM on Oct. 22, 2008, has been improving the talent-base throughout the organization.

In addressing the Northwest branch of the Associated Press sports editors yesterday, one of the questions was about the state of the Mariners’ minor-league system. Here’s what Zduriencik said:

“I can’t sit here and feel super fuzzy about it. Mac (scouting director Tom McNamara) had a good draft last year. It’s OK. We have some players. I have a little bit of concern in that you don’t have the aircraft carrier sitting in Triple-A. We don’t have — I don’t think; it would be nice if we do — a future Ryan Braun, a future Prince Fielder or a future Albert Pujols. Someone may develop into that. Maybe (Carlos) Peguero becomes something like that, maybe Dustin Ackley becomes a legitimate .300 hitter. But at this point in time, I don’t think any of us are sitting in the office saying, ‘That guy, a year from now, or two years from now, he’s going to carry us.’ I think we’re a little way away from that.”

With that frank assessment comes a press release today from MLB with details of the June amateur draft, which again will take place over three days, beginning Monday, June 7 at 4 p.m. Pacific time. It will again take place at Studio 42 of MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey and be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.com, with commissioner Bud Selig announcing each of the first-round selections.

Like last year, when Stephen Strasburg was taken No. 1 overall by the Nationals, there is a consensus No. 1 pick. The Nationals again have that No. 1 overall pick — being consistently awful has its benefits — and are expected to take 17-year-old Sports Illustrated cover boy Bryce Harper. Their general manager, Mike Rizzo, took his first look at him in person over the weekend.

Today’s press release included the official draft order. Last year, you’ll remember, the Mariners loaded up on offense, using 14 of their first 20 picks — including the first six — on bats. But whereas last year, the M’s had the 2nd, 27th and 33rd overall picks (the latter two as compensation for losing free agent Raul Ibanez to the Phillies), this year they don’t have any first-round picks. They lost theirs (the 18th overall pick) to, gulp, the Angels when they signed Chone Figgins, a Type A free agent.

The Angels, in fact, have more first-round picks than any other team, with the 18th from the Mariners, the 29th overall pick from the Red Sox in compensation for signing John Lackey, and their own pick at No. 30. The Angels have five of the first 40 picks, including two in the supplemental round between the first and second rounds as further compensation for the Figgins and Lackey signings (No. 37 for Lackey, No. 40 for Figgins).

The Mariners don’t make their first pick of the draft until No. 43 overall — a supplemental round pick that is compensation for losing Type B free agent Adrian Beltre to the Red Sox. Their next pick after that is their second-rounder, No. 67 overall. It will be interesting to see who McNamara unearths after using last year’s top three picks on Ackley (pictured above at his introductory press conference with McNamara, left, and scout Rob Mummau, right), high school shortstop Nick Franklin and high school catcher Steven Baron.

Three teams besides the Angels have multiple first-round picks: The Astros (8th and 19th), the Rangers (15th and 22nd) and Rays (17th and 31st).

The draft will have 50 rounds.

I’ll have much more as the draft nears, but I wanted to whet your appetite with this update.

(Photo by Seattle Times)

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