Here is the latest Mariners’ minor-league report)
ESPN’s Keith Law, who follows the draft extremely closely, wrote today that “everyone is assuming the Mariners are going to take shortstop Marcus Littlewood at No. 43.”
No. 43 happens to be the first time the Mariners will have a selection when the draft begins on Monday. (Here is the official draft order). They lost their first-round pick (No. 18 overall) to the Angels as compensation for signing Type A free agent Chone Figgins. Seattle’s first pick is the 13th choice in the compensation round (No. 43 overall), which they get as compensation for the Red Sox signing Type B free agent Adrian Beltre.
Littlewood is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound, switch-hitting shortstop from Pine View High School in St. George, Utah. You might remember the M’s picked a high-school shortstop in the first round last year — Nick Franklin out of Lake Brantley High School in Longwood, Florida. He was the 27th overall pick and Seattle’s second first-rounder, after No. 2 overall Dustin Ackley. Franklin is off to an extremely impressive pro start with the Class A Clinton LumberKings, hitting .325 with 11 homers and 30 RBI. Not bad for someone who just turned 19 in March.
Law writes of Littlewood: “He offers the potential of a plus defender at shortstop whose bat is above-average for the position. Littlewood has some of the best hands of any position player in this draft, college or high school. He has a plus arm but can get under the ball on throws. He’s put on around 20 pounds of muscle since last summer, raising some doubts about whether he can stay at short long-term but increasing his power potential.
“He already had good rotation in his left-handed swing, a little more than he shows right-handed, and he’s cut down on the bat wrap he showed last summer, although now he’s got his hands way back and sort of drifts on to his front foot instead of coming forward strongly to start his weight transfer. He’s a fringe-average runner, but his fate in the field is more tied to his hands (which will play anywhere) and his physical growth. ”
Here is a feature story on Littlewood from yesterday’s Deseret News, which speculates that he could be the best position player ever to come out of Utah (hold the wisecracks, please). It calls him “a once-in-a-generation baseball player in Utah.” Littlewood has signed to play for the University of San Diego, but I’m sure the Mariners or anyone else wouldn’t draft him that high if they didn’t think he was signable.
Here is a scouting report and video on Littlewood from the Baseball Beginnings website.
It’s almost impossible to predict draft choices when you’re picking as low as No. 43. If this guy is as good as he sounds, I’m wondering if he’ll be available for the Mariners. We’ll find out soon enough.