The first round of the draft, plus the supplemental round, will commence at 4 p.m. Pacific time. But it will be a good, long while before the M’s first pick, No. 43 overall, comes around. I will have a live draft thread going as soon as I get to Safeco Field and set up shop.
Just for fun, I decided to do a decidedly unfair exercise: Take each Mariners’ top pick since 2001 and look at who they could have had instead. It’s unfair, because hindsight is 20-20, and every team in baseball has let superstars get past them.
But I’m going to do it anyway.
2001: M’s pick SS Michael Garciaparra with No. 36 overall pick. Just about all Garciaparra had going for him, as it turned out, was his name. He never showed much in the minors and never made it to the major leagues. But two picks later, at No. 38 overall, the Mets hit it big with a first baseman out of Hickory High School in Chesepeake, Virginia, named David Wright. And twenty-nine teams are kicking themselves for not taking Ryan Howard, a first baseman from Southwest Missouri State, who went in the fifth round.
2002: The Mariners take 1B John Mayberry Jr., a first baseman from Kansas City, at No. 28 overall. Mayberry didn’t sign and went to college at Stanford, and was later taken again in the first round by Texas. He had a brief time in the majors with the Phillies, but hasn’t made an impact. Most of the players taken in the immediate aftermath didn’t make it, including catcher Jeremy Brown at No. 39, who was a focal point of the book “Moneyball.” About the only player in the first or supplemental round picked after Mayberry to have an impact was Mark Teahen (No. 39 by the A’s). But if you go a little further, you find Joey Votto picked by the Reds at No. 44, and, most glaringly, Tacoma’s Jon Lester taken by the Red Sox at No. 57. Also, catcher Brian McCann taken by the Braves at No. 64.
2003: The Mariners took outfielder Adam Jones at No. 37, which has proven to be a good pick. They could have had Andre Ethier,who went to the A’s at No. 62, or Shaun Marcum, who went to the Jays at No. 80.
2004: The Mariners didn’t have a pick until the third round, when they went for Matt Tuiasosopo. I don’t see any glaring misses in the vicinity.
2005: This is the killer draft for the M’s. They had the No. 3 overall pick, and we can say now they botched it, picking USC catcher Jeff Clement. Clement could still carve out a nice career, but he’s hitting under .200 for the Pirates as we speak. Meanwhile, the Mariners passed on Ryan Zimmerman (No. 4), Ryan Braun (No. 5), Ricky Romero (No. 6), Troy Tulowitzki (No. 7), Mike Pelfrey (No. 9), Andrew McCutchen (No. 11), Jay Bruce (No. 12), Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 23), Matt Garza (No. 25), Colby Rasmus (No. 28) and Clay Buchholz (No. 42). Ouch.
2006: This was the infamous Tim Lincecum draft. He went No. 10 to the Giants. Brandon Morrow went No. 5 to the Mariners. This has been wept over enough. The M’s coudl have also had Clay Kershaw, who went No. 7 to the Dodgers, Max Scherzer (No. 11 to the Diamondbacks), Travis Snider (No. 14 to the Jays), Ian Kennedy (No. 21 to the Yankees), Daniel Bard (No. 28 to the Red Sox), or Joba Chamberlain (No. 41 to the Yankees.
2007: The M’s picked Phillippe Aumont with the No. 11 overall pick, bypassing — double ouch — Jason Heyward (No. 14 to the Braves). Also, Rick Porcello (No. 27 to the Tigers). Do you think Heyward would look pretty good in the M’s lineup right now.
I’m going to stop there because the verdict is still out on the last two drafts (reliever Josh Fields No. 20 overall in 2008, Dustin Ackley No. 2 overall last year). That should give you something to chew over while we all await the Mariners’ first pick of 2010.