Here is today’s Mariner minor-league report (in a new format I’m experimenting with).
The video above is of Florida catcher Mike Zunino hitting a home run in a game against Florida Atlantic. Earlier this week, Baseball America came out with its first mock draft and had the Mariners, at No. 3, choosing Zunino. The draft is three weeks from Monday, on June 4, so we’re going to start seeing more and more speculation.
You might recall a post I had last month on high school outfielder Byron Buxton, considered by many to be the most talented player in the draft (though this is a draft without a consensus No. 1 like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper were. The Nationals definitely chose the right years to be singularly awful). The Mariners pick third, and it’s hard to say whether or not Buxton will be there.
Baseball America doesn’t think so, but they quote an American League front-office executive saying, “This is one of the most volatile, erratic and weak drafts I can remember. The college position players have got to be the weakest group in 20 years. I’ve had some veteran guys tell me it’s the worst ever.”
That said, they have the Astros, at No. 1, taking Stanford pitcher Mark Appel, with the Twins grabbing Buxton (despite speculation they are looking for someone on a faster path to the majors). According to Baseball America, that would leave the Mariners to take Zunino, regarded as the best college bat in the draft. Keith Law thinks so, rating him fourth overall in his most recent ranking of the top 100 draft prospects (which like the Baseball America mock draft is behind a pay wall, which is why I’m not linking to it). Law had Buxton first, high school shortstop Carlos Correa from Puerto Rico second, and LSU right-hander Kevin Gausman third.
Baseball America says that because the Mariners are loaded with pitching prospects, they are likely to be focusing on a hitter, and say they seem to be locked in on Buxton, Zunino and Correa, who is drawing comparisons to Troy Tulowitzki. Zunino would be an interesting choice, because they have 22-year-old Jesus Montero, but there is no guarantee he will remain a catcher.
By the way, the Baseball America mock draft has the Dodgers, with the 18th overall pick, taking North Carolina high school shortstop Corey Seager. Yes, it’s Kyle Seager’s younger brother, and yes, he also hits left handed. Here’s some video on him: