I think at this point — 2 1/2 hours before the draft begins — most people expect the Mariners to take either Florida catcher Mike Zunino or high school shortstop Carlos Correa with the No. 3 overall pick.
Since the Mariners have shown a tendency to do the unexpected, here are four offensive players they could turn to if they decide to go off the beaten path:
1, Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy Charter, Hialeah, Fla.. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Almora is touted as a potential All-Star center fielder by ESPN’s Keith Law. He was named MVP of the 18-and-under Pan Am Championships in Colombia in 2011, and was the USA Baseball’s 2011 athlete of the year. Law and Baseball America both rank him No. 7 on their draft prospects list.
2, Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll HS, Corpus Christi, Texas. A very intriguing power bat. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Hawkins is committed to Texas. He can hit the ball a mile and also pitches in the low 90-mph range, but he’ll definitely be drafted as a hitter. The question seems to be how much contact he’ll make. Most believe Hawkins will end up in right field.
3, Deven Marrero, SS, Arizona State. He was once rated as a top 5 prospect but has had a disappointing season (.284-4-33). Regarded as a strong defensive player who will remain at shortstop.
4, Corey Seager, SS, Northwest Carrabus HS, Concord, N.C.Seager, on the other hand, will probably move to third base. He’s bigger already than his brother Kyle, and the idea of having the Seager brothers in a future infield has to be intriguing to the Mariners. He’s committed to South Carolina, and is rated 19th by Baseball America, 21st by ESPN.
Of course, the Mariners could go in a different direction entirely and take a pitcher, even though I still don’t see that happening. Mark Appel of Stanford is likely to be gone to Houston, but if the Twins then take Buxton, the Mariners would have the choice of all the remaining pitchers, such as Kyle Zimmer, RH, San Francisco; Kevin Gausman, RH, LSU; the teammates at Harvard-Westlake HS, LH Max Fried and RH Lucas Giolito (who was consensus top three until an elbow injury this season), and the name that won’t go away, Oklahoma State LH Andrew Heaney.
We won’t have to wait much longer.