(The draft starts at 4 p.m. Pacific time. The first day will consist of the first 106 picks, including the first round, Competitive Balance Round A, the second round and Competitive Balance Round B. Mariners will have two picks today, No. 12 overall and No. 49 overall. I erroneously wrote earlier that the Mariners’ second pick tonight is No. 85).
The Mariners are a hard to team to predict when they have a high draft pick. For instance, two years ago, most pundits had them selecting Rice infielder Anthony Rendon with the No. 2 overall pick, and they went with Danny Hultzen. So this year, when they’re drafting No. 12 overall, it’s even harder to forecast. But here are some players that have been linked to them.
1, Shortstop J.P. Crawford, Lakewood (Calif.) HS. Baseball America has had the Mariners taking Crawford in their last three mock drafts, including the latest one this morning. He is their No. 15 overall prospect and their No. 1 ranked shortstop. He’s related to Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford, and his dad, Larry Crawford, played nine years in the Canadian Football League. Crawford is committed to USC but that doesn’t mean he won’t sign. Baseball America said of Crawford, “He projects as a solid-average or slightly better defensive shortstop and an average hitter with fringy power.”
2, Third baseman D.J. Peterson, University of New Mexico. Keith Law of ESPN links the Mariners to Peterson in his latest mock draft. He’s the No. 12 overall prospect from Baseball America, and third at third base behind San Diego’s Kris Bryant, who led the collegiate ranks in homers and will go Top 3 (maybe even first overall to the Astros) and Colin Moran of North Carolina, brother of Mariners’ pitching prospect Brian Moran. The Mariners drafted Peterson in the 33rd round in 2010 but he opted for college. He hit .408 this season with 18 homers (which is a high total in college in the era of the power-drained bats). Writes Baseball America: “While New Mexico plays at an elevation higher than Coors Field, scouts say Peterson’s power is legitimate. That’s good because defense will never be a big part of his game.” They suggest he might end up in left field or at first base.
3, Catcher Reese McGuire, Kentwood High School. He’s right in their backyard, so the Mariners have had plenty of chances to see McGuire, who is profiled in the Seattle Times today. He’s the top ranked catcher and No. 10 overall, and would go to the University of San Diego if he doesn’t sign. McGuire played third base and outfield with Team USA but he’s projected as a catcher with strong defensive skills.
4, Corner outfielder Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State. As you can see, these are all position players, as the Mariners are expected to focus on improving their hitting. He’s 6-foot-1, 216 pounds and has big-time power as well as a very strong throwing arm. Baseball America has Renfroe No. 11 overall, and the No. 1 corner outfielder.
5, First baseman Dominic Smith, Serra H.S., Gardena, Calif. A left-handed hitter with polished defensive skills and a 90 mph arm on the mound. Ranked No. 1 at first base, and No. 14 overall. BA writes, “He can be a Gold Glove defender at first base with enough offensive potential to make him an all-star.”
6, RHP Ryne Stanek, Arkansas. If the Mariners go the pitching route, they have history with Stanek. They drafted him No. 99 overall in 2010 but were unable to sign him. He’s had a nice career with the Razorbacks and has hit 98 mph on the speed gun. Ranked No. 13 by Baseball America.
7, RHP Alex Gonzalez, Oral Roberts. He’s rated the best Oral Roberts pitching prospect since Mike Moore, and the Mariners did all right with Moore as the No. 1 overall pick in 1981. He’s 6-3, 200 and hits 90 to 94 mph with his fastball.
8, RHP Phil Bickford, Oaks Christian HS, Westlake Village, Calif. He’s committed to Cal State Fullerton and will reportedly be tough to lure away from college. Scouts love his 6-4, 195-pound frame, and this year Bickford’s velocity kicked up to the 95 mph range.
9, CF Austin Meadows, Grayson HS, Loganville, GA. The Mariners would love it if Meadows is available but he’s likely to go earlier, as is Clint Frazier, another center fielder from Loganville (but from a different high school — Loganville HS). Meadows is a 6-3, 210-pound lefty with power, now ranked No. 6 overall — two spots behind Frazier. Pretty good year for the town of Loganville.
10, 3B Eric Jagielo, Notre Dame. A lefty hitter with power who finished second in the Cape Cod League last year with 13 homers. He’s improved his defense this year with the Irish. Writes BA: “While he’s a below-average runner and his agility and reactions still need improvement, scouts believe Jagielo will be able to stick at the hot corner. His actions, hands and arm all are fine for the position.”