The Mariners made an interesting choice in the third-round, taking outfielder Tyler O’Neill from Garibaldi High School in Maple Ridge, B.C. When I hear Maple Ridge, I immediately think of Larry Walker, who came out of that town and had a great career. But the comparison most often made with O’Neill is to Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays (who was drafted by Jack Zduriencik with the Brewers). Both played on the Langley Blaze travel team as high schoolers. O’Neill is committed to Oregon State, so we’ll have to see if he wants to start his pro career now or go to college.
Baseball America has O’Neill listed as their No. 69 overall prospect — as a catcher. But according to MLB.com, a hernia forced him to move to shortstop last year. And the Mariners drafted him as a right fielder, so it looks like there is some options. He’s a big kid — 6-0, 200 pounds, the son of a former Mr. Canada bodybuilder (Terry O’Neill) according to MLB.com, which writes that Terry “taught O’Neill about weight lifting. At 6-feet, 200 pounds, he is solidly built and earned the nickname Tank. He is an aggressive hitter and should develop good power.”
He made the Canadian Junior National Team. Here’s a story about him in the Maple Ridge newspaper in which he says, “If I’m not playing ball or studying, I’m lifting weights,” he says. “I don’t take days off.”.
FOURTH ROUND: The Mariners take LHP Ryan Horstman, who just finished his freshman year at St. John’s. Here’s a story about him from his hometown newspaper in South Hadley, Mass. Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara, who went to Dominican College in New York, is fond of Northeast college players. Horstman was 6-6 with a 2.33 ERA in 65 2/3 innings for St. John’s, where he was used as both a starter and reliever. He struck out 56. He’s not on the list of Baseball America’s Top 500 prospects.
Horstman is 6-2, 190 pounds and had a brilliant senior high school season, going 6-0 with a 0.25 ERA to lead South Hadley HS to the title. But he had academic difficulties and had to repeat his senior year, while ineligible for the baseball team. That caused pro teams and colleges to back off, though St. John’s kept its scholarship on the table.
“When you don’t do things for a while, it makes you realize how much you love the game,” he told the newspaper. “I’m loving it more and more and it’s making me more attached. I never thought about giving up on baseball. Baseball is my life. It was frustrating but I was never going to give up. I feel very proud of everything I’ve done off the field to get back.”
FIFTH ROUND: Mariners take shortstop Jack Reinheimer from East Carolina University. This is a very weak crop of college shortstops, with Reinheimer near the top of the list despite mediocre offensive statistics (..274, two homers). He is rated strong defensively, and was Baseball America’s No. 153 overall prospect. In that light, he went right about where he should have (No. 147).
Here’s what MLB.com says: “Reinheimer stands to benefit from the dearth of impact college shortstops in this year’s Draft. He is well-regarded as a defender and scouts believe he has a chance to remain a shortstop as a professional. Reinheimer has an average arm and makes all the routine plays. He has good instincts in the field, which helps his tools play up. Offensively, Reinheimer isn’t as advanced. He has a good approach, but produces minimal power. Reinheimer may be destined for a utility role, but it won’t be for lack of effort. He earns high marks for his makeup and effort.”
SIXTH ROUND: The Mariners take Corey Simpson from Sweeny High School in Sweeny, Texas. He caught in high school but the Mariners announced that they were selecting him as a right fielder. He’s 6-3, 220 pounds and has tremendous raw power, scouts say. Simpson is committed to the University of Houston.
Here’s what MLB.com says: “Simpson stands out for his raw power, which is rated among the best in this year’s Draft class. He has a big swing and won’t get cheated at the plate, but his approach can lead to strikeouts. Simpson needs his power to carry him because he has a lot of work to do to stay behind the plate as a professional. He is a below-average receiver and, at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, may simply be too big to catch. Simpson turned 19 in December and will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2015 if he upholds his commitment to Houston.”
Baseball America rates him No. 218.
SEVENTH ROUND: The Mariners stay in-state to pick left-handed pitcher Tyler Olson out of Gonzaga, a redshirt senior. He attended University High School in Spokane. Olson turns 24 in October, older than most draft picks. He was selected in the 17th round last year by Oakland but didn’t sign. Here’s the MLB.com scouting report:
“Olson, a fifth-year senior out of Gonzaga, has loose and easy mechanics that allow his fastball — which usually sits in the 84-89 mph range — to sneak up on hitters, largely thanks to his pinpoint location. He challenges hitters at a steady pace, using a lethal curveball and a strong changeup as his predominant off-speed weapons. He’s a fairly stoic competitor who doesn’t show much emotion — good or bad — and goes about his business striking out hitters. He was drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft.”
Olson made 14 starts for the Zags and had five complete games. He was 9-4 with a 2.48 ERA, striking out 91 in 101.2 innings, with 31 walks.
EIGHTH ROUND: Mariners stay in the Northwest to pick Oregon State shortstop Tyler Smith, a senior shortstop. Smith is 6-0, 194 pounds and went to high school in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He hit .301 this season for the Beavers but had just 11 extra-base hits (two homers) in 193 at-bats.
NINTH ROUND: Mariners take College of Charleston left-handed pitcher Jake Zokan, who went 4-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 17 games (14 starts). He struck out 80 in 79 innings with 15 walks.
10TH ROUND: The Mariners selected right-handed pitcher Emilio Pagan of Belmont Abbey College (if you know what city that’s in, give yourself 10 points*). He was 1-5 with four saves and a 4.50 ERA in 34 innings. In 2012, he recorded a team-high 13 saves while tossing 21.1 scoreless innings in 18 relief appearances. He also hit .287 with 10 doubles, three triples, four homers and 29 RBI in 143 at-bats.