Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara stopped by the dugout this afternoon to discuss some of the team’s eight picks from today’s second day of the baseball entry draft.
The Mariners selected outfielder/catcher Tyler O’Neill from Garabaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge, B.C., a Vancouver suburb known as the hometown of Larry Walker. O’Neill, who will be used as a right fielder by the Mariners, played for the Canadian Junior National Team, which did much of its training in Florida and Arizona this spring. Because of that, they got to play some exhibition games against Class A type opponents and afforded McNamara and other scouts the chance to see what guys like O’Neill could do versus high caliber opponents.
“We saw him really handle some really good pitching,” McNamara said. “Older guys that didn’t care who he was. They went right after him. And it was really good to see.”
O’Neill has been compared intensity-wise to Brett Lawrie of the Blue Jays, who remains among the all-time favorite guys scouted by McNamara.
“I’ve heard the similarities,” McNamara said. “I don’t like to put a tag on that. Their confidence and their strength, I can see the comparison. With Lawrie, Lawire was a catcher too in high school but he wasn;t a guy you thought was going to catch. He was OK. That’s where the similarities are — they’re both strong and we took Tyler (O’Neill) because of his bat potential. But he’s athletic enough to play the corners and maybe first base or third base. And I wouldn’t rule out catching, but right now, we took him as a right fielder. The bat is something I’d rather see him develop in the outfield than as a catcher.”
Another interesting tidbit is that O’Neill’s father, Terry, is a former Mr. Canada — as in the bodybuilding type.
The team’s fourth round pich was left-handed pitcher Ryan Horstman of St. John’s University. He redshirted the 2012 season, then went 6-6 with a 2.33 ERA in 16 outings this past season.
McNamara said the team wasn’t worried with the one-year layoff Horstman had between competitive stints or the fact that he’s already 24.
“He’s a older guy,” McNamara said, “but lefties with a breaking ball…there are certain rounds in your mind where you go ‘We need some left-handed pitching.’ I mean, we took (Brian) Moran in ’09 in the seventh round. And I know in the industry, there are a few people who were like ‘Hey, that’s pretty high for a left-hander. He’s doing pretty well in AAA, but he’s not a guy who throws 92 or 95. He’s a lefty with deception and a breaking ball. It’s always nice to have a couple of left-handers.”
The Mariners took shortstop Jack Reinheimer out of East Carolina University with their fifth round pick, catcher Corey Simpson from Sweeny High School was the 6th rounder. LHP Tyler Olson from Gonzaga went in Round 7, shortstop Tyler Smith of Oregon State went in Round 8, LHP Jacob Zokan from College of Charleston was the 9th rounder and RHP Emilio Pagan was taken in Round 10.