Greetings from the plush and palatial Coutryard Marriott in St. Petersburg, Florida. Yes, it’s as nice as it sounds. We’ll do a little live draft blog here. The Mariners pick sixth, which should be around 4:30ish. The draft is being televised on MLB Network.
They also have the 74th pick tonight – a competitive balance B pick.
Here’s the lengthy preview blog from earlier.
What is a competitive balance B pick? Well in the simplest of terms – it’s an extra pick after the compensatory picks for teams who weren’t very good last season and had decreased payroll. Those teams then enter a lottery for order of those picks.
Here’s a more detailed description from MLB.com
A quick reminder that the selection decisions are made by director of amateur scouting Tom McNamara. Obviously GM Jack Zduriencik has plenty of input. He usually also scouts each of the top candidates personally with McNamara on numerous occasions.
Here’s a list of the Mariners top draft picks
7:08 p.m. — It’s amazing how bad Bud Selig can make a really nice suit look.
7:10 p.m. — A quick programming note …. if you aren’t a big draft person – and that’s completely understandable. The Rainiers will be playing on CBS Sports network later tonight from Cheney Stadium. They are playing the Albuquerque Isotopes. Matt Palmer gets the start on the mound for Tacoma
7:14 p.m. — The Astros take LHP Brady Aiken from Cathedral Catholic HS in San Diego with the first pick overall. Here’s his MLB.com scouting video Aiken tells MLB network that he surfs, does CrossFit and doesn’t listen to music before his starts. I’m sure he got his #WOD in today. I wonder if he posts it on Facebook every day and offers paleo recipes. Sorry, minor crossfit rant there.
7:20 p.m. — The Marlins take RHP Tyler Kolek out of Shepherd HS in Texa with the second pick. Here’s his MLB.com scouting video.
7:25 p.m. — The White Sox take LHP Carlos Rodon out of NC State with the third pick. Rodon was considered the favorite to be the top pick going into this season. But he fell a little with some injury and command issues. Here’s his MLB scouting video.
7:30 p.m. — Looking like the Mariners may be taking a position player. They had C/OF Alex Jackson rated very high on their board (that’s my scout speak). People are projecting Jackson as a corner outfielder more than a catcher.
7:32 p.m. — Several sources are reporting on the Twitter, including Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the Cubs will be taking C-OF Kyle Schwarber out of Indiana University. Without looking, I’m willing to lay some money down that Schwarber is represented by Scott Boras. Any bets? None? I didn’t think so.
I actually watched Schwarber play this season at spring training with Larry Stone and Tim Booth. We went to watch the Pac-12/Big-10 challenge at Surprise Stadium. Schwarber hit a grand slam against UW that took like one second to leave the park.I think he also legged out double. Schwarber went 4-for-5 that day. I remember texting with Chris Crawford about how well he ran for a catcher.
Cubs make the selection official. Here’s scouting video
7:40 p.m. — The Twins take SS Nick Gordon with the fifth pick of the draft. As has mentioned often, he is the younger brother of Dee Gordon and son of Tom “Flash” Gordon. Here’s his MLB video. Here’s some more video.
7:41 p.m. — the M’s are on the clock!
7:47 p.m. — As expected, the Mariners take C/OF Alex Jackson out of Rancho Bernardo High School in Escondido, Calif. Here’s his MLB video. And here’s some more video. And some more video. I’d be surprised if they kept Jackson as a catcher.
7:53 p.m. – RHP Aaron Nola of LSU gets taken by the Phillies with the No. 7 pick.
7:58 p.m. — Rockies take lefty Kyle Freeland out of Evansville. Great scene as he cries while getting the hug from his family. Colorado kid gets to maybe one day play for the Rockies. Here’s some video on it.
8:06 p.m. — from the Baseball America scouting report on Alex Jackson …
Area Scout: Myron Pines
Pick analysis: The draft played out very well for the Mariners, who were known to covet Jackson, the best high school hitter in the class. Jackson could have went in the top three. Jackson is the first high school player taken by the Mariners since Nick Franklin in 2009.
Scouting report: Jackson burst onto the national scene in 2012, when he led California prep players with 17 home runs as a sophomore, then put on a show at the Area Code Games that summer. In the two years since, the Oregon commit has cemented himself as one of the top power bats in the draft class, and a lock to become Rancho Bernardo’s sixth first-round pick in the last 20 years, following in the footsteps of Hank Blalock and Cole Hamels. Jackson’s muscular 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame is packed with present strength. He stands out most for his plus to plus-plus righthanded power potential, but he also has a solid approach and drives the ball with authority to the middle and opposite fields. He has a loose swing, electric bat speed and a knack for making hard contact. Jackson has another premium tool in his arm, which grades out as plus or even plus-plus, depending on which scout you ask. If an organization wants to develop him as a catcher, most scouts think Jackson can become a solid defensive backstop in time, but his receiving and blocking need plenty of work. He’ll have an impact bat no matter where he plays, so a team could fast-track him by putting him in right field, and he also has flashed promise at third base. He’s a below-average runner but not a clogger.
8:12 p.m. — Falling behind on the picks a little as I try to write a quick story for the website. The Blue Jays took RHP Jeff Hoffman out of East Carolina with the ninth pick. The Mets took Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto with the 10th pick.
8:20 p.m. — Found this stat on Jackson from the San Diego U-T …. in 112 plate appearances, he has struck out just seven times. He hit 47 home runs in his prep career
8:24 p.m. — From the Mariners release …
Jackson, 18, hit .400 (40×100) with a 1.459 OPS and 45 runs scored, 7 doubles, 4 triples, 11 home runs, 31 RBI in 35 games during his senior season at Rancho Bernardo High School. Jackson helped lead Broncos to a 30-4 record and a No. 1 ranking heading in the playoffs this year, but were elminated in the semifinals by La Costa Canyon Tuesday night. The Bronocs were rated as the 6th-best team in the nation by Baseball America in 2014. Other noteable high draft picks out of Rancho Bernardo include Cole Hammels (17th overall in 2002) and Hank Blalock (3rd round in 1999)
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was primarily a catcher in high school and was rated by Baseball America as the top position player in the draft (4th overall prospect). Jackson was also named to the 2014 Perfect Game First Team All-American and California All-Region First Team after his senior season.
In four seasons with Rancho Bernardo, Jackson batted .375 (150×400) with 156 runs scored, 35 doubles, 6 triples, 47 home runs and 127 RBI in 135 games with the Broncos. His 47 prep career home runs tied him with former Indians prospect Johnny Drennen (2002-05) for the all-time San Diego section record. Jackson had 5 homers as a freshman, 17 as a sophomore, 14 as a junior and 11 during his senior season. Jackson’s team played for California’s San Diego section championship in all four of his high school seasons, including winning the championship during his freshman and junior seasons.
8:31 p.m. — We talk with Jackson via conference call in about eight minutes. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays took C Max Pentecost out of Kennesaw State with 11th pick. The Brewers took LHP Kodi Medeiros out of Waiakea High School in Hawaii with the 12th pick. The Padres took SS Trea Turner out NC State at No. 13.
8:41 p.m. — Here’s some quotes from Tom McNamara on Jackson.
(did it fall how you wanted?) “Yes it did. We just follow our board. Line ‘em up, and he was the guy at that pick, so we were pretty excited in that room.”
(Outfielder?) “Yeah. That’s how we look at him down the road.”
(Have you seen him play outfield?) “We’ve seen him play multiple positions but we think down the road that outfield is going to be his best position. He’s a pretty good catcher, too. He’s an athletic kid. He can do a lot of different things. We like the bat.”
(What do you like besides the power?) “We like his hit-ability mixed with his power. He’s not just a one-dimensional hitter. He’s a combination of both and we’ve been scouting him for the last three years, all summer, fall and spring, and like I said before, we were very happy that he was there when we made our selection.”
(Where on your board?) “He was pretty high up there. So obviously he was pretty high up there. We set up our board. We’ve been in here for about 10 days, going back and forth, different scenarios. We made the pick during our selection and we picked the player we wanted to take.”
(Track to the majors?) “He’s a high school kid. We look at him as an advanced high-school player because of the high-school baseball program that he’s at is one of the top ones in California, and he’s gone through the circuit through the last summers of all the travel teams, so we classify him as an advanced player, because he already has a feel of what it’s like to be on the road and traveling and playing with different players and playing against different teams and being in different countries.”
(Does that mean he’s a High-A type player?) “I think it’s too early to determine that. We’re just happy with the fact that we selected him, and his career is going to go where it’s going to go.”
8:59 p.m. — Here’s some comments from Jack Zduriencik
(Saw him once): Good looking kid. He’s got an outstanding arm. He could catch, if you wanted him to catch. He could do that. But I do think kin the scenario here, with a young catcher in the big leagues with us now, and this kid’s bat potential, the fact he throws so well – he has a terrific arm – let the bat do the talking for him. I think by playing him in the outfield to start with, let’s see how things go. We can always put him back behind the plate, because he does have the ability to play there. But I just think because we think the bat’s going to play quicker, I think that’s a better way to get him out there, let him swing the bat, let him get transitioned to the OF, and go from there.
Corner infield: He did. He played some third base. That was a discussion in the room – is this kid a a third baseman, a catcher, a left fielder. He probably has the ability to play all three. But I do think as you look at the organization, what might be best for all of us and him as well, just put him in the OF to start with, and go from there.
Not many power bats: Yeah, you’ve noticed. It’s difficult. It really is. Especially a right-handed bat. We’ve talked about that a lot. We’re talking about it now. It’s funny, I remember years ago it was LH bats, trying to find a really good LH hitter. Now it just seems it’s the RH bat that’s at a premium. The game’s changed a little bit, and you look at this kid that’s been playing in all these showcases for several years, he’s traveled all over the country, been in every major event possible, comes from a great HS program, you look at the big leaguers that have come out of there. This was intriguing to us and very happy to select this player.
More knowledge about HS guys now: That’s a good question, because there are a lot of opportunities for them to play in these big-profile games and tournaments. I do think in the summer time and fall when scouts are out looking at these players, they do see them against the best competition. You sit with these guys nowadays and ask who’s the best guy you played against, and the kids from Calif talk about a kid from Texas, or a kid from the NE or a kid from Florida. SO they all know each other, they’ve been exposed, and when they perform, that’s impressive to see.
Signability: I think he wants to play. I think any time you take a HS player, you always have that, but when you take a player this high, how many opportunities does any player, anywhere, ever get to be taken in the top 10 picks in the draft. How are you going to better yourself? By the time he gets through Oregon, he may very well be a big leaguer. I think that’s important, and I think his desire is to play pro ball.
Corner OF: Yeah, because he throws so well. He has a well above average arm. I do think RF would be the first place you’d look for him. The comparison to Wil Myers, I see that, although this kid was drafted considerably higher than Wil Myers was drafted. We’ll see. We’ll let the pieces fall where they may. Get him out there, get him playing, get him signed first. Exciting to watch him.
Harper: You hear all these comparisons. That’s something I always ask the guys, who do you compare him to. There were a lot of nice names that came up. I go back to Area Code Games in Calif, some of the best players ever came out of there, our scouts had comparisons with several palyers. You don’t put a label on guys, but there’s similarities to a lot of pretty good young hitters that were advance for HS kids.
9:07 p.m. — Here’s some comments from Jackson
On his feeling tonight: It’s one of those feeling that’s hard to explain in words. The emotions that run through your body and time you are spending with your family. It’s one of those things where I’m truly blessed. I can’t really describe how I feel.
Playing outfield: “I just want to get out there and play baseball whether it’s in the outfield, or behind the plate. I’ve played multiple positions my whole life. I played outfield as a freshman, got switched to catcher and still played some outfield
Experience playing multiple positions: When I went all the showcases, I played outfield, third and caught as well. It’s nothing extra ordinary for me.
What did he learn from playing them: It has shown how good versatility is not only in sports, but life in general. I’ve learned different control in certain situations.
Transition to wood bats: I’ve swung a wood bat for a while now. I used wood in games. A bat’s bat. I just got out there have fun hit the ball hard.
On when he’ll decide between signing with the M’s or going to Oregon: Right now, I have no idea about that.
9:26 p.m. — here’s the updated picks that I’ve missed — it’s been a lot of them.
9:28 p.m. — We like our polls at the Times … here’s another one
9:36 p.m. — Here’s some b-roll film the Mariners sent out.
[do action=”brightcove-video” videoid=”3608328960001″/]
10:20 p.m. –– Writing up stuff on Jackson for the paper. Did you know he was born on Christmas Day in 1995 … I was in college. I am old.
10:32 p.m. — So the first round is finally over. Here’s the updated draft board. The next sets of picks should go by faster with only one minute in between. Though it will take Bud Selig at least one minute to announce each pick.
10:37 p.m. — Peter Gammons loves him some Forrest Wall, who was taken with the 35th pick by the Rockies out of Orangewood Christian in Florida. Pick No. 36: The Marlins picked C Blake Anderson out of West Lauderdale HS in Mississippi. Kind of cool to see Andre Dawson announce that pick. Then it’s kind of cool to see anyone other than Selig.
10:41 p.m. — Two Virginia outfielders Derek Fisher (No. 37 to the Astros ) and Mike Papi (No. 38 to the Indians) were the next picks.
10:43 p.m. — Steve-O, er, Jack Wilson just made the last pick for the Pirates, who took Connor Joe, who is a first baseman probably being converted to a catcher. Remember when Jack Wilson played infield for the Mariners? The only think I remember is how much he liked soccer, which made me skeptical of him.
11 p.m. –– Here’s some video of Alex Jackson hitting a baseball out of Wrigley Field.
11:08 p.m. — Here’s results of the competitive balance round A
12 a.m. …. the Mariners are finally on the clock.
12:01 a.m. — With the 74th pick, the Mariners took Gareth Morgan of Blyth Academy in Ontario. He’s a power hitting outfielder that’s very raw. Here’s a story on him from MLB.com. Here’s some video of Morgan and here’s a video scouting report as well.