Grading Day One of the Draft
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on June 7, 2006
Okay, so after you get past the disappointment of the Mariners selecting Brandon Morrow ahead of consensus top talent Andrew Miller, the Mariners had a pretty solid day drafting.
Bob Fontaine got his man, the club's third rated starting pitcher on their board after Miller and Hochevar, and M's fans should be happy about that regardless of the Miller factor.
The following might make you feel better and understand why it was a good idea to pass on Miller, though the general idea is preposterous.
Miller was not going to accept any deal south of $7 million in bonuses from the Mariners. From Miller's perspective, Seattle is a team in massive rebuild mode, has very little track record of winning and is 3000 miles from where he's lived his entire life.
So what about Detroit?
They may not have an easy time signing him, either, but they train in Florida, where Miller is from, play in Detroit, not far from where Miller's family lives and the Tigers are contenders now, and look to be for many years to come.
If you are Andrew Miller, you are surely more willing to come down on your asking price for Detroit than for Seattle.
So it would have cost Seattle at least $7 million, probably eight, just to sign him.
Imagine a free agent, any position, and I used outfield in an earlier analysis so let's do that again.
What if last winter when the M's needed a lefty stick, the best stick on the market wanted to come to Seattle, but it was going to cost nearly three times as much as the next best option, Jacque Jones?
Brian Giles for $17-18 million per year for three years or Jones at $6 million per year for three years?
That's insane money for Giles, even though he is far and away a better hitter than Jones. This town would have freaked out if the M's gave Giles $50-54 million.
And we're talking about proven talent, not draftees.
So why would the Mariners give Miller, a potential No. 1, but probably No. 2 left-handed starter $7-8 million, and endure a likely long drawn-out contract negotiation process, when they could get Morrow, a potential No. 2, probable No. 3 starter with slightly more risk for a third of the price, why wouldn't they?
Fact is, if Miller was truly never going to settle for near slot money, the Mariners did the right thing, as much as it sucks.
Another factor is the idea of busting slot by such an enormous margin. MLB and other clubs frown on that and the M's really didn't want to ruffle feathers. Miller is good, no doubt, and the best talent in the draft, but if the Mariners are going to piss off the rest of the league and MLB, he's not the player in which to test those waters.
Justin Upton or Alex Gordon, yes. AROD or Junior, sure. Those are premium talents, at the highest of the (new word alert) premiumistic spectrum.
Miller is not.
And it's not like Morrow is some slouch.
Tim Lincecum is too much of a risk for the M's, who are in no position to gamble, which left them Morrow. Personally, I would have gone with the kid at five, but I certainly understand the M's position.
Morrow is expected to ink a deal rather quickly, by the way, and probably for somewhere between $2.3 and 2.75 million dollars on a minor league contract.
Expect him to start his career in A ball with the exact assignment dependent on how early he signs. If he signs later this month, he'll probably make a "shake the rust off" start or two in Everett and then slide up to Inland Empire where his talents will be challenged.
The Mariners would like Morrow to pitch in AA by season's end which would pace him for the big leagues no more than two years from now.
While the Morrow selection was indeed wise, the pick gets a B grade. Miller would have received an A, Hochevar a B+.
The M's best selection came in round two, although they were hoping Miller's teammate Daniel Bard would slip to the 49th spot. Bard went 21 picks earlier and the M's shifted gears.
The club preferred to get a bat in round two, but there weren't any college sticks that made any sense.
Right-hander Chris Tillman was in the 20s on many clubs draft boards, and for the M's to get him at 49 was fantastic.
Yeah, I know, he's a prep pitcher and we have seen one after another go down without helping the big club much at all. Injury, off field problems, terrible performances, you name it.
But Tillman is a pretty darned good prospect.
At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Tillman's arsenal includes a fastball clocked in the 89-91 range and a power curve ball. Tillman's best attributes are easily his physical projectability, his advanced command and some very solid mechanics for a high school kid that just turned 18 in April.
He'll add pounds and likely a few mphs on the radar gun, but a smooth delivery and consistent overall mechanics bode very well for Tillman's future.
Of course, his timetable is a moot subject, but he's already the club's second best pitching prospect behind Morrow, which is both a shot at the current crop and a compliment to Tillman.
Tillman stays on top of his fastball and his four-seam heater has a natural run to it that bores in on righties and away from lefthanders.
His arm action and arm slot look a lot like that if Detroit righty Justin Verlander, if you want a comp of a current MLB pitcher – delivery only.
In round three, the M's went for a projectable lefty, Tony Butler. Butler is 6-7 and 210 pounds and regularly hits 90+ on the radar gun. Butler's secondary pitches need work but he gained a better feel for a slider late in his prep career.
Butler is a very interesting selection and will be fun to watch develop. He will certainly fill out physically and could end up in the mid-90s with his fastball. Word is that his command is pretty solid. Improving his other pitches will be numero uno.
Overall, the M's took 18 players, 14 of them were pitchers. Of those 14, 11 were from the college ranks.
Another very interesting pick came in round seven when the M's snagged Fresno State righty Doug Fister.
Fister (right) is 6-8 and 210 pounds and has a delivery very similar to that of Tillman, though not quite as smooth. He was 8-6 for the Bulldogs with an unimpressive 4.10 ERA, but hits the low 90s with his fastball and with the right adjustments may be able to sharpen his command and be a surprise steal.
In the 18th round, the M's took Kameron
Mickolio is probably a relief option.
Fun fact: M's 16th rounder Austin Bibens-Dirkx, and yes that is the correct spelling, uses a true sidearm delivery – not a submarine style, but a real, true, sidearm angle.
He's got pretty good command and is an interesting relief pitcher to keep an eye on.
Clearly, the club saw an opportunity to stock the farm with more options on the mound, and they got that job done, with a bang.
Rumor has it that if 3B Chris Marrero, OF Chris Parmelee or C/1B Max Sapp would have fallen to 49, the M's may have chosen one of the prep bats over Tillman.
But be happy that didn't happen, this club needs legit rotation candidates like Tillman.
The Tillman selection gets an A.
I had them at a C/C+ until I inquired further about Butler and fifth rounder Nathan Adcock.