The MLB Draft will be here before you know it and it is time to start looking at some potential future Seattle Mariners. Today, we rank the 10 best pitchers in the upcoming draft and tell you how likely they are to be Mariners.
The 2021 draft class appears to be a solid, but not spectacular class. The Mariners currently own the 12th pick in the first round, and should nab a solid prospect who should slide their way inside the Top 10 of the Mariners prospect ranks. GM Jerry Dipoto and scouting director Scott Hunter have selected a pitcher with each of their past three first round picks and they very well could do the same this year.
You can never have enough pitching, and there will surely be some intriguing options when Seattle is officially on the clock. But before we look at some of the names, let’s quickly go over how these breakdowns will go. Instead of a lengthy scouting report, you’ll get quick notes on some of the arms, my projection on what range they’ll go, and a 0-10 scale on how likely they are to be Seattle Mariners come July. The goal is to knock out each position group and a lot can change between now and draft day. We are only taking what a prospect brings to the table, not any signability concerns. With that in mind, let’s get started.
1. Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
Jack Leiter was a first-round target of mine the last time he was draft eligible and he’s been nothing short of incredible for the best team in college baseball. He throws strikes, has 4 pitches that should all be 55-grade or better, and is a good athlete. He’s going to be in the discussion for the Pirates as #1 overall, but he’s not getting to pick 12. Odds: 0/10
2. Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
Rocker was immediately penciled in as the consensus #1 pick after the end of the 2020 draft, and it is easy to see why. Rocker has a power pitchers profile, with an upper-90’s fastball and a plus slider. There isn’t much projection left in Rocker’s frame, but he well built and throws plenty of strikes. Rocker hasn’t been as good as Leiter, and his fastball velo has dipped some recently, leaving his once firm grasp as the 1.01 shakier. Still, he’s a Top 3 pick, almost without question. Odds: 0/10
3. Ty Madden, Texas
Like Rocker, Madden is a power righty with a big-time fastball and a great slider. But Madden currently lacks a consistent, quality third pitch, though the changeup looks solid on occasion. Worse case, Madden is a dominant reliever, but his stuff and repeatable delivery make him a near lock to be selected inside the Top 10. Odds: 2/10
4. Gunnar Hoglund, Ole Miss
This might surprise some, but Hoglund has a high-floor and a reasonable ceiling. After sitting comfortably in the low-90’s the past few years, Hoglund is now sitting 93-94 and touching 97 MPH with a fastball that he backs up with an above-average slider and an average changeup that flashes. He throws strikes and uses a deceptive cross-body, 3/4 delivery to get even more fastball value. He spins the ball better than most and while he’s probably not a high-end one, he’ll almost certainly be a #3 starter. He hasn’t gotten a ton of Top 10 buzz, but he’ll go right around there, especially if he’s willing to sign underslot. Odds: 6/10
5. Andrew Painter, Calvary Christian (HS)
We finally reach our first prep arm of the list, and man, he is a good one. Painter stands at an impressive 6’7″, 220 lbs, and despite his long levers, he has a clean, low effort delivery that produces 96 MPH fastballs at 18-years-old. He has two distinct breaking balls, both appearing to be above-average, as well as a changeup that flashes plus. It isn’t common for tall prep arms to throw strikes like Painter does, giving him a higher floor than other prep arms. Odds: 6/10
6. Jackson Jobe, Heritage Hall (HS)
Jackson Jobe is an athletic prep arm that features a mid-90’s fastball and elite spin rates on his slider, which might be the single best pitch in the class. Jobe also flashes a changeup that shows promise. He’s still fairly new to pitching, having played shortstop most of his life, but his athleticism and elite spin rates make him crazy appealing. His lack of experience may scare off some teams, as well as the lack of a defined third pitch, but the upside is insane. Odds: 5/10
7. Jaden Hill, LSU
Injuries are the worst. Hill looked like a safe bet to be a Top 10 pick, but after it was announced he needed UCL surgery, Hill will have to battle to stay in the first round. When he’s healthy, Hill features what is perhaps the best right-handed changeups in the entire class, which pairs nicely with his mid-90’s fastball. He’s projectable, a good athlete, and has only just started to scratch the surface of his potential, but he missed all of 2019 with injury and now the impending TJ surgery will almost surely force him down draft boards. He’ll be a steal for somebody, but I don’t believe the Mariners will consider him at 12 without some serious bonus pool savings. Odds: 3/10
8. Ryan Cusick, Wake Forrest
Do you love tall pitchers who throw 100 MPH and can snap off nasty curveballs? Well, Ryan Cusick is your guy. Wake Forrest is one of the finest programs in the country and Cusick’s fastball is almost unanimously regarded as the best in the class. He needs to improve his control and command, and he’ll need to find more consistency on his curveball to reach his ceiling, but he’s almost certainly got the stuff to be a high-leverage reliever on the low end. His control issues will keep him out of the top 10, but Seattle typically selects pitcher with a chance to have 4 average or better offerings. He’ll likely be available to Seattle, but I think they’ll look elsewhere. Odds: 4/10
9. Jordan Wicks, Kansas State
Well after a run of eight RHP, we finally see our first southpaw. Wicks carries one of the highest floors in the class and it would be quite surprising if he doesn’t have a nice career in the back-half of a good rotation, but that doesn’t mean he’s without mid-rotation upside. Wicks has an elite changeup to go along with two solid breaking balls, each featuring good spin rates. The fastball sits in the low-90’s and he’ll touch 94, but Wicks is a control/command arm with good, but not elite stuff. He’s got the 4-pitch mix Seattle likes, giving him a good chance to be high on Seattle’s board. Odds: 7/10
10. Sam Bachman, Miami (Ohio)
I consider quite a few names here, including Florida righty Tommy Mace, Auburn’s Richard Fitts, and prep arm Chase Petty, but ultimately, the flame-throwing Sam Bachman gets the nod for me. He’s touched 100 MPH this spring and both his slider and changeup have flashed plus for extended periods. He’s a short-armer from a 3/4 arm slot, but despite some mechanical issues, he’s always been able to throw enough strikes. His issues are enough that some are convinced he’s a future reliever and his lack of a 4th pitch may lead to the Mariners looking elsewhere. But Bachman presents tremendous upside and seems like somebody the Dodgers will likely steal late in round 1. Odds: 4/10.