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Major League Baseball put together a much shorter than usual draft in 2020 due to world events and the Seattle Mariners look for quality over quantity to try and build their ranks. The Mariners woeful 2019 season allow them a somewhat decent #6th overall pick and a bonus compensatory pick. Dipoto went for safe picks in this draft rather than going for a reach which remains to be seen whether that was a good idea or not.
It may take 3-4 years to know if this draft class will be boom or bust and without a 2020 minor league season we will not be able to see for ourselves what these guys will look like in Everett. But in the meantime, lets take a look at the new Mariner hopefuls.
Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia. No. 6 overall
A baseball team completely bereft starting pitching talent needed to get better and fast. General Manager Jerry Dipoto faced with the task (of his own doing) to rebuild an entire pitching staff, picked a man who may be the best starting pitcher in college in Emerson Hancock.
For the 3rd year in a row, the top draft pick is a pitcher. Hancock was considered by any to be a 1st overall pick until injuries derailed his 2020 season.
“Emerson is a prototype, top-of-the-rotation pitcher package, really,” Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said to 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant. “He is a smart kid who is driven. He is very focused on what his doing, really fits culturally with what we have been trying to do over these last five years.”
Emerson had the typical Mariners appeal in a high strikeout to walk ratio with 97 Ks to just 18 walks in his sophomore season. Hancock has MLB level speed (95 mph) and a very good temperament to throw strikes. The question—as with most draft picks—is can he modify his fastball to get major leaguers out.
Zach DeLoach, OF, Texas A&M. No. 43 overall
The former Aggie made more waves in the Cape Cod league than he did in the SEC. Last summer with the Falmouth Commodores he won the batting title with a .353 batting average. He would collect 5 homers, 8 doubles, and a .428 on base percentage. While his season at A&M was shortened due to pandemic, he did have a .421 batting average in 18 games. On a team desperate for offense, DeLoach may be able to offer something to the hometown 9.
“Cape Cod was such an important event for us, especially in a draft like this,” said Scott Hunter, the Mariners director of amateur scouting. “It’s an opportunity to see the best players in the country and really see if some of these kids are trending in the right direction. And in a year where you have a shortened season because of this pandemic and limited amount of time to see these guys in 2020, looking into what they did in the Cape and seeing how they came out this spring and seeing if some of those trends and that ability were taking place was so important for us.”
Connor Phillips, RHP, McLennan CC (Texas) No 64 overall
Dipoto went to the junior college ranks and drafted 19 year old Connor Phillips. Coming out of high school, Phillips was seen as a low round draft pick and had trouble finding a D1 school to offer him. He went to JUCO and thrived and finally got an offer from his dream school LSU. He would however, gamble and enter the MLB draft. This would pay off as the M’s would select him at #64. At such a young age, the M’s will take their time developing him.
The thought by some is Phillips might be better suited for a relief role -needs a 3rd pitch- but he is only 19. M’s can give him time to develop further before making that decision. – Shannon Drayer
Kaden Polcovich, 2B, Oklahoma State. No 78 overall
The Ms took the switch-hitting Kaden to help in the middle infield. Son of former Pittsburgh Pirates Kevin Polcovich, Kaden is another Cape Cod phenom coveted by Dipoto. With a .305 average, 8 doubles, and 4 home runs and 6 stolen bases, the Cowboy does offer some skill at the plate and with the glove. He will join former Everett AquaSox Donnie Walton as the 2nd OSU Cowboy in the Mariners system.
The biggest concern is that Pokovich was dismissed from the University of Kentucky and had to go the community college route to get back to D1.
“It was my ego,” Kaden said. “I thought I was so good. Looking back, I was so dumb.” “Looking back on it, I’m just honestly so thankful for the position I’m in,” Polcovich said. “It’s been a tough journey, but now I know I can beat any adversity. I know there’s plenty of adversity down the road, but it should be interesting going forward.”
Tyler Keenan, 3B, Ole Miss. No.
It is time to think about life after Kyle Seager and Dipoto went back to the SEC again, this time picking up slugger Tyler Keenan. At 6’4, 240 pounds Tyler is a proto-typical slugger with 7 homers in just 17 games in 2002. Last year, he went .285 at the plate with 7 doubles and 15 homers in 68 games. Could it be that the Mariners somehow finally found a home run hitter?
Defense remains to be seen as to whether he stays at 3rd. He has quickness and a strong enough arm but regardless the 1st team all American can hit to all fields and is a doubles and home run machine. This may not be the “need” pick but it is a sexy pick and one that M’s fans can expect to get excited about.
Taylor Dollard, RHP, Cal Poly. 137th overall
The Mariners final pick continue to try to address the bare cupboard that is the pitching staff. Dollard is another “Control the strike-zone” guy that Dipoto loves and in 2020 he struck out 36 while walking just 4. Dollard is another guy who was a Cape Cod league standout wit 5 saves in 11 relief appearances last summer. His fastball tops out at 93 but he is more of a deceptive pitcher with good breaking pitches.
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