2011 MLB Draft: 10 Best Options for Mariners With No. 2 Overall Pick
The Mariners have the second-overall pick in the draft. This means they can get almost any player they want.
The Pirates can literally get any player they want. While third baseman Anthony Rendon appears to be the consensus overall pick, the Pirates might find pitching a bigger need and go after Gerrit Cole.
We'll see what the Pirates do, but the Mariners are sure to know who their second pick will be should their first fall off the board.
Here's a look at the top 10 players that could help them. I'd bank on the final three being the players Jack Zduriencik and his team scouts want the most.
C Blake Swihart, Texas
Swihart is 6'0", 170 lbs. A freshman in college, he's not very big right now, but he's projected to fill out his frame. He's got a plus arm, and his release rates high as well.
His bat speed and raw power rate high now, and should improve as he gets bigger and stronger.
C Nick Delmonico, Georgia
Another college freshman, but at 6'3" 210 lbs, Delmonico is already a big kid.
He's also played some shortstop, so he is athletic. He has a strong arm, but he's shown some trouble with inside pitches. He can hit from the left side, though, which is a plus and fits well for Safeco Field.
INF Christian Lopes
At 6'0" 185 lbs, Lopes has more of a middle infielder build than Esposito.
He's just finishing high school, so he could end up opting to develop in college, but he already profiles as a low first-round type of guy.
He has shown good patience and strike-zone understanding. The bat speed is good as well. He doesn't have a ton of range, though, so he may end up being more of a second-base candidate in the future.
INF Jason Esposito, Vanderbilt
Esposito had a solid sophomore season, hitting .359/.453/.599 with 12 home runs.
He may end up projecting as more of a third-base type, but he has the athleticism to play up the middle also. His stock has risen considerably since being drafted in Round 7 in 2008.
OF George Springer, Connecticut
At 6'3", 200 lbs, Springer has good size with natural power.
However, his speed and his arm aren't rated very highly. Therefore, he's likely to be a left-field candidate.
He batted .337 in 2010 with a .491 OBP. Swatting 18 home runs and walking 60 times, he showed a solid combination of patience and power. He's projected as a middle first-round pick.
LHP Danny Hultzen, Virginia
Hultzen is 6'2" and 195 lbs, and he is the crafty lefty of the group of pitchers.
His fastball is only in the upper 80s, but he's shown great control and pitch selection. He uses a curve, changeup and split finger.
In his sophomore campaign, he started 16 games, winning 11. His ERA sat at 2.78 in 106 innings. He struck out 123, and only walked 24.
If he ends up in a Mariners uniform, Safeco Field would be very nice to him; it is nice on soft-tossing lefties.
RHP Sonny Gray, Vanderbilt
At 6'0" 196 lbs, Gray is a right-hander who reaches the mid 90s with his fastball.
He was a high school quarterback with good athleticism, and he has even shown power potential at the plate. He does figure to be a high-to-middle first-round selection as pitcher, though.
He started 16 games, winning 10 and sporting a 3.48 ERA. He issued 48 walks while striking out 113.
RHP Gerrit Cole, UCLA
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Selected 28th overall by the Yankees in 2008, Gerrit Cole decided to go to college, and it seems to have paid off. He's now projected high in mock drafts, and there's good reason for it.
He's a big kid at 6'4", 215 lbs. While leading the Bruins to the NCAA College World Series finals, Cole's 2010 season included an 11-4 record while sporting a 3.34 ERA and 153 strikeouts. His fastball sits in the mid 90s.
Why He Fits:
After Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, the Mariners don't have a lot of starting pitching arriving any time soon. There are some guys in the low minors with upside, but pitchers develop just as inconsistently as they perform once they reach the majors.
Cole could be the best option if the Mariners decide they want a big arm that can be in the majors soon.
LHP Matt Purke, TCU
Like Gerrit Cole, Matt Purke was drafted and opted to stay in school. The Rangers made Purke their first-round pick (14th overall) in 2011, and he reportedly turned down a $4 million signing bonus to pitch for the Horned Frogs.
Purke went a perfect 16-0 in 2010, with a 3.02 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 116.1 innings.
Why He Fits:
With his 6'4" frame, and a fastball that sits between 94-96 mph, Purke is the left-handed option if you don't get, or want, Cole. His command of multiple pitches has been compared to Cole Hamels, but with the arm strength of a Clayton Kershaw.
Not to mention, a fireballer with good command from the left side is never a terrible option.
3B Anthony Rendon, Rice
Projected as the best hitter in a draft class that will be loaded with pitchers at the top, Anthony Rendon has lots of tools. His defense rates well at third, and he has a strong arm and good range.
The problem, of course, is that the Mariners have the second pick, not the first.
The Pittsburgh Pirates will likely select Rendon. But with the Pirates' revenue issues, there's always a chance that they don't think they can sign him, and let him fall into the Mariners' lap.
Why He Fits:
Chone Figgins figures to move back to third for 2011, but he likely won't be around for more than a couple more seasons.
The minor-league system lacks a third baseman with both a strong bat and excellent defense. Matt Mangini and Matt Tuiasosopo both have had chances, and neither impressed nor project well moving forward. Carlos Triunfel could slide over to third, and Alex Liddi has some upside, but none project the way Rendon does as an all-around player.
Oh, and the Mariners sort of need offense.