As we enter the long, dark baseball offseason (for the Mariners at least), it's nice to reflect on the old days. The M's have been on a bit of a slump for the past few years, but there's a bright future to look forward to optimistically and a colorful past to look back on nostalgically.
Since we won't see the Mariners back together again until next March, now's the time to revisit the past. Here's a trip chronologically back through the Mariners 20 best draft picks over the last 34 years.
Hendu was the Mariners first draft pick ever. He didn't make the majors until 1981, but he got progressively better during his five years in Seattle.
He was in the running for MVP in 1988 with the Oakland Athletics, but he never won anything significant. Hendu was an above-average player, but he had a great attitude toward baseball and lots of enthusiasm.
Mike Moore was a solid contributor for the Mariners during the 1980s, earning Cy Young votes in 1985 with a 17-10 record and a 3.46 ERA.
After the 1988 season, the M's let him drop to free agency. After joining the A's for the 1989 season, Moore went on to go 19-11 with a 2.07 ERA, make the All-Star team and finish third in Cy Young voting.
Langston went later than Moore in the 1981 draft and came up to the majors later, making his debut in 1984.
Over the course of his career, Langston won seven Gold Glove awards and was selected for the All-Star team four times. He had three 200-plus strikeout seasons, all with the Mariners, and his highest coming at 262 in 1987.
Langston was a staple in the M's pitching staff for five years before he was traded to the Montreal Expos for the one and only Randy Johnson.
Langston added substantial value to all of the teams for which he played in his career, but above all, the Mariners.
The beloved Al Davis, aka Mr. Mariner, won the AL Rookie of the Year Award two years after being drafted with 27 home runs, 116 RBI and a .284 average (good for a 5.6 WAR).
He played first base for the Mariners for eight years from 1984-1991, racking up 160 home runs and 683 RBI.
Billy Swift never experienced very much success with the Mariners, but after six partial seasons, he was traded to the San Francisco Giants. In his first two years with the Giants, Swift posted a 31-12 record and a 2.51 ERA, placing second in Cy Young voting in 1993.
After another season with the Giants and three more with the Colorado Rockies, Swift returned to the Mariners to pitch his final season in 1998. He went down as one of the more successful first-round draft picks in Mariners history.
Hanson pitched six relatively nondescript season with the Mariners, with one breakout season in 1990 when he won 18 games and earned an 8.0 K/9 ratio.
He was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1993, and the Mariners got fan-favorite Dan Wilson and Bobby Ayala.
Thirteen All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, seven silver sluggers and one MVP award. Fifth on the all-time home runs list. Five home runs in the famous 1995 ALDS against the New York Yankees. Consecutive 9.7 and 9.4 WAR seasons. Griffey did it all.
He was the Mariners best draft pick and is the most-loved Mariner of all time.
Here, Tino is pictured with Edgar Martinez, who I wish I could've included on this list. Tino was instrumental to the 1995 Mariners team that made the epic run into and through the playoffs, only to fall short against the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.
It was miserable to see Tino go to the Yankees, but Paul Sorrento was a decent replacement, and the Mariners experienced continued success with A-Rod, Ken Griffey and Randy Johnson.
Bret Boone was at his best when I was young and impressionable, so I'll always remember him as one of my childhood heroes. He was a key contributor to the 2001 "Magical Season," hitting 37 home runs and 141 RBI while maintaining a .331 average.
He finished third in MVP voting that year, behind teammate, Rookie of the Year, All-Star, Gold Glove and silver slugger Ichiro Suzuki and Jason Giambi, who posted a ridiculous 1.137 OPS.
Unfortunately, that was the peak of his career, and he spiraled out by 2005.
Raul wasn't drafted until Round 36 of the 1992 draft. How many 36th rounders are as successful as Ibanez has been? In terms of a bargain, Raul takes the prize.
The Mariners let him fall to free agency after the 2000 season but reclaimed him in 2003 after a stint with the Kansas City Royals. Raul did good things for the Mariners, but in bad times—the Bavasi Era.
The M's let him go again in 2008. The Philadelphia Phillies scooped him up and are squeezing the last few years out of him.
It was sad to see A-Roid leave in 2000 for money. It raises some interesting questions: how different would the Mariners be if Rodriguez was still around? Could they have won the 2001 World Series? Would the Mariners have been dominating the AL West for the past decade?
However, regardless of where he's played, A-Rod has excelled (with a little help from some PED's for a little while). He has developed into one of the most interesting personalities in baseball, and he won't be forgotten as a Mariner.
Varitek never even played a game with the Mariners, but he was a great pick. He has gone on to lead the Red Sox to two World Series titles, ending the Curse of the Bambino.
Meche, now retired, always struggled to keep his ERA down, but he earned his fair share of wins for the M's from 1999-2006, chewing up innings as he went.
JJ Putz wasn't the most popular player on the Mariners, but he did shut down the ninth quite a few times. In 2007, Putz finished with 40 saves, a 1.38 ERA and a 10.8 K/9 ratio. He actually received MVP votes as a closer and finished in voting ahead of CC Sabathia.
When Putz moved on in the 2008 three-way trade with the New York Mets and Cleveland Indians, the Mariners got present starter Jason Vargas, Endy Chavez, Aaron Heilman and Franklin "Death to Flying Things" Gutierrez.
Jones was a promising, young outfielder in his first year with the Mariners. Unfortunately, he only played 73 games in Seattle over two seasons before they traded him, along with a bunch of prospects to Baltimore for Erik Bedard.
It's a little tricky to say who got the better of that deal, since Bedard has since yielded Chi-Hsien Chiang and Trayvon Robinson, both of whom could make a big impact in the M's future. Though we wouldn't need them if we still had Adam Jones...
This was the year when nine teams passed on Tim Lincecum, not just the Mariners. Morrow has panned out decently well when you don't compare him to Lincecum. He has a great arm; he just needs to work on his location.
Ackley has already begun to make his major-league impact—one that Mariners fans hope will stretch out over the next decade. Ackley came in with the bundle of reinforcements Jack Z brought in once the Mariners started faltering and performed way above the Mariner average in his rookie season.
Next year will be his first full season, and everyone's expecting big things out of him.
Kyle Seager hasn't had much of chance to prove anything, but he's supposed to have an Ackley-esque style which would benefit the struggling Mariners. It's unclear whether or not he'll get playing time at the beginning of next season, but you can count on him to stick around for a little while. Once he's adjusted to the majors, Seager will be a dangerous hitter.
Hultzen is the newest addition to the Mariners. The M's spent their second overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft on Hultzen, passing on Anthony Rendon. Hultzen is supposed to be major-league ready by 2012, when he might earn a spot in the starting rotation alongside the dominant King Felix Hernandez and the flamethrowing phenom Michael Pineda.
Hultzen, as a lefty, would be a devastating compliment to Pineda and Felix, creating a pitching staff to be reckoned with in the AL.