Might the Mariners charm one of these players away from a college commit and into Andy McKay’s School of High Performance?
The first day of the draft has come and gone and the Mariners took a conservative tack with their first three picks, going with high-floor college arms at 20, 59, and 77. While Elon’s George Kirby was a consensus first-rounder and Arkansas’ Isaiah Campbell was well-regarded as a comp-to-second round choice, TCU’s Brandon Williamson was viewed as a stretch at 59; he was listed at 83 on MLB Pipeline, 86 on Baseball America, and all the way at 138 on FanGraphs. This might indicate that Williamson will agree to sign under slot value, and with Kirby and Campbell most likely signing at or slightly underslot, that should free up some money for the Mariners to splash on an intriguing prep prospect.
There are a few players we aren’t covering because, even though we’d love them, they’re expected to be difficult signs (LHP Hunter Barco, OF Maurice Hampton, OF Jerrion Ealy) or downright impossible ones (Matthew Allan, Jack Leiter, Brooks Lee). A lack of inclusion on this list doesn’t mean we’d be disappointed by any other picks, of course; these are just a few names who clearly stand out.
SS Michael Curialle, JSerra Catholic HS (CA)
Michael Curialle is on the board with two hits in his first two ABs for @JSerraLionsBB at @TheBorasClassic. HH 1B first time up and this rocket double to bring home two. Plus bat speed with above average run and throw too. Toolsy prospect. #mlbdraft pic.twitter.com/J49Pa1eKIu
— Vinnie Cervino (@vcervinoPG) March 26, 2019
Are you dispirited by the prospect of seeing Seattle rumored to go with a prep infielder only to see them choose a high-floor RHP? Then join me in the Michael Curialle fan club. The successor to Royce Lewis at shortstop for SoCal powerhouse JSerra Catholic, Curialle is a beefy 6’3, 200 lbs R/R shortstop, with the size and strength of a player far his senior. His combination of power, strength, and athleticism make him a tricky player to peg for a signing bonus. He’d likely command an over-slot figure, but inarguably his ceiling is that of a five-tool SS or 3B. Depending on what the Mariners have been able to save with their series of college arms, they might have enough overflow to make a splash like Curialle. ~JT
SS Brennan Milone, Woodstock HS (GA)
Once again, not to be confused with the also-appealling-but-already-taken RHP Brennan Malone, Milone is a bat-first SS who might ultimately slot into 2B or 3B, but has the type of hit tool to excel if he can hack it up the middle. He’s been scouted intensely on high-level circuits and held up to the criticism, showing consistent production against competition higher than many of the names on this list. While it’d be best to see Milone stick at short, the Mariners aren’t flush at any infield position for depth, and Milone could boost them all. ~JT
SS Myles Austin, Westlake HS (GA)
A Georgian brethren for Milone; where Milone is refined, Austin is projectable. The 6’3, 184 Austin has eye-catching bat speed and above-average foot speed that have helped him outperform his shaky contact and inconsistent game power. Biting on Austin would be an investment in the top-notch tools that only emerge at times, which is something this front office has done on occasion, but not as a rule. ~JT
Can definitely catch:
C Ethan Hearn, Mobile Christian (AL)
Hearn was considered to be the best prep defensive catcher, so it’s a little surprising he wasn’t selected on Day One—although only four catchers were selected, none of them preps. Hearn is a big strong backstop with plenty of arm strength but enough athleticism to produce a sub-2 pop time. As for the bat, he has plenty of raw power but the hit tool is a question mark, making him not unlike another beloved burly backstop in Seattle’s recent past. Hearn is committed to Mississippi State and at this point will likely require a hefty sum to lure him away from the siren song of the SEC. -KP
Hey, maybe he can catch:
C/3B/2B/SS? Tyler Callihan, Providence HS (FL)
The good: 6’1 and strongboy, Callihan has one of the best prep bats in the class, able to hit for average and power, and has been able to hit against some of the top prep pitching on the showcase circuit. The bad: Callihan doesn’t have a defensive home. He’s played all over the diamond but hasn’t stuck anywhere; recently he’s been learning how to catch, and might be able to stick there thanks to an intense work ethic. The Mariners certainly aren’t scared of a catching conversion, but as one of the best prep bats available, it’s surprising Callihan didn’t go on Day One, making his likelihood of signing on Day Two murkier. -KP
Toolsy Outfield Types:
OF Bobby Zmarzlak, Westhill HS (CT)
What better way to C the Z than locking up the prospect with the most z-ed out last name in the draft? ZZ Bob is a 6’5, 205 lbs righty that would make Jack Z wet his plaid-patterned britches. A high-motor and intense dedication to his weight training have made Zmarzlak a toolsy cold weather dreamboat despite missing time with a dislocated foot. As with many Northeastern preps, the concern is a lack of extended exposure to top competition, though with triple-digit exit velocities prior to his 18th birthday it’s a risk worth investigating. Zmarzlak has a sizable leg kick that is likely superfluous considering his considerable raw power, and a capable coaching staff could help translate that to contact and extreme upside. Watch him capture the attention of the staff assembled in the video above as he puts on an absolute show at Tropicana. ~JT
OF James Beard, Loyd Star HS (MS)
How do you like your outfielders cooked? If you said medium rare, that’s an insane thing to answer, don’t cook outfielders. There’s no relation so far as I can tell between the two men pictured below, but only one is a potential pick in the first 10 rounds.
The James Beard of consequence tomorrow is the fastest draft-eligible player in the draft per multiple write-ups. Despite this, he’s merely a possible top 10 rounds consideration due to a lack of pedigree and a slight frame that doesn’t suggest power. Slightness aside, Beard is still 6’1, and his bat speed from the right side has been impressive enough to suggest average or better results at the plate could be unlocked to complement his surefire CF speed and base-stealing potential. ~JT
OF Hudson Head, Churchill HS (TX)
Much like Josh Stowers last year, Head is a late-blooming pop-up prospect with a similar frame to Beard but a L/L profile that includes impressive bat speed. This is a tricky pick, with Head’s commitment to Oklahoma seemingly a compelling one. Head’s slim track record might make him too risky in the first ten rounds for the M’s, but they could easily find themselves a gem with 20-20 upside. ~JT
RHP Jack Kochanowicz, Harriton HS (PA)
All behold my large Polish son. Kochanowicz is 6’6”/220 and has upped his velo from the high 80s to 90-94 this spring. He also throws a curveball with some spin and a so-so changeup. None of Kochanowicz’s pitches are overwhelming, but he throws with some crossfire action that’s difficult for hitters to pick up. There’s a lot to work with here, both literally and figuratively. Kochanowicz is committed to Virginia. -KP
RHP Riley Cornelio, Pine Creek HS (CO)
Joining Marco Gonzales on the Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year trophy, the Great Cornelio played last summer with Team USA and performed well among some of the top prep prospects. 6’3 with some room to grow/add muscle on a slightish frame, Cornelio’s delivery is criticized by some scouts who see the dreaded “head whack,” but his control has generally been solid. Like any pitcher from Colorado, Cornelio has a solid changeup, and also throws a sinking fastball that bores in on righty batters. His breaking balls have only recently been split into two distinct pitches, a slider and a curve, and his pitches could use development across the board, but there’s a solid foundation for a complete starter’s arsenal here. Cornelio is committed to TCU. -KP
RHP Sebastian Keane, North Andover HS (MA)
A cold-weather prospect with a name that sounds like a Gossip Girl character, Keane has a projectable 6’3” frame, but is quite slender, listed at 165. Currently he throws in the low 90s and has no real standout secondaries, but can throw his pitches for strikes and has been a dominant force on the mound. Keane is committed to Northeastern, which is not a traditional baseball powerhouse, so it might be possible to coax him out of his commitment; however, the Yankees have shown serious interest in Keane—even flying him down to their Spring Training facility—so might be the high bidders. -KP