Arms the important part on Day 1
Mariners target pitching in a huge way as Draft unfolds
SEATTLE -- Bob Fontaine wasn't kidding when he said he had an eye on pitching for the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
Fontaine, the Mariners vice president of scouting, apparently wasn't just talking about the team's No. 5 overall pick, either.
The Mariners selected University of California right-hander Brandon Morrow in the first-round on Tuesday and then proceeded to pick another 13 pitchers to give them a haul of 14 on the first day of the draft.
Of those 14 pitchers who were selected in the first 18 rounds, 11 were college hurlers.
Several of those college pitchers were used primarily as relievers in 2006 and most of them have power arms.
"Our goal coming into the draft this year was to focus on pitching and we feel like after today we drafted a lot of quality pitchers both from the college and high school level," Fontaine said. "Overall, we're extremely pleased with the players we drafted and look forward to tomorrow."
The First-Year Player Draft -- which will be limited to 50 rounds -- resumes Wednesday.
While Fontaine was excited over the type of pitchers the Mariners selected on Tuesday -- well, that and the number of arms the team took -- the highlight of the day was selecting Morrow at No. 5 overall.
"We have followed Brandon for many years and watched closely as he has made huge improvements," Fontaine said. "He's a big and strong kid that can either start or come out of the bullpen. With his potential, we think we can only get better in the future."
Morrow, 21, is one of 10 semifinalists for the Roger Clemens Award as the nation's top collegiate pitcher. He finished the season with a 7-4 record and is currently second in the Pac-10 with a 2.05 ERA. Morrow is also fourth in the conference with 97 strikeouts.
The Mariners are also excited about their second-round pick, right-hander Chris Tillman from Fountain Valley High School in California.
Tillman entered the season as the top pitching prospect in Southern California and was rated as the 39th best overall prospect in the 2006 draft by Baseball America.
Heading into the draft, Fontaine indicated that there were several pitchers who might not need that much time in the Minor Leagues for seasoning. Fontaine feels that way about Morrow, who can hit the high 90s already and has shown good command of his breaking pitches.
"We'd like to get some pitching to the big leagues sooner rather than later," Fontaine said.
Here's a round-by-round list of Monday's selections after Morrow:
Round 2: Tillman, RHP, Fountain Valley HS (Calif.) Entered the season as the top pitching prospect in Southern California but went just 5-5 and lacked consistency at times. Tillman's fastball runs between 90-94 mph with a nice curveball.
Round 3: Tony Butler, LHP, Oak Creek HS (Wis.): Butler, a lanky left-hander, has signed a letter of intent to play at Arkansas. Butler's velocity jumped from 81-82 mph 88-90 between his sophomore and junior years.
Round 4: Ricky Orta, RHP, University of Miami: Orta has a 2-2 record and a 6.18 ERA in 17 appearances -- including five starts -- for the Hurricanes. He projects well as a late-inning pitcher. He has 45 strikeouts in 51 innings and recently has thrown well.
Round 5: Nathan Adcock, RHP, North Hardin HS (Kent.): Adcock -- who has signed a letter of intent to play at Louisville -- has a power arm and recently struck out 16 batters in a district victory over Central Hardin. He's struck out as many as 17 in a game this season.
Round 6: Adam Moore, C, Texas-Arlington: A transfer from Nebraska, Moore led the Mavericks with a .350 batting average, 89 hits, 22 doubles, 10 home runs, 50 RBIs and 54 runs scored. Moore was the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year.
Round 7: Doug Fister, RHP, Fresno State: Throws in the low 90s but is regarded as a polished college pitcher with command of three pitches. A smart pitcher, Fister was drafted by the New York Yankees in the sixth round a year ago.
Round 8: Steven Richard, RHP, Clemson: Richard enjoyed a big season for the Tigers in 2005 when he went 9-1 with a 2.07 ERA. But Richard struggled this season, going 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA in 21 games. He's still a key member of Clemson's bullpen.
Round 9: Justin Souza, RHP, Sacramento CC: Souza was 6-4 with a 2.10 ERA for Sacramento CC this season. He has a power right arm. He had 95 strikeouts in 89 innings with just 13 walks.
Round 10: Christopher Minaker, SS, Stanford: Minaker had five hits and scored six runs as the Cardinal defeated North Carolina State on Sunday in a regional victory. Went to Edmonds-Woodway High in Lynnwood, which is North of Seattle. Minaker is hitting .363 with 11 home runs and 68 RBIs.
Round 11: Aaron Solomon, RHP, Cumberland University: Solomon helped Cumberland to a second-place finish in the NAIA National Tournament. He went 3-4 with a 5.72 ERA. Solomon had 53 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings but walked 32.
Round 12: Gavin Dickey, OF, Florida: A former standout high school quarterback, Dickey's stock took a big jump this season. He led the Gators in average (.304) and RBIs (41) and also had 11 home runs. Short on experience (two years) but has a high ceiling.
Round 13: Joseph Kantakevich, RHP, William & Mary: A senior pitcher who played with his younger brother, Patrick, at William & Mary. Kantakevich was 4-3 with a 4.48 ERA in 25 games (five starts). The older Kantakevich had 51 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings.
Round 14: Jared Baehl, 3B, North Posey HS (Indiana): Baehl, who has signed with the University of Evansville, leads North Posey High with 48 runs batted in. Also a standout pitcher, Baehl is 6-3 on the hill for a team that's playing in the state playoffs.
Round 15: Andrew Fiorenza, RHP, Clemson: One of two Clemson players the Mariners drafted on Tuesday -- the other was right-handed pitcher Steven Richard. Fiorenza has a 6.60 ERA in 12 games with 15 strikeouts over 15 innings.
Round 16: Austin Bibens-Dirkx, RHP, University of Portland: The Mariners tapped into a local college for a hard-throwing right-hander on Tuesday when they selected Dirkx in the 16th round. Dirkx led the Pilots in ERA (4.19) and had 51 strikeouts in 58 2.3 innings.
Round 17: Dan Runzler, LHP, California-Riverside: Runzler was a key member of Riverside's bullpen in 2006, going 3-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 28 games. He had 52 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings.
Round 18: Kameron Mickolio, RHP, Utah Valley State: At 6-foot-9, Mickolio is an imposing presence on the mound. That he has a live fastball only helps. Mickolio was named to the Division-I All-Independent second team after finishing the season with a 6-6 record and a 5.30 ERA while leading the team in wins.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.