Mariners comb collegiate ranks
Club takes just 11 high schoolers in its 50 Draft selections
SEATTLE -- After starting the first day off with five college players out of their first six selections, the Mariners continued that trend on Friday during the 2008 First-Year Player Draft as they ended up with just 11 high schoolers during their 50 selections."We thought for us that this was going be a collegiate year," Mariners scouting director Bob Fontaine said Friday. "Last year, I think three of our top four kids were high school players. This year we thought it was going to be the other way around. And it just worked out that way ... not taking anything away from the high school players, but we just thought it was a real strong college year." Just one of the initial 10 picks was a high schooler -- outfielder Jarrett Burgess from Miami -- as the Mariners stocked up on seven pitchers during those rounds. The initial two picks were Georgia closer Josh Fields (No. 20 overall) and right fielder Dennis Raben (No. 66) from the University of Miami.
"When we came in, we were looking for a power arm and a power bat, one-two, and whichever order it would've worked for us," Fontaine said. "And we're all happy that it worked out the way that it did, that we got Fields, and then got Raben ... to get left-handed power like Raben, who we had selected out of high school, that was a big goal for us, and we were real happy to get him."But aside from that power, the pitching selections in the early rounds obviously highlighted an area where the Mariners were looking to improve. Following the second-round pick of Raben, Seattle selected right-handed pitchers Aaron Pribanic from Nebraska, Steven Hensley from Elon and Brett Lorin from Cal State Long Beach. Furthermore, the Mariners gave themselves some height to work with on the mound. Five of their pitching selections in the Draft were listed at 6-foot-7 or above, including 6-foot-10 Kenn Kasparek from the University of Texas. Fontaine said the early pitching selections came from the fact that many of the talented position players were selected extremely high in the Draft. "And so what that did is it pushed some good arms down to us, and it pretty much played out like we had expected," he said. With 29 pitchers selected overall in the 50 picks, Fontaine pointed to the need for stocking all of the Mariners' farm teams, which include three Class A teams and a Rookie League team.
Mariners' top five selections
|20.||RHP||Josh Fields||U of Georgia|
|66.||RF||Dennis Raben||U of Miami|
|98.||RHP||Benjamin Pribanic||U of Nebraska Lincoln|
|132.||RHP||Steven Hensley||Elon U|
|162.||RHP||Brett Lorin||Cal St Long Beach|
|Complete Mariners Draft results >|
"I would say next year we might not take as many pitchers as we did this year," Fontaine said. "But you're always going to have more pitchers than of any other position."The bats that the Mariners did score in the first 10 rounds outside of Raben were Burgess and Nate Tenbrink from Kansas State. "[Tenbrink] has power, he's played at a good caliber of baseball," Fontaine said. "And again, we like to get a lot of left-handed hitters, so we were pretty excited to get him in the seventh round." Tenbrink hit .270 this season with nine homers and 41 RBIs and a .384 on-base percentage. Seattle drafted some local talent in Andrew Kittredge from Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash.(45th round), and Brad Reid from Bellevue Community College (30th round). It also picked catcher Josh Rodriguez, son of Mariners first base coach Eddie Rodriguez, in the 49th round. "Reid has been at Bellevue, and again we've followed him for a couple years, and he's got a good delivery, he's got a loose, free arm -- he's an interesting kid," Fontaine said. "We'll take a look at him this summer and see where we are. But he's a kid that we have interest in, [that] we'd like to try to sign." And after two chaos-filled days in the Draft war room, Fontaine felt fatigued, but satisfied. "I'm tired -- I know I'm getting older but this one was long today," he said. "Yeah, I'm tired, but I feel good."
Jesse Baumgartner is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.