The History of the Sixth Pick and Mariners Draft Preview

The Seattle Mariners will pick sixth in the upcoming MLB Draft on Wednesday June 10. While there will be many enticing players for the organization to choose, recent history shows that drafting in this slot comes with no guarantees of future success. The best selections from this spot over the past two decades are Anthony Rendon (2011) and Zack Greinke (2002), both of which will garner future Hall of Fame consideration. On the other side of the coin are draftees such as, Barrett Loux (2010), Ryan Harvey (2003) and Josh Karp (2001) who never reached the major leagues during their baseball careers and Kyle Skipworth (2008) who went 0-3 during the 2013 campaign with the Marlins.

The pecking order of MLB success after Rendon and Greinke are pitchers Andrew Miller (2006) and Zach Wheeler (2009) who have both had multiple years of pitching at a high level. Miller at one point was one of the better relievers in baseball making the All Star Game in 2016 and 2017. Often with the sixth pick you will end up with a player who has a solid if not spectactular career- current Twins manager Rocco Baldelli (2000), Ricky Romero (2005), Jeremy Sowers (2004), along with current major leaguers Colin Moran (2013) and Albert Almora Jr (2012).

Three current prospects have high end potential including top-rated Mariners prospect Jarred Kelenic (2018), last year’s number six selection by the Padres, C.J. Abrams and the A’s A.J Puk who made his MLB debut last year. This trio all have All-Star level upside and will be fun to watch and see progress over the next few years. Austin Beck (2017), drafted sixth slot by Oakland, does not have as much upside as the other three, but is just 21 years old and has time to develop. Two others are still active but are long shots to have sustainable careers: former Mariner draftee Alex Jackson (2014) who made his MLB debut last year with Atlanta and Tyler Jay (2015) who was released by the Red’s organization on June 1.

So who will the M’s take this week with the sixth pick? For this exercise, I am going to assume top prospects Austin Martin, Spencer Torkelson, and Asa Lacy are off the board when it is Seattle’s time to pick. If I am wrong on this, then they should not hesitate to take any one of them.

The top pitchers that may be in play include right-hander Emerson Hancock, Max Meyer, and Reid Detmers. Hancock, who is 6’5” and 215 pounds, has three solid pitches including a fastball that hits 95 MPH, a slider, and a changeup to go along with his excellent control. Meyer is just 6’0” tall but possesses a nasty slider and hits 100 MPH with his fastball. During the 2019 season, his 2.11 ERA was second in the Big 10 and he was pitching brilliantly this year before the season was ended due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Detmers is a left-hander who has a wicked curveball and is able to hit the mid 90’s with his fastball. In 2019 with Louisville he had 167 strikeouts in 113.1 innings.

Position players that may be available include second baseman Nick Gonzales, outfielders Zac Veen and Heston Kjerstad. Kjerstad was previously drafted by the Mariners in round 36 during the 2017 draft but instead decided to play college ball at Arkansas. He is the best left-handed power hitter in the draft, hitting 6 HRs in 16 games this season and projects as a future corner outfielder in the majors. Veen is a five-tool high school outfielder who stands 6’4” and is still growing. He has committed to the University of Florida, so there would be some risk with drafting him, but the money he would pass up could be too much to pass on. Gonzales is the highest-ranked middle infielder in the 2020 draft class and would fill an area of need for Seattle. He had an incredible .399/.502/.747 slash line in his two-plus seasons with New Mexico State. He is an excellent contact hitter with above-average bat speed to go along above-average power.

Any of the six players mentioned would be exciting to watch develop in a talent-rich Mariners system. The organization’s outfield depth is its greatest strength with Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez seemingly destined to patrol T-Mobile Park for years. Those two along with Kyle Lewis and Jake Fraley may give the M’s outfield stability for a while. Pitching is the second biggest strength in the system with Logan Gilbert, George Kirby, Justin Dunn and Justus Sheffield all not far off from contributing in the big leagues. Infielders are their biggest need, so drafting Gonzales if available would make a lot of sense.

With that said Zac Veen has the highest upside from the position player side and would be my preference if available and they decided to go in that direction. From the pitching side of things, Hancock and Meyers are neck and neck in my opinion. No matter how it shakes out, I’m looking forward to see who is picked with the first pick and subsequent picks on draft day.

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