This is going to take a lot longer to write than I originally intended, but that’s because it’s going to take a lot longer to research than I originally intended.
If only there was one single place I could go to that comprised a list of every Mariners draft pick from the last 10-20 years Nevermind, I found it!
Anyway, in this exercise, I won’t be looking at Mariners draft picks who have panned out for other teams (because we foolishly traded them away, or didn’t draft them in the first place because we’re idiots). I’m going to be looking at the last guy (or guys, if I’m able to find more than one) who were drafted in the amateur baseball draft (so, not international free agents, or prospects who we received from other teams) who also went on to become a quality player for the Seattle Mariners (without any detours to other teams). Enough parenthetical remarks for you? OK, let’s begin.
Safe to say: no one from the 2012 draft has panned out. But, it’s too early for that, so I can hardly hold it against the organization.
In 2011, we have Danny Hultzen and Brad Miller in Triple-A – they’re CLOSE, but not there yet. 2011 has also given us Carter Capps, who is currently in the Major League bullpen, but this is really his first full year in the Majors, so we can hardly call that panning out.
2010 saw us pick up Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, Stephen Pryor, and Stefen Romero. All appear to be on their way (in some way, shape, or form), but none have made it just yet.
2009. Here we go. It’s pretty safe to say, if you haven’t made it in the Bigs, you’re likely not a superstar. The whole reason for this post is to lament the fact that Dustin Ackley – to date – has not panned out. He was in the Majors for half of 2011 and was all right. He was in the Majors for all of 2012 and was terrible. And, until this past week, he was in the Majors for all of 2013 and was even worse. He’s since been demoted to Tacoma, which makes it hard for me to believe that he’s going to be a winner. Smarter people than myself keep telling me he’ll figure it out. He does too many things well to NOT pan out. But, let’s just say I’ve got my doubts.
Nick Franklin was the next pick in the 2009 draft and he’s just made his first Major League appearance this week, taking over for the aforementioned bust, Dustin Ackley. Too soon to tell on this kid, but just yesterday he hit his first and second homers of his career. If that isn’t a good sign, I don’t know what is. Then again, I’ve been fooled before.
If I were being fair, I’d say Kyle Seager – third round pick in 2009 – has panned out. He had a decent almost-half season in 2011 (.258/.312/.379), then he sort-of broke out in 2012 (.259/.316/.423) in his first full season in the Bigs, and this year he has looked even better (.274/.339/.458), but if I’m being honest I can’t put him there yet. You know how our excuse for every struggling youngster is, “It’s Early.” If it’s in the month of April or early-May and they’re struggling, everyone always says, “It’s Early.” If they’re struggling as a rookie, or even as a second-year player, everyone always says, “It’s Early.” Well, why can’t we say that on the flipside? It’s EARLY. He still has plenty of time to regress! He still has plenty of time to suffer a run of debilitating injuries! Now, in my heart of hearts, I don’t THINK Seager will be a bust. I think he will be a fine Major Leaguer, and thus I think he will pan out. But, right now? I’m not counting my chickens by any means.
So, thus ends the Jackie Z era. So far, we’ve got one guy who has kinda sorta panned out (fingers crossed, knock on wood). Others may eventually pan out, but I wouldn’t say this is the greatest sign for a team that’s trying to get better via the draft.
The less said about 2008, the better. I recognize one name who I saw at the Rainiers game a couple weeks ago, but he doesn’t strike me as anything special. Brandon Maurer came from this draft, so he COULD pan out. Then again, he was brought up too early this year (bypassing Triple-A) and struggled mightily because he’s not ready. I’m certainly not counting him!
2007, again, just a terrible draft. Phillippe Aumont was involved in that Cliff Lee trade. Shawn Kelley was a so-so reliever who could never stay healthy and has since been traded to the Yankees. Sigh.
Let’s see, 2006. We have Brandon Morrow (traded to the Blue Jays, has been a decent starter), Chris Tillman (traded to the Orioles, has been a decent starter), Doug Fister (traded to the Tigers, has been a good starter). Think a rotation with Felix, Iwakuma, Fister, Morrow, and Tillman would look good? I NEED AN ADULT! I NEED AN ADULT!
The rest of 2006 were stiffs, and Adam Moore. Doug Fister panned out from this draft, but he panned out with the Detroit Fucking Tigers.
2005: Good GOD, Lemon! Jeff Clement! That’s the only name I even recognize! And he’s THE WORST!
2004 went Matt Tuiasosopo (bust), Rob Johnson (bust) and Mark Lowe (good, but no longer with the team). Then, in the 11th round, a beacon of hope: Michael Saunders. He struggled from 2009-2011, but then he switched his batting stance and swing and made a jump in 2012. Granted, he didn’t go from nothing to Superstar, but he went from nothing to All Right. Thus far in 2013, he has regressed to his old form, which is a bad sign. We were KINDA counting on Saunders to keep moving up in the world so we could feel confident that he’s a bona fide replacement for Franklin Gutierrez. Now, who knows? Bottom line, though, is that he has NOT panned out.
2003 is the Adam Jones draft. I’ll move on.
2002 is the Bryan LaHair draft. Who is Bryan LaHair, you ask? You’re obviously not a Chicago Cubs fan, as he was an All Star in 2012. Then again, he had a terrible second half and thus far has not played in the Majors in 2013. I don’t know what to tell you.
In 2001, the Mariners drafted Michael Garciaparra in the first round. Remember that guy? I don’t either.
Nothing doing in 2000. Ditto 1999 (unless you count Willie Bloomquist or J.J. Putz). I like Putz as much as the next guy, but he had exactly two great seasons as the Mariners’ closer, was injury-riddled, and eventually shipped away. I wouldn’t call a guy who was mostly a middling middle reliever someone who has panned out.
Nothing doing in 1998 (except for Matt Thornton, who panned out with the White Sox). 1997 was a little more interesting. Our big first round pick, Ryan Anderson (The Little Unit) was a huge bust. Joel Pineiro, from the 12th round, carved out a nice little career for himself. But, the only problem with that is he was never really any damn good for the Mariners. He was okay; he flashed a helluva lot of potential, but that potential was ultimately never realized, and for that I feel safe in saying he never panned out. Standards: I’ve got ’em.
1996 was the Gil Meche draft. See: Joel Pineiro.
1995 was the Jose Cruz Jr. draft.
1994 was the Jason Varitek draft.
And HERE we go! 1993, FINALLY. Taken with the #1 overall pick by YOUR Seattle Mariners … Alex Rodriguez! It’s been 20 drafts since the Mariners have selected someone who panned out FOR the Seattle Mariners! In case you can’t tell, that’s an absolutely unconscionable amount of ineptitude. Want to know why the Mariners have been mostly terrible for so long? Look no fucking further.
Who’s to blame? I’m sure the talent evaluators have to shoulder some of it. But, the more I think about it, the more I think this organization needs a total and complete overhaul. From top to bottom. And I mean bottom. These kids are playing for our minor league teams, participating in our minor league camps, and they are NOT turning into quality players for the Big League team! That’s a problem! That’s a problem with the coaching at the lowest levels of the organization, and maybe it’s time we started putting the responsibility on THEM! I don’t know what the success rate is for other organizations – turning their draft picks into Major Leaguers – but the Mariners have to be at or near the bottom. This is part of the culture of losing I’ve been railing against for so long, and it’s got to stop.
There’s no such thing as Good Enough. If our kids are failing, it’s on the minor league coaches, plain and simple. If I were Jackie Z and company, I’d be looking to fill some big holes down on the farm.