6/8/2013 12:09 A.M. ET
Mariners take prep star Simpson in sixth round
By Jacob Thorpe / MLB.com
With the 177th pick in the Draft, Seattle made prep Corey Simpson of Sweeny HS (Texas) its sixth-round pick. While he played catcher in high school, the Mariners plan to use him as an outfielder.
"Sometimes, going into your senior year during your spring season, some people think their value is increased because they're a catcher," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "Well, he's played all over the place but we see him as an outfielder. Good sized kid, good looking hitter."
Simpson stands out for his raw power, which is rated among the best in this year's Draft class. He has a big swing and won't get cheated at the plate, but his approach can lead to strikeouts.
Simpson needs his power to carry him because he has a lot of work to do to stay behind the plate as a professional. He is a below-average receiver and, at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, may simply be too big to catch. Simpson turned 19 in December and will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2015 if he upholds his commitment to Houston.
Mariners draft Canadian prep O'Neill in third round
To begin the Draft's second day, the Mariners made Canadian shortstop Tyler O'Neill their third-round choice. The right-handed prep -- who also played catcher in high school -- projects as a right fielder in the Mariners' organization. It was a fitting start to a day that saw Seattle focus heavily on versatility in their Draft selections, often picking players with the intention of having them move positions.
"I'm from that old school where catchers and shortstops can't make it at that one position, they can move to other places," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "I remember last year we were playing Baltimore in that extra-inning game. Baltimore had [Manny] Machado at third, J.J. Hardy at short and [Robert] Andino at second. They were all shortstops in high school and they were on the field at the same time."
A hernia forced O'Neill to move to shortstop last year, and despite the position change, he made the Canadian Junior National Team. In his time with the National Team, O'Neill had the opportunity to play against the Rangers' instructional team. He collected several hits against Texas prospects, including a home run. O'Neill, who shows speed on the basepaths, attends Garibaldi Secondary School in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
"The unique thing about the Canadian team is they play in Florida and Arizona and play against the Class A, [Class A Advanced] and sometimes Double-A prospects," McNamara said. "You're seeing 17- and 18-year-old's get up against stuff that they're probably not going to see here in the spring against high school pitchers. So we saw him really handle some really good pitchers, older guys that didn't care who he was -- they went right after him and it was really good to see."
His father, Terry, is a former Mr. Canada and taught O'Neill about weight lifting. At 6 feet, 200 pounds, he is solidly built and earned the nickname "Tank." He is an aggressive hitter and should develop good power.
As a hard-nosed member of the Langley Blaze travel team, O'Neill has inevitably been compared to Brett Lawrie, who played for the Blaze as a high schooler. O'Neill is committed to Oregon State.
In addition to catcher-turned-shortstop-turned-outfielder O'Neill, the Mariners took Emilio Pagan out of Belmont Abbey College in the 10th round. Pagan excelled at third base for the Crusaders, but it's on the mound where the Mariners believe his future lies. Similarly, Texas prep Corey Simpson, taken in the sixth round, will be expected to make the switch from catcher to outfielder if he signs with the club.
"Sometimes going into your senior year during your spring season, some people think their value is increased because they're a catcher," McNamara said. "Well, he's played all over the place, too, but we see him as an outfielder. Good sized kid, good looking hitter."
Seattle selected left-handed pitcher Ryan Horstman in the fourth round. The redshirt freshman out of St. Johns University in New York didn't play baseball for two years, repeating his senior season of high school due to academic issues and sitting out his redshirt season for the Red Storm.
The Mariners also added left-handed pitchers Tyler Olson from Gonzaga University and Jacob Zokan from the College of Charleston in the seventh and ninth rounds, respectively.
"There are certain rounds where in your mind you're like, 'What we need is some left-handed pitching,'" McNamara said.
The Mariners rounded off the Draft's second day with a pair of shortstops, taking East Carolina University's Jack Reinheimer in the fifth round and Oregon State's Tyler Smith, who was named First Team All Pac-12 in back-to-back seasons, in the eighth round.
"Again, you want to take some shortstops in there and they go like this off the draft board," McNamara said. "Shortstops, pitcher, catcher, center fielders go like that. If he can't make it as an everyday shortstop, you've got a guy that can play second, third, and they run and swing the bat OK so we're happy."
So far, the Mariners have taken an aggressive approach to the 2013 Draft, selecting athletic players that they believe can be developed, often into unfamiliar positions. And if there is a gem to be found, he may still yet to be selected.
"I keep telling our guys the next 15 picks are just as important as the last five or six," McNamara said. "We've taken a couple of good players the last couple years here outside of the fifth round and we plan on doing that. Some teams, you can tell as the Draft goes on that the white flag's coming up a little. We just want to keep grinding until the last pick."
Day 3 of the Draft continues with Rounds 11-40 streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. PT.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In fourth round, Seattle nabs St. John's lefty
With the 117th overall pick, the Mariners made left-handed pitcher Ryan Horstman their fourth-round Draft choice. The Massachusetts native played his college ball at St. John's University, but not before taking a year off from the game.
"He's a draft-eligible freshman, which is unique. St. John's actually talked to him about playing basketball, he's a real good athlete," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "We went in there late and he's got a good delivery, good arm action. We look at him as at 20 years old, he's a draft-eligible freshman, it's almost like taking a junior college guy or an older high school guy."
Forced to repeat his senior year at South Hadley High School for academic reasons, Horstman also redshirted his freshman season with the Red Storm, meaning he didn't pitch in a game for two years. Those two years off made him eligible to be drafted after a freshman season in which he went 6-6 with a 2.33 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings. The 6-foot-2 lefty was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American, and third team All Big East.
"In the Draft, you want to take a high school lefty and a high school righty, sometimes you want to take two or three of them," McNamara said. "We look at him as a starter potential guy."
In shortstop-light Draft, Mariners get Reinheimer
With its fifth-round pick, Seattle chose shortstop Jack Reinheimer out of East Carolina University. In 2010, Reinheimer was Atlanta's 31st-round pick.
The junior stands to benefit from the dearth of impact college shortstops in this year's Draft. He is well-regarded as a defender and scouts believe he has a chance to remain a shortstop as a professional.
"He can play short, he can run, he can hit, he's a nice player," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "We spent a lot of time watching him in the summer, and again, we were happy he was there when we picked."
The 5-foot-10 shortstop has an average arm and makes all the routine plays. He has good instincts in the field, which helps his tools play up. Offensively, Reinheimer isn't as advanced. He has a good approach, but produces minimal power.
He may be destined for a utility role, but it won't be for lack of effort, as he has earned high praise for his makeup and work ethic.
Mariners select in-state lefty Olson from Gonzaga
The Mariners stayed in state with their seventh-round pick, taking left-handed pitcher Tyler Olson out of Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash. Olson, the 207th overall pick, attended University High School in Spokane.
"[He's] a lefty with real good command, a good breaking ball," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "He's tough on left-handed hitters. He was the [No. 2] guy there and sometimes he was the Friday night guy, they flip-flopped them."
Olson, a fifth-year senior, has loose and easy mechanics that allow his fastball -- which usually sits in the 84-89-mph range -- to sneak up on hitters, largely thanks to his pinpoint location. He challenges hitters at a steady pace, using a lethal curveball and a strong changeup as his predominant offspeed weapons. He's a fairly stoic competitor who doesn't show much emotion -- good or bad -- and goes about his business striking out hitters.
Olson returned to college after being selected in the 17th round of the 2012 Draft by the Athletics. In his senior season, he was named the West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year after going 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA. He also had a 19-inning scoreless streak in April.
Oregon State shortstop Smith picked in eighth round
With the 237th overall pick, the Mariners selected Tyler Smith, a right-handed shortstop out of Oregon State University. The eighth-round selection is potentially the Mariners' third shortstop taken in the first 10 rounds, depending on what the organization decides to do with catcher/shortstop Tyler O'Neill.
"He's a dependable shortstop that can run," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said.
Smith is hitting .301 for the Beavers with two triples, seven doubles and a pair of home runs in 49 games. He is also 9-for-11 in stolen-base attempts. This is the first time being drafted for the business major from Thousand Oaks, Calif.
"If he can't make it as an everyday shortstop, you've got a guy that can play second, third," McNamara said. "And he runs, he swings the bat OK, so we're happy.
Smith was a catalyst for the Beavers, who were 7-5 when he missed 12 games midseason due to injury. OSU was 38-5 with Smith in the lineup.
In ninth round, Seattle glad to get college lefty Zokan
With their ninth-round selection, the Mariners selected left-handed pitcher Jacob Zokan out of the College of Charleston (S.C.). Zokan -- Seattle's third left-handed pitcher of the Draft -- missed much of the 2012 season while battling an arm injury.
The Columbia, S.C., native was 4-3 with a 2.85 ERA in 17 appearances, including 14 starts this season. The 6-foot-1 senior struck out 80 batters in 79 innings of work, walking 29.
"He's a left-hander with a good breaking ball," Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara said. "We were kind of surprised he was there, but sometimes you've got to look at the whole picture. With the Draft pool and slotting system, it's not just take the best player every round and sign them, because you've got to watch your checks and balances, too. We're really happy with the guys we took this year."
He has a good frame with nice arm action, using a curveball and changeup to complement his fastball.
Belmont Abbey's Pagan taken in 10th round by Seattle
When the Mariners drafted Emilio Pagan in the 10th round, it made him the highest Draft pick in Belmont Abbey College baseball history. Pagan is the ninth Crusader ever selected in the First-Year Player Draft.
While Pagan excelled in college at third base and on the mound, the Mariners see him as a pitcher. He reportedly threw in the low 90s during a recent workout at Seattle's Safeco Field.
"Good arm, he's a conversion guy," said Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara. "He was playing a position, third base, pretty good college player and they used him as a closer. So he's got arm strength."
Pagan's collegiate career began at Gardner-Webb, but he transferred to Belmont Abbey College so that he could pitch and play in the field. He went 1-0 on the mound with 13 saves and a 0.00 ERA.
"Our area scout did a great job on him," McNamara said. "We were happy to get him in the 10th round."
Jacob Thorpe is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.