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Mariners 2002 Draft Overview

By Jim Callis
May 15, 2002

Scouting Director: Frank Mattox (first year: 1998).

2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 16th)
1. (Choice to Mets as compensation for free agent John Olerud).
2. (Choice to Rangers as compensation for free agent Aaron Sele).
3. (Choice to Orioles as compensation for free agent Arthur Rhodes).

2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 23rd)
1a. (Choice to Yankees as compensation for free agent Jeff Nelson).
1b. Michael Garciaparra, ss, Don Bosco HS, La Habra, Calif.
2a. Rene Rivera, c, Papa Juan XXIII HS, Bayamon, P.R.
2b. Michael Wilson, of, Booker T. Washington HS, Tulsa.
3a. Lazaro Abreu, c, Southridge HS, Miami.
3b. Tim Merritt, ss, South Alabama.

2002 Draft
Mariners pick 28th in rotation.

Overview
No team defied the consensus a year ago more than the Mariners. Some clubs didn't even have shortstop Michael Garciaparra on their draft boards after he injured his knee playing football the previous fall, but Seattle took him with its first pick (36th overall) and signed him at the end of the summer for a $2 million bonus.

Outfielder Michael Wilson, a linebacker recruited to play football for Oklahoma, slid to the second round because of signability concerns and eventually cost $900,000. Catcher Lazaro Abreu, the first of two third-round picks, didn't play behind the plate at all in 2001 while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Mariners are convinced they improved an already strong farm system with those selections. Scouting director Frank Mattox has been willing to take risks since he made his first pick for the club in 1998: lefthander Matt Thornton, who was better known for his basketball skills at Division II Grand Valley State.

Two years later, when Seattle didn't make its first pick until the fourth round, Mattox tabbed lefty Sam Hays. Considered a potential first-rounder if not for his strong commitment to Baylor, Hays signed for $1.2 million.

Those gambles have drawn attention, overshadowing a succession of strong picks in the later rounds. Righthanders Clint Nageotte (fifth round, 1999) and outfielder Jamal Strong (sixth, 2000), the two best examples, have enjoyed nothing but success in the minors.

The Mariners have a true first-round pick for the first time in three years, though it won't come until No. 28. They have shown a willingness to spend money on tough signs and may pursue a player with premium ability who falls because of potential bonus demands, something that could be a common occurrence this year.

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