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Seattle Mariners Draft Report Card

By David Rawnsley

Best Debut: Both 2B Willie Bloomquist (3) and SS Vaughn Schill (4) got off to fast starts before they were sidelined with injuries. Bloomquist hit .287-2-27 at short-season Everett, while Schill hit .354-0-7 at Class A Wisconsin. C Ryan Christianson (1) struggled with a sore shoulder but excelled offensively, hitting eight homers in 107 at-bats at Everett.

Best Athlete: Bloomquist played six different positions at Arizona State and almost as many on various United States national teams.

Best Hitter: Bloomquist is the most polished hitter of the group, especially when it comes to staying inside the ball and driving it to the opposite field.

Best Power: The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Christianson has strength and excellent bat speed. He showed both against experienced Northwest League pitching.

Fastest Runner: CF Sheldon Fulse (3) runs a 6.5-second 60-yard-dash and has a long, easy stride with plus range in center field. Bloomquist isn’t as fast, but he has excellent baserunning instincts. CF Terrmel Sledge (8) also is an above-average runner.

Best Defensive Player: Northwest League managers thought Bloomquist’s range and actions were excellent at second base. Christianson and Schill have above-average defensive tools at key positions.

Best Fastball: RHP J.J. Putz (6) never fulfilled his potential at Michigan, where some had projected him as a potential first-round pick. With his mid-90s fastball, he had success in his pro debut as a reliever.

Most Intriguing Background: RHP Jeff Heaverlo (1) is the son of former major league pitcher Dave Heaverlo.

Closest to the Majors: Heaverlo was one of the most polished pitchers in the draft and his late signing helped his arm recover from a busy spring. His slider and 90-mph fastball will enable him to move quickly.

The One That Got Away: The Mariners signed 11 of their first 12 picks, missing on only LHP Michael Davies (7), who originally enrolled at Long Beach State but quickly dropped out and transferred to Mt. Hood (Ore.) CC in his home state.

Best Non-Draft Sign: This was an outstanding international year for the Mariners, as they signed South Korean RHP Cha Baek, Australian LHP Craig Anderson and Australian OF Chris Snelling. Anderson, 17, went 10-2, 3.20 as a Northwest League all-star; Snelling, 17, hit .306-10-50 in the same league.

Summary: After a poor 1998 draft, the Mariners learned their lessons and reversed the tables in ’99. When teenage prospects such as Anderson, Baek, Snelling and Dominican SS Ruben Castillo are added to the mix, the Mariners system took a quantum leap forward in talent this past year.

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