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Mariners Draft Report

By Jack Magruder
June 4, 2002

PHOENIX--During Sergio Santos' private workout at Bank One Ballpark on Sunday, he hit so many balls into the seats that "he made this place look small," Diamondbacks scouting director Mike Rizzo said.

So when Santos, a high school shortstop from Los Angeles-area Mater Dei (Calif.) High, was available late in the first round, the Diamondbacks jumped on a chance to add a power-hitting middle infielder with the 27th pick of the first round. He was in their top 15.

"My theory is, we would rather go college than high school," said Rizzo, who selected college pitchers with the first pick of his two previous drafts. "But we didn't want to dip down and lower our sights to take a secondary college guy rather than taking the player we really identified and wanted.

"We stepped out and got the high school shortstop. He's a polished, polished player. He's a Southern California player. He's not raw or crude by any means. This was 'the man' in Southern California since he was a freshman in high school."

Projected as a higher draft pick earlier in the season, Santos didn't have the kind of year scouts had expected. Santos, who hit .388-8-33 with 14 stolen bases this season, has signed a national letter of intent with Southern California, but the Diamondbacks believe they can sign him and Santos seems amenable.

"My dream is to play professional baseball. I want to play baseball, and I want to get out there as soon as possible. I want to play in Bank One Ballpark every day as soon as possible," said Santos, 18.

"I'm not going to ask for the moon, money-wise. I just want a fair deal. Now that (owner Jerry) Colangelo and the Diamondbacks gave me that opportunity, it's incredible. They want me to be out there and I want to be there, so I don't foresee any problems."

Last year's No. 27 pick, righthander Alan Horne, did not sign, but the Diamondbacks probably are looking at a bonus around $1.4 million if Santos signs for slot money.

"His tools play right now. If his tools stayed the same, we'd be satisfied with that," Rizzo said. "All he needs is at-bats. He has strength and power that he showed here in the workout. We know he can handle the glove. He runs well. He's close to a finished product now, and we think the finished product is a guy who can play short for us and possibly hit in the middle of the lineup in the major leagues."

The Diamondbacks addressed a need in the second round with Houston catcher Chris Snyder, one of three catchers among their top 10 picks. They returned to form by taking four college pitchers in their top nine, including third-round lefthander Jared Doyle of James Madison.

Because of his body type and his position, Santos (6-foot-2, 200) has been compared to Alex Rodriguez.

"Alex Rodriguez is someone who I've looked up to. He paved the way," Santos said. "For me to hear that is exciting. It makes me want to work harder, to be just as good or better than Alex. I'm going to shoot for that. And if I don't, then it doesn't happen.

Snyder, 21, hit .350-12-53 in the regular season with Houston and was considered the best catch-and-throw college catcher in the draft. The D-backs also took high school catchers Ryan Mahoney of Carmel High in Patterson, N.Y., and Mike Pierce of Clovis (Calif.) High.

"Snyder fit for us in the second round," Rizzo said. "He was the best player available, and he filled what we think is an organizational need. He's a polished, college guy. Mahoney was my call. I couldn't pass on that guy. He can really throw. And he can launch them.

"Pierce really impressed us with the way he can catch and throw. And you can never have too many young catchers."

Rizzo took a shot at lefthander Mark Rosen, a Miami signee, in the fifth round, likely the most difficult sign among their top picks. Rosen, 17, from Salisbury (Conn.) Prep School, has been a standout with Team USA's youth and junior national teams.

"He's a high profile guy," Rizzo said. "He's a fresh arm from the north. We are going to have to negotiate with him, but we think we have a good chance of signing him."

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