See Also: 2023 MLB Draft Database
Draft Theme: Fully Embracing Preps.
The Mariners have a somewhat strong reputation for preferring college players, but at this point it’s time to put that to rest. While the Mariners were fairly college heavy from 2016-2020, they have not been afraid at all to invest multiple early picks in high-upside high school players over the last three years. That certainly remained the case in 2023, when they used each of their three top-30 picks on preps, taking shortstop Colt Emerson, outfielder Jonny Farmelo and shortstop Tai Peete. The team also added another high school player in outfielder Aidan Miller in the fourth round. In each of the last three years the Mariners have selected a high school player first, and 2023 was the second in three years where the Mariners selected three straight high school players to start the draft. The team has 17 top-five round picks since 2021 and 10 of those picks have gone to high school players.
Most Interesting Day 2 Pick: RHP Teddy McGraw, 3rd round
McGraw missed his senior season in high school after having Tommy John surgery, but stepped into a prominent role for Wake Forest as a freshman out of the bullpen, where his 4.42 ERA was the lowest of any freshman on the team. In 2022, McGraw moved to the starting rotation, where he posted a 4.08 ERA over 70.2 innings, but continued to struggle with shaky control. He blew out his arm again before the 2023 season started and missed his entire draft year. A solidly-built, 6-foot-3, 210-pound righthander, McGraw operates with a fairly simple delivery that features a full arm circle in the back, a lower, three-quarter slot and a bit of head whack in his finish. When healthy, he throws a sinking fastball, which allowed him to generate a 62% groundball rate in 2022—a boon for any pitcher who calls David F. Couch Ballpark home. The fastball sat in the 93-95 mph range and has touched 98. McGraw’s go-to secondary is a low-to-mid 80s slider which features solid three-quarter shape and plenty of horizontal movement, with spin rates in the 2,800 rpm range. The pitch generated a 36% miss rate in 2022 and also drove ground balls at a 52% rate. McGraw’s third offering is a mid-80s changeup with heavy sinking action that—you guessed it—also induces plenty of ground balls. McGraw has day one talent if healthy.
Most Interesting Day 3 Pick: RHP William Watson, 20th round
A smaller righthander with a 6-foot-1, 170-pound frame, Watson pitched well this spring with San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) JC. In 57.2 innings Watson posted a 2.97 ERA with 82 strikeouts and 21 walks. He has a fast arm and touches 95 mph with his fastball, and also shows a solid curveball and fringe-average changeup. Watson profiles as a reliever at the next level, but has solid enough stuff and performance to be a day three draft target.