The Mariners have the No. 3 pick in the annual June free agent draft, behind Houston and Minnesota, which starts Monday. This year’s draft has been reduced to 40 rounds.
In their 35 years of largely tortured existence, the Mariners have selected nearly 2,000 players in the annual June free agent draft, the next 40 rounds of which starts Monday. Only slightly more than 100 of those selectees reached the major leagues with Seattle, and fewer than 20 really distinguished themselves. The best and worst of the June draft as it relates to the Mariners:
BEST DRAFT: In 1981, the Mariners selected Mike Moore and Mark Langston, both of whom developed into All-Stars (although Moore didnt become an All-Star until after he left the club). The pair won a combined 140 games with Seattle, largely on Mariners teams that reeked. In the same draft, the Mariners added future All-Star outfielder Phil Bradley, a career .301 hitter with the team.
WORST DRAFT: In 1989, the Mariners had two selections in the first round. With the first, they took RHP Roger Salkeld No. 3 overall. He won just two games in two seasons before the Mariners gave up and dealt him to Cincinnati. With their second pick, the Mariners chose Scott Burrell, who never reached the major leagues.
MOST FUTILE DRAFT: The Mariners selected 40 players in the 1984 draft, and only one, RHP Bill Swift, reached the major leagues.
BEST NO. 1 PICK: Ken Griffey Jr., 1987. Griffey not only hit 417 home runs during two tours with the Mariners, he became the single biggest reason baseball finally prospered in Seattle.
BEST RECENT NO. 1 PICK: The Mariners used their No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft on Dustin Ackley, currently a regular in the lineup.
WORST NO. 1 PICKS (Tie) Tito Nanni (1978); Jeff Clement, (2005): Selected in the first round, sixth overall, Nanni not only never reached the majors, he never emerged from the low minors. Meanwhile, the Mariners could have had Ryne Sandberg, Cal Ripken Jr., Kirk Gibson or Dave Stieb, all available for the plucking after Nanni. The Mariners took Clement No. 3 overall in 2005, convinced he was their next great catcher (which he obviously wasn’t), but traded him to Pittsburgh in 2009 after he failed to produce. Clement washed out of the majors in 2012 (Ryan Braun was sitting there when the Mariners took Clement).
WORST RECENT NO. 1 PICK: Selected 20th overall in the 2008 draft, RHP Josh Fields never reached the major leagues (although he still might).
BIGGEST WHIFF: Mariners had a chance to take UW product Tim Lincecum in the first round in 2006, but opted for Brandon Morrow. The Mariners never could decide whether Morrow was a starter or a reliever, and traded him in 2009 to Toronto, where he has developed into a top-flight starter. Lincecum has already won two NL Cy Young awards (2008-09).
BEST SUPPLEMENTAL PICKS: Mariners made 2B Harold Reynolds their No. 1 pick in the secondary phase of the 1980 June draft, following 23 rounds of the regular phase of the auction. Reynolds earned two All-Star appearances. In 1984, the Mariners selected Mike Blowers in the eighth round of the secondary draft. Blowers had two stints with the Mariners and became a significant operative in their 1995 playoff run.
HIGHEST PICKS NOT TO REACH MAJORS: Tito Nanni, first round, sixth overall, 1978; Ryan Anderson, first round, 19th overall, 1997 (Anderson advanced as high as AAA before shoulder problems did him in).
LOWEST PICK TO REACH MAJORS: Greg Dobbs, 1,508th selection (53rd round), 1996. Dobbs reached in majors in 2004 and hit a home run in his first major league at-bat that year (Sept. 8).
ODDEST PICK: With the 806th pick in the 34th round of the 1979 draft, the Mariners selected Washington State quarterback Jack Thompson, aka, the Throwin Samoan.”
MOST APPROPRIATELY NAMED PICK: In the 34th round of the 1987 draft, 862nd overall, the Mariners selected pitcher Scott Pitcher of Hillsborough Community College (Tampa).
FUTURE ALL STARS IN THE DRAFT: All-Stars and years named: Bret Boone (2001, 03), Phil Bradley (1985), Alvin Davis (1984), Ken Griffey Jr. (1990-99), Mark Langston (1987), Jim Presley (1986), J.J. Putz (2007), Tino Martinez (1995), Alex Rodriguez (1996-98, 00), Matt Young (1983).
FIRST-ROUND FAVES: The Mariners received long-term starters in the 1977 (OF Dave Henderson), 1981 (RHP Mike Moore), 1982 (SS Spike Owen), 1987 (OF Ken Griffey Jr.), 1988 (INF Tino Martinez), 1993 (SS Alex Rodriguez) and 1996 (RHP Gil Meche) drafts. They added quality with their first-round choices in the 1980 (INF Darnell Coles) and 1992 (LHP Ron Villone) drafts.
FIRST-ROUND FIASCOS: In addition to the horrendous selection of Nanni in 1978, the Mariners executed pratfalls in 1979 (OF Al Chambers), 1983 (RHP Darrel Akerfelds), 1986 (SS Patrick Lennon), 1989 (RHP Roger Salkeld), 1990 (OF Marc Newfield) and 2002 (1B John Mayberry) and 2005 (C Jeff Clement). Mayberry is the only first-round pick the Mariners failed to sign (he opted to attend Stanford).
HIDDEN GEMS: The Mariners selected INF Greg Dobbs with the 1,508th pick in 1996, OF Raul Ibanez with the 1,006th pick in 1992, RHP Ryan Franklin with the 642nd pick in 1992, OF Darren Bragg with the 579th pick in 1991, RHP J.J. Putz the 185th pick in 1999, 1B Alvin Davis with the 138th pick in 1982; 3B Jim Presley with the 62nd pick in 1979.
GREATEST ESCAPE: In 2002, the Mariners used their No. 1 pick on John Mayberry, who elected to play at Stanford. Mayberry re-entered the draft in 2005 and was taken by the Rangers. The Mariners saved themselves at least $2 million in signing bonuses and today Mayberry is a career .257 hitter.
WORST DRAFT STREAK: In 1984, the Mariners drafted 16 right-handed pitchers who failed to make the major leagues.
BEST DRAFT PICK NEVER TO PLAY FOR MS: The Mariners drafted C Jason Varitek with their first pick in 1994, but traded him to Boston before he reached the major leagues in a deal also involving Derek Lowe (8th round, 1991). That trade, one of the worst in club history, netted the Mariners the dreadful Heathcliff Slocumb. Varitek has been an All-Star, Lowe a frontline starter and closer.
DRAFTED, FAILED TO SIGN: Tony Phillips (16th round, 1977), Charley OBrien (21st round, 1981), Lance Johnson (31st round, 1982), Morgan Ensberg (61st round, 1994), Juan Pierre (48th round, 1996), Barry Zito (59th round, 1996) and Rich Harden (38th round, 1999).
MOST CASH SQUANDERED IN THE DRAFT: The Mariners gave 1997 No. 1 Ryan Anderson a $2.175 million sigining bonus, 1991 No. 1 Ryan Christianson a $2.1 million bonus and 2001 No. 1 Michael Garciaparra a $2 million signing bonus. Anderson never made it past AAA, the Mariners flushed Christianson after a couple of years, and Garciaparra never reached the majors.