At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, WSU first baseman Taylor Ard looked like a professional power hitter the minute he stepped foot in Pullman. Tuesday, he started his journey to become one.
Selected by the Mariners in the seventh round of the MLB first-year player draft, the Vancouver, Wash. native features an underrated glove and power to all fields. In 2012, Ard hit .332 and belted 12 home runs en route to his second first-team all-conference selection.For the third time in as many years the Mariners selected a shortstop with their second-round pick -- Joe DeCarlo, an 18-year-old high-school shortstop from Garnett Valley, PA., with the 64th overall pick.
In the first 15 rounds, the Mariners selected 16 players, including four pitchers (three RHP, one LHP), one catcher, nine infielders (three first basemen, two second basemen, a third baseman, three shortstops) and two outfielders. Of the 12 position players selected, three are left-handed hitters. Ten college players were taken and six high school players.
Ranked the 287th prospect overall by Baseball America, DeCarlo projects as a third baseman at the next level. According to their scouting report, DeCarlo lacks speed but is a right-handed power hitter with excellent bat control. The shortstop has a scholarship offer to play at Georgia but said recently he plans to sit down with his family to decide after being selected. Should he opt for college, Seattle will receive a compensation pick in the second round of the 2013 draft.
In the third round, Seattle took its first pitcher, selecting 18-year-old Edwin Diaz out of the Caguas Military Academy in Puerto Rico. At just 160 pounds, Diaz features a fastball in the mid-90's, according to MLB.com's scouting report. At a showcase tournament this summer, the six-foot-three right-hander hit 97 mph.
However, according to Baseball America, many scouts believe he projects as a power reliever thanks to inconsistent secondary pitches and a non-existent changeup. Diaz started pitching only three years ago, per BA's scouting report. Given time to fill out a wiry frame, the Mariners scouts see a substantial upside.
Seattle also took Tyler Pike, a left-handed pitcher from Tiger Woods' hometown, with the 126th selection in compensation round B. The Winter Haven, FL., product's fastball hits 93 mph, according to his MLB.com scouting report. Pike also features an adequate curveball and changeup, plus what scouts refer to as above-average pitchability.
The 18-year-old has signed to play at Florida State.
Seattle followed five picks later by taking third baseman Patrick Kivlehan out of Rutgers University with the 131st selection. Recently named the Big East Player of the Year, Kivlehan played four years of football as a backup defensive back. Kivlehan batted .410 and blasted 10 home runs in conference games in 2012.
Seattle followed in the sixth round by selecting University of Virginia shortstop Chris Taylor. A defensive specialist, Taylor complements his plus-arm strength with gap-hitting ability, according to his MLB.com scouting report.
The Mariners followed in the sixth round by selecting their third shortstop. Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. opted to continue strengthening the middle infield by taking Timmy Lopes out of Edison, Calif. The 17-year-old has what MLB.com says is an average arm, and likely will making a transition to second base.
8. 1B Nick Halamandaris (Stevenson High School, CA); 9. 2B Jamodrick McGruder (Texas Tech University); 10. RHP Grady Wood (Western Oregon State); 11. 1B Kristian Brito (Ramon Quinones Medina, Puerto Rico); 12. CF Michael Faulkner (Arkansas State) ; 13. RHP Blake Hauser (Virginia Commonwealth); 14. 2B Brock Hebert (Southeastern Louisiana University); 15. OF Dario Pazzano (Columbia University).
Mitch Gueller, a pitcher at West High School in Chehalis, went 54th to the Philadelpia Phillies in the second round. Gueller signed to play with Washington State next year but said recently he would consider his options after his selection.
The Phillies again dipped into the Northwest's talent tool by taking outfielder Andrew Pullin with the last pick of the fifth round. The 188th overall pick, a left-handed hitting outfielder for Centralia High School, was a two-time first team all-state pick who committed to play at the University of Oregon.
Adrian Sampson of Bellevue College became the first collegiate player from the state selected when the Pittsburgh Pirates took him in the fifth round with the 166th pick. According to his MLB scouting report, the Skyline High School graduate has an above-average repertoire and impressive pitchability.
The Arizona Diamondbacks took third basemen Jacob Lamb from the University of Washington in the sixth round with the 213th selection overall. Gonzaga's Royce Bollinger went three picks later to the Texas Rangers.