The Seattle Mariners’ organization entered a whimsical state heading into the Tuesday’s first-year player amateur draft, as has the entire league. For years it has been about drafting the best athlete while, at the same time, giving special attention to starting pitchers. All 30 teams have had this sort of strategy since the homerun era began back in the late 80’s. The 2003 version of the first-year player’s draft took on somewhat of a different look.
The Mariners, along with many other teams, turned their sites to position players after more than a decade of stocking up on pitching. This doesn’t mean they went into Tuesday’s draft thinking hitters all the way. The M’s draft, is brilliantly organized and operated by veteran baseball personnel experts such as Farm Director Benny Looper, widely considered one of baseball’s best, general manager Pat Gillick, a scout at heart, Lee Pelekoudas, the Vice President of Baseball Administration, and maybe most importantly Roger Jongewaard, the team scouting and player development guru.
The war room in Seattle was likely filled with the idea of taking “the best player available”, and the team had no idea who would be remaining when the 37th choice rolled around. (The Mariners lost their first round pick to Arizona for the signing of free gent Greg Colbrunn). Therefore, the Mariners didn’t draft until No. 37, a pick were awarded for their failure to sign 2002 first-round pick John Mayberry jr, who just finished his freshman season at Stanford.
The M’s stayed with the original plan, sort of, and took Adam Jones from Morse High School in Sand Diego. Jones is a 6-2 shortstop, a premium athlete with solid offensive skills, and someone Seattle couldn’t pass up. There is a bit of a catch however. Jones is also a highly regarded starting pitcher and was gunned at 96 MPH this spring. Jongewaard and company see him more as an infielder at this point but see the potential to test Jones down the road as a pitcher if things don’t go as planned at the plate and in the field.
Converting a top prospect from a hitter into a pitcher is nothing new to this organization. Rafael Soriano, currently the PCL’s best starting pitcher at AAA Tacoma, was an outfielder just four years ago. Jones will have to be convinced to pass up on a full-ride scholarship offer from nearby San Diego State and their coach, San Diego Padres’ great, Tony Gwynn.
The M’s went for another high school infielder in round two, selecting Jeff Flaig from El Dorado HS in Placentia, Ca. Flaig is seen as a SS/3B with top drawer hitting skills. He is another in a long line of prospects to come from El Dorado, a list which includes Bret Boone, Bret Tomko and Phil Nevin.
Beginning in round three the M’s reverted back to their old ways and took four consecutive left-handed starters.
Here is the complete list of 2003 draft selection by the Seattle Mariners on day-one:
1/37 Adam Jones, SS/P, Samuel Morse HS, San Diego, CA
2//56 Jeffrey Flaig, 3B, El Dorado, HS, Placentia, CA
3/86 Ryan Feierabend, LHP, Midview HS, Gratton, OH.
4/116 Paul Fagan, LHP, Bartram Trail HS, Jacksonville, FL.
5/146 Casey Abrams, LHP, Wright State
6/176 Eric Flaherty, LHP, Walla Walla HS, Walla Walla, WA.
7/206 Jeromy Dutton, 3B, North Carolina State
8/236 Tom Oldham, LHP, Creighton U.
9/266 Justin Ruchti, C, Rice U.
10/296 Mike Cox, 3B, Florida Atlantic
11/326 Joseph Woerman, RHP, San Diego CC
12/356 Ruben Flores, RHP, El Paso CC
13/386 Shawn Nottingham, LHP, Jackson HS, Camden OH.
14/416 Tim Dorn, RHP, East LA JC
15/446 Scott Maine, LHP, Dwyer HS, Palm Beach Garden, FL
16/476 Brian Schweiger, C, Cal State Santa Barbara
17/506 Jason Snyder, RHP, Dixie JC, Tx.
18/536 James Hymon, SS, Rust College, MS
19/566 Aaron Jensen, RHP, Springville HS, UT
20/596 Carroll Gaddis, OF, Hoke Co. HS, Raeford, NC
The Mariners have a history of choosing a lot of high school players as opposed to college players. On day one the M’s took 12 college players and 8 high school players. Their first four choices, however, were high school players.
Jason resides in North Tacoma, Wash., where his father is his best friend, his mother has a better fastball than he does, and his nephew is the only person better suited for stardom. Feedback is always welcome at JasonAChurchill@cs.com.