Bethune Cookman College to Seattle Mariners?

OF Sebastian Boucher and RHP Mumba Rivera

In sort of a random story, the Mariners have selected two players from Bethune Cookman College so far in the 2004 MLB draft, OF Sebastien Boucher (7th round) and RHP Mumba Rivera (21st round). InsidethePark caught up with their head coach, Mervyl Melendez, to learn more about the pair of up-and-comers. "Potential" and "Ceiling" are two words often associated with these players.

The Seattle Mariners established a pipeline of sorts over the last two days of the MLB First-Year Player Draft, twice dipping into the talent pool at Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Fla. to come up with selections.

First, Seattle nabbed speedy outfielder Sebastien Boucher in the seventh round (213th overall) on Monday. Then today, day two of the draft, the Mariners chose RHP Mumba Rivera with their 21st round selection.

"The Mariners got two of our guys who have the best potential in the future," said Melendez. "We haven't seen the best of them yet."

Boucher, a 22-year-old Canadian that projects as a centerfielder, comes in the Kenny Lofton mold but throws the ball right-handed. He batted .352 (76-216) with eight doubles, five triples, one homer and 24 RBI over the course of the 2004 season.


Sebastien Boucher

Like Lofton, his best tool is his speed, which he uses to his advantage on the basepaths - he had 37 steals this past season - and on defense.

"He is a leadoff type of hitter with occasional pop," said the Bethune Cookman coach. "He's a right handed thrower, but he has a similar approach to the game to Lofton. He'll run, steal bases, and has occasional gap power. He's not a slap hitter.

Defensively, Boucher impressed all season long with his reliable play in the field.

"He played center for us," said Melendez. "That's where he fits. He'll go track down a ball and he's got a decent arm. He could be a left fielder too, of course, but he can definitely play center."

At the plate, the 6-foot, 180-pound outfielder has proven to be a capable contact hitter, striking out only 24 times this past season, but he'll have to work on becoming more patient at the plate. He walked just 19 times.

Yes, but will he sign?

"He is going to sign, there is no question," Melendez told InsidethePark.com.

Rivera, meanwhile, is a bit of a project. At 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, the right-handed pitcher is already 23-years-old but comes in with only three years of pitching experience under his belt. As Melendez says, "he's got a young arm."


Mumba Rivera

A senior in 2004, he was the horse of the staff but went just 7-7 with a 4.90 ERA and walked 54 batters in 79.0 innings of work. Those certainly aren't numbers that stand out, at least not positively.

What does stand out, however, is the way Rivera projects in the future.

"He's going to be one that's really going to benefit from playing baseball full time," said Melendez. "He throws in the low 90s and can really bring it, but he's going to have to have better command at the next level, which is something that is fixable. When he's on he's on. He's got a good breaking ball when it's working and his delivery is effortless.

"He's going to really blossom at the pro level because everything comes so natural to him."

Yes, but will HE sign?

"He was going to sign regardless," said Melendez. "It's going to be a done deal."

Sounds like a package deal from the Sunshine State.

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