Mariners add power arm in 1st round of MLB draft

Seattle selects 6-foot-4 Georgia pitcher Emerson Hancock with the sixth-overall pick.

Georgia’s Emerson Hancock throws a pitch during the first inning against Mississippi on May 25, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. The Mariners selected Hancock with the sixth-overall pick in the MLB draft on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Georgia’s Emerson Hancock throws a pitch during the first inning against Mississippi on May 25, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. The Mariners selected Hancock with the sixth-overall pick in the MLB draft on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

By Ryan Divish / The Seattle Times

The Seattle Mariners added another power arm to their vastly improved farm system that already features a wealth of pitching talent.

With the No. 6 overall pick in Wednesday’s Major League Baseball draft, the Mariners selected right-handed pitcher Emerson Hancock out of the University of Georgia.

He joins right-handers Logan Gilbert, who was taken with the No. 14 pick in 2018 out of Stetson University, and George Kirby, who was selected with the No. 20 pick in 2019 out of Elon University, as the third consecutive college pitcher taken by the Mariners and amateur scouting director Scott Hunter.

“Emerson is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound power arm with 4 plus-pitches and plus-command,” Hunter said in a news release. “His combination of stuff, strike-throwing and size profiles him as a true top-of-the-rotation starter. We feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to select such a special talent with the sixth pick.”

In the days leading up to the Major League Baseball draft, Hunter discussed the likelihood of taking another college pitcher in a draft that was considered to having the deepest collection of college pitching talent in 20 years.

“With a shortened draft, the first three picks, you go for the highest-end player,” Hunter said. “If you have a plethora of arms in your system, no one has ever been hurt by having too much pitching. So we’ll take the best player available that we think has the most impact for the Seattle Mariners.”

In the spring of 2019, Hancock was the most dominant pitcher in college baseball. He dominated the SEC for the Bulldogs and most scouts and analysts believed he would be the first overall pick in the 2020 draft. However, a shaky start and some shoulder fatigue to the canceled 2020 college season did put some doubts in the minds of scouts and organizations. He never had a chance to show he was healthy and could return to his 2019 level.

Hancock, who turned 21 on May 31, completed his abbreviated junior season at the University of Georgia with a team-best 34 strikeouts to just three walks, going 2-0 with a 2.75 ERA over four starts. Hancock won myriad awards and was named to several postseason teams, including the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team, which recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances on the field and in school, and will be on the national ballot for Academic All-America consideration, which will be announced tomorrow.

Hancock cemented himself as a dominant force in 2019 as a sophomore when he went 8-3 with a 1.99 ERA, which ranked eighth-best in Georgia history. Over 90.1 innings, Hancock struck out 97 and issued only 18 walks, as opposing hitters batted just .185. He allowed no more than one run in nine of his 14 starts as a sophomore, including four games in which he did not allow a run. As a freshman in 2018, Hancock threw 77.2 innings and struck out 75, holding opponents to a .242 batting average over 15 starts. For his Georgia career, Hancock went 16-7 with a 3.47 ERA and 206 strikeouts over 33 starts.

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