Mariners stick to college talent on final day of draft

Seattle uses all five of its picks on the second and final day on college players.

The Mariners selected Texas A&M outfielder Zach DeLoach in the second round of the MLB draft on Thursday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The Mariners selected Texas A&M outfielder Zach DeLoach in the second round of the MLB draft on Thursday. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Herald news services

The Seattle Mariners stayed in the college ranks on Day 2 of the MLB draft Thursday, using all five selections on players with college experience.

Seattle opened the second and final day of the five-round event by taking left-handed-hitting outfielder Zach DeLoach out of Texas A&M with their second-round pick — No. 43 overall.

DeLoach’s draft stock rose from nonexistent to a top-100 ranking after winning the batting title in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer. He hit .353 with a .428 on-base percentage, a .541 slugging percentage, eight doubles, a triple, five homers, 23 RBI and eight stolen bases in 37 games in the wood-bat league that attracts the top college players in the country.

It was a stunning performance considering his subpar sophomore season with the Aggies, in which he posted a .200/.318/.294 slash line in 56 games with four doubles, a triple, three homers, 16 RBI, 24 walks and 29 strikeouts.

This season he posted a .421/.547/.789 slash line with three doubles, six homers, 17 RBI, 14 walks and just three strikeouts in 18 games before it ended due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What spurred the breakout in the Cape Cod League and the subsequent success this season?

“I calmed everything down and was able to simplify what I was doing at the plate,” DeLoach told TexasAgs.com. “Being able to pick out the right pitches to hit. I’ve always had good plate discipline, but I haven’t always been there mechanically. In the Cape, I found the consistency within my swing to where if I mishit a ball, I was still able to have a chance to get a hit. There were plenty of times this summer where I would either get jammed or hit it off the end, but I was still able to stay through the ball and get a hit.”

The Mariners, who love drafting hard-throwing college pitchers, went with a younger version by taking Connor Phillips out of McClennan Community College in Texas with their competitive balance B pick — No. 64 overall.

Phillips, 19, was projected as a third-round pick coming out of Magnolia West High School (Waco, Texas) last year, but teams didn’t match his bonus demands and he fell to the 35th round. Instead of attending LSU, where he had committed to play, he took the junior college route so he could be draft eligible after one season. The gamble worked as he moved up into the top 70 picks.

He has a fastball that touches 97 mph, but sits around 93-94 mph with plenty of movement in on right-handed hitters. The secondary pitches improved in junior college, but still need work. The talent is still raw at times, but his athleticism should allow him to make adjustments with ease. He made six starts with McClennan, posting a 3-1 record with a 3.16 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 15 walks in 25.2 innings pitched.

Seattle added Oklahoma State second baseman Kaden Polcovich in the third round before drafting 6-foot-4, 240-pound slugging third baseman Tyler Keenan from Ole Miss in the fourth round.

At the time the college season was abruptly canceled, Keenan led the SEC in slugging percentage and produced a slash line of .403/.488/.791 with seven home runs in just 80 plate appearances.

Seattle concluded its draft by taking Cal Poly right-handed pitcher Taylor Dollard in the fifth and final round.

The Mariners had five picks on Day 2 of the draft, a day after selecting Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock with the sixth overall pick.

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