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Mariners got a nice surprise with Emerson Hancock in 6th place

The Mariners saw no concerns about Emerson Hancock’s performance in 2020. (Getty)

There was no question that the Mariners with the No. 6 selection, the highest selection in the Dipoto era, were pretty much on their way to the first round of the MLB draft on Wednesday afternoon. The fact that it was a college with a rich design was perhaps the icing on the cake.

Seafarers increase pitching depth by drawing Emerson Hancock of Georgia in 6th place

“I would not be shocked that what we choose with our second selection is only surprising because of the depth of this design,”

; said Mariners director of amateur scouting, Scott Hunter, a week ago.

General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s preference for strike-hitting, often polished college pitchers in the later rounds of the design. Logan Gilbert was selected with the 14th election in 2018 and a trio of young weapons – George Kirby, Brandon Williamson and Isaiah Campbell – are considering the first three selections in 2019. Add the Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn acquisitions in winter 2019, and they would surely go on the offensive in the first round in 2020, right? Hunter would not rule out the possibility.

“If you have a large number of arms in your system, no one has ever really been hurt because of too much pitching,” he said with a laugh.

Well, if the right one were there …

On Wednesday, when the Orioles defied the bogus designs and outfielder Kjestad Heston chose the second choice, the opportunity was there. Two picks later, when the Royals selected Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy, the possibility that Georgia right-hander Emerson Hancock might be available in 6th place became a reality.

“A couple of tips really shocked us,” said Hunter. “The boys started mixing, so there is probably 15 minutes of real excitement.

“With Emerson, we targeted him from day one. We couldn’t be more excited to get a player like him.”

The feeling seems to be mutual.

“We thought the Mariners were a good chance for us,” said Hancock from a friend’s house in his hometown Cairo, Ga. “We had some really good meetings with them, and we met a lot of their front office people.” , especially Mr. Scott Hunter. I’ve received the call before – I think it suits me well, I’m really excited. “

Most of these meetings took place in the fall, long before the cornavirus shut down baseball across the country. At that time, Hancock had a second season in which he set an 8-3 record in Georgia with 1.99 ERA, 97 deflections and an average of 0.185 opponents. These numbers had brought him to a series of early bogus designs, but two shaky starts and talk of poor fatigue at his four starts in his shortened junior season led to his shares falling in 2020. The Mariners were not alarmed.

“We haven’t seen anything of any concern,” said Hunter, who pointed to a lat strain that Hunter had taken off the road for two weeks and was not the main cause of the slow start in the summer. “I chalked it until a spring training pitcher goes on its first couple of trips that is still building up and getting hit a little. It probably took our chance to get him where people might get a little scared. “

Hancock himself was not worried about the excitement.

“Ultimately, I see these starts as an opportunity to improve and get better,” he said. “For us, our focus this year was to be prepared and ready for May and June when we go to the tournament and start the regionals. That was the main focus for me to be healthy at the end of the year and really peak when the games were most important. I really focused on that. “

At his fourth and final launch in 2020, the Mariners saw everything they needed to see to believe he was healthy. Hancock’s Fastball, which can top at 99 mph, was between 94 and 97, the breaking ball was sharp, and the change was a field to watch. If the early season turns out to be nothing more than a bump on the road, the Mariners in Hancock could get stolen.

It remains to be seen what comes next for the young pitcher whom Hunter regards as a top talent. Although not yet officially announced, it is clear that there will be no minor league season this year. Dipoto hopes that there may be something like fall or educational ball for select smaller players, but nothing is guaranteed. At least the Mariners hope to be able to run their camps out of season where they have the first opportunity to get their hands on Hancock.

You have already examined the delivery and the biomechanics and started the analysis. He is 6 feet 4, 200 pounds, and expects to fill in a bit more. He is a polished college pitcher with four fields, a large fastball and the ability to command him. While Boy Scouts rave about this command, Hunter sees an opportunity. Hancock throws strikes, but data shows he could throw better strikes.

“When using the field where he uses his fastball, we expect his swing and miss to increase more,” Hunter said.

There is another thing that Hancock, to be announced later this week as a member of the National Vote for All-American Academic Considerations, needs to work on, and that’s his conclusion. The junior is 12 hours from a sports management degree that he promised his parents.

“I look forward to finding ways to achieve this degree,” he said.

And he should do this while wearing a Mariners uniform. Hancock is expected to sign for US $ 5.7 million slot 6.

“I think it suits me perfectly,” said Hancock. “It worked exactly as it should. I am very blessed for the Mariners who believe in me. It is great and now I am ready to go to work. “

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Shannon Drayer on Twitter.

Mariners MLB Draft Tracker: Complete list of all M’s Pick plus details

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