Mariners Draft Analysis: 1998-2002

Have you ever wondered what happens to all of the draft picks that the Seattle Mariners spend thousands of hours, and millions of dollars on? Do you sometimes ask yourself "what is the deal with that kid the M's gave all that bonus money to a few years back?" or "Where is the reward for trying to build from within"? Here is what has become of the top picks from the Mariners' past five draft classes.

1998:

1st Round-Matt Thornton, LHP-Grand Valley State University
Thornton has battled injuries throughout his career, and has made the transition from reliever to starter and back to reliever. If healthy, Thornton has an opportunity to break camp with the M's as a left-handed specialist.

2nd Round-Jeff Verplancke, RHP-Cal State Los Angeles
Verplancke never signed with the club, returned to Cal State L.A. and was drafted in the 11th round in the 1999 draft by the San Francisco Giants. He remains in their system.

3rd Round-Andy Van Hekken, LHP-Holland, MI
Van Hekken signed with the team and played in the minors with the Mariners for one season before being traded to the Detroit Tigers for OF Brian Hunter in 1998. The lefty is still with Detroit and spent 2003 in the upper levels of the Tigers' system. He made his MLB debut in 2002.

4th Round-Jerry Amador, OF-Luis Felipe Crespo, Camuy, PR
Amador was the player to be named later in the trade with Detroit for Brian Hunter and has spent the past four-plus seasons in the Tigers organization. He then returned to the M's system in 2002 at Wisconsin and is currently a minor league free agent.

5th Round-Corey Freeman, IF-King, Tampa, FL
Freeman spent five full seasons in the M's organization, remaining a marginal prospect at best, and missed the entire 2003 season due to injury.

1999:

1st Round-Ryan Christianson, C-Riverside, CA
Christianson started his pro career in 1999 after signing out of high school as the club's top pick. The toolsy catcher was developing fine until the injury bug hit. He has been battling injuries since 2002 and missed almost all of 2003. Christianson was shut down after a short rehab and is expected to be 100 percent for 2004.

1st Round-Jeff Heaverlo, RHP-University of Washington
The UW grad was cruising along and ready to make a splash in the bigs but the injury bug bit the right-hander. Shoulder surgery and rehab cost the 25-year-old more than a full season. Heaverlo returned in 2003 and showed flashes of his former self and should be back to form for 2004.

2nd Round-Willie Bloomquist, SS-Arizona State University
Bloomquist is the only draft pick in the past five seasons to see time in a Mariner uniform. Bloomquist is probably a career reserve but his intensity and passion will likely keep him in a Major League uniform for many years to come.

3rd Round-Sheldon Fulse, OF-Lakeland, FL
Fulse, a leadoff style speedster, was the minor leaguer traded to Cleveland this past season for left-hander Matt White, who was eventually released.

4th Round-Vaughn Schill, SS-Duke University
Schill never signed and returned to Duke for his senior season and ended up suffering a career ending injury to his throwing shoulder.

5th Round-Clint Nageotte, RHP-Brooklyn, OH
Nageotte is currently InsideThePark.com's No. 1 prospect in the Seattle Mariners system and has a bright future ahead of him. The righty's MLB ETA is late 2004 or 2005. 2002 and 2003 saw Nageotte shoot up the charts and demonstrate the ability to dominate games all by himself at High-A San Bernardino and Double-A San Antonio.

2000:

4th Round-John (Sam) Hays, LHP-Waco, TX
Another in the long line of injured Mariner pitching prospects, Hays has had little chance to showcase his skills since signing in 2000. The left-hander did make 18 appearances in 2003 with Everett, including seven starts.

5th Round-Derrick Van Deusen, LHP-Riverside CC
Van Deusen impressed the organization with two superb seasons in a row. In 2001 and 2002 and was the trade bait for the waiver-wire acquisition of Ismael Valdes from Texas in 2002.

2001:

1st Round-Michael Garciaparra, SS-La Habra Heights, CA
The younger brother of Nomar was essentially what the M's ended up with in return for AROD, since the draft choice the M's used to select the SS was acquired as compensation for Texas' signing of Alex Rodriguez. Garciaparra has spent two seasons in the system and after a horrendous start, turned things around in the second half of 2003 at Wisconsin.

2nd Round-Rene Rivera, C-Bayamon, PR
Rivera has become the best bet at catcher in the M's system with the injury issues surrounding Ryan Christianson. Rivera had a very solid 2003 and could battle for the starting spot at Double-A San Antonio in 2004.

2nd Round-Michael Wilson, OF-Tulsa, OK
Wilson hasn't hit his stride of yet and looks to get things going in 2004 likely starting the year in Wisconsin.

3rd Round-Lazaro Abreu, C-Southridge, Miami, FL
Abreu was never signed by the Mariners and is not currently in baseball.

3rd Round-Tim Merritt, IF-University of South Alabama
Merritt has spent three seasons in the M's organization and ended the 2003 campaign with the Double-A San Antonio Missions. Playing 2B and SS, Merritt has impressed defensively and simply needs to hit better to make a move past Double-A.

4th Round-Bobby Livingston, LHP-Lubbock, TX
Livingston has done nothing but impress since signing out of Lubbock, TX late in 2001. Two fantastic seasons at Everett and Wisconsin have the left-hander ripe and ready for a breakout season in a hitter's league at San Bernardino. The 21-year-old has surrendered just 42 walks in 258 innings pitched in his pro career.

5th Round-John Cole, OF-University of Nebraska
Cole spent two seasons with the M's organization and was released after the 2002 season. Cole is currently a minor league free agent after not playing in 2003.

2002:

1st Round-John Mayberry, 1B/OF-Kansas City, MO
Mayberry was not signed and is currently enrolled at Stanford University.

2nd Round-Joshua Womack, OF-San Diego, CA
Womack spent the past two season in Peoria and Everett and has made a solid start to his pro career. The lefty hitting outfielder should start 2004 with either Wisconsin or San Bernardino.

3rd Round-Eduardo Martinez-Estevez, OF-Miami, FL
Martinez-Estevez was not signed and is currently enrolled at the University of Miami.

4th Round-Randall Frye, RHP-Lake Orion, MI
Frye spent 2002 in Arizona with the rookie team and struggled mightily. 2003 was vastly improved for Frye at Everett and he should see time in Wisconsin in 2004.

5th Round-Kendall Bergdall, LHP-Lahoma, OK
Bergdall has spent two seasons in Peoria and has struggled somewhat. The southpaw will get a shot at short-season Everett in 2004.

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