Going with a different strategy from previous years, the Seattle Mariners scoured the college ranks heavily to find many of their top picks this year. Looking to grab a big-time hitter when their pick came up in the eighth round, the Mariners selected Marshall Hubbard from the University of North Carolina.
Hubbard, a junior for the Tar Heels who transferred from William & Mary, tore the cover off the ball in 2004, his first season at Chapel Hill. He led the team in average (.352), home runs (17) and set a single-season UNC record with 83 RBI. Those numbers allowed the 22-year-old to pick up first-team All-American honors from USA Today Sports Weekly.
"My power is gap to gap," said Hubbard, who is listed as a first baseman but played almost exclusively in right field for the Tar Heels. "I'm going to hit some doubles and occasionally hit one out of the park."
The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder from Ashland, Virginia says he's always hit 2, 3 or 4 in the batting order, and that's a place he envisions himself winding up in the professional ranks as well. He hit fourth with the Tar Heels this past season.
Will he sign with the Mariners, a team he didn't expect to take him? From the sounds of it, he will.
"I'm expecting to sign," he said, adding that it'll likely come sooner rather than later.
Hubbard spent his draft day in Chapel Hill with friends, and his mom headed down to the college town to join them all for the celebration. He says he didn't know where he'd end up going exactly, but he expected it to be somewhere between rounds 5 and 10.
When his name was called, he felt a sense of relief.
"It was an exciting day and at the same time I was pretty anxious," said Hubbard. "I was happy."
Barring any unforeseen negotiating holdups, Hubbard will help bring some power to a Mariners' farm system built around pitching and defense. That is what he has in mind, anyways.
"That's what the plan is," Hubbard said. "I'm just going to go in there and try to build on this year.
"That's what you work towards is playing professionally. I'm excited to get out there and work hard and see what can happen."
Catching up with 8th round pick, Marshall Hubbard
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